The French East India Company, Compagnie Francaise pour le Commerce des Indes Orientales, was founded in 1664 out of three earlier French trading companies created to operate in the orient. The sphere of operations ran from the Cape of Good Hope to the Straits of Magellan and the Company was granted a 50-year monopoly on French trade in this huge slice of the world. The Company became established in India at Chandernagore in 1673, Pondicherry in 1699, Mahé in 1725 and Karikal in 1738. The Company almost went bankrupt during the early years in India, but was reorganized by John Law, a Scottish economist and economic advisor to the French crown. By 1741, with the Mughal Empire in decline, the Company decided to intervene in Indian political affairs, forging alliances with a number of local rulers in order to protect and enhance the Company’s interests. Under the leadership of Joseph François Dupleix, this policy was vigorously enacted, expanding the area under French control and influence. Ultimately, British forces under Robert Clive defeated French efforts to dominate in India; nevertheless several key ports, such as Pondicherry, Yanaon and Mahé, remained under French control until 1954.
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