Read this article to learn about the Carnatic war and the role of Joseph Francis Dupleix.
First Carnatic War (1746-48):
The First Carnatic War had its background in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48) which was raging in Europe.
In that war Austria and Prussia were the main contestants. France joined the side of Prussia which ultimately brought England in the War on the side of Austria. The War of Austrian Succession thus turned into a war between France and England as well.
When the war between England and France was going on from 1744, in the European Continent, the political situation in the Carnatic (the name given to the Coromandel coasts by the Europeans) v as fast drifting into a melting pot. Nizam-ul-Mulk, the subahdar of the Deccan was an independent ruler for all intents and purposes.
The imperial Government at Delhi was powerless to exercise any control over the Deccan subah. The Nawab of the Carnatic was a Vassal of the Nizam, but the Nizam’s preoccupations with the Marathas gave him opportunities to the Nawab Dost Ali of the Carnatic to assume virtual independence.
On Dost Ali’s death troubles broke out over the question of succession which ultimately brought the Nizam to Arcot, the headquarters of the Carnatic. Nizam appointed Anwar-ud-din, a capable and efficient person but not even distantly related to the Nawab’s family, as the Nawab of the Carnatic. This did not bring quiet in the Carnatic. Dost Ali’s close relations resented the appointment of Anwar-ud-din as the Nawab.
Despite hostilities between the French and the English in the Continent, the home governments of the two countries at first tried to maintain neutrality in India, although technically they were at war. Dupleix, the French Governor of Pondicherry, opened negotiations with his English counterpart in India for maintenance of neutrality between them on the Indian soil. But the authorities in England did not accept Dupleix’s proposal and the English Company in India although wishing to avoid hostilities could not guarantee neutrality between the English and the French on the ground that they would have no control over His Majesty’s ships if the latter would attack the French in India.
Ultimately the Continental war between the English and the French was transferred also to the Indian soil. Hostilities between the French and the English in Bengal began with the capture of French Ships by English navy under Commodore Barnett (1744). The French appealed to the Nawab Anwar-ud-din who ordered both the French and the English to refrain from hostilities, reminding them that they were merchants settled in his dominion. But it was soon realised that Barnett, a King’s Officer, was not amenable to the orders either of the Nawab or of the English Company. Barnett was prepared to attack the French settlement at Pondicherry. Nawab, however, was firm in his attitude and ordered Barnett not to attack Pondicherry.
The French had no navy in the India’s waters and in the circumstance sent urgent message to La Bourdonnais, French Governor of Mauritius to come to his rescue. La Bourdonnais reached the Indian seas with eight ships. In the meantime Commodore Barnett had died and Edward Peyton, a poor, inefficient Officer, succeeded to the command of the English navy.
But in the battle between La Bourdonnais and Peyton, off Negapattam, the former was defeated and obliged to take shelter in Pondicherry. Peyton, however, did not press his advantage of victory over the French. When the French again proceeded to encounter the English, Peyton either unwilling to fight or to engage in a serious contest with the French left for Bengal. The French now besieged Madras both by land and sea.
Till then both the English arid the French thought the Nawab an effective combatant from military point of view. Hence the English appealed to him for intervention. Anwar-ud-din true to his role as protector of the merchants in his dominion ordered Dupleix to raise the siege of Madras. But Dupleix disobeyed and sought to pacify the Nawab by diplomacy and replied that he was occupying Madras with a view to handing it over to the Nawab himself.
In the meantime Madras capitulated and La Bourdonnais agreed to return Madras to the English on payment of a ransom of 1,100,000 Pagodas and private gift of 1,000 pagodas. But Dupleix repudiated the agreement, had furious arguments with Bourdonnais who left for Achin. Anwar-ud-din was too astute to believe in the words of Dupleix that Madras was being taken for him. Finding his repeated warnings unheeded, Anwar-ud-din sent his army against the French who had besieged Madras. But before the Nawab’s army reached Madras, the English had already capitulated. ‘Had the English in Madras resisted a little longer, the French would have been caught between two fires.’
When the Nawab’s army arrived, the French were already in possession of the city of Madras. The city was blockaded by the Nawab’s army but the small French force scattered and defeated the unwieldy host of the Nawab which was compelled to retire to San Thome to be again defeated by a French contingent that came to reinforce the French at Madras.
