Everything you ought to know about Anglo-Mysore Wars


Mysore a small Hindu principality preserved. Its independence ever since the decay of the Vijayanagar empire. Early in the eighteenth century’ the two minister Nanjaraj and Devraj had monopolised power, and the king Chikka Krishnaraj as reduced to a mere figurehead.

The kingdom of Mysore rose to power and prominence under Haidar Ali during the period when Camatic was distracted by wars and Bengal was passing through political revolutions. Haidar Ali was born in 1721 in an obscure family. He began his career as a petty officer in Nanjaraj’s army.

He gained military experience at Trichinopoly during the Anglo- French war. Haidar Ali was uneducated and illiterate, but he possessed a keen intellect, shrewd commonsense, admirable courage and a strong determination. He was also an able commander. In 1755 he was appointed as the Faujdar of Dindigul.


He increased his financial and military resources. In 1761 Haidar Ali overthrew Nanjaraj and made himself the unchallenged ruler of Mysore.

Haidar Ali realised the value of Western military training and accordingly he provided training to the “army under his command. After establishing his authority over the state of Mysore Haidar Ali suppressed the rebellious poligars or Zamindars.

He followed a policy of conquests and occupied the territories of Bidnur, Sera, Sunda. Guti, Canara and Malabar. Thus Mysore became a leading Indian power under Haidar Ali. But the Marathas, the Nizam and the English became jealous of the rapid rise of Haidar.

In 1766 A.D. the Marathas invaded his territories and forced him to surrender Guti and Savanur and to pay an Indemnity of Thirty-two lakhs of rupees.


Muhammad All the Nawab of Carnatic was an ally of the English. There was dispute between Haidar Ali and Muhamad Ali relating to the places like Dindigul, Karur and Paini. Haidar Ali was also opposed to the establishment of an English cantonment at Vellore which was within the territory of the Nawab.

He gave shelter to the enemies of the Nawab. In November 1766 the Governor and the Council of Madras formed an alliance with Nizam and agreed to assist him against Haidar Ali. The Nizam was to surrender Northern Sarkars to the English as the price of the military help against Haidar Ali.

The Marathas, the Nizam and the English thus formed a Triple Alliance against Haidar Ali. The Marathas first invaded Mysore but they were won over by the Mysore chief.

The Nizam being assisted by the English troops under Joseph Smith invaded Mysore in April 1767. But very soon the Nizam came under the influence of Mahaluz Khan the brother and rival of Muhammad Ali and left the British camp. The Nizam allied himself with Haidar Ali.


In 1767 Haidar Ali and the Nizam invaded the territories of the Nawab of Carnatic, but they were defeated by General Joseph Smith in the battles of Changama and Trinomali. The Nizam again abandoned Haidar Ali and allied himself with the English. He declared Haidar Ali a “rebel and usurper.

He also promised to help the English and the Nawab of Carnatic against Haidar. In 1769 Haidar Ali repeatedly defeated the British forces and appeared within five miles of Madras. Finally a peace treaty was concluded between Haidar Ali and the English on 4th April 1769, which provided for mutual restitution of conquests.

The English promised to help Haidar in case he was attacked by any other power. Thus the Treaty constituted a defensive alliance between Haidar Ali and the English.

Second Anglo-Mysore war:


The English did not fulfill the terms of the Treaty of 1769. In 1771 the Marathas invaded Haidar’s territories but the English gave him no aid inspite of the defensive alliance of 1769.

In 1779 the English captured Mahe a French settlement which was within the Jurisdiction of Haidar. During that period war between England and France was raging in Europe.

So by occupying Mahe, a small sea port on the.Malabar coast the English intended to deprive Haidar of access to the sea. Haidar Ali used to receive military supplies from other countries through tins port. Haidar Ali was convinced that the English were not really disposed to maintain friendly relation with him. For this reason Haidar sought the alliance of the Marathas.

