The Coming of the Europeans (Part - I)
THE COMING OF THE EUROPEANS
Europeans reached the Indian shores in search of wealth and
power. In 1498, Portuguese traders became the first to discover the sea route to
India when a Portuguese voyager arrived at Calicut (modern Kozhikode, Kerala) on
the western coast of India. The Dutch followed them in 1595, the English in
1600, and at last, the French in 1664. All these Europeans came to India for
The Europeans nations established various commercial companies, such as the East India Company in England founded in 1600 and Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie – the United East India Company in the Netherlands – founded in 1602. These companies were formed to capture the spice trade by breaking the monopoly of Portuguese in Asia.
Rise of Autonomous States
In the eighteenth century, when the Mughal Empire declined, various autonomous states were established such as in Bengal (under Murshid Quli Khan), Oudh or Awadh (under Sadat Khan Burhan-ul-Mulk), Hyderabad (under Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jah), Carnatic (under Churaman and Surajmal) and the Sikhs (under Ranjit Singh).
In 1498, Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese voyager, became the
first European to discover the sea route to India. He arrived at Calicut on 27
May 1498. To secure the trade of spices and to look for probable Christian
converts, the Portuguese challenged Arab supremacy in the Indian Ocean. They
fitted their galleons with powerful cannons and established a network of
strategic trading posts along the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. They soon
set up political supremacy along the west coast of India. After Vasco da Gama,
Captain General Alfonso de Albuquerque captured Goa in 1510 and made Goa as the
centre of their commercial and political power. Goa was under their control for
about four and a half centuries.
Afonso de Albuquerque was the second governor of the Portuguese India and is known as founder of Portuguese colonial empire in India
Albuquerque is also known to have abolished the practice of Sati in Goa.
The first Dutch fleet reached India in the year 1595. They formed Dutch East India Company in 1602, but they could not maintain their influence for very long period. However, they had a large supply of capital and support from their government with which they ousted the British from the East Indies (Indonesia). They also managed to establish trading factories along the Indian coast. They established their first factory in Masulipatnam (1605), followed by factories in Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimlipatnam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Kasimbazar (1658), Baranagore (1658), Patna and Balasore (both 1658) and Cochin (1663). These became the centres of international trade in spices, cotton, sugar raw silk, calico and indigo. They were welcomed by the Indian rulers in order to put them against the Portuguese. In 1619, they were granted permission by the Mughal emperor Jahangir to trade at Surat on the west coast and Hoogly in the east. The Dutch supremacy ended with their defeat at the hands of the English in the Battle of Bedera in 1759.