The Carnatic Wars: The Anglo-French Struggle for Supremacy

 The Carnatic Wars

Carnatic Wars - Wikipedia


  • Despite the fact that they came to India to trade, the British and French were eventually drawn into India’s politics. They both wanted to cement political power in the region.
  • The Anglo-French conflict in India reflected the traditional rivalry between England and France throughout their histories, beginning with the start of the Austrian War of Succession and ending with the Seven Years War.
  • The struggle in India, which took the form of three Carnatic wars, determined for all time that the English, not the French, would be the country’s masters. In 1740, the political situation in South India was hazy and complex.
  • While his servants pondered about what might happen if Nizam Asaf Jah of Hyderabad died, he was engaged fighting the Marathas in the western Deccan.
  • To the south of his dominion, the Coromandel coast needed a strong ruler to keep the balance of power in check. Instead, the ancient Vijayanagara monarchy persisted in the Malabar coast’s inner Mysore, Cochin, and Travancore, as well as the east coast’s Madura (Madurai), Tanjore (Thanjavur), and Trichinopoly (Thiruchirapally).
  • The fall of Hyderabad heralded the end of Muslim expansionism, and English explorers made preparations in advance. The Maratha kingdom of Tanjore also permitted the Peshwa of Pune to interfere whenever he pleased.

The Carnatic War I (1749-54)


  • Europeans gave the Coromandel coast and its hinterland the name Carnatic. The Austrian War of Succession sparked the Anglo-French War in Europe, and the First Carnatic War was a continuation of that battle.
  • Despite the fact that France did not want to extend hostilities to India because of its inferior position, the English fleet led by Barnet seized some French ships in order to aggravate France. In 1746, France retaliated by seizing Madras with the help of a squadron led by Admiral La Bourdonnais, the French governor of Mauritius, from Mauritius, the French island of Mauritius. The first Carnatic War erupted as a result.


  • The First Carnatic War ended in 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle, which ended the Austrian War of Succession. Under the terms of the treaty, Madras was returned to the English, and the French received their holdings in North America in exchange.


The Battle of St. Thome (in Madras), fought between French forces and soldiers of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English appealed for help, is considered a watershed moment in the First Carnatic War.

A small French force led by Captain Paradise defeated a huge Indian army led by Mahfuz Khan at St. Thome on the Adyar River. This served as a wake-up call for the Europeans in India, demonstrating that even a small, disciplined force could easily defeat a much larger Indian army. Furthermore, this war vividly illustrated the necessity of naval force in the Anglo-French struggle in the Deccan.

The Carnatic War II (1749-54)


The Second Carnatic War was framed by rivalries in India. In order to battle the English, Dupleix, the French governor who had led the French soldiers to victory in the First Carnatic War, intended to expand his authority and political influence in southern India by meddling in local dynastic concerns.

The release by the Marathas of Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of Dost Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic, in 1748, and the death of Nizam-ul-Mulk, the founder of the independent state of Hyderabad, in 1748, provided the opportunity. Muzaffar Jang, the Nawab’s grandson, ousted Nasir Jang, the Nizam’s son, from the throne of Hyderabad, alleging that the Mughal Emperor had appointed him as governor of the Carnatic.

Chanda Sahib despised Anwar-ud-din Khan’s nomination as Nawab of Carnatic. Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib in the Deccan and Carnatic, respectively, received French backing, while Nasir Jang and Anwar-ud-din received English support.

The War’s Progress

The combined forces of Muzaffar Jang, Chanda Sahib, and the French defeated and killed Anwaruddin at the Battle of Ambur (near Vellore) in 1749. Dupleix was named governor of all Mughal territories south of the Krishna River, while Muzaffar Jang was named subahdar of Deccan. A French army led by Bussy was stationed in Hyderabad to protect French interests.

The French were awarded territory in the Pondicherry area as well as parts of the Orissa coast (including Masulipatnam). Following the failure of the English company’s agent (‘factor’) Robert Clive to provide real assistance to Muhammad Ali at Trichinopoly, he advocated a diversionary attack against the governor of Madras, Saunders. To relieve Trichinopoly’s strain, he recommended a surprise attack on Arcot, the Carnatic capital. Chanda Sahib, he reasoned, would rush to protect his capital in such a circumstance.