The defeat of the large army of the Nawab at the hands of a small French contingent was of far-reaching consequences in the history of India. Orme remarks that the victory of a single battalation of the French Troops over the whole army of the Nawab “shattered the belief that the Country’s powers were invisibly strong”. The fight proved the “helplessness of an old-fashioned Indian army against an extremely small body of disciplined Europeans”.
The skirmish lifted the European from the hitherto pusillanimity and showed the enormous superiority of bayonets and muskets over the antiquated Pikes and still more “the toy weapons of Orientals”. On the Nawab’s side it came as a great shock and he realised his helplessness against European arms. To the Indian princes it now became habitual to invite European military support in their mutual quarrels and insofar as the Europeans were concerned, particularly the French it whetted their ambition for building up a colonial empire with the help of their superior military strength and efficiency.
To Dupleix, the success over Anwar-ud-din “made a deep impression on his mind and suggested immense possibilities in a new direction”. It proved that in warfare better discipline and upto-date equipment counted for more than numbers and that vast Asiatic armies were no longer a match for even a handful of European troops. He realised that his disciplined army would be a decisive factor in the quarrel between Indian princes.
The success of the French over the Nawab brought in its train disunion and discord and we have already seen La Bourdonnais had been almost compelled to retire with his ships from the Indian seas. Dupleix after formally repudiating the agreement between La Bour- donnais and the English Council at Madras plundered Madras thoroughly.
But the success of Dupleix’s policy of retaining Madras in repudiation of the agreement between the Madras Council and La Bourdonnais was dearly purchased. Dupleix’s quarrel with La Bourdonnais who left the Indian Sea gave its dividend in the failure of Dupleix to take Fort St. David.
For long eighteen months Dupleix kept the Fort besieged. Nawab Anwar-ud-din’s younger son, Muhammad Ali, went to assist the English at Fort St. David. Ultimately the French fell back and entered on negotiations with the Nawab who pardoned them, received presents from them and made the French fly the Nawab’s Flag on Pondicherry for a week as a token of the submission of the French to the Nawab’s authority (1747).
Early in June, 1748, a British Squadron was sent from England under Rear-Admiral Boscawen to avenge the capture of Madras by the French. Receiving an accession in strength on the arrival of Boscawen, the English attacked the French principal centre Pondicherry. There was also a military contingent under Major Stringer Lawrence, a brave, energetic King’s Officer.
But the siege, both by land and sea, of Pondicherry was conducted so inefficiently that the English lost Lawrence as a prisoner and thousand men in battle and sickness. Within a week the siege was raised as the news of the signing of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) reached India. By the terms of the treaty Madras was restored to the English. Rear-Admiral Boscowen sailed back to England. In this way the first phase of the struggle between the English and the French on the Indian soil ended without any territorial loss or gain to any of the Parties.
Second Carnatic War:
The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, 1748, was no more than a truce. It did not bring peace in India, except for a temporary period. In the same year (1748) died Asaf Jah Nizam-ul-Mulk, subahdar of the Deccan. His son, Nasir Jang, succeeded him as the Nizam. But his grandson challenged Nasir Jang’s succession on the ground that he had obtained Farman from the Delhi Emperor appointing him subahdar of the Deccan. In the meantime Anwar-ud-din’s health was failing when Chanda Sahib, son-in-law of Dost Muhammad, returned to the Carnatic on being released by the Marathas who had taken him prisoner seven years back. Chanda Sahib became a claimant to the nawabship of the Carnatic as a successor to his late father- in-Law Dost Ali and in place of Anwar-ur-din who was a foreigner.
Thus, there were two different sets of quarrels, one between Nasir Jang and Muzaffar Jang for the Subahdarship of the Deccan, the other between Anwar-ud-din and Chanda Sahib for the nawabship of the Carnatic.
After the easy victory over Anwar-ud-din’s huge army, Dupleix was waiting for an opportunity to fulfil his political ambition by taking sides with the Indian princes in their mutual quarrels. Now that opportunity offered itself. A secret Treaty was signed between Dupleix and Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib with a view to placing Muzaffar Jang on the throne of the Deccan and Chanda Sahib on that of the Carnatic. In this way Dupleix set a precedent which Clive was to follow later on a greater and. more reprehensive scale.
