By the beginning of the 17th century, the British East India Company (EIC) had become one of several European powers with trading interests in India. In 1612, the EIC established its first trading outpost at Surat, western India, and for about 150 years, it was content with trading. With the Mughal Empire in decline, the EIC gradually became embroiled in local affairs and started to exert political control. By the beginning of the 19th century, the British had succeeded in eclipsing their European rivals in India – particularly the French – and were the strongest power in the subcontinent.

As the EIC brought about a series of economic, social and political reforms in the territories they governed, resentment grew amongst the Indians whose livelihood and way of life were disrupted. The resentment finally exploded in the mutiny of Indian troops in 1857, which spread across northern India. Though the mutiny and the revolts that followed did not succeed in driving the British out of India, the EIC was dissolved and India came under the direct rule of the British Crown in 1858.

Extent of British control in India.

Extent of British control in India. Yellow areas represent territories under the indirect rule of the British while the pink areas denote direct rule.
Source: Century Atlas, Rawl McNally, 1895

The pink areas are territories under the British Empire.

The pink areas are territories under the British Empire.
Source: J. Martin Miller, 1899




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