Spectrum Modern History Synopsis 1 For UPSC Prelims 2020-21


A. The Portuguese in India-1498: Spectrum Modern History 
1. Quest for and Discovery of a Sea Route to India
  • In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks
  • Red Sea trade route was a state monopoly from which Islamic rulers earned tremendous revenues.
  • Land routes to India were also controlled by the Arabs.
  • Fifteenth-century-spirit of the Renaissance in Europe.
  • Prosperity also grew and with it the demand for oriental luxury goods also increased.
  • Prince Henry of Portugal, who was nicknamed the ‘Navigator’
  • Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), rulers of Portugal and Spain divided the non-Christian world between them by an imaginary line in the Atlantic, some 1,300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands.

Portugal could claim and occupy everything to the east of the line while Spain could claim everything to the west.

Portuguese From Trading to Ruling: Spectrum Modern History 

  1. Vasco Da Gama
  • The arrival of Vasco Da Gama, led by a Gujarati pilot named Abdul Majid, at Calicut in May 1498.
  • Ruler of Calicut –Zamorin in (Samuthiri)-1498
  • Arab traders, who had a good business on the Malabar coast
  • Participants in the Indian Ocean- Indians, Arabs, Africans from the east coast, Chinese, Javanese
  • Pedro Alvarez Cabral to trade for spices, negotiating and establishing a factory at Calicut, where he arrived in September1500.
  • Vascoda Gama set up a trading factory at Cannanore
  • Calicut, Cannanore and Cochin became the important trade centres of the Portuguese.

2. Francisco DeAlmeida

  • In 1505, the King of Portugal appointed a governor in India-Francisco De Almeida
  • Built fortresses at Anjadiva, Cochin, Cannanore and Kilwa
  • Policy was known as the Blue Water Policy (cartage system).

3. Alfonso de Albuquerque

  • Real founder of the Portuguese power in the East
  • Portuguese strongholds in East Africa, off the Red Sea, at Ormuz; in Malabar; and at Malacca.
  • Sultan of Bijapur became the first bit of Indian Territory to be under the Europeans.

4. Nino da Cunha

  1. November 1529
  2. Headquarters shifted from Cochin to Goa
  3. Bahadur Shah of Gujarat promised them a base in Diu.
  4. Humayun withdrew from Gujarat in 1536
Favorable Conditions for Portuguese
  • Gujarat, ruled by the powerful Mahmud Begarha (1458-1511)
  • The Portuguese had cannons placed on their ships
Portuguese State
  • Sixty miles of coast around Goa
  • The Portuguese established military posts and settlements on the east coast at San Thome (in Chennai) and Nagapatnam (in Andhra)
  • Treaties were signed between Goa and the Deccan sultans in1570
  • The Portuguese always had a role to play in the successive battles for the balance of power between Vijayanagara and the Deccan sultans, between the Deccanis and the Mughals, and between the Mughals and the Marathas.
Portuguese Administration in India The Vendor da Fazenda, responsible for revenues and the cargoes and dispatch of fleets
Religious Policy of the Portuguese Intolerant towards the Muslims

Zeal to promote Christianity.

Portuguese Lose Favor with the Mughals
  • 1608, Captain William Hawkins with his ship Hector reached Surat. Jahangir appointed him as a man Sardar of 400 at a salary of Rs 30,000.
  • In November 1612, the English ship Dragon under Captain Best along with a little ship, the Osiander, successfully fought a Portuguese fleet
The capture of Hooghly-
  • On the basis of an imperial Farman circa 1579, the Portuguese had settled down on a riverbank which was a short distance from Saigon in Bengal and later migrated to Hooghly.
  • On June 24, 1632-Hooghly was seized.

Bengal governor- Qasim Khan

The decline of the Portuguese
  • The emergence of powerful dynasties in Egypt, Persia, and North India and the rise of the turbulent Marathas as their immediate neighbors.
  • Religious policies of the Portuguese gave rise to political fears.
  • Dishonest trade practices
  • Earned notoriety as sea pirates
  • Goa which remained with the Portuguese had lost its importance as a port after the fall of the Vijayanagara empire.
  • Marathas invaded Goa-1683
  • Rise of dutch and English commercial ambitions.
  • Diversion to the west due to the discovery of Brazil.
Significance of the Portuguese
  • Marked the emergence of naval power
  • Portuguese ships carried cannon
  • An important military contribution made by the Portuguese onshore was the system of drilling groups of infantry, on the Spanish model, introduced in the 1630

