Robert Clive

Robert Clive

British military leader
Date of Birth: 29.09.1725
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Robert Clive
  2. Early Life and Career
  3. Military Career
  4. Return to India
  5. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Robert Clive

Robert Clive, a British general and administrator, was the founder and ruler of the Indian territories of the British Empire. He was born on September 29, 1725, near Market Drayton in Shropshire, England.

Early Life and Career

In 1743, Clive was sent abroad as a clerk for the East India Company. His arrival in India coincided with the spread of the European war for the Austrian Succession, which led to conflict between England and France in the country. Joseph François Dupleix, a French adventurer, captured the southern region and seized Madras, where English merchants, including Clive, were located. However, the Aachen Peace Treaty was signed in the same year in Europe, which returned the British settlement in Madras to England in exchange for Louisbourg in Canada. Nevertheless, the British and the French continued to fight each other as allies of opposing Indian factions.

Military Career

In 1751, despite having no military training, Clive volunteered for the army and quickly rose through the ranks. He captured the Arcot region near Madras and successfully defended it against superior enemy forces. He defeated the French in several battles, displaying personal bravery and resilience. By 1753, by the time of his marriage and return to England, Clive had brought the Carnatic region under British influence.

Return to India

Clive returned to India in 1755 as a colonel. In June 1756, Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah of Bengal attacked the British settlement in Calcutta and threw English merchants into the "Black Hole," where most of them died. Clive and Admiral Charles Watson were sent to restore the situation with a small army and a squadron of warships. They accomplished their mission with little effort. On June 23, 1757, in the Battle of Plassey, Clive, with 1,000 European soldiers and 2,000 sepoys, defeated a huge but unreliable and ineffective army of the Nawab. One of Siraj-ud-Daulah's men, Mir Jafar, was made the Nawab and became a client of the Company, to which he paid vast sums of money. Clive also received generous gifts personally. Clive later had to fight against the Dutch, who were also defeated. Only Chunar Nagar remained under French control. In London, William Pitt the Elder referred to Clive as a "general from God." Clive wrote to him, insisting that the British Crown take control of Bengal.

Later Life and Legacy

In 1761, still young and wealthy, Clive returned to England. He was granted the title of an Irish peer, Baron Clive of Plassey. The peerage did not deprive him of the right to stand for Parliament, where he supported Pitt and later George Grenville. Acquiring a controlling stake in the East India Company, he obtained the position of Governor of the company's settlements in Bengal.

During his third visit to India from 1765 to 1767, Clive focused on administrative reforms. He attempted to eliminate corruption by establishing a fixed salary for company officials, created a company army, and quelled a rebellion that had erupted. From Mir Jafar, Clive received the "Diwani" – the right to govern Bengal – but refused to accept personal gifts. In 1767, his failing health forced him to retire and return to London.

In 1772, Clive brilliantly defended himself in Parliament against accusations made by General Burgoyne, who accused him of greed. In his defense, Clive stated, "I am simply amazed at my own modesty." Parliament censured him but included in the resolution that "Lord Clive has rendered great services to his country." In a state of depression, Clive took his own life at his home in London on November 22, 1774.