Napoleon’s Correspondence with Tipu Sultan

In the last document we studied that the vagaries of the British internal politics led the resignation and impeachment of Warren Hastings in 1785, in which he remained entangled for 8 years.

The Pitts India Act of 1784 sought to limit the authority of the East India Company and placed it under the “indirect” control of the crown. Lord Cornwallis who governed between 1786 to 1793 reduced the corrupt and extortionary practices of the company’s officials by increasing their salaries and by laying the foundation of British Legal and Fiscal administration in India.

The outbreak of war between Britain and France in 1793 led the renewal of French attempts to drive the British out of India with the help of the native rulers.

Pondicherry was the principal possession of France in India. Hyder Ali was an enemy of British and his son Tipu was a step ahead of his father in this enmity. Tipu was a French ally.

Tipu professed unbounded enthusiasm for the French revolution and applauded the Frenchman Napoleon. Tipu was somewhat in contact with the Directory in Paris, which expected great things from Tipu in connection with Bonaparte’s expedition to Egypt. After Egypt was conquered, Bonaparte had a “communication” with Tipu Sultan and if possible would dispatch his forces by land or Sea to India, to drive out the British. But this plan was not executed however, till the end of 1798 Tipu was in touch with Napoleon Bonaparte.

Meanwhile the inactive Governor General John Shore was replaced by Lord Wellesley. Lord Wellesley resolved to crush Tipu, without waiting for any further developments. Before Wellesley attacked Tipu, he diplomatically persuaded the French protégé Nizam of Hyderabad to abandon the French alliance and dismiss the French soldiers. When Bonaparte was campaigning in Syria in 1799, the British attacked Tipu and this was the final of the Anglo Mysore war , known as Fourth Anglo Mysore War.

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