Subsidiary Alliance System

The French assistance to Tipu Sultan in 1798 was the last instance of active intervention of any other European power in India. To counter the intrigues of Napoleon and any further development in French Power in India, Wellesley, who was extremely influenced with the imperial thoughts, came up with the scheme of eliminating the French Power from India for ever.

He placed the British on the head of the great Indian confederacy. The Fourth Anglo Mysore war had placed England on the Military supremacy in India and now Wellesley used the Subsidiary Alliance System aggressively.

  • It was a Treaty, between the company and the Indian native rulers. In return for a payment or subsidy, the company would place garrison troops in that ruler’s territory to fight against their rivals.

The credit for placing the subsidiary alliance in India goes to Lord Wellesley. But he was NOT the inventor of it.

  • Pioneer of the Subsidiary Alliance System was the French Governor Dupleix. He used to lent his army on “rent” to the native Indian Rulers.

The same policy was copied by Lord Clive who had made the Oudh to sign such treaty in 1765 (The Treaty of Allahabad) and promised to protect the territory of Oudh from invasions of any foes such as Marathas. He lent his expensive troops to be placed with Nawab and also an English resident was placed in the Court of Nawab, all at the expense of the Nawab.

After the third Anglo Mysore war, Cornwallis had tried to provide for Peace in south by inducing the Marathas and Nizam of Hyderabad to join him in a treaty guaranteeing against Tipu the territories that each of them possessed at the close of the war.

Nizam had agreed, because he was much afraid of the Marathas. But Marathas declined because they were contemplating to attack Nizam. The Awadh and Hyderabad both were weak in terms of their proportion of territory and revenue. However, Cornwallis largely remained noninternevtional and so did his immediate successor John Shore.

But it was Wellesley who effectively reverted the policy of “non intervention“.

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