During the 18th Century, Mysore emerged as an important power in South India. After the great Kingdom of Vijayanagar was defeated in the Battle of Talikota (1565), many small kingdoms emerged from its remnants. In 1612, a Hindu kingdom emerged under the Wodeyar Dynasty in the region of Mysore. From 1734 to 1766, Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II ruled this region.
In the second half of the 18th Century, Mysore emerged as the formidable power under the leadership of Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. But, the British felt Mysore’s Power as a threat to their control over Madras. Haidar’s control over the rich trade of the Malabar Coast and Mysore’s proximity with the French threatened the political & commercial interest of the British in South India.
The British fought four Anglo-Mysore Wars in the last three decades of the 18th Century to took control over Mysore.
Rise of Haidar Ali
Haidar Ali was born in 1721 in Budikote, a territory of the Wodeyar Dynasty. His father was a military commander in the army of Wodeyars. In the early eighteenth century, two brothers: Nanjaraj (the Sarvadhikhari) and Devaraj (the Dulwai), had seized power in Mysore by reducing King Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II to a mere puppet. Haidar Ali started his career as a soldier (horseman) in the Mysore army under these ministers, Nanjaraj & Devaraj. Though uneducated, Haidar Ali was a man of great energy & determination and possessed a keen intellect.
Haidar Ali soon found his opportunity in the wars that involved Mysore for more than 20 years. He gradually rose in the Mysore army using the opportunities that came his way. Mysore became politically and financially weak with the repeated incursions of Nizam and Marathas troops into the Mysore territories. The need of the hour was a powerful leader with high military and diplomatic skills. Haidar Ali fulfilled that need. In 1761, Haidar Ali overthrew the Nanjaraj and established authority over the Mysore state by becoming the de-facto ruler of Mysore.
Almost from beginning of the establishment of his power, Haidar Ali was engaged in wars with the Marathas, the Nizam, and the British. He realized that the exceeding incursions of the Marathas and the Nizami army could only be stopped by effective artillery. He soon applied the advantages of Western military training to the troops under his command. In 1755, he established a modern arsenal (arms factory) in Dindigul with the help of the French. From 1761 to 1763, he captured Dod Ballapur, Sera, Bednur, and Hoskote with his superior military skills.
First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-1769)
In 1766, the British concluded a treaty with the Nizam of Hyderabad. With this treaty, the British persuaded the Nizam to give the Northern Circars region to them, in lieu of which the British would protect the Nizam from Haidar Ali. Haidar Ali already had differences with Marathas and territorial disputes with the Nawab of Arcot.
In 1767, the Marathas, the Nizam, and the British allied together against the Haildar Ali. But, Haidar acted with considerable tact and succeeded in breaking the alliance with his skillful diplomacy. He paid the Marathas to turn them neutral and converted the Nizam of Hyderabad into his ally by alluring the Nizam with territorial gains. Haidar promised to share conquered territories with the Nizam. He then joined the Nizam of Hyderabad to attack the Nawab of Arcot.
The first Anglo-Mysore war between the British and Haidar Ali continued for one and a half years without any conclusion. The battles fought during the First Anglo-Mysore War were:
- Battle of Chengam (September 1767).
- Battle of Tiruvannamalai (September 1767).
- Siege of Ambur (December 1767).
- Battle of Ooscota (August 1768).
- Battle of Mulwagul (October 1768).
- Battle of Baugloor (November 1768).
In 1769, Haidar Ali changed his strategy. He suddenly appeared before the gates of Madras, which caused complete chaos and panic at Madras. This forced the British to conclude a very humiliating treaty: the Treaty of Madras.
Treaty of Madras, 1769
After Haidar Ali won the war, the Treaty of Madras was signed on 4 April 1769 between the Haidar Ali and the British. As per the treaty, both the British and Haidar Ali restored each other’s territories and prisoners of warfare. British also promised to assist Haidar Ali in the event of an attack by another State.
Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-1784)
In 1771, When the Maratha army attached the Mysore, the British did not support Haidar Ali and failed to abide by the Treaty of Madras. Haidar Ali accused the British of breach of faith and non-observance of the treaty.
In addition, Haidar found the French much more helpful than the British in meeting his arms requirement of guns, saltpeter, and lead. Consequently, he started importing French war materials in Mysore through Mahe (a French territory on the Malabar Coast). Haidar Ali’s growing friendship with the French caused concern to the British. The British, therefore, tried to bring Mahe under their control, which Haidar regarded to be under his protection. Haidar considered the British attempt of capturing Mahe as a direct challenge to his authority.
In 1779, Haidar Ali made an alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad against the British. In July 1780, the Second Anglo-Mysore War began when Haidar Ali attached the Carnatic and captured Arcot by defeating the British forces under Colonel Baillie at the Battle of Pollilur in September 1780.
In 1781, the British despatch reinforcements under commander Sir Eyre Coote to Madras. In the meantime, the British also detached the Marathas and the Nizam from Haidar’s side. In November 1781, Haidar was defeated by the British forces under Sir Eyre Coote at the Battle of Proto Novo and the Battle of Sholinghur. However, after regrouping his forces, he defeated the British forces & captured their commander Colonel Braithwaite in February 1782.
