The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies on 23 June 1757.
The battle took place at Plashi (Anglicized version: Plassey) on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, about 150 kilometers north of Calcutta and south of Murshidabad, then capital of Bengal.
The belligerents were Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company.
When Alivardi Khan died in 1756, Siraj-Ud-Daulah became the Nawab of Bengal.
The succession of Siraj-Ud-Daulah was opposed by his aunt Ghasiti Begum and his cousin Shaukat Jang who was the governor of Purnea.
There was a dominant group in the Nawab’s court comprising Jagat Seth, Umichand, Raj Ballabh, Mir Jafar and others who were also opposed to Siraj-Ud-Daulah.
The English Company at Calcutta had given shelter to Krishna Das son of Raj Ballabh who had fled with immense treasures, against the Nawab’s will.
The issue of fortification of the Fort William at Calcutta without the Nawab’s permission worsened the relationship between the Nawab and the Company.
Nawab ordered the English to stop the extension of their fortification.
Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar, the commander in chief of the Nawab’s army, and also promised him to make him Nawab of Bengal and attacked Calcutta.
Robert Clive defeated the Nawab at Plassey in 1757 and captured Calcutta.
The battle was preceded by the attack on British-controlled Calcutta by Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah and the Black Hole incident.
The British sent reinforcements under Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson from Madras to Bengal and recaptured Calcutta.
Clive then seized the initiative to capture the French fort of Chandernagar.
Tensions and suspicions between Siraj-Ud-Daulah and the British culminated in the Battle of Plassey.
The battle was waged during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), and, in a mirror of their European rivalry, the French East India Company (La Compagnie des Indes Orientales) sent a small contingent to fight against the British.
Siraj-Ud-Daulah had a numerically superior force and made his stand at Plassey.
The British, worried about being outnumbered, formed a conspiracy with Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s demoted
Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan thus assembled their troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle.
Siraj-Ud-Daulah’s army with 18,000 soldiers was defeated by 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive.
The battle was ended in 40 minutes.
This is one of the most important battles in the control of Indian subcontinent by the colonial powers.
The British now wielded enormous influence over the Nawab and consequently acquired large amounts of concession for previous losses and revenue from trade.
The British further used this revenue to increase their military might and push the other European colonial powers such as the Dutch and the French out of South Asia, thus expanding the British Empire in Asia.
As a result of the battle of Plassey, the French were no longer a significant force in Bengal.
In 1759, the British defeated a larger French garrison at Masulipatam, securing the Northern Circars.
Mir Jafar started encouraging the Dutch to advance against the British and eject them from Bengal.
The British then deposed Mir Jafar and installed Mir Qasim as the Nawab of Bengal.
The British were now the paramount European power in Bengal.
When Robert Clive returned to England due to ill-health, he was rewarded with an Irish peerage, as Lord Clive, Baron of Plassey and also obtained a seat in the British House of Commons.
The struggle continued in areas of the Deccan and Hyderabad such as Arcot, Wandiwash, Tanjore, and Cuddalore.
The French were returned to Pondicherry in 1763 by way of the Treaty of Paris but they never again regained their former stature in India.
The British emerged as rulers of the subcontinent in subsequent years.
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