Thanjavur and the Doctrine of Lapse

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Thanjavur 1 Thanjavur Maratha Palace

Chapter 4, Part 16

Once South and Southeast Asia were lands where Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms and empires, and later Islamic sultanates, conquered one another not only to exert their dominance, but also to control the lucrative spice trade in the region. Then the Europeans came and forever changed the geopolitical landscape of Asia and beyond. By the 19th century, two European nations – the British and the Dutch – through their quasi-governmental East India Companies had established monopolies on the world spice trade, from nutmeg to cinnamon, clove and pepper.

While the Dutch East India Company (VOC) were largely unchallenged in the Dutch East Indies (the precursor to modern-day Indonesia), the British East India Company (EIC) controlled much of the Indian subcontinent and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). In India, the EIC gradually rose to prominence within centuries since their inception at the turn of the 17th…

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