When did France colonize India? Was it the British who drove France out of India?

French East India company was formed in 1664 and reached India in 1668. French like the Britishers came India for trade. They settled their trading centres at different places viz. Surat, Pondicherry etc.

However, soon these foreign companies, realising the importance of trade with India started competing out each other for more profitable business. This resulted into them taking interest in internal politics of India and taking sides of Indian rulers to kick out the rivals with their help.

Soon this rivalry resulted into 3 Anglo-French wars famously known as Carnatic wars. In these wars Britishers won over the French and by Treaty of Paris, 1763 French were forced to limit their business and were denied fortifications. The course of war in India was very much influenced by the incidents relating to Britain and France in Europe.That time French hadn't colonized India. They had only set their trading centres at different places and were strong contender to the supremacy of British EIC.

This victory made the Britishers unrivalled foreign power in India and later on, their victory in Battle of Buxar, 1764 made them the overlord of rich Indian territories of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

Almost all of South India appears "green" in the map as French empire? That map is an exaggeration!

The cartographer probably was claiming as French, the territory of Hyderabad's Nizam Salabat Jung (r 1751–61), whose installation it was responsible for. Even if that were the case (incorrect in itself), he should exclude Carnatic (South Eastern India) as Carnatic was no more a French ally when Salabat Jung was the Nizam.

The French started late in the overseas colonial game, much after the Portuguese, British, Dutch or the Danish. Its East India Company was founded in 1664 by Colbert, the legendary finance minister of Louis XIV. The next Bourbon monarch Louis XV continued to compete with the British and finds a governor Dupleix in 1740 with the ambition for the act. We should note the East India companies of the two countries were different. British East India company was a decentralized public stock company: French East India company was a government-owned, centrally controlled company.

What was the strategy of the Johnny-come-lately French? It was to intervene in power struggles of various Indian kingdoms and support upstarts by giving them access to better technology. So the French support upstarts Chanda Sahib in Arcot first, Muzzafar Jung in Hyderabad next and Hyder Ali in Mysore after that. Each of these people are not in line to rule, but get a boost because of French support. French support was at its peak between 1741–53 when many Indian kingdoms such as Marathas got their European weapons and training from the French: for example, Ibrahim Gardi - the Maratha general - was French-trained.

British were instrumental in driving the French out of course, but Indian resistance to the French also played a role. Because French interfered in minutiae of governance, they were generally disliked by the Indians. In this book, Nizam-British Relations, 1724-1857, Indians opposition to French is documented. Nawab of Carnatic, factions in Hyderabad, Marathas all nibble at French strength. Battle of Bobbili gave rise to a local hero read Dr K Prabhakar Rao's blog .

Final point, just when the French were supporting George Washington around 1780 for American independence, they were also supporting Hyder Ali of Mysore as part of their multi-theater strategy. This support gives Hyder some victories. There is a neglected French cemetery near Mysore for the dead French soldiers. Uneasy lie the fallen here When his son Tipu takes over Mysore, the Revolution and events in France leaves him without international support. In 1799, claiming Tipu's support of a "Jacobin Society of Mysore" as one of its many reasons, the British attack Mysore and depose Tipu.


French India, formally the Établissements français dans l'Inde ("French establishments in India"), was a French colony comprising geographically separate enclaves on the Indian subcontinent. The possessions were originally acquired by the French East India Company beginning in the second half of the 17th century, and were de facto incorporated into the Union of India in 1950 and 1954. The French establishments included Pondichéry, Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahé on the Malabar Coast and Chandernagor in Bengal. French India also included several loges ("lodges", subsidiary trading stations) in other towns, but after 1816, the loges had little commercial importance and the towns to which they were attached came under British administration.

Source - Wikipedia

For nearly 20 years from 1744 to 1763 the French and the English were to wage a bitter war for control over trade, wealth and territory in India. (mostly south India)

The French East India Company was founded in 1644. Established at Chandernagore near Calcutta and Pondicherry on the east cost. The latter was full fortified. It had also acquired control over the islands of Mauritius and Reunion in the Indian ocean.

The company was heavily dependent on French Govt, which helped it by giving treasury grants, subsidies and loans, and in various other ways. It was largely controlled by the Govt. which appointed its directors after 1723.

In 1742, war broke out in Europe between France and England. In India both east India Companies also clashed. In 1748, the general war ended. But, rivarly continued in trade and other possessions in India.

The decisive battle of war was fought at Wandiwash on 22 Jan. 1760 when English general, Eyre Coot, defeated Lally. Within a year, the French had lost all their possessions in India. The war ended in 1763 with the signing of Treaty of Paris. The French factories in India were restored but they could no longer be fortified or even adequately garrisoned with troops. They could serve only as centers of trade; and now the French lived in India under British protection.

Source - History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra page no. 61 to 64.


French East India company was established in 1664. French, Portuguese, Dutch and British had started trade through East India companies (Not to confuse with British East India Company) in India at different times for trade, but French were the last ones to start trade in India.

The British and French entry were from the opposite sides (West vs East) in India, and they both entered for trade at different points of time, so initially there was no clash. Gradually in 1740s, which was the time when Mughal empire, the largest empire in India started declining in Eastern and South-West parts of India, French started getting political control of South-West and likewise, British started expanding in the East in the state of Bengal. And this is when the clashes start.

British didn't kick French out, but pushed them back, and contained them for sure. Late 1740s was the time when the seven year war started between French and England in Europe, which ensued rivalry in Indian colonial regions too. The Nawab (emporer) Bengal in the East was not especially happy with British intervening in his area and he started resisting. The British Commander-in-chief Robert Clive started mobilizing his troops to restore their regions, and in that course, they also captures French territories and a fort. As a result, French backed Bengal Nawab and British had the famous The Battle of Plassey in 1757, which is said to be the most important turning point in the colonial control of India.

British army was way smaller than the Nawab's, but Nawab was defeated, and so was the French support. This made French retreat in the area. French weren't completely kicked out, but were limited to a very small part of the country. French controlled parts of India until 1950s, and you can see a lot of French architecture in those parts.


Before the mid-1700s wars England had trading posts in India, not great territorial ambitions.

Dupleix's ambitions stimulated Clive's response which was eventually victorious. Both parties had to recruit and utilize native resources on a much larger scale than before.

When the dust settled, the East India Company was now more of an empire than a trading company.

In London 1759 was acclaimed as the Annus Mirabilis of definitive victories in North America, India, and elsewhere. However French aid helped America declare independence from Britain only 17 years later.

The small trading bases of France and other countries were left alone to avoid further disrupting the status quo, and many survived until after Indian independence and integration of minor states.

The history of colonialism is often of Europeans abroad dragging their countries into larger contests which then fueled European rivalries.


Britain's East India Company fought a series of wars, sometimes coinciding with wider British-French wars. But sometimes they fought as nominal subjects of rival Indian rulers.

The Carnatic Wars were the most definite individual events, including the Battle of Wandiwash and Siege of Pondicherry (1760).


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