The Arrival of French East India Company

The Arrival of French East India Company
The Arrival of French East India Company

The French formed a French East India Company in 1664 to trade in the East. Its name was Company Indesioriantales. Louis-Fourteenth minister Colbert played an important role in the creation of this company. Emperor Louis granted the company a charter. Accordingly, for 50 years, the company got the monopoly of trade from Madagascar to East India. The company was also provided with Madagascar and adjoining islands. The company was founded by the effort of Colbert, a French minister. A committee of 21 directors was formed as the executive. In order to strengthen the company’s financial position, Louis provided the company with 30,00,000 liver free interest, out of which the company could deduct any loss in 10 years. Members of the royal family, ministers and businessmen were encouraged to invest in the company.

Louis granted the company wide rights. The company could send its ambassadors to the countries of the East, declare war and make treaties. Louis assured that the company would send its jagged ships for the safety of the ships and ordered the company to hoist the French flag on its ships. The company was ordered to appoint a Governor-General to oversee the administration of his territories and was conferred with the title of Lieutenant General of the King. A council of 7 members was formed to assist him. This council was first established in Madagascar. It was moved to Surat in 1671 and Pondicherry in 1701. In this way Pondicherry became the principal center of the erstwhile French.

Establishment of French factory in Surat

Surat was the famous port of the Mughal Empire and the major trading center of the world. In 1612 and 1618 AD, English and Dutch factories were established here. In addition, the French had received detailed information about the Mughal Empire and its port of Surat by missionaries, travelers and merchants. Thebonite, Bernier and Tavernier were from France who have given information about India to their countrymen. Hence, the company decided to set up its factory in Surat, for this it sent two representatives who reached Surat in March 1666 AD. The Surat governor welcomed these delegates, but the staff of the English and Dutch factory established earlier did not like the arrival of a new competitor. These delegates reached Agra from Surat, gave Louis-Fourteenth’s personal letter to Aurangzeb and were ordered to set up a factory in Surat. The company sent Keron to Surat and thus in 1661 AD, the first French factory was established in place of Surat in India.

The French factory at Surat had different categories of employees. These categories belonged to the Director, Merchant Secretary, Khazanchi and Kalark. Kerrone was the director of the newly established factory. Under his leadership, the French business grew rapidly. The headquarters of the company were also changed from Fort Dauphin (Madagascar) to Surat, but at the same time the company made an error which gave a big blow to its business. The company appointed 4 directors in Surat factory in place of one director and gave them equal rights as the four directors had equal rights, so there was a quarrel over simple matters. This hurt the trade and reputation of the French.

Apart from mutual quarrels, the company’s employees also lacked business acumen. The English and Dutch were ahead of the French in trading efficiency. They did not pay much attention to what they are getting from the French trade and how much they are spending on it. He used to buy Indian goods at a higher price than the British and Dutch and sell his goods at a lower price. The French used to spend more on pride. They were not frugal. They used to give valuable gifts to local authorities to demonstrate their prosperity. These gifts had less profit than expenses. Due to these reasons, the economic condition of the French deteriorated and they abandoned the Surat factory.

Trade hostility

There was intense business hostility among European companies. These companies did not believe in the principle of live and live. Just as these companies wanted to obtain a trade monopoly in their country and by charter they had the monopoly of doing business from the east, in the same way the companies wanted to obtain a trade monopoly over India and other territories of the Far East. Because of this, trade wars took place in these companies. This struggle was trivial in the seventeenth century. English-Portuguese conflict, Dutch-Portuguese conflict and English-Dutch conflict. In the eighteenth century, this conflict took place between the British and the French.

English-Portuguese and Dutch-Portuguese conflict

As already stated Vasco da Gama discovered a new sea route to India in 1498 AD. On the basis of this discovery and due to the Pope’s Popal Bull, the Portuguese monopoly over the prior trade remained for almost a century. In the early seventeenth century the British and Dutch challenged this Portuguese monopoly. The Dutch proved to be stronger enemies of the Portuguese than the British, and the Dutch drove the Portuguese from the Eastern Islands, Lanka and the Malabar Coast, the main territories of spices. Similarly, when the East India Company tried to set up its factory in Surat, Hakins did not succeed in his objective due to Portuguese influence and vicious circle. In 1612, the ships of Thomas West were attacked by the Portuguese fleet. In this sea battle which was fought at the mouth of Suali (Surat), the Portuguese were defeated. The victory increased the prestige of the British.

Anglo-Dutch War

The English-Portuguese conflict lasted for some time. But a common enemy, the Dutch, brought the two closer to each other. The Portuguese were very fed up with the Dutch and considered it their interest to befriend the British. Similarly, the British were also keen to befriend the Portuguese because this friendship provided them with the facility of trading spices on the Malabar coast. This led to a treaty in 1635 AD between the Portuguese Governor of Goa and the British President of Surat. This friendship was further confirmed by the marriage of the Portuguese princess Catherine to Emperor Charles II of England. As a result of this marriage, Charles II received the island of Bombay in dowry which he gave to the company at an annual rent of 10 pounds.

English-Dutch conflict

The Dutch proved to be more rivals of the British than the Portuguese. Both the British and Dutch factories were established in Surat. The British and Dutch struggled over the monopoly of the spice trade. The Dutch wanted to establish their monopoly on the spices trade which was challenged by the British. The Dutch made agreements with the kings for the Malabar coast according to which pepper could be sold only to the Dutch. As a result of this agreement the Dutch received pepper at a lower price although a higher price could be obtained if sold independently. The Dutch stuck to the road in every way to buy pepper from the Malabar coast of the English company. Ships that carried pepper to the English company were caught. In spite of all these hurdles, the English company was able to buy large quantities of pepper from Malabar coast and send it to England.

Although both England and Holland were Prostant countries, three hostile wars took place in 1652–54 AD, 1665–66 AD, and 1672–74 AD due to their hostility due to commercial hostility. The British Parliament passed the Shipping Law (Navigation Laws) in 1651 AD for the commercial interest of its country. Shipping laws were not in the business interest of the Dutch and they refused to obey them. When the information of the First Anglo-Dutch War reached Surat in March, 1635, the British became very concerned and prayed to the Mughal Subedars of Surat for protection from the Dutch invasions. This suggests that in the East the Dutch were more powerful than the British at that time. A powerful ship reached Suali (Surat) as soon as the war was reported. Due to the vigilance of the Mughal authorities, the Dutch did not attack the English factory in Surat. Although there was no conflict at the site, many wars were fought between the British and the Dutch at sea. English ships were captured by the Dutch and trade was damaged. Trade also suffered in the other two wars (1665–67 AD and 1672–74 AD). At the time of these wars as before, the British prayed for protection from the Mughal government. There was no war at the site, but the Dutch captured English ships on the sea. With the glorious revolution of 1688 AD, in which William became the King of England, English-Dutch relations improved.

Dennis Company

Dennis Company arrived in 1616 AD. It opened a trading center in 1620 AD in the area called Tukobar in Tamil Nadu. Later it went back.

Later, the Portuguese were also confined to Goa and the British and French companies remained. The fate of the French was also decided in the wars of Karnataka.


French East India Company | French East India Company

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