Battle of Plassey (1757) - Background & Causes

Introduction to Battle of Plassey

Battle of Plassey was fought on 23rd June 1757 in the Plassey region, West Bengal. This battle was fought between the British East India Company led by Robert Clive and the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula. The French troops were also a part of this battle and fought with Siraj-ud-daula against Robert Clive.

The Battle of Plassey is known as the historic battle for the Britishers and a turning point in the history of India in favour of Britishers. It established the military and political supremacy of the British in Bengal. Most historians regard the battle of Plassey as the decisive event having the roots to British dominance and rule over India.

This article will discuss the background, causes, and other important points concerning the Battle of Plassey. We will also see some past year questions in the UPSC exam from this topic.

In this article, we will understand the key features of the subsidiary alliance system along with different forms of alliances. 

Get UPSC Topic-wise Syllabus PDF worth Rs. 299 FREE

Battle of Plassey - Background

It is important to understand the events that led to the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Let us look at some of the key events that preceded the Battle of Plassey and became a cause for this battle:

  • Siraj-Ud-Daula was succeeded by his grandfather Alivardi Khan to become the Nawab of Bengal. He had become the Nawab of Bengal the year before, and he had ordered the English to stop the extension of their fortification.

  • The victory of Britishers in the Carnatic wars has made Siraj-Ud-Daula apprehensive about the rising power of Britishers in India. 

  • The officials of the Company made rampant misuse of its trade privileges that adversely affected the nawab’s finances.

  • The Britishers fortified Fort Williams without the permission of Nawab which infuriated him further. He marched to Fort Williams and captured 146 Britishers and imprisoned them in a small room due to which 123 Britishers died. This incident is known as “Black Hole Tragedy of Calcutta”.

  • Upon this, Robert Clive was sent to Bengal to strengthen the position of Britishers in Bengal. He bribed some of the chief members of the Nawab of Bengal and promised kinship to Mir Jafar in return for his betrayal to Nawab. 

Battle of Plassey 

  • The Battle of Plassey was fought on 23rd June 1757 in the Palashi region of Bengal. 

  • The 50,000 soldiers in the army of Nawab of Bengal with French troops on their side severely outnumbered the British army which had around 3000 soldiers.

  • However, the conspiracy of Robert Clive and the subsequent betrayal by Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and others became the reason for the defeat of Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula in the Battle of Plassey.

Who Fought in Battle of Plassey

The battle was primarily fought between the East India Company led by Robert Clive and the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula. However, there are various key people involved in the battle. Questions related to such people are often asked in UPSC and other government exams. Let’s look at all the important people involved in the Battle of Plassey:

  • Siraj-ud-daula: He was the then Nawab of Bengal. He took upon East India company because of their misuse of dastaks. The more immediate cause of the Battle of Plassey was the fortification of Fort Williams by the East India Company

  • Robert Clive: Robert Clive was the commander-in-chief of the army of the British East India Company. He bribed the key people of the army of Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daula and conspired with the bankers and merchants of Bengal to get him imprisoned and finally killed. 

  • Mir Jafar - He was the Mir-Bakshi or the military head of an army of Nawab of Bengal. However, he betrayed Siraj-Ud-Daula upon being bribed by Robert Clive. It is also one of the major causes of the defeat of Siraj-ud-daula in the Battle of Plassey. 

  • Rai Durlabh: He was also one of the commanders of Siraj-ud-daula’s army, but he also betrayed Nawab having being bribed by the East India Company. 

  • Jagat Seth: He was the biggest banker of Bengal at the time. He was a part of the conspiracy that involved the imprisonment and ultimate killing of Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daulah.

The key people who betrayed Siraj-Ud-Daula during the Battle of Plassey were Mir Zafar, Rai Durlabh, Khandim Khan. In addition to them, the people who conspired against Siraj that ultimately led to his imprisonment and death were Manikchand, Aminchand and Jagat Seth. 

The two people who remained loyal to Siraj-Ud-Daula were Mir Madan and Mohanlal.

Questions From Battle of Plassey In UPSC Exam

UPSC Prelims:

Questions having One-word or one-line answers are generally asked in UPSC Prelims. Thus, some questions that can directly be asked from the Battle of Plassey topic are:

  • Who fought in the Battle of Plassey?

  • When did the Battle of Plassey take place?

  • Where did the Battle of Plassey take place?

UPSC Mains:

More detail-oriented questions are asked in UPSC Mains. Hence, a complete understanding of the topic becomes extremely crucial for asking this question. 

  • What were the reasons behind the Battle of Plassey?

  • Battle of Plassey marked the beginning of political supremacy of the English East India Company in India. Elucidate. 

  • What were the factors that led to the war between East India Company and Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah? Discuss.

This is a brief overview of the Battle of Plassey for the UPSC Civil Services Examination. This topic is extensively discussed in our General Studies course for the UPSC Exam. 

Career Launcher brings to you comprehensive GS Foundation live courses and study material that will enhance your UPSC preparation. Check out the details of our online courses for IAS preparation here. Get in touch with our course counsellors to get more information about our courses.

UPSC Study Material

Viceroy and Governor General

Sources of Indian Constitution

International Organizations

Important Government Schemes

Monthly Current Affairs Compilation

Yojana + Kurukshetra Compilation

NCERT Compilations PDF

UPSC Preparation Guide

Daily Current Affairs Quiz