On behalf of the Poona Government Nanafadnavis concluded a treaty with him. The Poona Government recognised the extension of the Mysore frontier as far as the river Krishna.


Thus Haidar Ali joined the confederacy against the English which was organised by the discontented Nizam. The Marathas were also a party to this confederacy.

In July 1780 Haidar Ali began his campaign with a large army consisting of 80,000 men and 100 guns. He advanced towards Carnatic like an avalanche carrying destruction with him. The Madras authorities were not prepared to offer any effective resistance to Haidar Ali.

In October 1780 Haidar took possession of Arcol defeating an English detachment under colonel Baillie He made himself the undisputed master of the Carnatic. According to Sir Alfred Lyall “the fortunes of the .English in India had fallen to their lowest water mark.” But the Governor General Warren Hastings took strong steps to retrieve the military power of the company.

He dispatched a powerful army to the south under Sir Eyrecoote, the victor of Wandiwash and the then commander-in-chief of the British army in India. He also resorted to diplomacy and detached the Raja of Berar, Mahadji Sindhia and the Nizam from the alliance with Haidar Ali.

He reconciled the war against the English in an undaunted spirit, in spite of the desertions of his allies. He was defeated by Eyrecoote at Porto Novo in 1781.

The Mysore troops under Tipu inflicted a severe defeat upon an English force under colonel Braith waite. Early in 1782 a French fleet under the command of Admiral Saffron appeared in Indian waters.

Duchemin also came with 2000 armed men. They waited for the arrival of Bussy, to help Haidar against the English. In February 1782 the Mysore troops forced colonel Braith waite to surrender at Tanjore. Haidar Ali died on 7th December 1782 because of the fatal attack of cancer.

His able son Tipu continued the war against the English. The English commander Brigadier Mathews who was appointed by the Bombay Government was captured with his troops by Tipu in 1783. The English failed to capture Bidnur.

However Mangalore and Coimbatore were occupied by the English Tipu besieged Mangalore. But on 22nd June 1783 peace was concluded between England and France in Europe.

So the French withdrew themselves from the struggle between Mysore and the English. General Fullarton was planning to besiege Serigapatam the capital of Tipu. On the other hand Lord Macartney the Governor of Madras expressed his desire to make peace with Tipu.

Thus the Treaty of Mangalore was concluded between the English and Tipu in March 1784. This Treaty provided for mutual restitution of conquests and liberation of prisoners. But Warren Hastings considered the terms of the Treaty to be most disappointing.

Haidar Ali was one of the remarkable personalities in the History of India. He raised to power front an insignificant position of dint of his determination and courage. He was unable to read and write. But he was endowed with a keen intellect and retentive memory.

He used to look after the details of the administration of the state. Dr. Smith has decpicted him “as an unscrupulousman who had no religion or morals and no compassion.” But this remark is not justified. Hidar had a sincere religious conscience.

According to Bow ring ‘he was bold, an original, and an enterprising commander, skilful in tactics and fertile in resources, full of energy and never desponding in defeat -He was singularly faithful to his engagements and straight forward in his policy towards the British.

Not withstanding surety of his internal rule and the terror which he inspired his name is always mentioned in Mysore with respect if not with admirations.

While the cruelties which he some times practised are forgotten his powerness and success have an abiding place in the memory of the people.

Third Anglo-Mysore War:

In 1788 Lord Cornwallis came to India as the Governor General of the East India Company. He was formally bound by the Pitt’s India Act to refrain from following a policy of war and conquest.

There was the out break of hostilities between England and France in Europe. So Cornwallis apprehended that Anglo-French hostilities in Europe was bound to have its echo in India and Tipu Sultan allying himself with the French would declare war against the English Cornwallis wrote to Malet the British resident at Poona “I look upon a rupture with Tipu as a certain and immediate consequence of war with France and in that event a vigorous co-operation of the Marathas would certainly be of the utmost importance to our interests in the country.

The Treaty of Mangalore was nothing but a “hollow Truce.” Tipu Sultan of Mysore was also convinced that there would be renewal of war between him and the English.

