An intrepid band of sea-faring merchants, sailors and soldiers arrive from a distant land. While they come seeking some space in the court of Jahangir, the tide turns completely a century later. They become the largest power in the subcontinent – eclipsing the other empires, creating one of the biggest empires that the world has known.
But how did the English East India Company grow to become such a force?
From 1600 to 1858, the life span of the Company, there occurred its dramatic metamorphosis from a small commercial group sponsored by Queen Elizabeth into a cumbersome organization that controlled enormous revenues, vast properties, armed forces, innumerable ships and countless trading posts.
Starting from the first ship that touched Indian mainland in 1608, for the next hundred years, the English factory at Surat was at the centre of struggle. The Company’s initial strategic entry into the nation is a fascinating story that this book tries to chronicle.
Pitched against two formidable European rivals, two hostile successive rulers at home, some of the most dreaded and the most celebrated pirates of all times, the Mughal rulers in India and the Marathas in ascendency – this is the story of the East India Company.