The Emergence of British Power in India, 1600-1784

The Emergence of British Power in India, 1600-1784

A Grand Strategic Interpretation

G J Bryant


Boydell Press



Outlines the East India's Company's infiltration of India from its inception to the late eighteenth century.
Empires have usually been founded by charismatic, egoistic warriors or power-hungry states and peoples, sometimes spurred on by a sense of religious mission. So how was it that the nineteenth-century British Indian Raj was so different? Arising, initially, from the militant policies and actions of a bunch of London merchants chartered as the English East India Company by Queen Elizabeth in 1600, for one hundred and fifty years they had generally pursued a peaceful and thereby profitable trade in the India, recognized by local Indian princes as mutually beneficial. Yet from the 1740s, Company men began to leave the counting house for the parade ground, fighting against the French and the Indian princes over the next forty years until they stood upon the threshold of succeeding the declining Mughul Empire as the next hegamon of India.
This book roots its explanation of this phenomenon in the evidence of the words and thoughts of the major, and not-so major, players, as revealed in the rich archives of the early Raj. Public dispatches from the Company's servants in India to their masters in London contain elaborate justifications and records of debates in its councils for the policies (grand strategies) adopted to deal with the challenges created by the unstable political developments of the time. Thousands of surviving private letters between Britons in India and the homeland reveal powerful underlying currents of ambition, cupidity and jealousy and how they impacted on political manoeuvring and the development of policy at both ends. This book shows why the Company became involved in the military and political penetration of India and provides a political and military narrative of the Company's involvement in the wars with France and with several Indian powers.

G. J. Bryant, who has a Ph.D. from King's College London, has written extensively on the British military experience in eighteenth-century India.


October 2013
3 line illustrations
372 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
The Worlds of the East India Company
ISBN: 9781843838548
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS017000, HIS027000, HIS037050
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Early Years and the Evolving Grand Strategic Reality, 1600-1784
The Indian Dimension in the War of the Austrian Succession, 1744-8
Anglo-French Mercenaries in the 'service' of the Carnatic princes, 1749-1755
The Struggle for Supremacy in the Carnatic during the Seven Years War, 1756-1761
Noises Off: The Seven Years War in Bengal: Unseating a Nawab, 1756-7
Bengal, 1757-1767: Crossing the Threshold and Becoming a 'Country' Power
Thwarted Imperialism: Madras, 1761-1778
Bengal, 1767-1784: The Borders of Power and the Power of Borders
Three Wars - Five Fronts: An Exercise in an All-India Grand Strategy. Part I: Bombay Enters the Imperial Game, 1774-1782
Three Wars - Five Fronts: An Exercise in an All-India Grand Strategy. Part II: Madras versus Haidar Ali, Round 2


Bryant reveals a dense wealth of knowledge about the Company's military operations in the 18th century, and asks important questions about the creation of the early colonial state. (His book) is a refreshing addition to the historiography. REVIEWS IN HISTORY

A very impressive piece of work, combining a good narrative account of events in India during this period with a detailed analysis of the political and personal background to events and the motives that guided the key players. HISTORYOFWAR.ORG

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