British Empire
The rise of the British empire - India
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Painting of a treaty between Britain and Bengal, 1765
(The British Library: Foster 29)
  • The artist Benjamin West created this painting in 1765.
  • It shows General Robert Clive receiving the diwani of Bengal - the right to collect the land revenue on behalf of the Company from the Mughal Emperor.
  • The Mughals had ruled India for centuries, but by the later 1700s Mughal rule was in decline.
  • Robert Clive was a highly successful soldier who made his name in the Seven Years War fighting against the French in India. He went on to be Governor of Bengal twice and made himself a huge personal fortune. He was charged with corruption in 1772 but was cleared.
  • After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British East India Company took control of Bengal. After this the nawabs (Muslim rulers or princes) of Bengal were little more than puppets.
  • Their final humiliation came in 1765 when the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam granted the diwani of Bengal - the right to collect the land revenue - to the East India Company. From then on, the diwani became the main source of British revenue from India.
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