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Robert Clive


Robert Clive Assessing the Conqueror of India Contents Early life Political situation in India before Clive First journey to India (1744-1753) The Siege of ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Robert Clive

Robert Clive
  • Assessing the
  • Conqueror of India

  1. Early life
  2. Political situation in India before Clive
  3. First journey to India (1744-1753)
  4. The Siege of Arcot (1751)
  5. Second journey to India (1755-1760)
  6. The fall and recapture of Calcutta (1756-1757)
  7. War with Siraj ud-Daula Plassey
  8. Further campaigns Return to England
  9. Third journey to India The Imperial Farman
  10. Attempts at administrative reform
  11. Retirement and death

  • Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of
    Plassey, KB (29 September 172522 November 1774),
    also known as Clive of India, was a British
    soldier who established the military and
    political supremacy of the East India Company in
    Southern India and Bengal. Together with Warren
    Hastings he was one of the key figures in the
    creation of British India.

1. Early Life
  • Robert Clive was born at Styche, the old family
    estate, near Market Drayton and briefly educated
    at Merchant Taylors' School in London, until his
    expulsion. From his second speech in the House of
    Commons in 1773, it is known that the estate
    yielded only 500 a year. To supplement this
    income, his father practised law.
  • Teachers despaired of the young Clive. He is
    reputed to have climbed the tower of St Mary's
    Parish Church in Market Drayton and perched on a
    gargoyle. He also attempted to set up a
    protection racket enforced by a gang of youths.
  • If his behaviour generally was bad, in school it
    was worse - he was expelled from three schools,
    including Market Drayton Grammar School.

2. India before Clive
  • By the mid-eighteenth century the Mughal Empire
    had become divided into a number of successor
    states. For the forty years since the death of
    the Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, the power of the
    Emperor had gradually fallen into the hands of
    his provincial viceroys or subahdars.
  • The three most powerful were the Nizam of the
    Hyderabad State in the Deccan region (Asaf Jah),
    of south and central India, who ruled from
  • the Nawab of Bengal (Murshid Quli Khan), whose
    capital was Murshidabad,
  • and the wazir or Nawab of Awadh (Sa'adat Ali
    Khan, Burhan ul-Mulk). The European Trading
    companies still acknowledged the sovereignty of
    the Emperor at Delhi, Bahadur Shah I, but their
    relations with these regional rulers were of much
    greater importance.

The Western traders
  • In addition the relationship between the
    Europeans was influenced by a series of wars and
    treaties on mainland Europe. Since the late
    seventeenth century the European merchants had
    raised bodies of troops to protect their
    commercial interests and latterly to influence
    local politics to their advantage.
  • Military power was rapidly becoming as important
    as commercial acumen in securing India's valuable
    trade, and increasingly it was also the means of
    securing riches by another route the right to
    collect land revenue.

  • After Clive's arrival in India, the rich lands of
    the Coromandel Coast were contested between the
    French Governor General Joseph François Dupleix
    and the British. This rivalry included the
    British and French supporting various factions as
    Nawab of the remaining parts of the Mughal
  • Clive was the first of the "soldier-politicals"
    (as they came to be called) who helped the
    British gain ascendancy in India.
  • While the British would later be challenged in
    the South by Tipu Sultan of Mysore, Clive's fame
    and notoriety principally lie in his military
    conquest of the province of Bengal.

3. Clives first journey to India (1744-1753)
  • At the age of eighteen, Clive was sent out to
    Madras (now Chennai) as a "factor" or "writer" in
    the civil service of the East India Company.
  • On 4 September 1746, Madras was attacked by
    French Forces. Clive and others made their escape
    and for his part in this, Clive was given an
    ensign's commission.
  • In the conflict, Clive's bravery had been noted
    by Major Stringer Lawrence, the commander of the
    British troops. However, the Peace of
    Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 forced him to return to
    civil duties for a short time. The conflict
    between the British and the French continued,
    this time in political rather than military

4. The Siege of Arcot (1751)
  • In the conflict that followed, France and Britain
    remained officially at peace. The troops deployed
    were always those of the East India Company and
    the company could only rarely deploy more than a
    thousand troops. The British had been further
    weakened by the withdrawal of a large force under
    Admiral Boscawen, and by the return home, on
    leave, of Major Lawrence. But that officer had
    appointed Clive commissary for the supply of the
    troops with provisions, with the rank of captain.
    Clive drew up a plan for dividing the enemy's
    forces, and offered to carry it out himself.

