Nawab of Arcot's palace 006168
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arco
PALACE OF ARCOT NAWAB 1770

The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf


Nawab of Arcot's palace 006168
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online

- See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf

Nawab of Arcot's palace 006168
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online

- See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf

Nawab of Arcot's palace 006168
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online

- See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf

British web of control livens Madras Day talk


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Nawab of Arcot's palace 006168
The Palace of the Late Nabob of Arcot BL, X 768 © The British Library Board Images Online

- See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/untoldlives/2012/10/paupa-braminy-an-overlooked-indian-historian.html#sthash.RICsbnmy.dpuf

CHENNAI: The East India Company's moves and machinations of the 1700s, which led to local kings gradually being indebted to it, have a striking similarity to those of the investment bankers of this century, which led to the recent financial crisis. The Company's slowly spreading web of money and control was the debate of the age, and also the subject of a talk to mark Madras Day on Thursday.

British Council regional director for South Asia Stephan Roman gave a talk titled 'A Madras Conspiracy: The 1773 Invasion of Tanjore and its consequences'. He detailed the double game Company officials played to enrich themselves by lending money to local kings and princes, including the Nawab of Arcot and the Raja of Tanjore.

The talk was part of a day-long seminar on three historical figures, 'Wallajah, Pigot, Tanjore: Did they transform trading to expansionism?' at Amir Mahal in Royapettah, the seat of the Nawabs of the Carnatic.

Roman's talk centred on the tensions among the Nawab of Arcot who ruled between 1749 and 1795, Lord Pigot, Governor of Madras from 1775 to 1777, Thuljaji, the raja of Tanjore, and Paul Benfield, an East India Company engineer turned private financier.

The 'Tanjore affair', as the events of 1773 to 1779 came to be known, dominated British Parliament and eventually led to the Company's decline because politicians and the public began questioning the motives and authority of what was essentially a trading firm to meddle in local affairs and those of bankrupt Indian kings. Financiers such as Benfield lent vast amounts to the Nawab, who was dependant on the East India Company's soldiers for protection. The Nawab mortgaged future revenue from all his provinces at interest rates up to 25% to keep up his court, pay off the Company and meet other expenses.

Tanjore was the richest principality and in it, Benfield saw an opportunity to make more money, so he needled the Nawab into attacking Tanjore. "The Nawabs became the leaders of the Carnatic," Roman said.

With that, Benfield had total control not only over the Nawab's finances but also Tanjore's king. "But Parliament started raising questions about the Company's means of functioning," said Roman. They sent out a new governor, Lord Pigot in 1775, who started by restoring the Tanjore king to his throne.

"This threatened Benfield and his group. Pigot realised he had few friends in Madras and that the Arcot Interest group was very powerful." The group managed to have Pigot arrested and the governor died at St Thomas Mount. "He was not treated very well, and was quite possibly poisoned," said Roman.