The combination of the three attacked Anwar-ud-din, defeated and killed him (August 3, 1749) in the battle of Ambar. Anwar-ud-din’s son Muhammad Ali fled to Trichinopoly, Dupleix sent a French army to reduce that town. The fall of Madras had shown to the English that it lay in Dupleix’s policy to expel the English from the South if not from India. Now with his success in defeating Anwar-ud-din showed the immensity of the danger the English were faced with.
They now thought it necessary to stand by the opposite party and with that end in view sent urgent invitation to Nizam Nasir Jang to come to the Carnatic to crush the enemies there. They also sent help to Muhammad Ali, son of Anwar-ud-din, to relieve him from Trichinopoly.
But the English lacked the initiative and energy of Dupleix. Nasir Jang came to the Carnatic but after some initial successes was defeated and killed. Muzaffar Jang was invited to Pondicherry and he entered the City in the same palanquin with Dupleix. Chanda Sahib was already at Pondicherry. After much ceremony Muzaffar Jang was proclaimed subahdar of the Deccan. Dupleix was given a robe of honour and a jagir worth 1 lakh rupees.
He was appointed Nawab of all lands between the river Krishna and Cape Comorin, with Chanda Sahib under him as the Nawab of Arcot. Dupleix is said to have received a cash reward of £ 200,000 in cash and also valuable jewels. Dupleix on the request of Muzaffar Jang placed his best officer Busy at his service with a French army. Here as well a precedent was set for Clive to follow later.
It was indeed a moment of highest success for Dupleix, but it was also a great political blunder. The English could not accept the French as the French Governor as the titular head of the province where they were trading. Thus confronted with threatened extinction they now vigorously followed the policy of assisting Muhammad Ali, which they did so far in a lukewarm fashion.
It was necessary for Dupleix to come to some settlement in order to complete his success. He sent a French force to Trichinopoly where Muhammad Ali had taken shelter. But the French troops delayed action against Trichinopoly by wasting time and energy in reducing Tanjore on the way. But the English assistance reached Trichinopoly which led to a stiffening of resistance by Muhammad Ali.
Had the English continued to deal with the French as they did so long Dupleix would have succeeded in completing his design of expelling the English. But in 1750 there was a turn in the fortune of the English when Saunders took over as Governor. He was more agile and energetic and under his guidance the English threw their whole weight into the struggle and the authorities in England also rendered him support in view of the gravity of the situation.
Muhammad Ali while resisting the French siege with great pertinacity kept up negotiations opened by Dupleix in order to kill time till more reinforcement from the English arrived. Dupleix was duped till 1751 (May). A British detachment was sent to Trichinopoly. By the end of the year the rulers of Mysore and Tanjore and Maratha chief Morari Rao and the English joined Muhammad Ali. Dupleix realising that he had been duped sent Law with a force to take Trichinopoly, but Law proved incapable for the task.
In the meantime things were moving fast in the English Camp. Clive, a writer at Madras who had lately joined the army and by now became a Captain proposed a hazardous diversion, namely, capture of Chanda Sahib’s capital Arcot. This would compel Chanda Sahib to keep back an effective part of his army for the defence of his capital rather than keep them engaged to capture along with the French, Muhammad Ali’s shelter at Trichinoply. Saunders agreed and placed 500 Sepoys, 300 Europeans under Give who captured Arcot without any serious opposition.
Chanda Sahib immediately sent a relieving force to recapture his capital. For long fifty days Clive withstood the siege till the siege was raised. Capture of Arcot was not only the most remarkable achievement of the English in the War but it turned the tide in favour of the English. It enhanced the prestige of the English as a fighting force on the one hand and administered a crushing blow to the military prestige of the French in India on the other.
Law who was in charge of the siege of Trichinopoly was unnerved at the daring exploit of the English at Arcot and took reference in the island of Srirangam. At the instance of Clive Srirangam was besieged by the English and although Dupleix sent reinforcement to relieve the island, it surrendered to the English. Law and his troops became prisoners of the English (June, 1752). To complete the disaster, Chanda Sahib surrendered on promice of his life, but was beheaded.
