British East India Company

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British East India Company

The East India Company began as a commercial enterprise established for the British to pursue trade with the East Indies, specifically the Indian subcontinent. Queen Elizabeth of England had issued a royal charter for this company which led to the substantial power that East India Company gained in India. The company James Lancaster’s voyage to the East Indies led to the founding of the East India Company (Halliday 106). The attraction to the Indies began in the fifteenth century during the spice trade. The first English expedition for pursuing trade in the Indies was unsuccessful due to Portuguese and Dutch control over the spice trade. James Lancaster was one of the few to return from the voyage. The expedition was unprofitable and those who returned lacked ships (Sears 44). The British and Dutch had more access to the spice trade after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Earlier, “the Spanish and Portuguese had a monopoly of the East Indies spice trade” (Landow, “The British East India Company”). The Dutch were aggressive, driving out English traders interested in the spice market. English influence on the spice trade in the East Indies was limited to one port on the southern coast of Sumatra (Spielvogel 421).

Queen Elizabeth signed the charter of the East India Company on December 31st, 1600. Although the charter was “merely royal assent to a mercantile enterprise,” it was soon to lead to British dominance in India. The London merchants who formed the company intended to draw in the wealth of the Indies through trade, not conquest (Sears 44). 125 merchants invested around 72,000 pounds for the formation of the East India Company, a company that involved stock divided into a number of share...

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... Sepoy Mutiny. Subsequently the government of Britain took control of India, making it a colony of Britain (Caswell, Regents Prep).

Works Cited

Halliday, Frank E. A Concise History of England from the Stonehenge to the Atomic Age. New

York: Viking Press, 1964. Print.

Landow, George P. “The British East India Company – the Company that Owned a Nation (or

Two).” The Victorian Web, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Marshall, Peter. “The British Presence in India in the 18th Century.” BBC, 17 Feb. 2011. Web.

24 Feb. 2014.

Sears, Stephen W. The Horizon History of the British Empire. Rockville: American Heritage

Publishing Company, 1973. Print.

Spielvogel, Jackson J. World History. Orion Place: McGraw-Hill, 2005. Print.
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