Defending British India against Napoleon

Defending British India against Napoleon

The Foreign Policy of Governor-General Lord Minto, 1807-13

Amita Das

Edited by Aditya Das


Boydell Press



A study of how Napoleon's very real and very serious threat to British India was countered.
Following Napoleon's defeat of Prussia in 1806 and his treaties with Russia and Persia in 1807, the French threat to Britain's position in India seemed real and strengthening. At the same time, Napoleon's economic warfare with Britain and the success of French privateers in disrupting British trade in the Indian Ocean were having a severe impact. This book, based on extensive original research, relates in detail how Lord Minto, a Cabinet-level politician who was appointed Governor-General of Bengal in 1807, steadily and successfully worked to counter the French threat. It examines how he built a series of buffer alliances with local states on the northwest frontier of India; captured the Indian Ocean islands used as bases by French privateers, notably the Ile de France, now Mauritius; and, in 1811, conquered Java, nominally Dutch but following the incorporation of the Netherlands into the French Empire, effectively French. Besides the details of Lord Minto's career and activities, the book also provides full background information on a wide range of relevant subjects, including the governance and finances of the East India Company, the various polities of the Indian subcontinent and neighbouring regions, and the political situation in Britain and Europe.

Amita Das completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford. Aditya Das completed his doctorate at West Virginia University.


5 black and white illustrations
284 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
The Worlds of the East India Company
Hardback, 9781783271290, July 2016
eBook, 9781782048138, July 2016
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS017000, HIS037060
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Table of Contents

Setting the Stage
Positioning in Persia
Creating a Buffer Zone
Protecting Trade and Supply Lines
Preempting French influence in Java
Legacy of Lord Minto
Appendix: Government of the East India Company


A timely contribution to current Napoleonic historiography. LMH BROWN BOOK

An excellent study of a fascinating period, giving a clear picture of the wide ranging diplomacy required of the Governor-General, and the East India Company's place in the wider Indian and Asian world. WWW.HISTORYOFWAR.ORG

An important but hitherto neglected slice of history brought to life very interestingly and well. AUSMARINE

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