As a result, Robert Clive invaded and conquered Arcot with only 210 men in August 1751. Chanda Sahib hastened to his city, bringing with him 4,000 Trichinopoly warriors, but he was unable to recover the fort despite a 53-day siege from September 23 to November 14. Mysore, Tanjore, and the Maratha leader, Morari Rao, were now assisting Trichinopoly, Clive, and Stringer Lawrence.

Trichinopoly was the first to be freed from the siege, while General Law of France remained imprisoned with Chanda Sahib on the island of Srirangam. The British were forced to concede when Muhammad Ali assassinated Chanda Sahib in June 1752 and the British failed to interfere.


Enraged by Dupleix’s policy’s significant financial losses, the French government decided to recall him in 1754. Godeheu succeeded Dupleix as the French Governor-General in India. Godeheu began a diplomatic campaign with the English, and they agreed to a treaty with him. The English and French agreed not to intervene in disputes between native authorities. In addition, each side was given control of the lands they had occupied at the time of the accord. Historians claim that the French halted hostilities in India because of fear of repercussions in America.

It became evident that the permission of Indian authorities was no longer essential for European success; rather, Indian authorities were becoming more reliant on European support. Salabat Jang in Hyderabad and Muhammad Ali in the Carnatic were treated more like clients than patrons.

Carnatic War III (1758-63)


The Seven Years War (1756-63) erupted in Europe when Austria attempted to retake Silesia in 1756. The United Kingdom and France were on opposite sides once more.

In India, the course of the war

The French army, led by Count de Lally, conquered the English forts of St. David and Vizianagaram in 1758. The English launched an attack on Admiral D’Ache’s French fleet at Masulipatnam, causing substantial damage.

Wandiwash’s Battle

The English won the concluding battle of the Third Carnatic War at Wandiwash (or Vandavasi) in Tamil Nadu on January 22, 1760. General Eyre Coote’s English army routed Count Thomas Arthur de Lally’s French army and took Bussy. Lally fought Pondicherry valiantly for eight months until succumbing on January 16, 1761. With the collapse of Jinji and Mahe, French dominance in India was at an all-time low. Following his capture as a prisoner of war in London, where he was imprisoned and executed in 1766, Lally returned to France.

What were the Results of Carnatic Wars

Carnatic region | Wikipedia audio article - YouTube

The Third Carnatic War ended in a resounding victory. Despite the Treaty of Paris (1763), which restored French industries in India, French political influence in India faded after the war. Following that, the French in India, like their Portuguese and Dutch forefathers, restricted themselves to small enclaves and trade.

The English became the dominant European force on the Indian subcontinent when the Dutch were defeated in the Battle of Bidara in 1759. The Battle of Plassey, which took place in 1757, is often regarded as the decisive event that ushered in British dominance of India.

The victory of British forces over French forces at Wandiwash in 1760, however, is often recognized as the true turning point in British authority over the subcontinent. After the victory at Wandiwash, the English East India Company had no European opponents in India.

As a result, they were ready to seize complete control of the country. During the Battle of Wandiwash, Native Americans served as sepoys in both armies. It leads one to believe that the fall of India to European invaders was a given conclusion, regardless of who won. The native kings lacked both awareness of current geopolitics and foresight.

Significance of Carnatic Wars

The English corporation was a private organization that promoted pride and self-assurance in the people. With less government monitoring, this company could make swift decisions without having to wait for approval. The French company, on the other hand, was a state-owned corporation.

It was governed and regulated by the French government, and it was hemmed in by government policies and decision-making delays. The English navy outclassed the French fleet, and it helped shut off a vital maritime route between France and its Indian colonies. Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras were under English rule, while Pondicherry was under French control.

The French placed territorial ambition over corporate interests, resulting in a cash-strapped French enterprise. Regardless of their imperialistic objectives, the British always kept their commercial interests in mind. As a result, they’ve always had the funds and, as a result, a strong financial position to help them considerably in battles with their opponents.

The British commanders’ dominance in the British camp was a key factor in the English victory in India. On the French side, there was just Dupleix, compared to the English side’s extended line of leaders—Sir Eyre Coote, Major Stringer Lawrence, Robert Clive, and many others.



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