Dalhousie and the Doctrine of Lapse

Dalhousie who arrived in India as the Governor General in 1848 made an attempt to integrate Indian princely states with the British Empire. He adopted Doctrine of Lapse policy whereby the adopted children of Indian Kings were refused of their right to throne.

According to this policy, “If any Indian ruler dies without children, their adopted children had no legal right over the throne”. And such state gets merged with the British Empire. Princely states like Satara, Nagpur, Sambalpur, Udaipur, Jhansi, Jaipur came under this policy. As the Governor General knew the conditions of these states, he used this policy as a political weapon.
With the severe implementation of this policy not only the princely families, even ordinary people who sympathetic to these kings rebelled against the Company. Their love for their Kings and the sense of loyalty fuelled this rebellion further. This finally resulted in the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Know this:
Ranjith Singh: Ranjith Singh was born in 1780 as the son of Malan Singh who headed Sukkarchakkia misl, one of the twelve Misls of Punjab. He lost his father by the age of ten. When JamanSha of Kabul invaded India, Ranjith Singh offered his services to him. JamanSha made him the governor of Lahore along with the title ‘Raja’. He was nineteen years old by then. From hereafter, he grew up in an amazing way. He aimed at achieving absolute power over all the Sikhs. He took control over all the Sikh Misls present to the West of Sutlej and established his own Sikh Kingdom. He entered ‘Continuous Agreement’ with the British in 1809 at Amritsar. He organised his army on the lines of European armies. His army included Gorkhas, Biharis, Pathans and even Muslims apart from Sikhs. He founded a Foundry Workshop at Lahore in order manufacture Canons. The army of Ranjith Singh was the best among all the Indian rulers of that time. He was secular in temperament and supported both Hindu and Muslim spiritual leaders. People from all religions held high offices in his regime. He was successful in protecting his state from the British by not having any enmity with them. Meanwhile, even the British wanted a strong Buffer State to protect them from invasions from the North West of India. In nutshell, Ranjith Singh founded an independent Sikh state and ruled it as an independent king till his death in 1839.

The Consolidation of the British Power (1818-1857)

The British completed their agenda of ruling the entire India from 1818 to 1857. They occupied major states like Sindh, Awadh and many other smaller states.
Anglo-Sikh Wars: A political anarchy broke out in Punjab after the death of King Ranjith Singh in 1839. The British attempted to invade Punjab violating the Continuous Friendship Pact, they had with the erstwhile King. In December 1845, a war broke out between the British and Punjab. Sensing the danger from an outside force; Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims got together to defeat the British. Finally, they had to accept defeat due to few traitor leaders. They signed a humiliating Lahore Agreement in 1846. With the British Resident became the de facto ruler of Punjab. Like this, Punjab became the dependent state of East India Company.
The Sikh opposed the attempts by the British to rule Punjab directly. The opposition were led by ‘Chattar Singh Attariwala’ in Lahore and ‘Moolraj’ in Multan. Again the people of Punjab were defeated. Finally, Lord Dalhousie merged the state of Punjab with the British Empire.

Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1805)

The differences among the Maratha Chieftains was the reason for this war. An enmity broke out between Yeshwanth Rao of Holkar family and DaulthRao of Sindhia family along with Peshwa Balaji Rao II. In 1802, the army of Holkar defeated the army of Scindia and the Peshwa. The Peshwa appealed for help from the British. Lord Wellesley finally got an opportunity to meddle with the affairs of Marathas. The Peshwa entered the Subsidiary Alliance system by accepting the Treaty of Bassein. Other Maratha families like Holkar, Gwalior and Bhonsle formed an alliance opposing this treaty. Lord Wellesley defeated the armies of various Maratha families from 1803 to 1805. But, his battle thristiness increased the financial burden on the Company. On being criticised for this policy, Lord Wellesley resigned from his post and returned to England. This resulted in peace in the region.
Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818)
The Maratha families tried their best to protect their independence and honour. Even the Peshwa attempted to free himself from the clutches of the Company. The Peshwa attacked the British Residency in Poona and brunt it down. Appa Saheb of Nagapur and Malhar Rao Holkar rebelled against the British and were supressed ruthlessly. Finally, Peshwa Baji Rao II fought against the British at Koregaon and Ashti and later surrendered to the British. The British abolished the Peshwa post and granted a pension to BajiRao II. They installed Pratapa simha, the descendant of Shivaji as the ruler of Satara, a miniscule state, and named him as the traditional leader of Marathas and suppressed the Maratha resistance.

Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

and the Subsidiary Alliance:
The expansion of the British Empire took place in a larger pace after the arrival of Lord Wellesley as the Governor General of India.

By this time, the powerful states of Marathas and Mysore had become weak and the expansion was easier. Lord Wellesley followed three policies to expand the British Empire in India. They were: Subsidiary Alliance, Waging war against new states and administering the states directly that were under the control of the British.
Subsidiary Alliance:

Lord Wellesley brought this policy into effect in 1798 in order bring the Indian states under control. This was basically a Military Protection agreement between the East India Company and the Indian State.
The Conditions of Subsidiary Alliance:
1. The Indian King had to keep the British Army in his kingdom.
2. The concerned state had to bear the expenses of the army and the wages of soldiers, and also had to give certain revenue lands as well.
3. The King has to have a British Resident in his Court.
4. The King could not appoint any other European without the permission of the British.
5. In order to enter any agreement or pact with any Indian Government, the permission of the Governor General was mandatory.
6. In return of all these services, the Company would offer protection to the state from any internal or external aggression.
The British could place Indian state under their control through this policy and the maintenance of the army became easy. The Indian states were subjected severe economic exploitation. The Hyderabad State was the first state to enter this agreement. Later, Mysore, Awadh, Tanjavore, Maratha, Poona, Birar, Gwalior and other states entered this agreement.


First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782)
The Marathas instilled Sha Alam-II back on the throne of Mughal Empire in Delhi. Sha Alam-II was under the care British after the defeat in Buxar war. Now, the Emperor gave Kora and Alahabad to Marathas, which he had earlier given them to the British. This resulted in the enmity between Marathas and the British.

During this period, the death of Maratha strong man Madhav Rao Peshwa was a major setback to Marathas. Though, his brother Narayanrao came to power, he was murdered by his uncle Raghobha (Ragunatha Rao). This resulted in the infighting for the Peshwa post. The Maratha federation brought MadhavRao II of NarayanaRao to the post of Peshwa. Upset with this development, Raghobha approached the British for support. The British thought of exploiting this situation in their favour.

A long war was waged from 1775 to 1782 between the Marathas and the British. Initially, though Marathas gained upper hand, later they had to lose Alahabad to the British. The Maratha federation unable to sustain the war with the British finally entered ‘Salbai Agreement’ and ended the war. Madhav Rao II was named as the Peshwa.


Anglo-Maratha wars

The Consolidation of the British power

No Succession rights for the adopted children

Subsidiary alliance

Anglo-Sikh wars
Through Carnatic wars, the English had made other Europeans countries not to challenge them in India.

They gained complete political control over Bengal through Plassey and Buxar battles. By 1765, they had gained control most of the eastern parts of India. Since, the Marathas and Mysore states were dominant in southern and western part of India; the hold of British was restricted to Bengal and Bombay regions only.
Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan of Mysore along with Peshwas of Marathas were the only impediments in the path of expansion for the British. The others were Sikhs in the North western region. Ranjith Singh who emerged in the later part of nineteenth century was a formidable opponent to the British. He was successful in organizing the Sikhs.
The British also waged repeated wars from the mid of eighteenth century to mid of nineteenth century to extend their empire in India. Apart from this, they also annexed various kingdoms with cunning policies like ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ and ‘Doctrine of Lapse’.

During this period, the British waged three Anglo-Maratha wars, four Anglo-Mysore wars and two Anglo-Sikh wars. Since the Anglo-Mysore wars discussed in unit 4, here we shall understand the wars of the British with Marathas and Sikhs.

Battle of Buxar (1764)

