The advent of the Europeans & Colonization

By the time Babur laid the foundation (1526) for the Mughal Empire, the Europeans had arrived in India with their trading intent. India was then a land of fragmented geo-political entity, ruled by countless petty kings and local chieftains of wealth. It is to this country that Babur entered from the north and the Europeans landed from the south. 

Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor was the first European to land in India (1498). It marked the beginning of the colonization of India by the Europeans – a great chapter in World History. The Portuguese who reached Kozhikode and Kochi made Goa, near Bombay, their main center. They exploited the situation in which the   Vijayanagara Kings and he Bamani Sultans were at each other’s throat. In 1510 they captured the control of Goa

The Bamani Sultanate broke up into a number of smaller sultanates such as Bidar, Berar, Ahmednagar, Golkonda and Bijapur. These states mounted a joint attack (1565) brought the Vijayanagara empire down. It is at this juncture of uncertainties that the Mughal dynasty came up both in the north and the west.

The Portuguese, after establishing their hold on certain pockets in India, began to attack the Arabs who were in India only for trade. They made themselves strong and influential by meddling with the internal affairs of the states and sending Jesuits priests for religious conversions. England, France and the Netherlands got panicky at the monopoly the Portuguese established in their trade with India, and they lost no time in registering private trading companies (in the 17th century) and challenging their rival. New trading companies came up – the British East India Company, East India Company of the Netherlands, French East India Company, Swedish East India Company – the Europeans were getting ready to move to Africa and Asia for their business and political expansions. And the ground was getting ready for India and other countries to be enslaved by the powerful forces from the West.

The Portuguese made Goa their base and extended their tentacles to Daman, Diu and Bombay. When King Charles II of England married Princess Katherine of Braganza of Portugal, Bombay was given as part of the dowry (1661). This city was later leased out to the British East India Company. In 1771, the Portuguese annexed Dadra and Nagar Haveli, two coastal territories (India captured back these places in 1954, and Goa, Daman and Diu in 1961). The French concentrated their attention in various parts of South India. They lost in several encounters with the British and had to content themselves with the hold on Pondicherry, Karaikkal, Yanam, Chandranagar and Mahe as their colonies. When India became free, these places became parts of the Indian Union. The Dutch concentrated their trade centers in Madras (now Tamil Nadu), Kerala, Bengal and the Andaman islands. They were defeated by the army of the princely state of Travancore in a battle at Kolachel in August 1741, and this marked the end of the Dutch in India and they had to leave the country in 1845. This paved the way for the British East India Company and the British government to establish their monopoly on India and its politics. And India became a colony of the British.