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East India Company

RA Collection: People and Organisations

Formed in 1599 by a group of merchants seeking to compete with Dutch and Portuguese traders for lucrative spice and textile routes. The company was granted a charter by Elizabeth in 1600 providing it with an English monopoly. The company decided to concentrate on the Indian mainland after failing to dislodge the Dutch on island territories. A new charter, granted in 1661, provided strenthed powers to govern in India.

The late 17th century brought attempts to break the company's monopoly and a competitor formed. However, the two companies merged in 1709, and were from this point dubbed the United Company of Merchants of England Trading with the East Indies. The campaigns of Robert Clive and the administrative of Warren Hastings extended and consolidated the Company's hold in India. Parliamentary critics succeeded in establishing some governmental oversight of the Company in the wake of Hastings's impeachment. The "nationalisation" of the Company was completed in 1858.

Source: Concise Britannica

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