Subsidiary Alliance

What is subsidiary alliance policy?

The subsidiary alliance system was utilized by Lord Wellesley, who served as Governor-General of India from 1798 to 1805, to construct an empire in India. Under the arrangement, the monarch of an allying Indian state was required to accept the permanent stationing of a British military unit within his territory and pay a stipend to keep it running. At addition, the Indian monarch had to agree to the stationing of a British resident in his court. The Indian ruler could not hire a European without first obtaining permission from the British, according to the agreement.


Without the governor’s permission, he couldn’t deal with any other Indian monarch. In exchange, the British would defend the monarch against his enemies and adhere to a policy of non-interference in the associated state’s internal affairs. Subsidiary alliances benefited the East India Company much by expanding the regions under British control and providing relative peace in terms of subsidies and/or territory. During Wellesley’s seven-year reign, almost 100 small and big Indian tribes ratified the subsidiary treaty.

Features of Subsidiary Alliance

Dupleix was most likely the first to hire European warriors to fight for Indian monarchs in their wars. From Clive until the current day, practically every governor-general has applied the model to various Indian states, bringing it close to perfection. Awadh was the first Indian state to fall into this protection trap (which foreshadowed the subsidiary alliance structure). In 1765, the Company committed to defend Awadh’s borders in exchange for the Nawab sharing the cost of such defense. As a gift to the Nawab, a British resident was stationed in Lucknow, most likely to keep an eye on what was going on.

In 1787, the Company mandated that the subsidiary state have no international ties. In February 1787, Cornwallis signed a treaty with the Nawab of Carnatic, which included this article. It was only natural that the next demand would be for territory cession in exchange for protection money (or subsidy). This was set at an excessively high rate that the poor rulers couldn’t afford, and they were regularly behind on their payments. It was Wellesley’s foresight to make negotiating for complete sovereignty territorial transfer in consideration for the preservation of the subsidiary army a universal practice.

Stages of Subsidiary Alliance

The subsidiary alliance was implemented over five Indian states in four stages, each of which was carried out invisibly. The Company agreed to give troops to a friendly Indian state to fight any battles that the state might be involved in as a first step. The second phase involved creating a common cause with the now-friendly Indian state and going to war with both its own and the state’s army. When the Indian ally was asked for money rather than men, the third stage began.

The Company offered to recruit, train, and retain a contingent of troops under British officers for the king’s personal and family security, as well as to keep aggressors out, for a specified sum of money. At the fourth or final step, the money or protection price was established, usually at a high level; if the state did not pay the money on time, the state was asked to transfer particular areas of its territory to the Company in lieu of payment. The Company’s engagement in state affairs had begun; now it was up to the British resident (who had been created in the state capital under the treaty) to start, maintain, and hasten the annexation process.

States that Have Joined the Alliance

The Nizam of Hyderabad (September 1798 and 1800), the rulers of Mysore (1799), Tanjore (1799), the Nawab of Awadh (November 1801), the Peshwa (December 1801), the Bhonsle Raja of Berar (December 1803), Sindhia (February 1804), the Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Macheri, and Bundi, and the ruler of Bharat (February 1804) (1818). The Holkars joined the Subsidiary Alliance in 1818, making them the last Maratha confederation to do so.


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