The English successed against the Nawab and made them not only masters of the province of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa but also provided them the capacity to eliminate the French from the politics of India. And by gradual process, gained the control of the Indian sub-continent.

This the British conquest of India began with the conquest of Bengal which was completed after fighting two battles against the Nawabs of Bengal viz. the Battles of Plassey and the Battle of Buxar.

The Battle of Plassey, June 23, 1757:

In 18th Century Bengal was one of the richest provinces in India. The East India Company commercial vision focused on it. At that time, the kingdom of Bengal included the Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The first conflict of the English with the Nawab of Bengal resulted in the Battle of Plassey.


(a) Political:

After the death of Ali Vardi Khan, his grandson called Siraj-ud- Daulla became the Nawab of Bengal. He was a young man of nearly 24. He was not only self-willed and self-indulgent. He desired to use his power as a ruler as effectively as were used by predecessor.

But the English emboldened by success against the French in South India, desired to engage themselves in fresh adventure and therefore refused to accept his authority. Secondly, the English were conspiring against the Siraj-ud-Daulla.

The succession of Siraj was not undisputed. His aunt, Ghasti Begum desired to place her adopted child on the throne. His cousin, the Subedar of Punnea, Shaukat Jang also aspired for the throne, Mirzafar the Commander-in-Chief of the army was yet another aspirant who desired for the throne.

The activities and the behaviour of the English confirmed his suspicion. They did not give any present at the time of his coronation. Further, the English gave shelter to Krishna Ballav, the son of Raj Ballav and refused to hand him then to the Nawab even when he especificaily asked for it.

(b) Economic

The first English factory in Bengal was established at Hugli in 1651 under the permission from Sultan Shuja, the then Subedar of Bengal. The same year Subedar granted the company the privileges of free trade throughout Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

In 1777 Emperor Farrukshiyar confirmed the trade privileges granted by the earlier subedars of Bengal besides according to the permission to the Company to rent additional territory around Calcutta.

This treaty afflicted the economy of Bengal. The native traders did not tolerate it. The situation was further aggravated by the misuse of Dastak.

They used to sell dastaks (free persons which declared that the goods belonged to the British exempted from the tax) to Indian merchants.

When the Nawab tried to check this malpractice and attempted to punish the guilty Indian merchants, the English provided protection to them. This was the cause of dissent between the Nawab and English.

(c) The fortification of Calcutta by the English:

In anticipation of the breaking out seven years war, the English in Bengal began to fortify their settlements. As they did so without the permission of Nawab, the latter ordered them to demolish the same.

He wrote to them, “You are merchants what need have you of a Fortress being under my protection, you have no enemies to fear.”

The English refused to obey the command of the Nawab conversely some impertinent English officers is reported to have spoken to the officers of the Nawab that the “the ditch shall be filled up provided it be with head of the moors.” This enraged the Nawab, who eventually decided to punish the English.