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1637-1700 - European Conquests

India History Map - 1700In 1637 the last remnant of the Ahmadnagar kingdom was annexed by Shah Jehan (1627-1658). Aurangzib conquered Bijapur in 1686, Golconda in 1687, and all the territory south of the Kistna which had been dependent on these two kingdoms.

Still Aurangzib was unable to overcome the disorders which prevailed in his vast realm. The Rajputs and the Jats near Agra were in open hostility. The Moghul army was so demoralised that Vakinkera, a small mud-fort in the Dekkan, could only be subdued after the arrival of the emperor himself; and even then the chief who held it contrived to escape to Shorapur.

Kabul was always waiting an opportunity to throw off its allegiance. The Polygars in the south paid tribute only under compulsion. The Mahrattas were plundering and burning Malwa, Gujerat, and the Dekkan, which by incessant warfare had been reduced almost to a desert. The Moghul armies took fort after fort from the Mahrattas, but the latter were constantly retaking them, and Aurangzib with his degenerated troops was unable to subdue these stalwart warriors, who, when hard pressed, retired to their mountain fastnesses and defied generals, princes, and emperor alike.

Thus the overthrow of Bijapur and Golconda, which had so long kept down the Mahrattas (or Bergis), proved fatal to the Moghul empire, and enabled the Mahratta kingdom to rise on its ruins during the following century.

The year 1700 is a convenient time for enumerating the European possessions so far acquired in India. The Portuguese were the first on the scene. Prom the landing of Vasco da Gama in 1498 near Calicut to the appearance of the Dutch and English at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, they had a monopoly of trade between Europe and India. They took Goa in 1510, fortified Chaul in 1521, acquired Diu, Bassein, and the Bombay islands in 1534, and Daman in 1559,4 all of which except Bombay they still possessed in 1700.

The chief settlements of the Dutch founded in the 17th century were: Negapatam, Sadras, Pulikat, Bimlipatam, and Cochin. Although the English East India Company (founded 1600) had established factories at Surat (1611), Calicut, Masulipatam, and other places, they built their first fort (St. George) at Madras only in 1639. Bombay, given in 1661 to Charles II as part of the marriage portion of Catherine of Braganza, was finally handed over to the English East India Company in 1669. Fort St. David (south of Madras) was acquired by purchase in 1691. In 1696 the villages of Chuttanatti, Calcutta, and Govindpur were purchased from Azim-u-Shan, Aurangzib's grandson.

In 1700 the French possessed Masulipatam (1669), Pondicherry (1674), and Chandarnagar. At about the same time the Danes held Tranquebar and Serampur.



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