The commercial contacts between India and Europe were very old via the land route either through the Oxus valley or Syria or Egypt. But, the new sea route via the Cape of Good Hope was discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1498. Thereafter, many trading companies came to India and established their trading centres. They entered India as traders at the outset but by the passage of time indulged in the politics of India and finally established their colonies. The commercial rivalry among the European powers led to political rivalry. Ultimately, the British succeeded in establishing their rule India. The Portuguese
The Portuguese traveler Vasco da Gama reached the port of Calicut on 17 May 1498 and he was warmly received by Zamorin, the ruler of Calicut. He returned to Portugal in the next year. Pedro Alvarez Cabral arrived in 1500 and Vasco da Gama also made a second trip in 1502. They established trading stations at Calicut, Cannanore and Cochin. The first governor of the Portuguese in India was Francis de Almeida. Later in 1509 Albuquerque was made the governor of the Portuguese territories in India. In 1510, he captured Goa from the ruler of Bijapur. Thereafter, Goa became the capital of the Portuguese settlements in India. Albuquerque captured Malacca and Ceylon. He also built a fort at Calicut. He encouraged his countrymen to marry Indian women. Albuquerque died in 1515 leaving the Portuguese as the strongest naval power in India. The successors of Albuquerque established Portuguese settlements at Daman, Salsette and Bombay on the west coast and at San Thome near Madras and Hugli in Bengal on the east coast. However, the Portuguese power declined in India by the end of the sixteenth century. They lost all their possessions in India except Goa, Diu and Daman in the next century.
The Dutch East India Company was established in 1602. The merchants of this company came to India and established their settlements at Masulipattinam, Pulicat, Surat, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Chinsura and Kasimbazar. In the seventeenth century they won over the Portuguese and emerged the most dominant power in European trade in the East. Pulicat was their main centre in India and later it was replaced by Nagapattinam. In the middle of the seventeenth century the English began to emerge as a big colonial power. The Anglo-Dutch rivalry lasted for about seven decades during which period the Dutch lost their settlements to the British one by one.
The English East India Company was established in 1600 and the Charter was issued by Queen Elizabeth of England. Captain Hawkins arrived at the royal court of Jahangir in 1609 to seek permission to establish English trading centre at Surat. But it was refused by the Mughal Emperor due to Portuguese pressure. Later in 1612, Jahangir issued a farman (permission letter) to the English and they established a trading factory at Surat in 1613. Sir Thomas Roe came to India as ambassador of James I, the king of England to the Mughal court in 1615. He obtained permission from Jahangir to establish English trading factories in different parts of India. The English established their factories at Agra, Ahmadabad, Baroda and Broach by 1619. The English East India Company acquired Bombay from Charles II, the then king of England. In 1639, Francis Day founded the city of Madras where the Fort St. George was built. In 1690, an English factory was established at a place called Sutanuti by Job Charnock. Later it developed into the city of Calcutta where Fort William was built. Later, Calcutta became the capital of British India. Thus Bombay, Madras, Calcutta became three presidency towns of the English settlements in India.
The French East India Company was formed in 1664 by Colbert, a Minister under Louis XIV. The first French factory in India was established at Surat by Francis Caron. Later, Maracara set up a factory at Masulipattinam. Francois...