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The First Firangis | Chap 5 | The Marquess of Wellesley & His Subsidiary Alliance

Previously, we discussed about  the land revenue experiments here – The First Firangis | Chap 4 | Extracting Land Revenue

Moving on,

If Robert Clive is credited to have won the first hand for EIC and Warren Hastings credited with consolidation of the British ascendancy in India, then it would be no big exaggeration to say that the Marquess of Wellesley was the guy who converted ‘the British Empire in India’ into ‘the British Empire of India.

Like a Boss. #swag #subsidiary alliance


British Empire in India was under a lot of mess before Wellesley’s arrival

  1. In the north-western India (the Af-Pak side), the danger of Zaman Shah’s aggression posed a serious threat to the British power in India.
  2. In the north and central India, the Marathas remained a formidable political power.
  3. The Nizam of Hyderabad employed the Frenchmen to train his
  4. The political unrest in the Karnataka region continued and Tipu Sultan was pain in the arse.

In comes the imperialist Wellesley & his system of Subsidiary Alliance

He wasn’t the first guy to come up with the novel idea of extracting a booty from the rulers in exchange for firangi service, his predecessors had concluded alliances with Indian princes like the Nawab of Oudh and the Nizam of Hyderabad.

But, Wellesley enlarged and consolidated the already existing system. If you were a king back then, this is how your agreement would look like. 

  1. You are hereby given the status of a ‘protected state’, in lieu of which you will have to maintain a large standing army commanded by a British officer.
  2. That means, even if you do not have war, these guys would be paid a salary + your soldiers would be paid a pink slip and send off!
  3. You cannot keep any french/ portuguese/ european nationality in your court. The only firangi you will talk to would be a Brit. And just to make sure, we will have a british resident deployed in your court.
  4. You may, however do whatever you want in terms of your internal matters. But your external relations will be observed by us.

If we were to draw a quick strip for you (being the ruler), these were the 3 prominent outcomes of the deal for you.


The kingdoms which succumbed to this policy were – Hyderabad, Oudh, Tanjore, Surat, Karnatak and after much resistance – the Marathas (Holkars & Scindia).

You might at this time wonder whether our Indian rulers were so ill-equipped that they lost the wars that easily? That’s hardly the case. But to do justice with that, we will need to take a fresh digression to look at the wars which were fought with Mysore & Marathas.


Will do that in the next chapter.


Two questions for you – 

#1. What’s with the name – Marquess of Wellesley. What’s Marquess?

#2. It was said that Tipu had a Jacobin club in his capital. What was that and why did it worry the Brits?

Questions, suggestions and comments

  1. Maneesh Jha

    Waiting for more!!! Awesome series 🙂 . An innovative approach to history

  2. Amarish Chandrahas

    1.Marquess was British noblemen below than duke in rank
    2.jacobin club was French club Napolean was also a member Tipu sultan sow the seed of freedom tree in his capital which represented the sovereignty in his kingdom also he made alliance with french and in India there was continues struggle in btw ANGLO-FRENCH for the domination in the region.

  3. Tanay Shah

    Are there only 5 chapters on Indian History?

  4. Sumer Shah

    This is kickass guys. Waiting for more! Please cover the mysore wars in same style… Spectrum ki books se pad pad ke chat gaya dimaag…

  5. raju ganachari

    Guys hatsoff to u … Please make a way to reach all stories and all articles through app only instead of using ur website !!!!!! Humble request !!!!!

    1. Root

      Everything on web won’t be able to reach the cards on app but we will see and find a best fit for the app. For now, let the app solve the purpose of bringing you hand curated articles everyday.

      For all social, elaborate, bakar like stuff – the web will give refuge 🙂

  6. KungfuPanda Returns

    Simply awesome!
    Thanks 🙂

  7. bharat kumar

    Tipu Sultan was the founder-member of the ‘Jacobin Club’ that served allegiance to the French. Because of it , French personnel helped him in modernizing his army for fight against Brit

    1. Sumer Shah

      The name Jacobin was also applied to radicals in England and other countries in the period of the French Revolution. Essentially it was a french political thought which identified with Liberty and Equality.

  8. Khiran Kumar

    #1. Marquess means a British nobleman ranking above an earl and below a duke.

    1. Rini Sen

      correcto! what’s with the jacobin club?

      1. Jayansh Singh

        ‘Jacobin Club of Mysore’ was a branch of the most famous and influential club in the development of the French Revolution, ‘Jacobins’. It was the first Revolutionary Republican organization to be formed in India in 1794. Tipu Sultan was its founder-member. Britishers were concerned about the damage that could be done to them by the combined forces of Tipu and the French.

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