India saw the rise of a great hero in the Southern India named Haidar Ali during the time of Warren Hastings.
He was a great hero among all the heroes of 18th century India. He established an independent kingdom in India. He was illiterate and began his career as an ordinary soldier in the army of the Hindu King of Mysore.
The Prime Minister of the kingdom was impressed with his valour and showed him favour. Haidar began to rise in ranks. At last he took full advantage of the king’s weakness and captured power. He was a man of strong determination and iron will. He combined intelligence and diplomacy with courage and bravery.
After capturing the throne of Mysore he looked down over the Deccan for expansion of territories. The aggressive designs of Haidar alarmed other powers. The English, the Marathas and the Nizam all were affected by his hostile attitude and thus declared him as their common enemy. The Marathas being more powerful defeated Haidar and captured some portions of his territory. On the other-hand the Nizam and Warren Hastings entered into an agreement to combine their forces to fight against Haidar. But the Nizam apprehending danger from Haidar’s side remained neutral.
Therefore Haidar’s anger fell upon the English and considered the English as his enemy. He began to punish the English. In 1779 with his own army he attacked Madras. The English were not in readiness to fight and therefore agreed to sign a treaty out of fear. It was decided that the English should help Haidar if and when another power would attack him. But after sometime the Marathas attacked Haidar but the English did not come to help him. That enraged Haidar. He waited for an opportunity to punish the English.
There was a small French factory at Mahe in the territory of Haidar. The English captured it. There upon Haidar declared war in 1780. Haidar with 80,000 soldiers threatened the British power in the South. It was a grave danger to the English Company’s position. Warren Hastings the English Governor General immediately sent General Eyre Coote to face the enemy. Both the sides fought desperately. Haidar secured help from the French navy.
The course of the war remained undecided. Haidar unfortunately died in the middle of the war in 1782. Eyre Coote also died in 1783 in broken health in Madras. Haidar Ali earned fame in Indian history as a relentless foe of the British Company. He was succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan at that critical time. He was the worthy son of a worthy father. He conducted the unfinished war of his father with equal determination.
He proved his worth as a soldier by defeating an English force and taking it as prisoner. But at last both the sides got tired and ended the war by a treaty. Tipu ruled Mysore and Warren Hastings left India. There came the Second Anglo-Mysore War to end with the treaty. Both sides however knew that peace was only a pause and the treaty temporary. Tipu’s anger was deep. The British also knew him as one of their worst enemies.
During the early phase of Lord Cornwallis’s rule the situation was peaceful. His masters at home advised him to avoid wars. But on arrival in India Cornwallis came to know that war with Tipu Sultan was unavoidable. Tipu’s aggressive policy appeared for the English Company too dangerous. He was negotiating with France and Turkey for military help. His ambassadors returned with high hopes.
The hostility of Tipu became a serious matter for Cornwallis. Thus he had no other alternative than to prepare for war. It became very clear that both the sides wanted war. At last it was Tipu who took the aggressive step. He invaded a tiny kingdom of Travancore.
The king of the state happened to be a friend of the English and the Company Government was responsible for his security. An attack on a friendly state was regarded as an act of hostility and Cornwallis regarded it as Tipu’s call of war. Tipu’s power also alarmed the Nizam and the Marathas. They thus prepared for war against him. With the result the English, the Marathas and the Nizam formed an alliance against Tipu.
Their combined forces fought against the armies of Tipu. This war known as Third Anglo-Mysore War lasted for two years. The forces of Tipu appeared to be too powerful. Lord Cornwallis therefore himself took the battle field as the Commander-in-Chief. At last his army reached the capital of Tipu Sultan Srirangapattan. Outside the capital Tipu fought a heroic battle but it became difficult for him to resist the English army. Tipu therefore agreed for peace.
A treaty was signed known as the Treaty of Srirangapattan in 1792. According to the terms of the treaty Tipu surrendered half of his territory to enemies which was divided among themselves by the English, the Marathas and the Nizam. Tipu paid three million pounds to the English as war compensation. Further for his good conduct in future he was forced to send two of his sons to Cornwallis as hostages.
Cornwallis was blamed in future for not destroying Tipu Sultan’s power once for all. Any peace with him was temporary. He did not fight with English as long as Cornwallis stayed but after his departure once again war with Tipu became inevitable. The Treaty of Srirangapattan however was a humiliating treaty with an Indian independent ruler.
The most outstanding imperialist Governor General Lord Wellesley introduced the Subsidiary Alliance to curb the independent authority of Indian native states. The weak Nizam of Hyderabad sold his sovereignty to the English in order to gain security. Tipu Sultan, the brave warrior-ruler of Mysore could not even dream of accepting an alliance like that. He was a relentless enemy of the British. Though defeated in the last battle he never gave up his will to fight again.
He was in search of an opportunity to avenge his earlier defeats. By a series of measures he tried to improve the stability of his kingdom. The capital city was fortified strongly. The army was reorganised with modern lines with the help of the French Commanders. He allowed the French to hoist their flag in his own capital Srirangapattan. He established good relation with the French. Thus the Sultan felt bold to fight with English with new hopes.
On the other-hand Wellesley was not the man to telerate such activities. He declared that Tipu’s relation with foreign country and his permission to the French to come were hostile acts against the British and he took it as a challenge and a declaration of war against the company. With such arguments the imperialist Wellesley proceeded to fight against Tipu.