general restrictions from London on wars by the Company, officials in India
made a case before the British public and Parliament, advocating hostilities
with Mysore in order to secure the safety of the Company’s trade at Madras.
The image of French resurgence in India (as ally to Mysore or Hyderabad)
added force to the bellicose voices in the Company and England. In all, the
Company fought four wars against Mysore (1767-69, 1780-84, 1790-92 and
1799). The last two of these wars ended with the Company annexing
considerable territories from Mysore in peninsular India.
Aggressive Policies of Wellesley At the end of the eighteenth and in the
early decades of the nineteenth century, the Company embarked on a
dramatic expansion of its territories through a series of wars and subsequent
annexations. Although these clearly resulted from the actions of more than a
single man, the aggressive policies initiated by Governor General Richard
Wellesley (1798-1805), certainly gave direction to this expansion. The
British wars with France (1793-1802, 1803-1814) involved struggles across
the globe as sources of raw material and trade embargoes became essential
weapons of war.
In India, Wellesley trained and inspired much of an entire generation of
‘politicals’ (Company officials who specialised in political relations with the
Indian states). These politicals then implemented and perpetuated his
annexationist ideas long after Wellesley’s recall by the Court of Directors in
Arthur Wellesley (who defended his brother’s aggressive policies) learned his
trade as a young officer in his brother’s Mysore and Maratha wars and later,
went on to apply these lessons in Europe, becoming the Duke of Wellington.
Under Wellesley, the Company’s attitude hardened towards the Indian states
under its indirect control, as well as towards those openly hostile to it.
Wellesley’s ‘subsidiary alliance’ policy made the Company’s own political
interests, the overriding consideration in its relations with the Indian states.
The principle that British interests overrode all others, underlay many of the
actions of the Company officials at this time both in states like Awadh,
already under its indirect rule, and also in states hostile to the Company, like
the Marathas.
In the case of Awadh, Henry Wellesley compelled the Awadh ruler, despite
that ruler’s fervent objections, to cede to the Company, half his territories (the