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Modern History / British Conquest of India

Subsidiary Alliance System and Anglo Mysore Wars

Subsidiary Alliance was introduced by Lord Wellesley in 1798. According to Subsidiary Alliance System, every Indian ruler, who is signatory to the system, had to pay a subsidy amount to the British for maintaining its army in his territory. Reciprocally, the British would protect him from his enemies. The system helped the British to enormously exapand their empire in India.

Features of Subsidiary Alliance

The main features of subsidiary alliance system are

  • Safety of the signatories will be looked after by the British, that is it will protect the signatory from internal rebellion and external aggression. The signatories should not maintain their own standing armies.

  • The British would maintain subsidiary troops in the capital. The cost incurred for the troops would be borne by the native rulers. The subsidiary amount could be paid as cash or territory could be ceded to the British for the required amount.

  • External affairs should be given to the British (wars and treaties).

  • The signatory should not allow any foreigner into his territory without the permission from the British.

  • The signatory should not negotiate or make treaties with any other Indian ruler without consulting the East India Company officials.

  • A British Resident will be appointed in the capital to look after all the issues.

In reality, the system of Subsidiary Alliance made the Indian rulers to lose their sovereignty over their territories, which means they have lost their rights of self defence, could not employ foreign experts, could not maintain diplomatic relations and not able settle their disputes with their neighbours.

In 1798, the Nizam of Hyderabad signed on the document of Subsidiary Alliance and hence Hyderabad became the first state under Subsidiary Alliance. In 1800, the territories of Hyderabad that were given to the British under this system were Cuddapah, Anantapur, Kurnool and Bellary.

The second one to sign was Mysore state after completion of the fourth Anglo Mysore war in 1799. In 1801, Awadh king Saadat Ali Khan signed on the document and the entire Rohilkhand area was given to the British.

Anglo Mysore Wars

Anglo Mysore Wars were fought between the British and Hyder Ali and later continued by his son Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu Sultan in the last war, Mysore was made to sign the Subsidiary Alliance System.

Four wars were fought between the British and Mysore kingdom, known as Anglo-Mysore wars.

  • First Anglo Mysore War

    The first Anglo Mysore war period was from 1766 to 1769. It was fought between Hyder Ali and Lord Macartney, the then governor of Madras. There was no result from this war. A status quo treaty was concluded at Madras, known as Treaty of Madras.

  • Second Anglo Mysore War

    The second Anglo Mysore war period was from 1780 to 1784. The British side was fought by Governor General Warren Hastings. Hyder Ali died because of cancer in 1782.

    His son Tipu Sultan went forward with the second Mysore war. There was no result from this war. The Treaty of Mangalore was concluded in 1784 which was a status quo treaty.

  • Third Anglo Mysore War

    The third Anglo Mysore war period was from 1790 to 1792. The British Governor General Lord Cornwallis formed a tripartite alliance with Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad to pit against Tipu Sultan.

    Tipu Sultan has been defeated in this war. In 1792, the Treaty of Srirangapatna was signed between Tipu Sultan and the tripartite alliance. Almost 50% of Mysore was shared among Marathas, Nizam and the British.

    Malabar, Dindigul and Baramahal were taken over by the British. Krishna-Tungabhadra doab was taken over by the Marathas and Rayalaseema was taken over by Nizam. Rs 3.3 Crore was the war indemnity imposed on Tipu Sultan. 2 sons of Tipu Sultan were taken to Calcutta as guarantee.

  • Fourth Anglo Mysore War

    The fourth Anglo Mysore war period was from 1798 to 1799. The British side was fought by Governor General Lord Wellesley. Tipu Sultan died in this war at Srirangapatna. Mysore was occupied with the death of Tipu Sultan.

    After 1799, a small state of Mysore was created by Wellesley consisting of Mysore, Srirangapatna and the surrounding areas. It was given to Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and the rest was annexed to British India. For doing this, the Wadiyar dynasty had to sign the Subsidiary Alliance.

Extra Information

Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan

Mysore was a province of Vijayanagara empire with Srirangapatna as its capital. In 1610, a Nayak of Vijayanagara kingdom named Raja Wodeyar I declared complete independence and the Wodeyars ruled Mysore until 1947.

  • In 1750s, there was a rise of a Muslim soldier named Hyder Ali in Mysore kingdom. He was a poor and illiterate ordinary soldier. Later he was made as Faujdar of Dindigul.

  • In 1761, Hyder Ali captured the throne of Mysore by deposing Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar and held him in house arrest. Hyder Ali did not take the title Sultan but ruled in the name of Wodeyars.

  • Hyder Ali ruled between 1761 and 1782. During this period, Mysore has expanded by leaps and bounds (from Kerala to Rayalaseema). After the death of Hyder Ali in 1782, his son, Tipu Sultan ruled from 1782 to 1799.
  • Tipu Sultan

    • Tipu took the title Sultan and did not recognize the Wodeyars.

    • Tipu Sultan has become a member of Jacobin club (revolutionary political Movement of France). It is the Jacobin Club which led the French revolution.

    • He planted the tree of liberty at Srirangapatna, in commemoration of Victory of French Revolution.