French Indian Settlements
The French Indian
Settlements (or French India) included Pondicherry (now Puducherry), Karikal and Yanaon on the Coromandel Coast, Mahe on the Malabar Coast and Chandernagore in West Bengal. Other than this, there were lodges in Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat.
It was during the reign on
Francis I (François I) that the first French expeditions took place in India. The French East India Company was formed under
the stewardship of Cardinal Richelieu in 1642. It was remodelled under Jean Baptiste Colbert in 1664 and an expedition was sent to Madagascar in the same year.
In 1668, the first French
factory was established in Surat when an expedition was sent under the command
of François Caron. In the following year another French factory was set op at Masulipatnam. Chandernagore (now Chandannagar) was established in 1673 after permission from
Nawab Shaista Khan, the Mughal governor of Bengal. In 1674, the French captured Valikondapuram
from the Sultan of Bijapur and thus established their
hold over Pondicherry. By 1720, the French lost their factories at Surat, Masulipatnam and
Bantam to the British.
The French were in constant
conflict with the Dutch and British in India. In 1693, the Dutch seized the town of Pondicherry and fortified it considerably. However, the
French regained Pondicherry in 1699 through the Treaty of Rijswijk (1697). Starting from the early 18th century to
the mid 18th century, the commercial motive of the French rulers dominated over
political gains. Now their objectives were purely commercial. The French
Company's trade increased ten times and was nearly half the size of the British
Company, which was a big threat for the British. The French acquired Yanam, in the northeast of Pondicherry in 1723, Male in 1725 and Karaikal,
in the south of Pondicherry in 1739. From 1742 onwards, political motives
again dominated over commercial gains and the factories were fortified for the
purpose of defence.
By this time the
well-known French Governor of Pondicherry Joseph
François Dupleix had arrived in India with the ambition of a French empire in India. The French interests clashed with the British
ambitions and repeated clashes began. Under the leadership of the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau, Dupleix's army
successfully controlled the area between Hyderabad and Cape Comorin. But with the arrival of Robert Clive, a daring
British officer, the French were chased out and Dupleix
was recalled to France.
This failure did not
act as a deterrent and the French did not lose hope. They subsequently sent
Thomas Arthur de Lally-Tollendal to regain the French
losses. Initial success blindfolded the French and Lally-Tollendal
went on to make strategic mistakes. They lost the Hyderabad region in the Battle of Wandiwash
and Pondicherry was seized in 1760. With this the French lost their
hold over South
In 1765 Pondicherry was again returned to the French after a peace
treaty with England in Europe. Jean Law de Lauriston,
the then French governor rebuilt the town. For the next fifty years Pondicherry was under the French and British administration
according to the peace and war treaties. After the conclusion of the Napoleonic
wars in 1816, all the five establishments Pondicherry,
Chandernagore, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam and the lodges at Machilipatnam, Kozhikode and Surat were returned to France. Over the
next one hundred and thirty eight years successive governors improved
infrastructure, industry, law and education. The French colonies in India remained separate from British India, without any interference.
The independence of India in August 1947 gave impetus to the union of the
French Indian Settlements with the new republic of India. The lodges in Machilipatnam,
Kozhikode and Surat were ceded to India in October 1947. An agreement between France and India in 1948 made way for elections in the remaining
possessions to choose their political future. After a referendum, the city of Chandernagore was ceded to India on 2 May 1950 and merged with the state of West Bengal on 2 October 1955.
the remaining possessions were transferred to India and became the Union Territory of Pondicherry.
The formal (de jure) union of the French Indian
Settlements with India did not take place until 1963 when the French
parliament ratified the treaty with India.
Indian rupee (8 Fanon)
Indian Settlements in Wikipedia.
date: 4 July 1949
designer: Raoul Serres
des Timbres-Poste, Paris
remark: air mail
1 6 Fa Arab man,
Oceanic woman, Asian woman, African man, South American man, globe, airplane,
ANNIVERSAIRE / DE L'UNION POSTALE / UNIVERSELLE"
(cat. Michel 303/SG 284/Yvert PA 21)
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last revised: 6 October 2008