The conduct of Lawrence in not intervening to save the life of Chanda Sahib has been criticised by all right-mined English writers. Even Mill who is generally not impartial where English interests were involved says, “Lawrence shows an indifference about his (Chanda Sahib’s) fate which is not very easy to be reconciled with either humanity or wisdom”. Lawrence knew that Chanda Sahib who surrendered on promise of his life, would be murdered if handed over to Muhammad Ali or any one of his men, and he also knew that if he had demanded with firmness it would certainly have been possible to keep him in confinement in an English fort.
But he showed a total indifference in the matter. But life was cheap then. Orme has praised Sahib as “a brave, benevolent, humane and generous man, as princes go in Indostan. His military abilities were much greater than are commonly found in generals of India, in so much that if he had an absolute command over the French Troops, it is believed, he would not have committed the mistakes which brought on his catastrophe, and the total reduction of his army”.
Compared to Chanda Sahib Muhammad Ali, though conqueror of the former, was far inferior as a soldier, cowardly and contemptible even by contemporary standard. The English became soon tired of him.
Dupleix’s high hopes had been now dashed to the ground. But he refused to admit defeat and with firm determination he continued the struggle. It was due to the incredible folly and incompetence of his generals the much covetable and hoped for prize which was almost in his grip, was lost.
He, however, was not of the sort to be daunted by reverses. He won over the Maratha Chief Morari Rao and the ruler of Mysore to his side and secured the neutrality of the ruler of Mysore. Thus strengthening his position he renewed Trichinopoly (Dec. 1752). During the next year military engagements between the English and the French continued with occasional success and failure on both sides but Dupleix tenaciously continued his efforts to take Trichinopoly till he was recalled by the home government.
The French Government at home greatly concerned at the discomfiture of the French troops in India as also heavy financial losses which Dupleix’s Policy involved decided to recall him. Some historians are of the opinion that the French- authorities at home did not understand the “full implications of the masterly policy of their gifted governor”. But Dr. S. P. Sen observes that “It is not really true that the French Government and the Company did not appreciate the importance of Dupleix’s project. But for his reverses in the Carnatic he would not have been so abruptly recalled. Even when he was replaced by Godehu, it did not mean a complete reversal of his policy”.
In any case Godehu was sent to supersede Dupleix, and he arrived on August 1, 1754. Godehu at once opened negotiations with the English and a treaty was signed stipulating that French or the English would not interfere in the quarrels among the native princes, and both parties were left in occupation of territories actually under their respective possession. It may be remarked here that for all practical purposes it was a reversal of Dupleix’s policy, despite Dr. S. P. Sen’s contention to the contrary.
The Deccan, however, was still under the French influence where Bussy held his own against universal opposition, by the sheer dint of his ability and energy. The nobility of the Deccan who did not like the French, wanted to drive out Bussy and his men from the Deccan. It was Dupleix’s insistence and support that Bussy continued to stay there. Bussy was a shrewd, intelligent person.
He induced the Nizam to grant him four districts of Ellore, Mustafanagar, Rajahmundry and Chicacole, collectively called the Northern Sarkars for payment of the French troops which were to support the Nizam in times of need. The Northern Sarkars yielded an annual revenue of more than thirty lakhs. But despite such acquisition of advantages Bussy could not render any substantial assistance to the French during the critical hours in the Carnatic. The Second Carnatic War ended in misfortune for the French and they lost almost everything that Dupleix had gained for them.
Role of Joseph Francis Dupleix:
Joseph Francis Dupleix arrived in Pondicherry as a high official in 1720. This position was secured for him by his father who was the top man of the French Company Trading in the Indies. In 1730 he was raised to the position of the Governor of Chandernagore. His administrative ability, his diplomatic skill, his bold ideas and initiative soon attracted the notice of the authorities at home and he was made the Governor and Director General of the French Colonies in India in 1741 at Pondicherry; his predecessor in the post was Dumas. As the Governor of Chandernagore he had made it an important business centre and lifted it from its moribund condition.
At Pondicherry, where he succeeded Dumas, Dupleix’s genius found its proper field for expression. He found Pondicherry in famine condition due to the lack of cultivation as the after effect of the Maratha inroads. The defences of Pondicherry were worse than un-satisfactory, fortifications were in a hopeless condition. Yet, the air was surcharged with the rumour of Anglo-French hostilities in the wake of the War of Austrian Succession.
