British beginnings in western India : 1579-1657An account of the early days of the British factory of Surat
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Hugh George Rawlinson
Publisher and Place:
Clarendon Press at Oxford - 1920
Royal Mughal Ref:
For the majority of students, the history of British Western India virtually begins with Clive. Even those who possess a tolerable acquaintance with the last century of the Company's existence, often have a very hazy notion of the early struggles which preceded its triumphant establishment upon the throne of the Great Moghal. Yet this is a story of more than common interest, and the names of Best and Downton, Aldworth and Kerridge, and the other sturdy merchants and seamen, who, almost single-handed, carried on an unequal contest for so long against the attacks and plots of the Portuguese, and what was far more deadly, the onslaughts of disease and famine, deserve fuller recognition than they have hitherto received.
The English factory at Surat has been called the corner- stone of the British Empire in Western India states. It was started as an experiment, at a time when every one thought that the real future of British enterprise in the East lay in the spice-trade of the Moluccas. At first the difficulties which stood in the way seemed almost insuperable. The Portuguese were furious at the violation of their alleged exclusive rights, guaranteed by a Papal Bull, to exploit the Orient. They not only opposed the intruders by sea, but placed every obstacle in their way upon land.
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