French India is the name commonly used to refer (in English) to the French possessions acquired by the French East India Company in India from the second half of the 17th century onward, and officially known as the Établissements français dans l'Inde ("French establishments in India") from the resumption of French rule in 1816 to their de facto incorporation into the Union of India in 1947 and 1954. They included Pondichéry, Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahé on the Malabar Coast, and Chandernagor in Bengal. French India also included several loges ("lodges", subsidiary trading stations such as European East India companies founded in various places) in other towns, but after 1816 the loges had little commercial importance and the towns to which they were attached came under British administration.
The total area amounted to Script error: No such module "convert"., of which Script error: No such module "convert". belonged to the territory of Pondichéry. In 1936, the population of the colony totaled 298,851 inhabitants, of which 63% (187,870) lived in the territory of Pondichéry.
France was the last of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to enter the East India trade. Six decades after the foundation of the English and Dutch East India companies (in 1600 and 1602 respectively), and at a time when both companies were multiplying factories on the shores of India, the French still did not have a viable trading company or a single permanent establishment in the East.
Historians have sought to explain France's late entrance in the East India trade. They cite geopolitical circumstances such as the inland position of the French capital, the size of the country itself, France's numerous internal custom barriers, and parochial perspectives of merchants on France's Atlantic coast, who had little appetite for the large-scale investment required to develop a viable trading enterprise with the distant East Indies.
The first French expedition to India is believed to have taken place in the first half of the 16th century, in the reign of King Francis I, when two ships were fitted out by some merchants of Rouen to trade in eastern seas; they sailed from Le Havre and were never heard of again. In 1604 a company was granted letters patent by King Henry IV, but the project failed. Fresh letters patent were issued in 1615, and two ships went to India, only one returning.
La Compagnie française des Indes orientales (French East India Company) was formed under the auspices of Cardinal Richelieu (1642) and reconstructed under Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1664), sending an expedition to Madagascar. In 1667 the French India Company sent out another expedition, under the command of François Caron (who was accompanied by a Persian named Marcara), which reached Surat in 1668 and established the first French factory in India.
In 1669, Marcara succeeded in establishing another French factory at Masulipatam. In 1672, Saint Thomas was taken but the French were driven out by the Dutch. Chandernagore (present-day Chandannagar) was established in 1692, with the permission of Nawab Shaista Khan, the Mughal governor of Bengal. In 1673, the French acquired the area of Pondicherry from the qiladar of Valikondapuram under the Sultan of Bijapur, and thus the foundation of Pondichéry was laid. By 1720, the French had lost their factories at Surat, Masulipatam and Bantam to the British.
On February 4, 1673, Bellanger, a French officer, took up residence in the Danish Lodge in Pondichéry, thereby commencing the French administration of Pondichéry. In 1674 François Martin, the first Governor, initiated ambitious projects to transform Pondichéry from a small fishing village into a flourishing port-town. The French, though, found themselves in continual conflict with the Dutch and the English. In 1693 the Dutch captured Pondichéry and augmented the fortifications. The French regained the town in 1699 through the Treaty of Ryswick, signed on September 20, 1697.
From their arrival until 1741, the objectives of the French, like those of the British, were purely commercial. During this period, the French East India Company peacefully acquired Yanam (about Script error: No such module "convert". north-east of Pondichéry on Andhra Coast) in 1723, Mahe on Malabar Coast in 1725 and Karaikal (about Script error: No such module "convert". south of Pondichéry) in 1739. In the early 18th century, the town of Pondichéry was laid out on a grid pattern and grew considerably. Able governors like Pierre Christophe Le Noir (1726–35) and Pierre Benoît Dumas (1735–41) expanded the Pondichéry area and made it a large and rich town.
Soon after his arrival in 1741, the most famous governor of French India, Joseph François Dupleix began to cherish the ambition of a French territorial empire in India in spite of the pronounced uninterested attitude of his distant superiors and of the French government, which didn't want to provoke the British. Dupleix's ambition clashed with British interests in India and a period of military skirmishes and political intrigues began and continued even in rare periods when France and Great Britain were officially at peace. Under the command of the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau, Dupleix's army successfully controlled the area between Hyderabad and Cape Comorin. But then Robert Clive arrived in India in 1744, a British officer who dashed the hopes of Dupleix to create a French empire India.
After a defeat and failed peace talks, Dupleix was summarily dismissed and recalled to France in 1754.
In spite of a treaty between the British and French agreeing not to interfere in regional Indian affairs, their colonial intrigues continued. The French expanded their influence at the court of the Nawab of Bengal and increased their trading activity in Bengal. In 1756, the French encouraged the Nawab (Siraj ud-Daulah) to attack and take the British Fort William in Calcutta. This led to the Battle of Plassey in 1757, where the British decisively defeated the Nawab and his French allies, resulting in the extension of British power over the entire province of Bengal.