  • In the summer of 1751, Chanda Sahib had left
    Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, to attack
    Mahommed Ali Wallajah at Tiruchirapalli. Clive
    offered to attack Arcot in order to force Chanda
    Sahib to raise the siege. Madras and Fort St
    David could supply him with only 200 Europeans
    and 300 sepoys and of the eight officers who led
    them, four were civilians like Clive himself, and
    six had never been in action. In addition, the
    force only had three artillery pieces. The
    initial British assault took the fort at Arcot
    during a thunderstorm and Clive's troops
    immediately began to fortify the building against
    a siege. Aided by some of the population, Clive
    was able to make sallies against the besieging
    troops. As the days passed on, Chanda Sahib sent
    a large army led by his son, Raza Sahib and his
    French supporters, who entered Arcot to besiege
    Clive in the fort.

  • His conduct during the siege made Clive famous
    back home in Europe. The Prime Minister Pitt the
    Elder described Clivewho had received no formal
    military training whatsoeveras the "heaven-born
    general",. The Court of Directors of the East
    India Company voted him a sword worth 700 which
    he refused to receive unless Lawrence was
    similarly honoured. He left Madras for home,
    after ten years' absence, early in 1753, but not
    before marrying Margaret Maskelyne, the sister of
    his friend Nevil Maskelyne.

5. Clives return
  • In July 1755, Clive returned to India to act as
    deputy governor of Fort St. David, a small
    settlement south of Madras.
  • On his way back from leave, Clive (now promoted
    to Lieutenant-Colonel in the King's army) took
    part in the capture of the fortress of Gheriah
    (today Vijaydurg) a stronghold of the Maratha
    Admiral Tuloji Angre. The action was led by and
    the English had a several ships available, some
    Royal troops and some Maratha allies. The
    overwhelming strength of the joint British and
    Maratha forces ensured that the battle was won
    with few losses. A fleet surgeon, Edward Ives,
    noted that Clive refused to take any part of the
    treasure which was divided among the victorious
    forces (as was the custom at the time).

6. The fall and recapture of Calcutta 1756-1757
  • Following this action Clive headed to his post at
    Fort St. David and it was there he received news
    of twin disasters for the English. Early in 1756,
    Siraj Ud Daulah had succeeded his grand father
    Alivardi Khan as Nawab of Bengal. In June Clive
    received news, firstly that the new Nawab had
    attacked the English at Kasimbazar and shortly
    afterwards that on 20 June he had taken the fort
    at Calcutta. The losses to the East India Company
    due to the fall of Calcutta were estimated by
    investors at 2,000,000. Those British who were
    captured were placed in a room which became
    infamous as the Black Hole of Calcutta and, in
    the stifling summer heat, it is alleged 123 of
    the 146 prisoners died due to suffocation or heat
    stroke. While the Black Hole became infamous in
    Britain, it is debatable whether the Nawab was
    aware of the incident.

  • By Christmas 1756, no response had been received
    to diplomatic letters to the Nawab and so and
    Clive were dispatched to attack the Nawab's army
    and remove him from Calcutta by force. Their
    first target was the fortress of Baj-Baj which
    Clive approached by land while Admiral Watson
    bombarded it from the sea. The fortress was
    quickly taken with minimal British casualties.
    Shortly afterwards on 2 January 1757, Calcutta
    itself was taken with similar ease.
  • Approximately a month later, on 3 February 1757,
    Clive encountered the army of the Nawab itself.
    For two days, the army marched past Clive's camp
    to take up a position east of Calcutta. Sir Eyre
    Coote, serving in the British forces, estimated
    the enemy's strength as 40,000 cavalry, 60,000
    infantry and thirty cannon. Even allowing for
    overestimation this was considerably more than
    Clive's force of approximately 2000 infantry,
    fourteen field guns and no cavalry. The British
    forces attacked on 5 February 1757 and after an
    initial assault during which around one tenth of
    the British attackers were killed, the Nawab
    sought to make terms with Clive and surrendered
    control of Calcutta.

7. War with Siraj ud-Daula
  • In spite of his double defeat and the treaty
    which followed it, the Nawab soon resumed the
    war. As England and France were once more at war,
    Clive sent the fleet up the river against
    Chandernagore, while he besieged it by land.
    After consenting to the siege, the Nawab sought
    to assist the French, but in vain. The capture of
    their principal settlement in India, next to
    Pondicherry, which had fallen in the previous
    war, gave the combined forces prizes to the value
    of 140,000.
  • Some officials of the Nawab's court formed a
    confederacy to depose him. Jafar Ali Khan (better
    known as Mir Jafar), the Nawab's
    commander-in-chief, led the conspirators. With
    Admiral Watson, Governor Drake and Mr Watts,
    Clive made a treaty in which it was agreed to
    give the office of viceroy of Bengal, Bihar and
    Orissa to Jafar, who was to pay a million
    sterling to the Company for its losses in
    Calcutta and the cost of its troops..

