The French and The Danish

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The French

 The French, having established a colony in Madagascar, came to India with the main purpose of establishing their rule over India.

France was the last of the major European maritime powers of the 17th century to enter the East India trade. Six decades after the foundation of the English and Dutch East India companies (in 1600 and 1602 respectively), François Caron reached Surat in 1668 and established the first French factory in India. French India included Pondicherry, Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahe on the Malabar Coast and Chandernagore in West Bengal. Other than this, there were lodges in Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat.

After the French acquired Yanam, in the northeast of Pondicherry in 1723, Mahe on the Malabar Coast in 1725 and Karaikal, in the south of Pondicherry in 1739. From 1742 onwards, political motives took precedence over commercial gains and the factories were well fortified for the purpose of defense.

In 1668 the first French factory was built in Surat under the command of Francois Caron and another was set up at Masulipatnam. Chandernagore was established in 1673 with permission from Nawab Shaista Khan, the governor of Bengal. In 1674, the French captured Valikondapuram from the Sultan of Bijapur and thus established their hold over Pondicherry.

With the arrival of Joseph Francois Dupleix in India who had the ambition of setting up a French Empire in India, frequent conflicts broke out with the British ambitions . Dupleix’s army successfully controlled the area between Hyderabad and Cape Comorin. But, Robert Clive, a daring and cunning British officer chased out the French and Dupleix was recalled to France.

The Danish

 The founding of the first Danish East India Company was based chiefly on hopes and ambitions that had been aroused by the enormous revenues produced by the initial ventures of the British and Dutch companies. At the same time, there was a desire upon the part of the Danish monarch to play a dominant role in contemporary world trade, a desire that was apparently not always wholeheartedly endorsed by the Danish merchants of the period.

In fact, the Danish trading venture proved to be without large or durable profits. The company itself lasted for only 34 years, and, throughout its existence, the company brought only seven cargoes of Asiatic goods to Copenhagen.

The Company was founded in 1616 and dissolved in 1650, and with the period from 1650 to the founding of the second Danish company, in 1670.

In 1615, two Dutch merchants, Jan de Willem of Amsterdam and Herman Rosenkrantz of Rotterdam, brought before King Christian IV a proposal for the foundation of a Danish trading company. The king was very receptive to the proposal, not least (one would assume) from a desire to mark the role of Denmark-Norway as a major player in contemporary European trade and politics.

It was not until 1618 that sufficient funds had been collected to finance an expedition. Apparently, the original intention of the expedition planners had been that the destination of the first venture would be the Coromandel coast of India, a region suggested by one of the company’s advisors, Roelant Crappé.

About this time, however, another Dutchman named Marselis de Boschouwer appeared, purporting to be an emissary from the “Emperor of Ceylon”, a potentate who offered favourable trade conditions to any European nations capable of aiding him against the Portuguese, who were at the time making inroads into his domain.

In November 1617, Boschouwer was given audience with the king, a meeting that resulted in a “Treaty of Aid and Trade” between Denmark and the “Emperor”, signed in March 1618. The plans were hastily redrawn, the destination of the expedition now being Ceylon.

Later the same year, the main expeditionary fleet, consisting of 4 Danish ships and 1 Dutch escort, sailed from the roadstead of Copenhagen.

The journey east was not without excitement; on Febuary 19, 1619, the expedition encountered three French ships off Cape Verde. Taking them for pirates (this may or may not have been the case), the Danish fleet engaged them in a brief battle, which resulted in the sinking of one hostile ship, and the capture of the other two.

The Danes did not have a great relationship with the Indians, and they did not make much headway or profits, and lost a lot of investment and capital by their venture into India.

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