The authorities at home having joined the continental war insisted on drastic curtailment of expenditure in India and ordered suspension of outlay on fortifications or buildings. Dupleix drastically curtailed expenditure, retrenched salaries but he did not obey the orders of the authorities at home in respect of suspension of expenditure on fortifications. He even spent out of his personal fund to strengthen the defences of Pondicherry. The promptitude with which Dupleix accomplished all this evoked praise from the home government.
Character and Ability:
When the First Carnatic War began Dupleix displayed masterly skill both as a general and a diplomat. According to Malleson he resembled in features as well as in genius of Napoleon Bonaparte. Like Napoleon he was animated by an unbounded ambition and played for a great stake and displayed a power, a vitality, a richness of resources and genius which forced both fear and admiration.
Both in the arts of policy and diplomacy he demonstrated rare skill and although he himself did not succeed ultimately, the English attained signal success by understanding and following the line of action he drew up. Lord Macaulay considers him to be the first man who saw the possibility of a European empire in India on the ruins of the Mughal empire. As Alfred Lyall observes, “we accomplished for ourselves against the French exactly everything that the French intended to accomplish for themselves against us”.
Dupleix’s Secretary (dubash) Ananda Ranga Pillai who worked with him for many years writes: “Dupleix’s because none else is possessed of the quick mind with which he is gifted. In patience he has no equal. He has peculiar skill in carrying out his plans and designs in the management of affairs and in governing; in fitting his advice to times and persons, in maintaining at, all times an even countenance ; in doing things through proper agents ; in addressing them in appropriate terms ; and in assuming a bearing at once dignified towards all.”
Such eulogy coming as it does from a personal Secretary who had occasions to watch Dupleix from close quarters and through personal dealings, is certainly of unquestioned veracity. Dupleix’s faults were, according to Smith, those of an over-sanguine temperament, hope for snatching advantages out of critical situations and too much reliance on artifice in dealing with his opponents. His autocratic temper made it difficult for him to work with his equals which was a source of quarrels. His serious difference of opinion with La Bourdonnais is an instance in point.
Dupleix was an able administrator, an intrepid warrior, and a genius who possessed both foresight and insight. He planned like a genius and sought to implement it like a giant. If he failed, the failure was a dignified one and much due the incompetence of his lieutenants.
Dupleix was, however, not above the temptations of the time. He amassed large fortune by participating in private trade, took huge personal reward from Muzaffar Jang both in cash and jewels, he conspired with Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jang, all of which were copied by Robert Clive with greater cunning and complete success.
Dupleix’s Political Ideas: Dupleix’s Policy:
Historians differ as to the exact nature of the political ideas of Dupleix. The admirers of Dupleix regard him “as a pioneer among the empire builders and credit him with a mature and well-thought-out political plan, which failed only because of the apathy and negligence of the French Government and the Company”. According to Henry Martin “Dupleix was the first to realise the inevitable result of the contact between the static societies of the East and the progressive Societies of Europe. He judged India not by the Asians, like those who had ravaged her before, but by Europeans”. “His plan was as much prudent in respect of means as audacious in respect of the final objective.” For the failure of Dupleix’s plan and policy Henry Martin lays the entire blame on the French Government and the Company. He remarks, “There is not a single instance in modern history of a nation being betrayed to this extent by its own Governments”.
But a contrary view has been given by Alfred Martineau who says that Dupleix did not start with any conception of empire building; he was gradually driven to it by circumstances he had not foreseen earlier. The failure of Dupleix was as much to his own wrong moves and miscalculations as to the indifference of the home government. About his foresight and political ideas and plans Martineau states, “If the psychologist could penetrate with certainty into the thoughts of statesmen, there would be little, very little indeed, in their action which would appear to him inspired by high ideas, particularly by foresight and plans for the future. Dupleix did not escape this common Law”.
Dupleix’s motive and plan for a colonial empire in India, according to Martineau, were a means to get rid of the delay and insufficiency of funds that came from home. He, therefore, planned for a territorial revenue within India.
