East India Company

East India Company

The British East India Company was an English and later (from 1707) British joint-stock company and megacorporation formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent.

The East India Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The Company was granted a Royal Charter in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats. It was an example of an English joint stock company.. The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions. Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and lasted until 1858 when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown assuming direct control of India in the new British Raj.

The Company was dissolved in 1874 as a result of the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act passed one year earlier, as the Government of India Act had by then rendered it vestigial, powerless and obsolete. Its functions had been fully absorbed into official government machinery in the British Raj and its private army had been nationalised by the British Crown.

Read more about East India Company:  Founding, Foothold in India, Expansion, Regulation of The Company's Affairs, Indian Rebellion of 1857, Establishments in Britain, Legacy, Flags, Ships, Records

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