  • Clive employed Umichand, a rich Bengali trader,
    as an agent between Mir Jafar and the British
    officials. Umichand threatened to betray it
    unless he was guaranteed, in the treaty itself,
    300,000. To dupe him, a second fictitious treaty
    was shown him with a clause to this effect.
    Admiral Watson refused to sign this. Clive
    deposed to the House of Commons that, "to the
    best of his remembrance, he gave the gentleman
    who carried it leave to sign his name upon it
    his lordship never made any secret of it he
    thinks it warrantable in such a case, and would
    do it again a hundred times he had no interested
    motive in doing it, and did it with a design of
    disappointing the expectations of a rapacious
  • It is nevertheless cited as an example of Clive's

8. Plassey
  • The whole hot season of 1757 was spent in these
    negostiations. Then in the middle of June, Clive
    began his march from Chandernagore, with the
    British in boats and the sepoys along the right
    bank of the Hooghly River. It was between Siraj
    ud-Daulah and the English army led by Robert
    Clive. On 21 June 1757, Clive arrived on the bank
    opposite Plassey, in the midst of that outburst
    of rain which ushers in the south-west monsoon of
    India. His whole army amounted to 1,100 Europeans
    and 2,100 sepoy troops, with nine field-pieces.
  • The Nawab had drawn up 18,000 horse, 50,000 foot
    and 53 pieces of heavy ordinance, served by
    French artillerymen. For once in his career Clive
    hesitated, and called a council of sixteen
    officers to decide,but his daring soon
    re-asserted itself, He did well as a soldier to
    trust to the dash and even rashness that had
    gained Arcot and triumphed at Calcutta, He was
    fully justified in his confidence in Mir Jafar's
    treachery to his master, for he led a large
    portion of the Nawab's army away from the
    battlefield, ensuring his defeat.
  • Clive lost hardly any European troops in all 22
    sepoys were killed and 50 wounded. It is curious
    in many ways that Clive is now best-remembered
    for this battle, which was essentially won by
    suborning the opposition rather than through
    fighting or brilliant military tactics. Whilst it
    established British military supremacy in Bengal,
    it did not secure the East India Company's
    control over Upper India, as is sometimes

The spoils of war?
  • Clive entered Murshidabad, and established Mir
    Jafar as Nawab, the price which had been agreed
    beforehand for his treachery. When taken through
    the treasury, amid a million and a half
    sterling's worth of rupees, gold and silver
    plate, jewels and rich goods, and besought to ask
    what he would, Clive took 160,000, a vast
    fortune for the day, while half a million was
    distributed among the army and navy (of the East
    India Company), both in addition to gifts of
    24,000 to each member of the Company's committee
    and besides the public compensation stipulated
    for in the treaty.

  • In this extraction of wealth Clive followed a
    usage fully recognized by the Company, although
    this was the source of future corruption which
    Clive was later sent to India again to correct.
    The Company itself acquired a revenue of 100,000
    a year, and a contribution towards its losses and
    military expenditure of a million and a half
    sterling. Mir Jafar further discharged his debt
    to Clive by afterwards presenting him with the
    quit-rent of the Company's lands in and around
    Calcutta, amounting to an annuity of 27,000 for
    life, and leaving him by will the sum of 70,000,
    which Clive devoted to the army.

  • While busy with the civil administration, Clive
    continued to follow up his military success.
    Clive also repelled the aggression of the Dutch,
    and avenged the massacre of Amboyna - the
    occasion when he wrote his famous letter "Dear
    Forde, fight them immediately I will send you
    the order of council to-morrow."
  • Meanwhile Clive improved the organization and
    drill of the sepoy army, after a European model,
    and enlisted into it many Muslims from upper
    India. He re-fortified Calcutta. In 1760, after
    four years of hard labour, his health gave way
    and he returned to England.
  • The long-term outcome of Plassey was to place a
    very heavy revenue burden upon Bengal. The
    Company sought to extract the maximum revenue
    possible from the peasantry to fund military
    campaigns, and corruption was widespread amongst
    its officials.

9. Return to England
  • In 1760, the 35-year-old Clive returned to
    England with a fortune of at least 300,000 and
    the quit-rent of 27,000 a year. In the five
    years of his conquests and administration in
    Bengal, the young man had crowded together a
    succession of exploits which gave peace,
    security, prosperity and liberty under British
  • The immediate consequence of Clive's victory at
    Plassey was an increase in the revenue demand on
    Bengal by at least 20, much of which was
    appropriated by Zamindars and corrupt Company
    Officials, which led to considerable hardship for
    the rural population, particularly during the
    famine of 1770.
  • During the three years that Clive remained in
    England, he sought a political position, chiefly
    that he might influence the course of events in
    India, which he had left full of promise. He had
    been well received at court, had been made Baron
    Clive of Plassey, County Clare, had bought
    estates, and had got not only himself, but his
    friends returned to the House of Commons, after
    the fashion of the time.

