Carnatic Wars – History, Course of First Carnatic War

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Carnatic Wars were a series of three wars fought between the English, French and Indian forces in the 18th century in the Carnatic region of southern India. They were fought between 1744 and 1763. The wars involved the French and the British vying for supremacy in the subcontinent and their traditional rivalry playing out. Although they had come for trade, they got entangled in local politics in order to gain advantages and ultimately, hegemony over political affairs in India. As a result of the three Carnatic Wars, the French were confined to a few places in India, and the British gradually emerged as the major dominating power in the region.

First Carnatic War

The First Carnatic War was a major military conflict between the British East India Company and the French forces between 1746 and 1748. Further, the war is also remembered for the Battle of St. Thome, which was fought between the forces of the Nawab of Carnatic and the French forces. The British went to the Nawab for help against the French.

The First Carnatic War saw a series of battles and sieges, with the French initially capturing the British stronghold of Madras. However, the British were able to recapture Madras with the help of their naval superiority. The war concluded with the signing of the Aix-la-Chapelle Peace Treaty in 1748. However, the wars set the stage for future conflicts between the British and French in India. The Anglo-French war in the Carnatic was initiated by the Austrian War of Succession.

Course of Carnatic Wars

France and Britain faced off in the 1740 European uprising known as the War of Austrian Succession. The Anglo-French conflict led to competition among their economic enterprises in India for supremacy. Read about the sequence of the events and the course of the Carnatic wars below.

  • In India, a regiment of Indian soldiers was established by Dupleix, the French governor of Pondicherry.
  • France had colonialist ambitions in India when it nationalised the French East India Company in 1720.
  • Pondicherry was in danger in 1745 when Britain mounted a naval assault on the French navy.
  • Dupleix resisted the assault and captured Madras, which had been in the hands of the English, with the assistance of additional French men from Mauritius.
  • When the English attempted to invade Pondicherry again, they were soundly defeated.
  • The English asked the Nawab of Carnatic (Arcot), Anwaruddin Khan, for assistance.
  • The French were asked by the Nawab to hand over Madras to the British.
  • Dupleix made an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Nawab that Madras would eventually be given over to him.
  • The Nawab then sent a sizable force to battle the French. A tiny group of French soldiers defeated this force in Mylapore (modern-day Chennai) in 1746.
  • This demonstrated how inadequate the forces of the Indian kings were in comparison to the well-equipped armies of the European powers.

Treaty of Aix La Chapelle

Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession, was signed primarily by Britain and France, with the remaining nations following their lead, on October 18, 1748.

  • The pact was distinguished by the bilateral restoration of gains, including that of the boundary towns to the Dutch, the fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, to France, and Madras, India, to England.
  • The War of the Austrian Succession was put to an end in 1748 by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, often known as the Treaty of Aachen.
  • The First Carnatic War was virtually over by the treaty.
  • The French army under Dupleix defeated the English and captured Madras.
  • Following that, in the year 1748 A.D., the peace treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was ratified, returning Madras to the British and enabling the release of war prisoners.

War of Austrian Succession

The dispute over Maria Theresa’s right to the Austrian Habsburg throne erupted between 1740 and 1748, involving the majority of Europe’s leading countries.

All of Europe was involved in the conflict, with Austria and Britain facing off against France, Prussia, Spain, Bavaria, and Saxony.

  • The First Silesian War and the Second Silesian War were the first two series of hostilities, and they were mostly fought between Austria and Prussia.
  • The third war was primarily focused on the ongoing dispute between France and Britain over colonial holdings in North America and India. British soldiers showed their military prowess throughout the conflict.

Battle of St. Thome

The victory of the small number of French soldiers over the larger army led by the Nawab of Carnatic in three days came at the battle of St. Thome on November 4, 1746. ( Part of the First Carnatic War).