Mir Qasim was an efficient administrator. In the beginning he remained loyal to the company. He paid two lakh pounds to the company and gave away few places to it. Shortly, he declared himself as an independent King. After verifying the misuse of Dastakaths, he declared that the business is duty free in Bengal. As a result, the Indians competed against British in all spheres of business. As a result, the British trade suffered considerably. This was enough for the British to oppose the Nawab. They brought in Mir Jaffar again and dethroned Mir Qasim. As Mir Qasim knew about the cunningness of the British, he went for an organized war against them. He was supported by the Indian merchants and artisans. Mir Qasim entered into agreements with the Mughal ruler Sha Alam-II and Nawab of Awadh ‘Shuj-ud-daul’. The combined forces of Mir Qasim faced the British army led by Hector Munro at Buxar in 1764. Mir Qasim got defeated and ran away from the battle field. Sha Alam-II surrendered. The efforts of the combined forces to stop the British force failed completely.
1. Sha Alam-II accorded the Dewani rights over Bengal to the British.
2. Sha Alam-II gave away all the rights over Bengal to the British for an annual fee of rupees 26 lakhs.
3. The Nawab of Awadh had to give away a fine of rupees 50 lakh for waging a war against the company.
4. With the death of Mir Jaffar, the company paid pension to his son and took over the entire administration of Bengal.
Know this:Dewani Rights: The right to collect land taxes
The Buxar battle made the British as the real holders of power over Bihar, Bengal and Odisha provinces. Even Awadh remained under their control. In 1765, Robert Clive brought in ‘Dual-government’ concept. As per this concept, the British had the right to collect land taxes, whereas the Nawab had power over administrative issues like justice and others. Like this, the British gained political control over India to protect their business interest.
Know this:
In 1600 – The East India Company was established
In 1602 – United East India Company was established in Netherlands
In 1619 – The Mughal emperor Jahangir issued royal charter allowing the British to conduct trade in Surat, on the west coast and in
Hugli, on the east coast.
In 1639 – The English established their first warehouse in Madrass
In 1664 – French East India Company was established in France.

Battle of Plassey (1757)

Aliwardi Khan, the Nawab of Bengal died in 1756. His grandson Siraj-ud-Daula came to throne. The Plassey Battle took place between the young Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula and the British in 1757.
1. Misuse of Dastakaths: Siraj-ud-Daula was furious that the Dastakaths were misused by the officials of the company incurring losses to the government treasury.
2. Mending of the fort without permission: The British repaired the fort of Calcutta and placed canons in them. This further angered Siraj-ud-Daula and he ordered the removal of canons from the court. The British refused to do this angering the Nawab further.
3. Black Room Tragedy: Siraj-ud-Daula conquered the Fort Willaim easily and imprisoned some of the British. He imprisoned 146 Englishmen in a small room in the fort, of which 123 died. This is called as the Black Room Tragedy. This enraged Robert Clive and arrived in Bengal with a large army.
Robert Clive attracted rich locals like Manikchand, Omichand, Jagath Seth and others towards him. He was successful in convincing Mir Jaffar, the military head of Siraj-ud-Daula to stay neutral in the battle by offering him the post of Nawab of Bengal. Encouraged by all these developments, Robert Clive declared war against Siraj-ud-Daula. Everything went according to the plan of Clive. Siraj-ud-Daula who tried to escape from the battle field was captured and killed.
1. This war brought out the immorality, lack of unity among the Indians and the greed of Indian businessmen.
2. Mir Jaffar became the Nawab of Bengal.
3. The company gained exclusive rights to do business in Bengal.
4. Mir Jaffar had to a pay rupees seventeen corner and seventy lakh to as a relief to Sirja-ud-Dulah’s attack on the Fort William.

In nutshell, Mir Jaffar became continuous victim of the company and its employees. Even though the treasury went bankrupt due to this greedy nature, the greediness of the company and its officials were never satisfied. The British projected Mir Jaffar as an inefficient Nawab and brought in his nephew Mir Qasim as the new Nawab.

The British Rule in India

After gaining political control over South India, the British tried to gain control over rich Bengal province in the later part of 18th century. The Bengal province had achieved tremendous growth in the area of agriculture, commerce and industry. The East India Company was making considerable profit from this province. The Dastakths (Licence) issued by the Mughal ruler Faruk Shiara were the main reasons for this. But, these Dastakths that were limited to the company transactions were misused by the individual officers of the company too. This resulted in huge loss to the Bengal government. Hence, all Nawabs from Murashid Ali Khan to Ali Wardhikhan were opposing such misuses. Later this led to confrontation between the Nawabs and the company. This resulted in two crucial wars which charted a decisive course to Indian history. Plassey and Buxar were those two wars.
Know this:
Dastakath-a license that can ensure anyone to import and export without paying any tax and transport goods anywhere.


Dupleix was named the Governor General of French regions in India in 1742. He dreamt of achieving French harmony over India and entered into treaties with the local kings. Hyder Ali was also trained in the army of locals raised by Dupleix.

The British considered Dupleix as a formidable challenge to them. Hence, we notice clashes over between the French and the British to gain supremacy over Carnatic and Deccan Plateau.

Dupleix played an important role in the First Carnatic War in 1746. The rivalry between the French and the British continued till 1754. Later, French government recalled Dupleix as it wanted peace.