This brief survey of the activities of the French East Indian Company in India, based principally on the unpublished factory records of the French archives, deals with their problems, their linkages with the Mercantile groups and their relation with the local rulers.
Starting with their arrival at Surat in 1666, this study closes with the occupation of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739, which marks the changes of the attitude of the European powers including the French towards the Mughal Empire. However this work tries to give a total appraisal of the activities of the French and not their commerce only thus trying to understand the perception of the French in India, revealing in turn the changing Indian politico-economic situation.
The fortune of the French in India declined from the end of the seventeenth century but considerably improved with the formation of another company in 1719. New factories were established at Mahe, Karikkal and Patna. By 1730s, the investment of the company touched the English investment in Bengal where the activities of Dupleix, narrated here from his unpublished private letters, shows the rising commerce and increasing aggressive attitude of the French.
About the Author:
Aniruddha Ray is Professor in Department of Islamic History and Culture, University of Calcutta. His published works include Some Aspects of Mughal Administration (1984); ed. with S.K. Bagchi, Technology in Ancient and Medieval India (1986); The Rebel Nawab: Revolt of Vizier Ali Khan of Oudh (1990); tr. and ed., Francois Martin: Memoires (1990); and ed. with Dr. R Chaterjee, Society and Culture of Medieval Bengal (Bengali), 1992; with S. Arasaratnam, Masulipatnam and Cambay (1994); ed. with others, Murshidabad Affairs 1821-50 (1995); Economic History of Mughal India (Bengali), 1996; and Economic History of Sultanate Period (Bengali), 1997; Prof. Ray is at present the Secretary of the Indian History Congress.