Lord Wellesley (1798–1805) and his subsidiary treaties - Online History

Lord Wellesley (1798–1805) and his subsidiary treaties

The subsidiary alliance was a policy that provided the Company with both wealth and empire without any extra effort. Lord Wellesley took the help of this subsidiary treaty and merged many states into the company’s kingdom.

Lord Wellesley (1798–1805) and his subsidiary treaties
IMAGE CREDIT-WIKIPEDIA

Lord Wellesley (1798–1805) and his subsidiary treaties

Introduction to Lord Wellesley

    Lord Wellesley became the Governor-General of India in 1798 succeeding Sir John Shore. The full name of Lord Wellesley was Richard Carla Wellesley – Marvix of Wellesley. Before coming to India, Wellesley had been Lord of the Treasury of England and Commissioner of the Board of Control. Wellesley was 37 years old and full of youth when he came to India as Governor-General.

    Wellesley was unable to do any special work in England and the area was not suitable for him. A contemporary man told him – “You need a wider area. You are dying of suffocation.” Therefore, Lord Wellesley got an opportunity to show his talent in the vast state of India.

Objectives of Lord Wellesley in India


Wellesley had the following objectives in India:
1- He wanted to make the company (East India Company) the largest company in India.
2-He wanted to expand the company’s territories.
3- He wanted to bring all the states of India under the company.
4- Wellesley abandoned the policy of peace and fairness and followed the policy of war and only war.
5- He adopted a policy of aggressive warfare toward the Indian states.
6- Wellesley used to call his policy ‘just and rational’ and ‘finite and calm’.

What was the subsidiary treaty?


The policy followed by Wellesley to bring the Indian states into the British state is called the ‘Subsidiary Treaty’. By this method, Wellesley not only annexed the Indian states to the English kingdom but also averted the fear of French invasion. This system played a major role in the creation of an extensive English empire and the Company held a vast empire.

According to Alfred Lyle, there were four conditions for the company’s participation in the Indian wars –

1-The company rented its army to the Allied States to aid in the wars. According to which a treaty was made with the Nizam in 1768.

2- The company itself participated in the wars with the help of its friends.

3-Indian kings gave money in place of soldiers. With this money, the Company made arrangements for training and equipment for the army (Treaty of Hyderabad 1798).

4- The company received part of the territory in exchange for the guarantee of defense to the Indian kings, as was done by the treaty of 1800 with the Nizam.

Who invented the subsidiary alliance?


The subsidiary treaty was not invented by Lord Wellesley, but it was first invented in India by the French Governor Dupleix. Dupleix was the first person who rented his army to Indian kings. and received the money in return. Wellesley expanded this system and implemented it with all the Indian kings under the company.

With whom was the first subsidiary treaty made?


The first subsidiary treaty was made with Oudh in 1765 (the Treaty of Allahabad) when the Company promised to protect its borders in exchange for money for a certain amount of money. Apart from this, Oudh agreed to keep an English resident in Lucknow.

Similarly, in 1787, the Company requested the Nawab of Carnatic not to have any relations with any other foreign power. On 21 January 1798, Sir John Shore, furthering the terms of the treaty with Awadh, told the Nawab that he would not employ any other Europeans.

What were the major terms of the subsidiary treaty?


The Indian rulers who accepted the subsidiary treaty had to accept the following conditions —-

1- The foreign relations of the Indian rulers will remain in the possession of the company. The Indian rulers would not wage any war or treaty, only the Company could negotiate with the states.

2- The big states had to maintain an army that was commanded by the English officers. And its purpose was to maintain public peace. For this, they would have to give the “Absolute Sovereign Territory” to the company. Smaller states had to pay cash to the company.

3- States that accepted the Subsidiary Treaty had to keep an English resident in their capital.

4- States shall not employ any European person without the permission of the Company.

5- The company will stay away from the internal affairs of the states.

6-The company will protect the states from all kinds of enemies.

Subsidiary Treaty States Under Lord Wellesley


  • Hyderabad – September 1798 and 1800
  • Mysore – 1799
  • Tanjore – October 1799
  • Oudh – November 1801
  • Peshwa – December 1801
  • Brar’s Bhonsle – December 1803
  • Scindia -February 1804
  • Jodhpur –
  • Jaipur
  • fisher
  • Bharatpur

 What were the benefits to the company from the subsidiary alliance?


1- The subsidiary alliance system started playing the role of an insider enemy in empire building. The Indian states became powerless and disarmed because they now got the protection of the Company. Now Indian states cannot form any federation, especially against the company.

2- The company got a huge army without spending. As Wellesley himself wrote – “By keeping our tributaries at Hyderabad, Poona, Gaekwad, Daulatrao Scindia and Rana of Gohad, we have an efficient army of 22,000 men whose expenditure has been from foreign (Indian state), within or between foreign states. This army is fully efficient and capable of fighting at any time in any direction at short notice. Without disturbing the peace of the Company’s occupied territories or without any additional burden on the Government of India, can also be used against the Indian king.”

3- Keeping the Company’s army in the capital of the Indian kings controlled the strategic importance of the Company and the rest of the European powers also did not get an opportunity to envy.

The Company’s army moved from its political borders with the 4-subsidiary treaty. Thus both the burden of battle and the battlefield belonged to the native kings.

5- By this treaty, the company became sovereign in India because no ruler could have relations with any European power without the permission of the company.

6-Now the company was an arbiter in disputes between the Indian kings.

7-The British residents living here of the native kings became powerful later.

8- The company got a lot of sovereign territories. Mysore was obtained in 1792 and 1799 and in 1800 it became a full authority. Similarly, in 1801, Rohilkhand and Southern Doab were obtained.

Losses to Indian rulers from the subsidiary alliance


1-Indian rulers are now just rulers in the name. He had pledged his honor and nationality to the company.
2-The British Resident started interfering excessively.
3- The British protected the Indian kings but did not pay any attention to the condition of the people.
The rulers who accepted the 4-subsidiary treaty soon went bankrupt. The British Resident and the burden of the army emptied his treasury.

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