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Mysore Wars

Mysore was a small Hindu principality that had maintained its independence ever since the demise of the Vijaynagar kingdom. It, however, remained relatively small and unimportant until Hyder Ali came to the helm. When Carnatic was having continuous wars, Bengal was facing political instability, the circumstance were ripe for Mysore to gain prominence. Hyder Ali was born in 1721 in a small family who started his military career in the army of Nanjaraj and gained experience during Anglo-French wars. Though Hyder Lai was illiterate, he was very shrewd, determined, intelligent and courageous as well as a good commander. He increased his resources and in 1761 after overthrowing Nanjaraj, he became unchallengeable ruler of Mysore. Right from his accession to power, he pursued an aggressive policy marked by occupation of territories that made Mysore a decisive power of India under Hyder Ali. But it invited jealousy of English, Marathas and Nizam who became enemies of Hyder Ali. They made an alliance against him. However, defeat of Marathas at the hands of Hyder Ali in 1766 punctured the alliance. Nizam also soon felt compelled by the circumstances to give up the alliance the company and became an ally of Hyder Ali.


Nawab of Carnatic Muhammad Ali was an ally of the company who had some outstanding territorial disputes with Mysore. Hyder Ali and Nizam jointly invaded Carnatic but the English commander Smith came to rescue Muhammad Ali who successfully checked the invaders in the battles of Chargama and Tirnomali. These defeats compelled Nizam to abandon Hyder Ali and joined the English camp. Despite this changing of horses by the Nizam, Hyder Ali continued his victorious march and reached just a few milies away from Madras which made the British to sue for peace. A treaty was signed in April 1769 that concluded First Mysore War. Both sides returned the conquered territories and British promised Hyder Ali help in case of attack, though they never fulfilled this term.


British had long standing enmity with French. As French decided to take revenge from British of their defeat in Seven Years War and jumped into the American War of Independence on the side of the revolutionaries, British decided to pack their luggage from India. They occupied Mahe, a French settlement lying within the Jurisdiction of Hyder Ali. Mahe was a seaport that was very significant for Hyder Ali to maintain contact with the outside world. Its occupation was as signal from the company that they were not in a friendly mood. Therefore, Hyder Ali made alliance with Marathas and also join Nizam’s organized confederacy. The war began in 1780.  At the very onset, Hyder Ali got some success and became master of Carnatic in a short span but then Warren Hasting started reorganization and sent Sir Eyre Coote. The war continued without any ultimate outcome. Hyder Ali died in 1782 but his son Tipu Sultan continued the war. French had also jumped into the arena but when peace in Europe was realized they withdrew from Mysore war as well. However, the war went ahead for sometime but ultimately it was concluded with the Mangalore treaty in March 1784. Both sides agreed to handover the conquered territories.


However, the treaty of Manglore proved a mere truce. Tipu Sultan had allied himself with French and when relation between England and France plummeted in European continental affairs, war in India also became imminent. So when Lord Corniwallis, Governor General of India, acquired Guntum and issued a list of allies which excluded Tipu Sultan, war appeared not far away. Tipu Sultan had smelt the war. Third Mysor war erupted in December 1789 with his invasion of Travancore. This war continued for three years and finally came to an end in 1792 with signing of Treaty of Seringa Patam. The treaty cost Tipu Sultan half of his kingdom which was divided among Marathas, Nizam and the Company. Tipu Sultan was also forcd to pay heavy indemnity.


It was a humiliating treaty that was difficult for Tipu Sultan to forget. He started reorganization of his armed forces and fortification of the capital along with securing alliance with France. New Governor General made alliance with Nizam and Marathas. He also demanded submission of Tipu Sultan that was refused. It resulted in the outbreak of the Fourth Mysore war. Seringa Patam was besieged in May 1799 that ultimately ended with the death of Tipu Sultan. His dominion came under occupation of the British East India Company. Marathas and Nizam also secured their share. The new Maysore became a Company’s protectorate that was to pay annual subsidy to the company. With the fall of Mysore the last stumbling block in the way of the consolidation of British Empire in India was also removed.

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