India at the Time of Clive c. 1760


Map Code: Ax02285

Robert Clive (1725–74) was born in Shropshire in 1725. He started his career in India as a Factor or Agent dealing with suppliers to the East India Company. The political situation in India, at least as far as the Europeans were concerned, was influenced by wars being fought in Europe. Thus the War of the Austrian Succession became the First Carnatic War in India (1745–48), and the European merchant companies had each raised armed forces to protect their interests. Clive enlisted in the Company army and his commitment and bravery led to his steady promotion. His conduct at the Siege of Arcot made him famous across India and Europe. In 1755, after returning to England and becoming a Member of Parliament, he became deputy governor of St. David. In 1756 the Nawab of Bengal seized the Company base at Calcutta, now Kalkata. After diplomacy failed Clive and Admiral Watson were sent to retake the city, which they achieved by January 1757. In February, to the northeast of Calcutta, Clive took the Nawab’s large and well-equipped army by surprise. Feeling utterly intimidated the Nawab made terms, surrendering Calcutta and offering compensation to the East India Company. Clive took the opportunity to seize the French possession of Chandernagore, improving Britain’s position in Bengal. Clive came to an agreement to make Mir Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur the new Nawab of Bengal. After Clive’s success at the Battle of Plassey on 23 June 1757 Mir Jafar’s position was confirmed and Clive and the Company received huge payments. Bengal was now indirectly under British control; actual control over upper India was confirmed by the British victory at Buxar in 1764. British domination of India had now begun.

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