Yet, there can be no denying of the fact that Dupleix had indicated a new way which was to lead one day to the establishment of European domination in India.
Estimate of Dupleix:
Historians are not unanimous in their estimates of Dupleix. While some have denied him the honour of greatness, others have regarded him as a striking personality that left a mark in the history of India and a direction to the Europeans, so consummately followed by the English later on.
P. E. Roberts considers him to be a person that “raised the prestige of France in the East for some years, to an amazing height; he won a reputation among the Indian Princes and leaders that has never been surpassed, and he aroused a dread in his English contemporaries which is at once a tribute to his personal power, a testimony to his sagacity”.
As the Governor of Chandernagore he by his administrative ability and understanding of the situation converted that moribund centre into a humming town with increased trade and commerce, merchants and population. He did not hesitate to spend his personal funds for supporting the French traders with necessary loans.
In 1742 when he reached Pondicherry on promotion as Governor there, it was in a hopless state of defence. Pondicherry had not been able, by then, to overcome the after-effects of the Maratha inroads. Fields remained un-cultivated, famine which stalked the land had taken a heavy toll of population.
The War of the Austrian Succession had already begun in the European Continent and rumour of the impending Anglo-French conflict was in the air. Authorities at home ordered strictest economy and suspended outlay on buildings, fortifications etc. By strictest economy and retrenchment Dupleix while balanced the budget, he strengthened the defences of Pondicherry, which were in a bad shape by spending his personal fortune. Simultaneously he took steps for the development of trade and commerce making Pondicherry a very important commercial centre of South India. The home government when it learnt of the strengthening of defences by Dupleix despite their prohibition could not but appreciate his wisdom and far sight.
Dupleix was more than a politician, he was a Statesman. He possessed the insight which could understand and anticipate the change that was coming in the balance of political forces which actually took place a few years later. It was this quality that had enabled him to penetrate the inherent weaknesses of the south Indian political system and the decisive importance of the tiny European forces in India of the time. Dupleix had gradually formulated a definite policy of “building up French influence and domination by calculated interference in the native politics”. The first round of the Anglo- French conflict showed “Dupleix as ‘a diplomat and an organiser’. He displayed great talents as an “organiser and a diplomatist”. “He was the first European to exploit the weakness of the Indian military science in order to get political and territorial gains in India.” Macaulay rightly credits him as the first man that saw the possibility to find an empire on the ruins of the Mughal empire, and in fact, for a time the Nizam of the Deccan, the Nawab of Arcot and the Northern Sarkars were under the French influence. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle marked the zenith of his power.
Malleson’s comparison of Dupleix’s genius with that of Napoleon Bonaparte is not shared by sober historians. But “even if” remarks P. E. Roberts “we give up old uncritical estimate, we need not deny his (Dupleix’s) real greatness. His political conceptions were daring and imaginative”.
But Dupleix was more unfortunate than culpable. A careful and dispassionate consideration will show that several causes, other than own faults, led to his failure.
True, Dupleix’s imperious temperament had made him unsuited for working with equals. His quarrel with La Bourdonnais which compelled the latter to withdraw from the Indian seas was of disastrous consequence to the strength and security of the French.
Dupleix had taken upon himself too much responsibility and even did not keep the home government informed of his plans and activities. Many facts have recently come to light which show that he kept the authorities at home informed of his victories but concealing his defeats. His despatches never even mentioned capture of Arcot. Naturally, there was a communication gap which at least reflected the Company’s and the home authorities’ attitude towards him.
Dupleix failure was also due to the incredible folly and incompetence of his generals which made him lose the prize which was almost in his grip.
But it is agreed on all hands that the main and the immediate cause of Dupleix’s failure was the absence of appreciation of the merits of his plan and policy and lack of support and assistance from home. The contention that Dupleix did not keep the home government and the company informed of his plans and activities which was responsible for the attitude of the home government and the Company towards him only “reveals the inherent conviction of Dupleix, justified in a large measure by later events, that the government of France were either unwilling or unable to devote serious attention to the Indian issues and were always apt to view them as minor and subsidiary parts of their general policy”. Dupleix, therefore, thought of raising revenue in India and in (hat attempt he risked all his accumulated fortunes. Martin puts the entire blame on the French Government and the Company. He remarks: “There is not a single instance in modern history of a nation being betrayed to this extent by its own Government”.