Masters of improved techniques at sea

B. The Dutch-1596: Spectrum Modern History 
Cornelis de Houtman was the first Dutchman to reach Sumatra and Bantam in1596.
Dutch Settlements
  • The Dutch founded their first factory in Masulipatnam (in Andhra) in1605
  • Captured Nagapatam near Madras (Chennai) from the Portuguese and made it their main stronghold in South India.
  • The Dutch established factories on the Coromandel coast, in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Bihar.
  • In 1609, they opened a factory in Pulicat, north of Madras. Their other principal factories in India were at Surat (1616), Bimlipatam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Baranagar, Kasimbazar (near Murshidabad), Balasore, Patna, Nagapatam(1658) and Cochin(1663).
  • They carried indigo manufactured in the Yamuna valley and Central India, textiles and silk from Bengal, Gujarat and the Coromandel, saltpeter from Bihar and opium and rice from the Ganga valley.
Anglo-Dutch Rivalry
  • A serious challenge to the commercial interests of the Dutch by the English.
  • The climax of the enmity between the Dutch and the English in the East was reached at Amboyna (a place in present-day Indonesia, which the Dutch had captured from the Portuguese in 1605) where they massacred ten Englishmen and nine Japanese in1623.
  • 1667- Dutch retired from India and moved to Indonesia.
  • They monopolised the trade in black pepper and spices. The most important Indian commodities the Dutch traded in were silk, cotton, indigo, rice and opium.
The decline of the Dutch in India
  • The Dutch got drawn into the trade of the Malay Archipelago
  • Third Anglo-Dutch War(1672-74)
  • The retaliation by the English resulted in the defeat of the Dutch, in the battle of Hooghly (November 1759)
  • Their concerns were trade.
  • Commercial interest lay in the Spice Islands of Indonesia
  • Battle of bidarka-1759 the English defeated Dutch.
  • C. The English-1599: Spectrum Modern History 
Charter of Queen Elizabeth I
  • Francis Drake’s voyage around the world in 1580 and the English victory over the Spanish Armada in1588
  • In 1599 ‘Merchant Adventurers’ formed accompany
  • On December 31, 1600, Queen Elizabeth I issued a charter with rights of exclusive trading to the company named the ‘Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies’.
Progress of the English Company: Spectrum Modern History 
Foothold in West and South
  • In 1611, the English had started trading at Masulipatnam on the south-eastern coast of India and later established a factory there in 1616.
  • Establish a factory at Surat under Thomas Aldworth-1613
  • In 1615, Sir Thomas Roe came as an accredited ambassador of James I to the court of Jahangir.
  • Secure permission to set up factories at Agra, Ahmedabad and Broach.
  • Bombay had been gifted to King Charles II by the King of Portugal as dowry when Charles married the Portuguese princess Catherine in 1662. Bombay was given over to the East India Company on an annual payment of ten pounds only in 1668.
  • Bombay was made the headquarters by shifting the seat of the Western Presidency from Surat to Bombay in1687.
  • Golden Farman’ issued by the Sultan of Golconda in 1632. On a payment of 500 pagodas a year, they earned the privilege of trading freely in the ports of Golconda.
  • The British merchant Francis Day, in 1639 received from the ruler of Chandragiri permission to build a fortified factory at Madras which later became the Fort St. George and replaced Masulipatnam as the headquarters of the English settlements in south India.
  • English extended their trading activities to the east and started factories at Hariharpur in the Mahanadi delta and at Balasore (in Odisha) in1633.
Foothold in Bengal
  • Shah Shuja, the subahdar of Bengal in 1651, allowed the English to trade in Bengal in return for an annual payment of Rs3,000.
  • Factories in Bengal were started at Hooghly (1651) and other places like Kasimbazar, Patna and Rajmahal.
  • William Hedges, the first agent and governor of the Company in Bengal
  • Shayista Khan, the Mughal governor of Bengal in August 1682
  • The English retaliated by capturing the imperial forts at Thana (modern GardenReach), raiding Hijli in east Midnapur and storming the Mughal fortifications at Balasore.
  • English factory was established on February 10, 1691, the day an imperial farman was issued permitting the English to “continue contentedly their trade in Bengal” on payment of Rs 3000 a year in lieu of all dues.
  • In 1698, the English succeeded in getting the permission to buy the zamindari of the three villages of Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata (Kalighat) on payment of Rs 1,200.
  • The fortified settlement was named Fort William in the year 1700 when it also became the seat of the eastern presidency (Calcutta) with Sir Charles Eyre as its first president.
Farrukhsiyar’s Farmans-
  • Farrukhsiyar secured three famous Farmans (Magna Carta), in Bengal, Gujarat, and Hyderabad- 1715
  • Company’s Exports and imports are exempted for custom duties except annual payment of 3000 rupees in Bengal.
  • Issues of dastans for transportation.
  • East India Company was exempted from the levy of all duties in surat on annual payment of 10000.
  • The coins of the Company minted at Bombay were to have currency throughout the Mughal empire
  • Sir William Norris as its ambassador to the court of Aurangzeb (January 1701-April1702)
  • Under pressure from the Crown and the Parliament, the two companies were amalgamated in 1708 under the title of ‘United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies’.
