The arrival of the Europeans

Advent of European Commerce

The Portuguese were the first to discover a direct sea route to India. It was on May 20, 1498, that Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut. King Zamorin, the local rule welcomed him and gave him a lot of higher privileges. He stayed in India for around three months.

After that, Vasco da Gama returned with a rich cargo. He then sold the same in the European market at an exorbitant price. It was more than 60 times the cost of his voyage. But soon, Vasco da Gama returned to India for the second time in 1501 AD. He set up a trading factory at Cannanore. With the establishment of trade links, Calicut, Cannanore and Cochin emerged as the significant Portuguese centres in India.

Rise of Portuguese Power In India

In 1505 AD, Francisco de Almeida became the first Portuguese governor in India. His policy was the Blue Water Policy. It meant to control the territory of India. But the Portuguese rise in Indian had a short life. They were threatened by the new rival trading communities from Europe. the Europeans posed a major challenge for them.

Arrival of the British

The arrival of the British and the establishment of British East India Company was the outcome of the Portuguese traders. They earned enormous profits by selling their merchandise in India. The English merchants were motivated by the awesome business stories of the Portuguese.

They formed the East India Company in 1599 AD to try out their luck in the Indian subcontinent. The Company received a royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600 AD. This charter authorised it to continue new trade in the East. The Queen was also a shareholder in the company.

Subsequently, in 1608 AD, the East India Company sent Captain William Hawkins to the court of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The purpose of this visit was to secure royal patronage. He was successful in receiving the royal permit for the Company. now, the company had the permission to establish its factories at various places along the Western coast of India.

Expansion in the East

After successfully establishing its factories in the south and western part of India, the East India Company focussed on eastern India. It specifically targeted Bengal, which was a significant province in the Mughal empire. The governor of Bengal was Sujauddaula. In 1651 AD, the governor allowed the English Company to carry out its trade activities in Bengal.

Arrival of the Dutch

The people of Holland (present Netherlands) are called the Dutch. The Dutch were the next in the list to set their feet in India. Historically the Dutch have been experts in sea trade. In 1602, the Dutch formed the United East India Company of the Netherlands. It got the permission from the Dutch government to trade in the East Indies including India.

Arrival of the French

The French were the last European people to arrive in India. The French East India Company was formed in 1664 AD during the reign of King Louis XIV to trade with India. In 1668 AD the French established their first factory at Surat and in 1669 AD established another French factory at Masaulipatam. In 1673 AD the Mughal Subedar of Bengal allowed the French to set up a township at Chandernagore.