Empire in Asia

A New Global History

Trade and Conquest

Book Cover

Book Title

Trade and Conquest: Studies on the Rise of British Dominance in India. Aldershot; Brookfield, VT.: Variorum, 1993


Marshall, P.J. (ed.)

Scope (Topics Covered, Time Period)

This volume explores the debate about the nature and pace of change affecting India roughly between 1700 and 1800. It is involved largely with the internal perspective of the Indians when the British increased its claim to rule in India on the basis that India was facing a decline after the fall of the Mughal dynasty.

Argument (Methodology, Significance)

Essays after those of Hastings in this collection reposition private British interests and the role of Indians who worked with the British into a much wider context. They carry out a close investigation of the pursuit of private fortunes in eighteenth-century India so as to do more than just simply pass judgment for or against great figures like Hastings; such investigations are deemed to be able to give historians important insights into the process by which the British acquired territorial power and created their new administrations.

In addition, several writers argued that because a number of Indian states were infiltrated by private British enterprise, their capacity to resist the Company's fiscal and military demands was seriously weakened.

Interestingly, "British Expansion of India in the Eighteenth Century", Marshall argued that only after 1784 was the British able to apply coherent policies, because by 1784 Britain had won a substantial Indian empire in both formal and informal terms - Bengal was virtually a British province, Oudh was garrisoned by British troops and its ruler forced to submit to an increasing measure of British interference. In this way, there is a breaking down of the common perception that British were able to force India into subjugation without much effort needed on her part.

Annotated by Michelle Djong