So Tipu Sultan who was very ambitious was preparing himself for renewal of hostilities. In 1787 he sent envoys to France and Turkey in order to secure their help against the English. However he received “promises of future help and no active assistance for the present”

In 1788 Lord Cornwallis acquired Guntun in the Northern Sarkars from the Nizam and promised to lend him British forces.

He provided a list of powers that were in alliance with the company against whom the British forces were not to be employed. But from the list of allies-the name of Tipu was deliberately omitted.

This treaty with the Nizam meant the violation of the Treaties with Mysore and Tipu Sultan was convinced that the English were preparing to attack him.

On 29th December 1789 Tipu invaded Travancore in order to secure his sea board on the coast. But the Raja of Travancore was an ally of the company according to the Treaty of Mangalore. So Lord Cornwallis decided to declare war against Tipu.

He concluded a treaty of offensive and defensive alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam, in 1790. According to this Triple Alliance it was agreed upon that the conquered territories would be equally divided among the three allies.

Cornwallis thus Isolated Tipu Sultan and attacked Mysore by land and water from all sides. The third Anglo Mysorewar broke out and Tipu fought with characteristic vigour for long two years.

The first year of the campaign under major general Medows proved to him quite indecisive. Cornwallis wrote to Henry Dundas of the Board of control regarding the war situation we have lost time and our adversary has gained reputations which are two most valuable things in war.”So Cornwallies himself took over, the command of the British troops and marching through Vellore and Ambur, he captured Bangalore on 21 March 1791.

Tipu Sultan could not get any help from the French on account of the out break of the Revolution in France.

The marathas ravaged the Mysore territory Cornwallis with the British troops under his command reached Arikera by 13th May about nine miles East of Seringapatam the capital of Mysore.

Tipu fought gallantly against the English and displayed brilliant generalship. But Cornwallis had to retreat to Mangalore as the rains set in and on account of the shortage of supplies. The fighting was resumed in the summer of 1791 and Tipu Sultan occupied Coimbatore.

Cornwallis in the meantime occupied all the hill forts of Tipu and on 5lh February 1742 arrived near Seringapatam. Tipu Sultan found his position helpless and opened negotiations for peace. Finally the Treaty of Seringapatam was concluded in March 1792 between Tipu Sultan and the English.

The Treaty of Seringapatam:

According to this Treaty Tipu lost half of his dominions which was divided among the English the Marathas and the Nizam the Marathas got the districts lying between Wardha and the Krishna and the Nizam acquired the territories stretching from the Krishna to the Pennar river The English obtained Malabar and the sovereignty over the Raja of Coorg.

They also got Dindigul and Baramahal. Tipu Sultan had to pay an idemnity of more than 3000,000 and surrender his two sons as hostages.

Some writers criticise Lord Cornwallis for concluding a Treaty with Tipu Sultan and for granting generous terms to him. According to them Lord Cornwallis should not have allowed Tipu Sultan to survive as he was an incorrigible enemy Of the English.

He would have prevented the out break of the Fourth-Anglo-Mysore war by effecting his destruction. After -the Treaty of Seringapatam Cornwallis himself wrote “We have effectually crippled our enemy without making our friends too formidable.” He wisely followed-a cautious policy.

War between England and the revolutionary France was imminent and Cornwallis rightly apprehended an alliance between the French and Tipu Sultan.

The Court of Directors of the Company also desired peace. Above all Cornwallis was not eager to annex the whole of Mysore by destroying the power of Tipu Sultan. The annexation of the whole of Mysore would have raised the difficult questions of its division between the allies.

Fourth-Anglo-Mysore War:

Tipu Sultan of Mysore concluded the Treaty of Seringapatam with the English in 1792. He could not forget the humiliation which he had suffered at the hands of the English. According to Malcolm “Instead of sinking under his misfortunes. Tipu exerted all his activity to repair the ravages of war.