Subsequently France sent Lally-Tollendal to recover the lost French possessions and drive the British out of India. Lally arrived in Pondichéry in 1758, had some initial success and razed Fort St. David in Cuddalore District to the ground in 1758, but strategic mistakes by Lally led to the loss of the Hyderabad region, the Battle of Wandiwash, and the siege of Pondicherry in 1760. In 1761 the British razed Pondichéry to the ground in revenge for the French depredations; it lay in ruins for four years. The French had lost their hold now in South India too.
In 1765 Pondichéry was returned to France in accordance with a 1763 peace treaty with Britain. Governor Jean Law de Lauriston set to rebuild the town on its former layout and after five months 200 European and 2000 Tamil houses had been erected. In 1769 the French East India Company, unable to support itself financially, was abolished by the French Crown, which assumed administration of the French possessions in India. During the next 50 years Pondichéry changed hands between France and Britain with the regularity of their wars and peace treaties.
Imperial entities of India
|Casa da Índia||1434–1833|
|Portuguese East India Company||1628–1633|
|East India Company||1612–1757|
|Company rule in India||1757–1858|
|British rule in Burma||1824–1948|
|Partition of India||
In 1816, after the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, the five establishments of Pondichéry, Chandernagore, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam and the lodges at Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat were returned to France. Pondichéry had lost much of its former glory, and Chandernagore dwindled into an insignificant outpost to the north of the rapidly growing British metropolis of Calcutta. Successive governors tried, with mixed results, to improve infrastructure, industry, law and education over the next 138 years.
By a decree of 25 January, 1871, French India was to have an elective general council (Conseil général) and elective local councils (Conseil local). The results of this measure were not very satisfactory, and the qualifications for and the classes of the franchise were modified. The governor resided at Pondichéry, and was assisted by a council. There were two Tribunaux d'instance (Tribunals of first instance) (at Pondichéry and Karikal) one Cour d'appel (Court of Appeal) (at Pondichéry) and five Justices de paix (Justice of the Peace). Agricultural production consisted of rice, earth-nuts, tobacco, betel nuts and vegetables.
The independence of India in August 1947 gave impetus to the union of France's Indian possessions with former British India. The lodges in Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat were ceded to India in October 1947. An agreement between France and India in 1948 agreed to an election in France's remaining Indian possessions to choose their political future. Governance of Chandernagore was ceded to India on 2 May 1950, then it was merged with West Bengal state on 2 October 1955. On November 1, 1954, the four enclaves of Pondichéry, Yanam, Mahe, and Karikal were de facto transferred to the Indian Union and became the Union Territory of Puducherry. The de jure union of French India with India did not take place until 1962, when the French Parliament in Paris ratified the treaty with India.
List of Governors of French establishments in India
|Outline of South Asian history|
- Dutch occupation, September 1693 – September 1699 — Treaty of Ryswick (1697)
- François Martin, September 1699 – December 31, 1706
- Pierre Dulivier, January 1707 – July 1708
- Guillaume André d'Hébert, 1708–12
- Pierre Dulivier, 1712–17
- Guillaume André d'Hébert, 1717–18
- Pierre André Prévost de La Prévostière, August 1718 – 11 October 1721
- Pierre Christoph Le Noir (Acting), 1721–23
- Joseph Beauvollier de Courchant, 1723–26
- Pierre Christoph Le Noir, 1726–34
- Pierre Benoît Dumas, 1734–41
- Joseph François Dupleix, January 14, 1742 – October 15, 1754
- Charles Godeheu, Le commissaire (Acting), October 15, 1754–54
- Georges Duval de Leyrit, 1754–58
- Thomas Arthur, comte de Lally, 1758 – January 16, 1761
- First British occupation, January 15, 1761 – June 25, 1765 — Treaty of Paris (1763)
- Jean Law de Lauriston, 1765–66
- Antoine Boyellau, 1766–67
- Jean Law de Lauriston, 1767 – January 1777
- Guillaume de Bellecombe, seigneur de Teirac, January 1777–82
- Charles Joseph Pâtissier, Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau, 1783–85
- François, Vicomte de Souillac, 1785
- David Charpentier de Cossigny, October 1785–87
- Thomas, comte de Conway, October 1787–89
- Camille Charles Leclerc, chevalier de Fresne,1789–92
- Dominique Prosper de Chermont, November 1792–93
- L. Leroux de Touffreville, 1793
- Second British occupation, August 23, 1793 – 18 June 1802 — Treaty of Amiens (1802)
- Charles Matthieu Isidore, Comte Decaen, June 18, 1802 - August 1803
