In the late eighteenth century it was a cliché that the East India Company ruled India ‘by the sword.’ This lecture shows how Indian and European soldiers shaped and challenged the Company’s political expansion and how elite officers turned those dynamics into a bid for ‘stratocracy’—a state dominated by its army.
Combining colonial records with Mughal Persian sources Christina Welsch offers new insight into India’s eighteenth-century military landscape, showing how elite officers positioned themselves as the sole actors who could navigate, understand, and control those networks. Focusing on south India rather than Bengal, she provides a new approach, chronology, and geography through which to understand the Company Raj. It offers a fresh perspective on the Company’s collapse after the rebellions of 1857, tracing the roots of that conflict to the Company’s eighteenth-century development.
Christina Welsch is the author of The Company’s Sword 1644-1858 (Cambridge University Press 2022). She is Associate Professor of History at the College of Wooster, Ohio.
This is an online event. Bookings: https://britishinindia.org.uk/lectures/