Martineau on the other hand holds Dupleix himself responsible for his failure. He emphasises Dupleix’s wrong judgment and blind obstinacy as the causes of his failure. He remarks, “No doubt at the beginning, the error was legitimate, but in the later stage, when came an unending series of misfortunes and disillusions, it became evident that the substance was being sacrificed for the shadow. The blindness or the obstinacy of Dupleix was the principal cause of his fall”.
Some again suggest that Dupleix by dividing his forces by sending a part under Bussy to the Deccan had taken great risks. But Dupleix had enough military strength at his disposal to force the issue to a final decision.
It has to be mentioned that the second phase of events in the Carnatic was largely determined by personalities rather than by policy or circumstances. We cannot ignore the fact that Dupleix had to reckon with the “brilliant genius and bold dash of Clive on the one hand, and the indecision and lack of energy of Law on the other”.
In spite of divergence of opinion about the nature, practicability of his political conceptions and the causes of his fall, the fact remains that “he had indicated a new way which was to lead one day to the establishment of European domination in India”.
“But in spite of his final failure Dupleix”, observes P. E. Roberts, “is a striking and brilliant figure in Indian History’. He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest of Frenchmen. In grandness of his policy, in boundless extent of his conception he was the forerunner and unconsciously perhaps the inspirer of his ruins, the English.
Last Phase of the Anglo-French Conflict: Third Carnatic War: English Success In Bengal:
From the recall of Dupleix in August, 1754, Anglo-French hostilities remained dormant. Within two years (1756) the Seven Years War broke out in Europe and America. Its main cause was Austria’s desire to recover Silesia which she had lost to Prussia in the War of Austrian succession.
In this war England and France also took opposite sides. In the meantime Clive had returned to Madras and planned to oust Bussy from Hyderabad. But his action was delayed as the Bombay Council was not willing to support the plan. The French were too exhausted to think of hazarding a fight with the English.
In 1756 the year of the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War, the English position in Bengal was precarious due to the capture of Calcutta by Siraj-ud-daulah. Clive had to accompany Watson for recapturing Calcutta. Even in the circumstances the French could not think of opening, hostilities with the English without reinforcement arriving from home.
The main French armament arrived in 1758 from France under Comte de Lally who came with full power as governor and Commander-in-Chief. D’ Ache succeeded in defeating Peacock thereby clearing the coasts of British ships. Next Lally took Fort St. David without much effort. Lally now proceeded towards Madras, laid siege which he had ultimately to withdraw with the coming of British ships.
Here Lally committed a tactical mistake. He recalled Bussy from Hyderabad in order to mount a joint attack on Madras. While Lally was near Madras Forde defeated the French in the Deccan, occupied Masulipatam and concluded a peace treaty with the Nizam. By this treaty Nizam Salabat Jang made over the Northern Sarkars, i.e. Ellore, Chicacole, Rajahmahendry and………….. to the English.
These places were originally given to the French by Muzaffar Jang as a reward for their helping him to the Subahdarship of the Deccan. Early in 1760 Comte de Lally was completely defeated by Sir Eyre Coote in the battle of Wandiwash. Bussy was taken prisoner. Pondicherry was the only place to be reduced. For long eight months Pondicherry withstood the siege, the French under Lally fighting gallantly upto the last but had to surrender ultimately. With Lally’s surrender of January 16, 1761, the French power in India came to an end. The English entered Pondicherry, razed the city and its fort to the ground.
Thus ended the French hope of building up a colonial empire in India. Surrender of Pondicherry was followed by that of Jinji and Mahe. By the Peace of Paris 1763, the French received back all their possessions in India but on condition that these would not be used as centres of political activities. These were now to become commercial centres only.
Lally had been taken prisoner and sent to England but learning that certain unfounded charges were preferred against him by his own countrymen he obtained permission to return to France. This permission was granted him. But the influences of the governing clique proved too strong. He was condemned on most casual evidence and beheaded. Nawab should be placed in the hands of a minister called Deputy Subahdar, to be nominated by the English. This Deputy could not be removed from office without the consent of the English. Thus the administrative control of Bengal passed into the hands of the English and the Nawab became a powerless show piece.