Expansion of British Rule in India

subsidiary alliance doctrine of lapse

  • The ‘first empire’ stretching across the Atlantic towards America and the West Indies.
  • The ‘second empire’ beginning around 1783 (Peace of Paris) and swinging towards the East-Asia and Africa.
  • Imperial history of Britain started with the conquest of Ireland in the sixteenth century.
  • Initially Company officials started acquiring territory just to promote and protect their trade interests.
  • They came to realize how easily they could pit one local ruler against another and began to interfere in local politics and, in the process, acquired territories.
  • Later on the British politicians back in Britain and the administrators in India worked on a clear desire to establish an empire.
  • Process of imperial expansion and consolidation of British paramountcy was carried on by Company during the 1757-1857.
  • There was 2-fold method
    • Policy of annexation by conquest or war
    • Policy of annexation by diplomacy and administrative mechanisms


subsidiary alliance doctrine of lapse


Mysore’s Resistance to the Company

1st Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)

  • 1st Anglo-Mysore War started in 1767.
  • Nizam, the Marathas, and the English allied together against Haidar Ali.
  • But Haidar Ali trun Nizam and Maratha neutral by his diplomatic skill
  • He suddenly attacked Madras.
  • English has to conclude a very humiliating Treaty of Madras, 1769.
  • 1st Anglo-Mysore War came to end with this treaty.


2nd Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)

  • Haidar Ali accused the English of breach of faith of the Treaty of Madras when in 1771 Marathas attacked him.
  • French were much more helpful than the English in meeting his army’s requirement of guns, saltpetre and lead.
  • Haidar Ali considered the English attempt to capture Mahe a direct challenge to his authority.
  • Haidar Ali forged an anti-English alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam in Anglo-Mysore War.
  • He suffer a defeat at Porto Novo in November 1781.
  • Haidar Ali died of cancer on 1782.
  • His son, Tipu Sultan, carried on war without any positive outcome
  • Fed up with an inconclusive war, both sides opted for peace, negotiating the Treaty of Mangalore (March, 1784).
  • 2nd Anglo-Mysore War came into end.


anglo-mysore war
Haidar Ali


3rd Anglo-Mysore War (1790-92)

  • 1790, Tipu declared war against Travancore for the restoration of his rights, and 3rd Anglo-Mysore War was started.
  • 1790, Tipu defeated the English under General Meadows.
  • 1791, Cornwallis took the leadership and at the head of a large army marched through Ambur and Vellore to Bangalore and from there to Seringapatam.
  • With the help of Nizam and Maratha English won against Tipu on the second attempt.
  • Treaty of Seringapatam 1792 was signed between Tipu Sultan, East India Company, Nizam of Hyderabad, and Maratha Empire.
  • Tipu Sultan has to surrender half of his territory.
  • Tipu’s two sons were taken as hostages by the Company.


4th Anglo-Mysore War (1799)

  • In 1798, Lord Wellesley became the new Governor General.
  • 4th Anglo-Mysore War began on April 17, 1799, and ended on May 4, 1799 with the fall of Seringapatam.
  • Tipu was defeated first by General Stuart and then by General Harris.
  • Arthur Wellesley, the brother of Lord Wellesley, also participated in the war.
  • In 4th Anglo-Mysore War, English were again helped by the Marathas and the Nizam.
  • Tipu laid down his life fighting bravely.
  • English chose a boy from the earlier Hindu royal family of Mysore (Wodeyars) as the maharaja and imposed on him the subsidiary alliance system.
  • 1831 William Bentinck took control of Mysore on grounds of mis-governance.
  • 1881 Lord Ripon restored the kingdom to its ruler.


anglo-maratha war


Anglo-Maratha Struggle

  • Defeat at Panipat and later the death of the young Peshwa, Madhavrao I, in 1772, weakened power of Peshwas.
  • English in Bombay wanted to establish a government like Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
  • Divided house of the Marathas that encouraged the English to hope for success in their venture.


