The East India Company was a British commercial and political organisation
in India from 1600 to 1873.
In 1613 the Company obtained permission from the Mogul Jahangir to set up a trading post in India. After the break-up of the Mogul Empire during the 18th century a time of division and instability followed that forced the East India Company to raise troops and arm their ships.
The Company, led by Robert Clive, began to form alliances with Indian states in order to fight their French rivals for dominion over India. In 1757 Clive concluded an alliance with Siraj, the Indian ruler of Bengal who feared an attack by the Afghans who had seized Delhi.
Siraj, however, was intriguing with the French and Clive decided to support Siraj's internal rivals. Clive defeated the much larger army of Siraj at the battle of Plassey (1757) which marked the beginning of the British Indian Empire.
It is an extraordinary episode in the history of conquest of how a trading company found itself dealing not merely in spices and tea, but in the revenues and territories of princes and the destinies of India and acting as an agent of British imperialism. In 1857 the Sepoy Mutiny led the British government to deprive the East India Company of political control, and it ceased to exist in 1873.