Anglo Mysore Wars were the series of four wars which happened between British East India Company and Mysore Empire.
First Anglo Mysore War.
Second Anglo Mysore War.
Third Anglo Mysore War.
Fourth Anglo Mysore War.
But Before we deep dive into why these wars happened and what was the outcome, we should have a basic understanding of the kingdom of Mysore.
Initially, Mysore used to be a part of Vijayanagar Empire in Southern part of India. Vijaynagar empire was established in the year 1336.
There was a time when, Vijayanagar empire had influence over almost all of Southern India. But in the year 1565, Deccan Sultanates fought a battle against Vijayanagar empire. This Battle is known as Battle of Talikota. Vijayanagar Empire lost this battle against Deccan Sultanates which included Bijapur, Bidar, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Berar.
Battle of Talikota, 1565 proved to be deadly blow for Vijayanagar Empire. As a result of this defeat, Some of its territorial area was captured by the Deccan Sultanates.
Mysore under Wodeyar Dynasty
Vijayanagar Empire was now becoming weak and started to split into smaller kingdoms. One of these Kingdoms emerged in the Mysore region in the year 1612 under Wodeyar Dynasty.
During 17th Century, Kingdom of Mysore gained a lot of territorial area under its powerful and influential rulers – Narasaraja Wodeyar and Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar.
Later on, in the year 1734 – Krishnaraja Wodeyar II came to power who was not as great as his predecessors. During his time, administration was handled by his 2 powerful ministers – Nanjaraj & Devraj. Krishna Wodeyar II was reduced to a mere puppet and a titular head of Mysore Empire.
It was during the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II when Hyder Ali joined Mysore Army as a Horseman. Though uneducated, he possessed a keen intellect and was a man of great daring and determination. He was also a brilliant commander and a shrewd diplomat. Cleverly using the opportunities that come his way, he gradually rose in the Mysore army to the position of commander-in-chief.
After becoming the commander-in-chief, Hyder Ali focused on providing western military training to his troops. And, took help from French Experts in India to setup a modern Arsenal in Dindigul ( Tamil Nadu ) in 1755.
But, due to weak leadership of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, Marathas and Nizam used to raid the Mysore territories, which resulted in heavy losses for Mysore. Mysore was becoming financially and politically weak.
Hyder Ali becomes the de-facto ruler of Mysore
Now, the time has come for Hyder Ali to take the control of Mysore Kingdom. In the Year 1761, Hyder Ali became the de-facto ruler of Mysore.
After becoming the de-facto ruler, Hyder Ali captured Dod ballapur, Bidnur, Sera and regions of Malabar between 1761 – 1763. He made policies to control the poligars as well.
Poligars were the feudal lords ( like zamindars and Jagirdars ) since the time of Vijayanagar Empire. Policies of Hyder Ali made Poligars pay taxes on time.
British East India Company’s Interest in Mysore Kingdom
Actually, Mysore was inherently a rich state. Fertile plains of Raichur Doab, natural ports of Malabar region, Handicrafts, Colar gold mines and Sandalwood makes this region the heart of wealth. But, due to weak rulers this region was losing its shine. Now, with Hyder Ali in power, Mysore Kingdom got its prosperity back.
For this reason, British East India company was looking for a right opportunity to enter into a conflict with Mysore, to capture it.
This was the background in which Anglo Mysore Wars happened. In our next article we will deep dive into the causes, course of war and the outcomes of all the 4Anglo Mysore Wars.