  • Clive set himself to reform the home system of
    the East India Company, and in this he was aided
    by the news of reverses in Bengal. Mir Jafar had
    finally rebelled over certain payments to English
    officials, and in consequence Vansittart, Clive's
    successor, had put Kasim Ali Khan, the Mir
    Jafar's son-in-law upon the musnud (throne).
  • The whole Company's service, Civil and Military,
    had become mired in corruption, demoralized by
    gifts and by the monopoly of the inland as well
    as export trade, to such an extent that the local
    people were pauperised, and the Company was
    plundered of the revenues which Clive had
    acquired for them.
  • For this Clive himself must bear responsibility,
    as he had set a very poor example during his
    tenure as Governor. Nevertheless, the Court of
    Proprietors, forced the Directors (who they
    elected) to hurry Lord Clive to Bengal with the
    double powers of Governor and Commander-in-Chief.

10. Third journey to India
  • On 3 May 1765 Clive landed at Calcutta to learn
    that Mir Jafar had died, and had been succeeded
    by his son, while Kasim Ali had induced not only
    the viceroy of Oudh, but the emperor of Delhi
    himself, to invade Bihar. At The emperor, Shah
    Alam II, detached himself from the league, while
    the Oudh viceroy threw himself on the mercy of
    the British. Clive had now an opportunity of
    repeating in Hindustan, or Upper India, what he
    had accomplished in Bengal. But he believed he
    had other work in the exploitation of the
    revenues and resources of rich Bengal itself,
    making it a base from which British India would
    afterwards steadily grow. Hence he returned to
    the Oudh viceroy all his territory save the
    provinces of Allahabad and , which he presented
    to the weak emperor.

  • The Imperial Farman In return for the Oudhian
    provinces Clive secured from the Emperor one of
    the most important documents in British history
    in India. It appears in the records as "firmaund
    from the King Shah Aalum, granting the dewany of
    Bengal, Behar and Orissa to the Company 1765."
    This effectively granted title of Bengal to
    Clive. The date was 12 August 1765, the place
    Benares, the throne an English dining-table
    covered with embroidered cloth and surmounted by
    a chair in Clive's tent. It is all pictured by a
    Muslim contemporary, who indignantly exclaims
    that so great a "transaction was done and
    finished in less time than would have been taken
    up in the sale of a jackass". By this deed the
    Company became the real sovereign rulers of
    thirty million people, yielding a revenue of four
    millions sterling.
  • On the same date Clive obtained not only an
    imperial charter for the Company's possessions in
    the Carnatic, completing the work he began at
    Arcot, but a third firman for the highest of all
    the lieutenancies of the empire, that of the
    Deccan itself. This fact is mentioned in a letter
    from the secret committee of the court of
    directors to the Madras government, dated 27
    April 1768. The British presence in India was
    still infinitesimally tiny compared to the number
    and strength of the princes and people of India,
    but also compared to the forces of their
    ambitious French, Dutch and Danish rivals.

  • Attempts at administrative reform Having thus
    founded the Empire of British India, Clive sought
    to have put in place a strong administration. The
    salaries of civil servants were increased, the
    acceptance of gifts from Indians was forbidden,
    and Clive exacted covenants under which
    participation in the inland trade was stopped.
    Unfortunately this had very little impact in
    reducing corruption, which remained as widespread
    as ever until the days of Warren Hastings.
  • Clive's military reforms were more effective. His
    reorganization of the army, divided the whole
    into three brigades, so as to make each a
    complete force, in itself equal to any single
    native army that could be brought against it. He
    had not enough British artillerymen, however, and
    refused to train Indians to work the guns.

11. Retirement and death
  • Clive left India for the last time in February
    1767. In 1769, he acquired the house and gardens
    at Claremont near Esher and commissioned Lancelot
    "Capability" Brown to remodel the garden and
    rebuild the house.
  • From 1772, he had to defend his actions against
    his numerous and vocal critics in Britain.
    Cross-examined by a Parliament suspicious of his
    vast wealth, he claimed to have taken relatively
    limited advantage of the opportunities presented
    to him.
  • Despite his vindication, on 22 November 1774 he
    committed suicide at his Berkeley Square home in
    London by stabbing himself with a pen-knife.
    Though Clive's suicide has been linked to his
    history of depression and to opium addiction, the
    likely immediate impetus was excruciating pain
    resulting from illness (which he attempted to
    abate with opium).
  • Clive was awarded the title Baron of Plassey and
    bought lands in County Limerick and County Clare,
    Ireland. He named part of his lands near Limerick
    City, Plassey.