1st Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82)

  • After the death of Madhavrao in 1772, his brother Narayanrao succeeded him as the fifth peshwa.
  • His uncle, Raghunathrao, killed him and named himself as the next peshwa.
  • Narayanrao’s widow, Gangabai, gave birth to a son named ‘Sawai’ Madhavrao.
  • 12 Maratha chiefs (Barabhai), led by Nana Phadnavis, made the infant as the new peshwa.
  • Raghunathrao sought help from the English at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat in 1775.
  • Under the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein to the English etc.
  • In return, the English were to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.
  • Battle at Talegaon 1776 was fought in which Marathas led by Nana Phadnavis defeated British.
  • British Calcutta Council, condemned the Treaty of Surat and sent Colonel Upton to Pune for new treaty.
  • Treaty of Purandhar, 1776 signed with Raghunath Rao and promising him a pension.
  • 1777, Nana Phadnavis violated his treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting French a port on the west coast.
  • English and the Maratha armies met on the outskirts of Pune.
  • English defeated and surrendered in Jan 1779 and signed the Treaty of  Wadgaon.
  • Warren Hastings rejected the Treaty of Wadgaon and sent a large force of soldiers.
  • 1781 the English, under General Camac, finally defeated Sindhia at Sipri.
  • Sindhia proposed a new treaty between the Peshwa and the English
  • Treaty of Salbai, 1782 signed after a 2 years of deadlock and war.
  • It was ratified by Hastings and Phadnavis.
  • The treaty guaranteed peace between two sides for 20 years.
  • English returned all the Maratha territories except Salsette.
  • English should not offer any further support to Raghunathrao and  Peshwa should grant him a maintenance allowance.
  • Peshwa should not support any other European nation.


2nd Anglo Maratha War (1803-1805)

  • After Death of Madhavrao in 1795, Bajirao II son of Raghunathrao, became the Peshwa.
  • Death of Nana Phadnavis in 1800 gave the British an added advantage.
  • After his death, Bhonsle defeated Sindhia and Bajirao II.
  • Baji Rao II fled to Bassein 1802 and signed Subsidiary Alliance treaty with English Treaty of Bassein 1802.
  • Sindhia and Bhonsle attempted to save Maratha independence.
  • English under Arthur Wellesley defeated the combined armies of Sindhia and Bhonsle.
  • They forced to conclude separate subsidiary treaties with the English.
  • In 1804, Yashwantrao Holkar made an attempt to fight against the English and were defeated
    • Bhonsle – Treaty of Devgaon, 1803
    • Sindhia – Treaty of Surajianjangaon, 1803
    • Holkar – Treaty of Rajpurghat, 1806


Pindari War (1817-18)

  • Pindaris, made up of many castes and classes, were attached to Maratha armies as mercenaries.
  • When the Marathas became weak, the Pindaris could not get regular employment.
  • They started plundering neighbouring territories, including those of the Company.
  • English troops surrounded them in Malwa region and Gwalior to force surrender.
  • Pindari leaders like Amir Khan and Karim Khan surrendered while Chitu Khan fled into the jungles.
  • They was given jobs as police and offered pensions along with land.


anglo-maratha war
Peshwa Madhav Rao Narayan with Nana Fadnavis


3rd Anglo-Maratha War (1817-19)

  • Bajirao II made a last bid in 1817 by rallying together the Maratha chiefs against the English.
  • Peshwa attacked the British Residency at Poona.
  • Appa Sahib of Nagpur attacked the residency at Nagpur.
  • Peshwa was defeated at Khirki, Bhonsle at Sitabuldi, and Holkar at Mahidpur
    • Peshwa – Treaty of Poona 1817
    • Sindhia – Treaty of Gwalior 1817
    • Holkar – Treaty of Mandasor 1818
  • Peshwa surrendered and Maratha confederacy and peshwaship was dissolved.
  • Bajirao II became a British retainer at Bithur near Kanpur.
  • Pratap Singh, a lineal descendant of Shivaji, was made ruler of a small principality, Satara.


Cause of Marathas Lost

  • Poor Leadership
  • Defective Nature of Maratha State
    • There was no effort, right from the days of Shivaji, for a well thought out organised communal improvement, spread of education or unification of the people.
    • The rise of the Maratha state was based on the religio-national movement.
  • Loose Political Setup
    • Lack of a cooperative spirit among the Maratha chiefs.
  • Inferior Military System
    • Marathas were inferior to the English in organisation of the forces, in war weapons, in disciplined action.
  • Unstable Economic Policy
    • Maratha leadership failed to evolve a stable economic policy. There were no industries or foreign trade openings.
  • Superior English Diplomacy and Espionage
    • The English attacked a ‘divided house’ which started crumbling after a few pushes.


subsidiary alliance doctrine of lapse


Conquest of Sindh

Rise of Talpuras Amirs

  • Prior to the rule of Talpuras Amirs, Sindh was ruled by the Kallora chiefs.
  • In 1758, an English factory was built at Thatta, given by the Kallora prince, Ghulam Shah.
  • He excluded other Europeans from trading there.
  • In the 1770s, a Baluch tribe called Talpuras, descended from the hills and settled in the plains of Sindh.
  • In 1783, Talpuras, under the leadership of Mir Fath (Fatah) Ali Khan, established complete hold over Sindh.
  • They conquered Amarkot from the Raja of Jodhpur, Karachi from the chief of Luz, Shaikarpur and Bukkar from the Afghans.


