Battle of Plassey (1757) – UPSC GS1

The battle of Plassey was the decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Sirajuddaula, ruler of Bengal, and his French partners on the 23rd June 1757.
The battle took place at Plassey on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, about 150 km north of Calcutta and south of Murshidabad, then capital of Bengal.
Causes of the Battle
  • The English wanted to establish their political, administrative and economic supremacy over Bengal for which it was essential to wage war against the Nawab. So they wanted to dethrone the Nawab, Sirajuddaula and put Mir Jafar, their puppet, in his place and fought the decisive battle of Plassey.
  • The relatives of Sirajuddaula opposed him. The English supported Shaukat Jang but they failed to remove Sirajuddaula. As Sirajuddaula began to watch their activities very minutely, they decided to remove him from the throne by all means.
  • The English never respected the Nawab, hence the feeling of hatred also developed in the heart of the Nawab for the English. However, the Nawab wanted to strike a compromise with them but he failed and war broke out between the two.
  • The British knew that in spite of all power and efficiency, the army of Sirajuddaula would prove to be worthless because of the traitors. The English concluded a secret treaty with Mir Jafar on 4th June 1757. It enhanced the power of the English.
  • Sirajuddaula thought the French to be more trust worthy than the English. He was also sad at the loss of Chandanagar and his defeat at the hands of the English.
  • The English pressurised the Nawab to outset French from India and not to allow them to continue their trade in India. Moreover, some Frenchmen were serving in the army of the Nawab, so he could not out the French from Bengal. Hence, the war was inevitable between the two.
  • Clive had twice defeated the Indian army and he considered the Indian army no more than a mob which could be terrified by the sound of the bullet. As Clive had joined hands with Mir Jafar, the Commander of Sirajuddaula, Durlabh Rai and some other military personnel, he felt his position to be quite strong and so could think of making an invasion against Sirajuddaula who was surrounded by traitors.
Effects and Significance of Battle of Plassey
  • Significance of Battle of Plassey lies in the fact that Bengal came under the oppression of the British. The battle was not important from the military view-point. It was a mere conflict. No military superiority was shown by the English army. The Nawab’s camp was deserted that lead to victory of Lord Clive. Lord Clive’s diplomacy excelled. He won the battle almost without fighting. According to some historians: it was a transaction in which the bankers of Bengal and Mir Jafar sold out Nawab to the English.”
  • The battle of Plassey followed the subsequent plunder of Bengal as Bengal was placed at the disposal of the English vast resources. After Plassey a huge sum was given to the Company. Bengal was considered as the most prosperous province, industrially and commercially. The vast resources of Bengal helped the Britishers to conquer the Deccan and extend their influence over North India.
  • Before the Battle of Plassey English Company was just one of the European Companies trading in Bengal and huge taxes were imposed by the Nawabs of Bengal. The tax and wealth earned from here helped the British to balance all of their trade liabilities. After Plassey the English virtually monopolised Bengal’s trade and commerce. The French was unable to recover their lost position. In 1759, the British defeated a larger French garrison at Masulipatam, securing the Northern Circars. The Dutch was also defeated. From commerce the English managed to exert an exclusive control on the administration too. Plassey proved as a battle that had far-reaching consequences in the fate of India.
  • The Bengal plunder began to arrive in London and the effects appears to have been instantaneous, for all authorities agree that the the ‘Industrial Revolution’ began with the year 1770 after Plassey was fought in 1757.
  • The condition of the common of Bengal gradually deteriorated due to the weakness of the Nawab. Lawlessness and continuous economic exploitation of the servants of the company broke the backbone of Bengalis who once upon a time used to lead a prosperous life.
  • British built and trained an army with native Indian Sepoys who then fulfilled the ambition of further colonization. The British East India company also  wanted to protect the rich colony of India for which it acquired buffer colonies in Singapore, Penang, Burma, Nepal, Malacca etc. The British advancement in Asia was also aided by superior military and modern artillery and Navy.
  • The Battle of Plessey ushered in a new era in the history of India. It was a turning point not only in the history of Bengal but also in the history of whole of India. It has, therefore, been rightly remarked that the Battle of Plessey marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.
  • The conflict at Plassey was also crucial to the East India Company’s triumph over its French rivals.
Scroll to Top