December 31, 1600: The British East India Company is chartered.
Originally named Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies, the British East India Company was a flourishing British join-stock company that aimed to trade with the East Indies. Chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, the original intention of the company was not to solely promote trade with Asia, but to obviate a Dutch monopoly on Eurasian trade routes. However, after a massacre on Ambon Island in 1623, the British focused their efforts on claiming the route to India. A problem rose in the 17th century when independent “interlopers” challenged the monopoly of the British East India Company. While a deregulating act quickly solved the problem of the “interlopers,” another gargantuan company (named the English Company Trading to the East Indies) began to challenge the British East India Company, resulting in a merger in 1708. From then on out, the British East India retained its power as the chief trading company from Britain to India. (The united company became United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies)
India quickly became caught up in the foreign trading companies as the cities of Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta (now all renamed) became prominent and important trading centers that wielded much political power, intervening the political affairs of India. Britain also faced its bitter rival: the French East India Company. However, from onset of the 1750s, the Seven Years’ War showed unfavorable results for the French, which slowly but surely led to the financial instability of the French East India Company. This led Britain to grow with much power (due to the Industrial Revolution), burgeoning into a powerful empire that would soon assume complete dominance of the Indian peninsula during the period known as Raj starting in the mid 19th century.
A few events leading up to Raj included the 1784 East India Act, showing the Mughal Empire’s rapid decline and more British intervention. Parliament’s Charter act of 1813 prolonged the Company’s rule in India and expanded to tea trade with China. It must be noted, however, This was shortly followed by the Government of India act in 1833, which created the Governor-General of India. As the epoch known as Raj slowly took over India in Britain’s imperialistic conquests, the British East India Company was no longer needed and, consequently, dissolved.
(Thanks to my bro Leon for writing today’s post for me!)
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