Gradual Ascendancy over Sindh

  • Under the influence of Tipu Sultan and local traders Amir in 1800, ordered the British agent to quit Sindh.
  • In 1807, alliance of Tilsit with Alexander I of Russia was joined by Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Alliance had a condition of combined invasion of India by the land route.
  • British wanted to create a barrier between Russia and British India.
  • Lord Minto sent Metcalfe to Lahore, Elphinstone to Kabul and Malcolm to Teheran.
  • Sindh was visited by Nicholas Smith who met the Amirs.
  • Treaty of eternal friendship was signed.
  • Both side agreed to exclude the French from Sindh.
  • Treaty was renewed in 1820 with the addition of an article excluding Americans.
  • Treaty of 1832 singed between William Bentinck and Amirs.
  • Free passage through Sindh would be allowed to the English traders and travellers and the use of Indus for trading purposes.
  • No warships would ply, nor any materials for war would be carried.
  • No English merchant would settle down in Sindh, and passports would be needed for travellers.
  • Company persuaded Ranjit Singh to sign Tripartite Treaty of 1838.
  • As per treaty British will mediation in his disputes with the Amirs.
  • Sindh Accepts Subsidiary Alliance in 1839.
  • 1st Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), fought on the soil of Sindh.
  • Amirs were charged with treasonable activities against the British.
  • Lord Ellenborough provoked Amirs and people of Sindh into a war.
  • Amirs were made captives and banished from Sindh in 1843.
  • Sindh was merged into British Empire.
  • Charles Napier was its 1st governor.


anglo-sikh war


Anglo-Sikh War

Punjab After Ranjit Singh

  • In 1843, Daleep Singh, a minor son of Ranjit Singh,was proclaimed Maharaja with Rani Jindan as regent and Hira Singh Dogra as wazir.
  • In 1845 Lal Singh won over army to his side and became the wazir.
  • Teja Singh was appointed as the commander of the forces.


1st Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46)

  • Death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh resulting in a power struggle for domination between court at Lahore and the ever powerful and increasingly local army.
  • Suspicions amongst Sikh army arising from English military campaigns to annex of Gwalior and Sindh in 1841 and the campaign in Afghanistan in 1842.
  • Increase in the number of English troops being stationed near the border with Lahore kingdom.
  • War began in Dec 1845 with 20,000 to 30,000 troops in the British side, while Sikhs had about 50,000 men.
  • Treachery of Lal Singh and Teja Singh caused 5 successive defeats to the Sikhs.
  • Lahore captured by British forces on Feb 1846 without a fight.
  • Sikhs forced to sign a humiliating Treaty of Lahore, 1846.
  • Jalandhar Doab (between Beas and Sutlej) was annexed to the Company’s dominions.
  • Strength of the Sikh army was reduced.
  • Daleep Singh was recognised as the ruler under Rani Jindan as regent and Lal Singh as Wazir.
  • Since, the Sikhs were not able to pay the entire war indemnity, Kashmir including Jammu was sold to Gulab Singh.
  • Transfer of Kashmir to Gulab Singh was formalised by a separate treaty.
  • Sikhs were not satisfied with the Treaty of Lahore over the issue of Kashmir, so they rebelled.
  • Dec 1846, Treaty of Bhairowal was signed.
  • According to this Rani Jindan was removed as regent and a council of regency for Punjab was set up.
  • Council consisted of 8 Sikh sardars presided over by the English Resident, Henry Lawrence.


