Robert Clive (1725-1774), was one of the creators of British power in India. In his first governorship (1755–60) he won the Battle of Plassey and became master of Bengal. In his second governorship (1764–67) he reorganized the British colony.
Bengal had been ruled by Nawabs (Mughal viceroys) of the Mughal emperor, and it was under their protection that the British East India Company carried on its trade. In 1756 a dispute with the British about fortifying Calcutta caused the new nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Dawlah, to attack and capture the fort there. Clive was in Madras at that time and was given command of the relief expedition in Bengal. With 900 Europeans and 1,500 Indians Clive captured Calcutta on Jan. 2, 1757, and forced the nawab to restore the company’s privileges, pay compensation, and allow the British to fortify Calcutta. Clive then contacted Mir Jafar and some others in the Court of Nawab and offered him the throne if he deceives Siraj Ud-Dawlah. Then Clive along with Mir Jafar defeated Siraj ud-Dawlah and his french suppoters in the famous Battle of Plassey on June 23, 1757.Siraj Ud Daulah fled from the field on a camel, securing what wealth he could. But he was soon captured by Mir Jafar's forces, and later executed. Clive established Mir Jafar as Nawab, the price which had been agreed beforehand for his treachery. The victory in Battle of Plassey made Clive the virtual ruler of Bengal.
Major battles during Robert Clive Era
Battle of Madras (Fall of Madras, First Carnatic War) in 1746 : The French force attacked and captured the city of Madras including Fort St. George from British. Robert Clive, serving as a clerk at that time was managed to escape from the hands of French along with some other prisoners. He reached Fort St David, near the town of Cuddalore, a hundred miles south of Madras on the Coromandel Coast of India, carrying news of the disastrous French attack on Madras. The story of Clive's escape was the first to bring him wider attention.
Siege of Arcot in 1751 : The Siege of Arcot took place at Arcot,when a French-Indian force under the command of Raza Sahib besieged the small British garrison commanded by Robert Clive.After a 50 day siege, the British were left victorious after Raza's forces retreated upon the arrival of a British relief force under Kilpatrick and the failure of a grand assault to take the fortress. His conduct during the siege made Clive famous in Europe. The Prime Minister Pitt the Elder described Clive, who had received no formal military training whatsoever, as the "heaven-born general".
Battle of Arnee in 1751 : The Battle of Arnee took place at Arni (TamilNadu),in 1751 during the Second Carnatic War. Robert Clive defeated and routed a much larger Franco-Indian force under the command of Raza Sahib.
Battle of Chingleput in 1752 : About 700 British East India Company recruits and sepoys under the command of Robert Clive captured the fortress of Chingleput, near Madras, defended by a French East India Company. On 1753 he returned home and came back on 1755
Recapture of Culcutta in 1757 : Mentioned in second para of this post.
Capture of Chandannagar (Chandernagore) in 1757 : Along with Admiral Charles Watson, Clive bombarded and captured the French dominated Chandannagar.
Battle of Plassey in 1757 : Mentioned in second para of this post
Battle of Chinsurah in 1759 : Eventhough didnt participate directly, Clive was the brain behind the victory of British aganist the combined force of the Dutch East India Company and Nawab of Bengal Mir Jafar. Mir Jafar invited Detch to help him eject the British and establish themselves as the leading commercial company in Bengal. The British under Colonel Francis Forde defeated the Dutch, forcing them to withdraw. In the wake of their victory, the British overthrew Mir Jafar and replaced him with his son-in-law Mir Kasim Ali Khan.
Second Term of Robert Clive : In 1760 he returned to England. In 1764,on his second term, Clive was appointed governor and commander in chief of Bengal with power to override the council. This time he gave more importance to administrative reforms.
After the battle of Buxarin 1764, though there was nothing to prevent Clive from restoring Shah Alam II to Delhi and ruling north India in his name, he wisely decided to limit the company’s commitments to Bengal and Bihar. Oudh was returned to Shuja al-Dawlah as a buffer state between Bengal and the turbulent northwest. The Mugal emperor was solaced with an annual tribute, and in return he conferred the revenue administration (dewani) of Bengal on the East India Company by the Treaty of Allahabad (1765). This grant formed the key to Clive’s second achievement, the settlement of Bengal. It gave legal authority to the company to collect the revenues of Bengal and Bihar, sending the emperor only his annual tribute. The administration of the dewanee was organized through a deputy nawab appointed by the company. The police and magisterial power(nizamat) was still exercised by the nawab of Bengal as the emperor’s deputy, but he in turn nominated the company’s deputy to act for him. This was Clive’s so-called dual system, which made the company the virtual ruler of India’s two richest provinces.The dual government system held a great advantage for the British-they had power without responsibility. But the system had many weaknesses that ultimately led to administrative breakdown. The peasantry of Bengal suffered greatly due to the decline of agriculture and arbitrary revenue demands. Trade and commerce were disrupted, and the industry and skills ruined.
Clive left Calcutta in January 1767. In November 1774 he died by his own hand at his house in London.Clive’s talents were outstanding, his character no more unscrupulous than that of many men of his day, and his work marked the real beginning of the British Empire in India.
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