- Louis François Binot, 1803
- Third British occupation, August 1803 – 26 September 1816 — Treaty of Paris (1814)
- André Julien Comte Dupuy, September 26, 1816 – October 1825
- Joseph Cordier, Marie Emmanuel (Acting), October 1825 – June 19, 1826
- Eugène Panon, Comte Desbassayns de Richemont, 1826 – August 2, 1828
- Joseph Cordier, Marie Emmanuel (Acting), August 2, 1828 – April 11, 1829
- Auguste Jacques Nicolas Peureux de Mélay, April 11, 1829 – May 3, 1835
- Hubert Jean Victor, Marquis de Saint-Simon, May 3, 1835 – April 1840
- Paul de Nourquer du Camper, April 1840–44
- Louis Pujol, 1844–49
- Hyacinth Marie de Lalande de Calan, 1849–50
- Philippe Achille Bédier, 1851–52
- Raymond de Saint-Maur, August 1852 – April 1857
- Alexandre Durand d'Ubraye, April 1857 – January 1863
- Napoléon Joseph Louis Bontemps, January 1863 – June 1871
- Antoine-Léonce Michaux, June 1871 – November 1871
- Pierre Aristide Faron, November 1871–75
- Adolph Joseph Antoine Trillard, 1875–1878
- Léonce Laugier, February 1879 – April 1881
- Théodore Drouhet, 1881 – October 1884
- Étienne Richaud, October 1884–86
- Édouard Manès, 1886–88
- Georges Jules Piquet, 1888–89
- Louis Hippolyte Marie Nouet, 1889–91
- Léon Émile Clément-Thomas, 1891–1896
- Louis Jean Girod, 1896 – February 1898
- François Pierre Rodier, February 1898 – January 11, 1902
- Pelletan (Acting), January 11, 1902
- Victor Louis Marie Lanrezac, 1902–04
- Philema Lemaire, August 1904 – April 1905
- Joseph Pascal François, April 1905 – October 1906
- Gabriel Louis Angoulvant, October 1906 – December 3, 1907
- Adrien Jules Jean Bonhoure, 1908–09
- Ernest Fernand Lévecque, 1909 – July 9, 1910
- Alfred Albert Martineau, July 9, 1910 – July 1911
- Pierre Louis Alfred Duprat, July 1911 – November 1913
- Alfred Albert Martineau, November 1913 – June 29, 1918
- Pierre Etienne Clayssen (acting), June 29, 1918 – February 21, 1919
- Louis Martial Innocent Gerbinis, February 21, 1919 – February 11, 1926
- Henri Leo Eugene Lagroua (Acting), February 11, 1926 – August 5, 1926
- Pierre Jean Henri Didelot, 1926–28
- Robert Paul Marie de Guise, 1928–31
- François Adrien Juvanon, 1931–34
- Léon Solomiac, August 1934–36
- Horace Valentin Crocicchia, 1936–38
- Louis Alexis Étienne Bonvin, September 26, 1938–45
- Nicolas Ernest Marie Maurice Jeandin, 1945–46
- Charles François Marie Baron, March 20, 1946 – August 20, 1947
French India became a Territoire d'outre-mer of France in 1946.
- Charles François Marie Baron, August 20, 1947 – May 1949
- Charles Chambon, May 1949 – July 31, 1950
- André Ménard, July 31, 1950 – October 1954
- Georges Escargueil, October 1954 – November 1, 1954
- Mr.Kewal Singh November 1, 1954–57
- M.K. Kripalani 1957–58
- L.R.S. Singh 1958–59
- AS Bam 1959–1960
- Sarat Kumar Dutta 1961
- Causes for Liberation of French colonies in India
- Municipal Administration in French India
- European colonies in India
- Coup d'état of Yanaon
- French colonial empire
- Chanda Sahib
- Muzaffar Jang
- Salabat Jang
- Claude Martin
- La Martiniere College
- List of French possessions and colonies
Notes and references
- 12px This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "India, French". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- In France, the official name was customarily used in official documents; the expression Inde française was generally not used as it seemed too grandiose, inasmuch as the Indian territory under French administration was minuscule, especially in comparison to British India. Among the French population and in the French press, the expression Comptoirs de l'Inde was commonly used. Properly speaking, though, a comptoir is a trading station, whereas the French possessions in India comprehended entire towns and were not mere trading stations.
- Jacques Weber, Pondichéry et les comptoirs de l'Inde après Dupleix, Éditions Denoël, Paris, 1996, p. 347.
- Holden Furber, Rival Empires of Trade in the Orient, 1600-1800, University of Minnesota Press, 1976, p. 201.
- Philippe Haudrère, Les Compagnies des Indes Orientales, Paris, 2006, p 70.
- Asia in the making of Europe, p. 747.
- The Cambridge history of the British Empire, p. 66.
- In the days of the French East India Company, the title of the top official was most of the time Gouverneur de Pondichéry et commandant général des établissements français aux Indes orientales. After 1816, it was Gouverneur des établissements français de l'Inde.
- Sudipta Das (1992). Myths and realities of French imperialism in India, 1763–1783. New York: P. Lang. ISBN 0820416762. 459p.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to French India.|
- French Books on India: Representations of India in French Literature and Culture 1750 to 1962 – University of Liverpool
- V. Sankaran, Freedom struggle in Pondicherry – Gov't of India publication
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