He began to add to the fortifications of his Capital to remount his cavalry, to recruit and discipline his infantry to punish his refractory tributaries and to encourage the cultivation of country which was soon restored to its former prosperity.” Tipu with astonishing rapidity increased his military and financial resources.

He also strengthened the fortifications of Seringapatam and re-organised his cavalry and infantry. Tipu as a shrewed diplomat tried to secure the alliance of France against the English in India. He enrolled himself as a member of the Jacobin club of France.

He permitted some French men in his service of hoist the flag of the recently established French Republic and to plant a free of Liberty at Seringapatam Tipu sent emissaries to Kabul, Persia, Arabia and Mauritius to secure help against the English in India.

The French Governor of the Isle of France Monsieur Malartic gave a proclamation inviting volunteers to come forward to help Tipu against the English. A few French soldiers landed at Mangalore in April 1796.

Lord Wellesley came to India as the Governor general of the East India Company in April 1798 He was an imperialist to the core and immediately after his arrival at Madras in April 1798, he realised the hostile intention of Tipu Sultan.

Wellesley himself said “the Act of Tipu’s ambassadors ratified by him and accompanied by the landing of a French force in his countries a public unqualified and unambiguous declaration of war.” So he immediately made preparation for war. Like Lord Cornwallis he tried to secure the alliance of the Marathas and of the Nizam.

On 1st September the Nizam of Hyderabad concluded a Subsidiary Treaty with the English, but the Marathas did not respond properly to the appeal of the Governor General.

Thus Wellesley did not succeed in reviving the Triple alliance of 1790. However he could secure their neutrality by promising them a share in the spoils of the war.

Lord Wellesley demanded the absolute submission of Tipu Sultan considering his designs to be really hostile. On the refusal of Tipu war was declared.

The campaign against Tipu was brief but quite decisive. The British army under the command of General Harris and Arthur Wellesley brother of the Governor general Stuart Sedaseer on 5th March 1799. On 27th March Tipu was again defeated by General Harris at Malvelly, thirty miles East of Seringapatam.

Tipu was compelled to retire to his capital Serinagapatam. The English army besieged Seringapatam which was captured on 4th May 1799. Tipu died fighting gallantly against the English. Thus ended the career of an “inveterate and dreadful foes of the English.”

The dominions of Tipu Sultan came under the occupation of the English. Those were partitioned among the allies. The English got Kanara on the west. Wynaad in the South-East, the districts of Coimbatore, and Daraporam, two districts on the East together with the town and island of Seringapatam.

The Nizam was given the districts of Gooty, Gurainkond and a part of Chitaldrug without the fort. The two districts like Harpanhalli and Sunda were offered to the Peshwa. But the Peshwa declined to accept the offer. So these districts were divided between the Nizam and the English. A boy of the old Hindu reigning dynasty was given the remainder of the kingdom of Mysore.

This new state of Mysore was placed under British protection. The minor ruler of Mysore had to conclude a subsidiary treaty with the English. The treaty provided for the maintenance of a British force for the defence of his kingdom.

The ruler of Mysore was to pay an annual subsidy to the English which could be increased by the Governor- General in time of war. Above all the English retained the right to intervence and take over the administration of the kingdom if the Governor General would be dissatisfied with its Government.

This arrangement according to Lord Wellesley would enable the company “to command the whole resources of Raja’s territory.” The company secured substantial territorial, economic, Commercial and military advantages.

The dominion of the company “Extended from sea across the base of the Peninsula” because of the settlement of Wellesley regarding Mysore. In 1800 A.D. the Nizam surrendered his territorial acquisitions from Mysore to the company as a result of which Mysore was entirely encircled by British territory and was cut off from the sea.

The Governor general Lord Wellesley was elevated to the rank of Marquis in the peerage of Ireland. General Harris was also elevated to the rank of baron.

Mysore was brought under the direct administration of the company by the Governor general Lord Wiiliam Bentinck. In 1881 viceroy Lord Ripon restored the royal family to power.

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