  • Two things happened in the fight. In the immediate term, Dupleix proclaimed Madras French by conquest rights and appointed Paradise to rule the city.
  • At the end of the war, Madras was given back to the British, who then gave Louisburg to the French.
  • The longer-term effect was that British and French commanders actually realised they now possessed a weapon capable of annihilating the sizable Indian military forces that had frightened them in the past – the rapid fire of structured troops was now able to defeat Indian troops, especially the highly esteemed troops.
  • The power balance in India would swiftly change as a result of this discovery.
  • During the conflict, the English pleaded with Anwar-ud-Din for assistance. Dupleix calmed him somewhat, though, by offering to give him control of Madras once it was taken.
  • When the Madras was conquered in 1746, Dupleix and La Bourdonnais got into a fight. While La Bourdonnais sought to return Madras to the English in exchange for a ransom, Dupleix preferred to hand it over to the Nawab.
  • The Nawab finally dispatched a force to seize Madras. Thus started the Battle of St. Thomas, in which a small French army headed by Captain Paradise combated a huge Indian army headed by Mahfuz Khan.


Joseph Francois Dupleix started to harbour aspirations of establishing a French Empire in India in 1741, but he failed to convince his authorities to agree with the idea.

  • In 1744, Robert Clive arrived in India. Dupleix’s plans to establish a French colony in India were foiled by Clive.
  • Since the British took Pondicherry in 1761, the French territories in India had been neglected.
  • The assessment of the first two Carnatic Wars shows Dupleix’s diplomatic skill as a strategist who foresaw the direction of the European invasion of India.
  • In order to keep the English from battling in his domain, Dupleix used the Nawab of Carnatic. This allowed the French colonists in Pondicherry to be safeguarded until the French forces were strong enough.
  • The Nawab was offered Madras as payment for defeating the English.
  • The first European to interfere with the rulers of India at home was Dupleix.

Facts Related to Carnatic Wars

In total, there were three Carnatic wars fought in India. Following are some of the important facts related to the Carnatic Wars.

  • In 1744, the first Carnatic war broke out as a result of the consequences of the Australian succession. It happened in the years 1744 and 1748. The Deccan region was the scene of the Anglo-French conflict during the time.
  • From 1757 until 1763, the third Carnatic War was fought. The third Carnatic War, which continued for seven years, began in 1758 when the Australian nation sought to reclaim the country of Silesia.

Significance of the Carnatic Wars

The British government frequently meddles in the domestic and private affairs of the governments of France and India. The significance of the Carnatic wars has been illustrated here.

  • The Carnatic Wars opened the eyes of the Europeans to the fact that a much smaller, well-trained force could easily defeat a much larger Indian army.
  • Additionally, this fight effectively highlighted the value of naval force in the Deccan Anglo-French conflict.

Carnatic Wars UPSC

The Carnatic wars topic is studied in the modern Indian history syllabus of the UPSC exam. Wars in Indian history are important to learn. For the best preparation of Indian history, you can download the NCERT books for UPSC and other side books for the history subjects. Also, you can download the previous year’s question papers for reference of types and patterns of questions being asked in the exam. The candidates must be well-versed in the complete details of the Carnatic wars, history, significance, and other details pertaining to the wars.

Carnatic Wars Questions

The Carnatic wars and other important wars in the history of India are important to learn for the UPSC exam. Following are sample questions provided that appeared in 2003 and 2006 for reference to understand the type of questions being asked in the exam.

Q1. With reference to the entry of European powers into India which one of the following statements is not correct?[Prelims 2003]

  1. The Portuguese captured Goa in 1499
  2. The English opened their first factory in South India at MasuliPatnam
  3. In Eastern India the English company opened its first factory in Orissa in 1633
  4. Under the leadership of Dupleix the French occupied Madras in 1746

Answer– Option A

Q2. In the year 1613 where was the English East India Company given permission to set up of factory for trading post?[Prelims 2006]

  1. Bangalore
  2. Madras
  3. Masulipatnam
  4. Surat

Answer– Option D

UPSC Notes
Anglo-Maratha war Anglo-Mysore war
World War 1 Kalinga war
Cold War Second Anglo-Maratha war
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