East India Company

East India Company also known as Honorable East India Company or East Trading Company was an English stock company founded in 1600. This company was formed to trade in Indian region and then later in other Asian parts. East India Company had dominated trade in large Indian subcontinent, parts of Hong Kong and southeast Asia.

This company was responsible for half of world’s trades in 1700s and 1800’s. They traded primarily in goods that included silk, cotton, spices, tea, sugar and many others. Later, it went onto rule India which led to the beginning of British Empire.

Company initially started to trade in eastern part of India and gradually began to conquer various parts of India with advanced military defense. In 1757, was the start of British rule.

Origin Of East India Company

Francis Drake in 1577 went on an expedition to Spanish in search of gold and silver. He sailed through Pacific Ocean which was discovered only by Spanish and Portuguese. Sailing across East Indies, he came across the spice island known as Moluccas. When he met Sultan Babullah of that island, in exchange of gold and silver, he got cloves and nutmeg. British did not understand the value of these spices and how much that could benefit them. This idea was celebrated by English people.

Spanish and Portuguese were defeated and their ships were captured to travel the world. To sail around the Indian Ocean, Queen Elizabeth I had given permission. The objective behind the sail around Indian Ocean was to gain monopoly in Eastern Trade that was acquired by Spanish and Portuguese for a long time. Portuguese sailing ship, Madre de Dues was captured. The ship had cargo consisted of cloth, pepper, cloves, gold, silver, jewels, pearls, nutmeg, dye and cinnamon. The ship had hidden information of trades of India, Japan and China.  Ships sailed east could not be found but a year after Ralph Filtch, a merchant had returned back after a fifteen-year long expedition. He had travelled across Indian Ocean, Mesopotamia, Southeast Asia and Persian Gulf. Since, he had known so much about Indian Subcontinent, he was consulted on Indian affairs. He gave entire information to James Lancaster, who commanded first East India Company voyage.

Formation and Expansion

On 22nd September, 1599, a large group of merchants ventured on to East Indies. The first adventure was not a success, they still went on a second adventure a year later and this adventure was successful. East India Company was formed on 31st December, 1600 with the success of second adventure. This trading company was governed by one governor and 24 directors. These directors had to report to the Court of Proprietors.

Western part of India was majorly traded by Portuguese. Goa and Bombay were the operational bases. East India Company attacked trading operations in China and created trading power. Bombay was given in form of dowry to Company by Portuguese when King Charles II married to Catherine of Braganza. Company expanded their trading bases to Surat, Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. They had 23 factories in India of cotton, silk, tea and dye. With growing trade in India, they soon gained power over Indian states by defeating the Dutch and Portuguese. They created an overall power over India and other neighboring parts. In India, the company was abolished by the government and taken over by the Crown in 1858.

Categories: Culture and History

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