On 7 December 1782, Haidar Ali died because of cancer. He was succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan, who carried on the war for one year without any positive outcome.
Treaty of Mangalore, 1784
Fed up with an inconclusive war, both sides opted to end the war. The war ended with the Treaty of Mangalore signed on 11 March 1784 between Tipu Sultan and the British. Under the treaty, both sides had to give back the territories they had taken from each other and returned the prisoners of warfare.
Third Anglo-Mysore War (1790-1782)
In 1789, a dispute arose between the State of Travancore and Tipu Sultan. Travancore had purchased the Cannanore and Jalkottal areas from the Dutch in the Cochin State. As Cochin was the feudatory of Tipu, he considered the Tranvacore’s act as a violation of his sovereign rights. In April 1790, Tipu declared war against the Travancore to restore his rights. Travancore was an ally of the British and the only source of pepper for the British East India Company.
Sided with Travancore, the British declared war on Tipu Sultan in 1790. Tipu defeated the British force under General Meadows in 1790. In 1791, Governor-General Lord Cornwallis himself took command of the army and headed a large army marched through Ambur and Vellore to Bangalore. After capturing Banglore in March 1791, they advanced towards the Tipu’s capital of Seringapatam. In the first advance on Seringapatam, Coimbatore fell to the British, but they lost it again. Finally, the British attacked the Seringapatam for the second time with the support of the Nizam and Marathas. In this second advance on Seringapatm, Tipu offered serious opposition but could not succeed and had to bargain for peace.
Treaty of Seringapatam, 1792
The Third Anglo-Mysore War ended with the Treaty of Seringapatam signed on 18 March 1792 between Tipu Sultan and the British. The treaty provided that:
- Half of the territories of Mysore were taken over by the alliance of the British, the Nizam, and the Marathas. Dindigul, Baramahal, and Malabar went to the British. The Marathas got the regions surrounding the river Tungabhadra and its tributaries. The Nizam took over the areas from the Krishna river to beyond the Pennar river.
- Apart from this, Tipu had to pay Rs. 3 crore as war damage to the British. Half of the war indemnity was to be paid immediately. The rest of the war indemnity was to be paid in installments, for which the two sons of tipu were taken as hostages by the British.
Fourth Anglo-Maratha War (1799)
During the period from 1792 to 1799, the British and Tipu Sultan recoup their losses. Tipu got his sons released by fulfilling the terms of the Treaty of Seringapatam. In 1796, When the Hindu ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty died, Tipu refused to place the minor son of Wodeyar on the throne and declared himself as Sultan. Tupu now decided to avenge the humiliating defeat in Third Anglo-Mysore War.
In 1798, Lord Wellesley became the Governor-General and introduced the policy of Subsidiary Alliance. Under the Subsidiary Alliance, the native rulers who made a subsidiary treaty with the British were required to pay financially for the maintenance of the British army in return for protection from the British against their enemies. The native rulers were also required to appoint a British resident in their royal courts and expelled all other European from the court. The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first Indian ruler to sign the Subsidiary Alliance.
Lord Wellesley was concerned about the growing friendship of Tipu with the French. For ending the Tipu’s independent existence, Lord Wellesley forced Tipu to submission through the system of Subsidiary Alliance. But, Tipu refused to accept the Subsidiary Alliance of Lord Wellesley. Tipu was accused of plotting against the British by sending emissaries to Afghanistan, Arabia, the French islands (Mauritius), and Versailles. Lord Wellesley was not satisfied with Tipu and declared war on Mysore.
The fourth Anglo-Mysore war began on 17 April 1799, in which Tipu was first defeated by General Stuart and then by General Harris. Author Wellesley, the brother of Lord Wellesley, also participated in the war. The Nizam and the Marathas again assisted the British. The Nizam had already signed the Subsidiary Alliance, while the Marathas had been promised half of the territories of Tipu.
The war ended on 4 May 1799. Tipu was killed in the war, and the British confiscated all his treasures. Tipu’s family members were interned at Vellore. The British placed a boy from the earlier Hindu royal family of Mysore as a Maharaja and imposed the Subsidiary Alliance system on him.
Post war Scenario
The territories of the Mysore Kingdom were divided between the Nizam, the Marathas, and the British. The districts of Gooty and Gurramkonda were given to the Nizam, while Wellesley offered Harponelly and Soonda district of Mysore to the Marathas, which the Marathas refused.
The British took control over the Kanara, Coimbatore, Dwaraporam, Wynad, and Seringapatam. The British handed over the new State of Mysore to the Wodeyar dynasty (old Hindu Dynasty) under a minor ruler Krishnaraja III, who entered into the Subsidiary Alliance.
In 1831, Governor-General William Bentinck took control over the Mysore on the grounds of misgovernance. However, in 1881, Governor-General Lord Ripon restored the Mysore Kingdom to its ruler.