2nd Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)

  • Mulraj, the governor of Multan, was replaced by a new Sikh governor over the issue of increase in annual revenue.
  • Mulraj revolted and murdered two English officers and new governor.
  • Sher Singh was sent to suppress the revolt, but he himself joined Mulraj, leading to a mass uprising in Multan.
  • Lord Dalhousie, a hardcore expansionist, got a reason to annex Punjab completely.
  • Battle of Ramnagar, Company army led by Hugh Gough.
  • Battle of Chillianwala, Jan 1849.
  • Battle of Gujarat, Feb 1849 (Gujarat, small town banks of Jhelum).
  • Sikh army surrendered at Rawalpindi, and their Afghan allies were chased out of India.
  • Dalhousie was given thanks of British Parliament and a promotion as Marquess.
  • Setting up of a three-member board to govern Punjab, comprising of Lawrence brothers (Henry and John) and Charles Mansel.
  • 1853 John Lawrence became 1st chief commissioner.


subsidiary alliance
Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad


Expansion of British through Administrative Policy

Policy of Ring-Fence

  • Warren Hastings followed a policy of ring-fence.
  • It aimed at creating buffer zones to defend the Company’s frontiers.
  • It reflected in his war against the Marathas and Mysore.
  • States brought under the ring-fence system were assured of military assistance against external aggression.
  • But that state has to pay to maintain military forces.
  • Wellesley’s policy of subsidiary alliance was, in fact, an extension of ring-fence system.


Subsidiary Alliance

  • Subsidiary Alliance policy was used by Lord Wellesley.
  • Under Subsidiary Alliance system, allying Indian state’s ruler has to accept
    1. Keep British force within his territory and pay a subsidy for its maintenance
    2. Posting a British resident in his court
    3. Could not employ any European without approval of British
    4. Could not negotiate with any other Indian ruler without governor general
  • In return British would defend the ruler from his enemies.
  • Non-interference in the internal matters of the allied state by British.
  • During 7 year rule of Wellesley alone, over 100 small and big states of India signed the Subsidiary Alliance treaty.


Evolution & Perfection

  • Probably Dupleix, who first gave on hire European troops to Indian rulers to fight their wars.
  • 1st Indian state to fall into protection system was Awadh, signed a treaty in 1765.
  • 1787, Company decided that subsidiary alliance state should not have foreign relations.
  • This was included in the treaty with the Nawab of Carnatic which Cornwallis signed in 1787.


Stages of Application of Subsidiary Alliance

1st stage

  • In the process of Subsidiary Alliance, company offered to help a friendly Indian state with its troops to fight any war.

2nd stage

  • It consisted of making a common cause with the Indian state.
  • Made friendly and taking the field with its own soldiers and those of the state.

3rd stage

  • When the Indian ally was asked not for men but for money.
  • Company promised that it would recruit, train, and maintain a fixed number of soldiers under British officers for his state.
  • All for a fixed sum of money.

4th stage

  • Money or the protection fee was fixed, usually at a high level.
  • If state failed to pay money in time, it was asked to cede certain parts of its territories to the Company in lieu of payment.


States which Accepted Subsidiary Alliance

  • 1st to accept Subsidiary Alliance was Nizam of Hyderabad 1798
  • Ruler of Mysore 1799
  • Ruler of Tanjore 1799
  • Nawab of Awadh 1801
  • Peshwa 1801
  • Bhonsle Raja of Berar 1803, Sindhia 1804, Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Macheri, Bundi and the ruler of Bharatpur 1818
  • Holkars were last Maratha confederation to accept the Subsidiary Alliance in 1818.



Doctrine of Lapse

  • Doctrine of Lapse stated that the adopted son could be the heir to his foster father’s private property, but not the state.
  • It was for the British power to decide whether to bestow the state on the adopted son or to annex it.
  • Doctrine of Lapse was based on Hindu law and Indian customs, but Hindu law seemed to be somewhat inconclusive on this point.
  • Ranjit Singh had annexed a few of his feudatory principalities on account of ‘lapse’.
  • Kittur state ruled by Queen Chennamma was taken over in 1824 by imposing a ‘doctrine of lapse’.
  • Lord Dalhousie was not its originator, but he made it official by documenting it.
  • His predecessors had acted on the general principle of avoiding annexation if it could be avoided.
  • Dalhousie in turn acted on the general principle of annexing if he could do so legitimately.
  • 7 states were annexed under the Doctrine of Lapse Policy
    • Satara 1848
    • Jaitpur (Bundelkhand), Sambhalpur (Orissa) 1849
    • Baghat (south of Sutlej) 1850 – canceled
    • Udaipur (central province) 1852 – canceled
    • Jhansi 1853
    • Nagpur 1854
    • Tore and Arcot 1855
    • Lord Dalhousie annexed Awadh in 1856 on the ground of misrule
    • Court of Directors overruled Doctrine of Lapse to Karauli (Rajputana)


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