D. The French-1667: Spectrum Modern History 
Foundation of French Centres in India-
  • Louis XIV, the king’s famous minister Colbert laid the foundation of the Compagnie des Indes Orientales (French East India Company) in 1664 The Compagnie des Indes Orientales was granted a 50-year monopoly.
  • In 1667, Francois Caron headed an expedition to India, setting up a factory in Surat. Mercara, a Persian who accompanied Caron,
  • Founded another French factory in Masulipatnam in1669
  • In 1673 established a township at Chandernagore near Calcutta.
Pondicherry—Nerve Centre of French Power in India
  • In 1673, Sher Khan Lodi, the governor of Valikondapuram (under the Bijapur Sultan)
  • Francois Martin, the director of the Masulipatnam factory.
  • Pondicherry was founded in 1674. And Caron became the French governor.
  • Mahe, Karaikal, Balasore and Qasim Bazar were a few important trading centres of the French East India Company.
Early Setbacks to the French East India Company-
  • The Dutch captured Pondicherry in1693
  • Treaty of Ryswick concluded in September 1697 restored Pondicherry to the French, the Dutch garrison held on to it for two more years.
  • Francois Martin died on December 31, 1706.
  • In 1720, the French company was reorganized as the ‘Perpetual Company of the Indies’.
The Anglo-French Struggle for Supremacy: the Carnatic Wars: Spectrum Modern History 
Background of Rivalry
  • It began with the outbreak of the Austrian War of Succession and ended with the conclusion of the Seven Years War.
First Carnatic War (1740-48)
  • Carnatic-Coromandel coast and its hinterland
  • Extension of the Anglo-French War caused by the Austrian War of Succession.
  • France retaliated by seizing Madras in 1746, Thus began the first Carnatic War.
  • Treaty of Aix-La Chapelle was signed bringing the Austrian War of Succession to a conclusion.- Madras was handed back to the English, and the French, got their territories in North America.
  • The First Carnatic War is remembered for the Battle of St. Thome (in Madras) on the banks of the River Adyar fought between the French forces and the forces of Anwar-ud-din, the Nawab of Carnatic, to whom the English appealed for help.
Second Carnatic War (1749-54)
  • The background for the Second Carnatic War was provided by rivalry in India.
  • The opportunity was provided by the death of Nizam-ul-Mulk, the founder of the independent kingdom of Hyderabad, in 1748, and there lease of Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of Dost Ali, the Nawab of Carnatic, by the Marathas.
  • The French supported the claims of Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib in the Deccan and Carnatic, respectively, while the English sided with Nasir Jang and Anwar-ud-din.
  • The combined armies of Muzaffar Jang, Chanda Sahib and the French defeated and killed Anwaruddin at the Battle of Ambur (near Vellore) in1749.
  • Muzaffar Jang became the subahdar of Deccan, and Dupleix was appointed governor of all the Mughal territories to the south of the River Krishna.
  • In August 1751, with only a force of 210 men Robert Clive attacked and captured Arcot.
Third Carnatic War (1758-63)
  • In 1758, the French army under Count de Lally captured the English forts of St. David and Vizianagaram in1758.
  • Battle of Wandiwash The decisive battle of the Third Carnatic War was won by the English on January 22, 1760 at Wandiwash (or Vandavasi) in Tamil Nadu.
  • Treaty of Peace of Paris (1763) restored to the French their factories in India
  • Dutch had already been defeated in the Battle of Bidara in1759.
  • The victory at Wandiwash left the English East India Company with no European rival in India
Causes for the English Success and the French Failure
  • The English company was a private enterprise—with less governmental control over it, The French Company, on the other hand, was a State concern. It was controlled and regulated by the French government.
  • The English navy was superior to the French navy
  • The English held three important places, namely, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras whereas the French had only Pondicherry.
  • The French subordinated their commercial interest to territorial ambition, which made the French company short of funds.
  • The superiority of the commanders in the British camp
E. The Danes-1620: Spectrum Modern History 
  • Founded a factory at Tranquebar near Tanjore, on the eastern coast of India. Their principal settlement was at Serampore near Calcutta.
Why the English Succeeded against Other European Powers?
  • Structure and Nature of the Trading Companies – English East India Company was controlled by a board of directors whose members were elected annually.
  • Naval Superiority– The Royal Navy of Britain was not only the largest; it was most advanced of its times. The victory against the Spanish Armada and against the French at Trafalgar had put the Royal Navy at the peak of the European naval forces.
  • Industrial Revolution – The industrial revolution reached other European nations late and this helped England to maintain its hegemony.
  • Military Skill and Discipline– British soldiers were disciplined lot and well trained.
  • Stable Government

  • Lesser Zeal for Religion
  • Use of Debt Market

The world’s first central bank—the Bank of England—was established to sell government debt to the money markets on the promise of a decent return on Britain’s defeating rival countries.



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