Anglo-Mysore Wars

Quest for UPSC CSE Panels

Anglo-Mysore Wars-Image




GS-I: Modern History

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Prelims: History of India and Indian National Movement.

Mains: Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Anglo-Mysore Wars - Wodeyar Dynasty, Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan, The Four Anglo-Mysore Wars

The Carnatic Wars and the rise of the Wodeyar Dynasty marked a significant period in South Indian history, characterised by conflicts between the British and the French for territorial supremacy and the emergence of the Wodeyars as rulers of Mysore. Led by influential figures like Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyars' rise and subsequent wars shaped the political landscape of the region, impacting both Indian and European interests. 

The Anglo-Mysore Wars, spanning four major conflicts, saw shifts in alliances and territorial changes, culminating in the eventual defeat of Tipu Sultan and the imposition of British control over Mysore. These events have left a lasting impact on India's colonial history and the struggle for power between European colonial powers in the Indian subcontinent.


The Wodeyar Dynasty

After the Battle of Talikota in 1565, which dealt a devastating blow to the Vijayanagara kingdom, several smaller kingdoms emerged from its remnants.

  • Wodeyar kingdom: In 1612, a Hindu kingdom under the Wodeyars arose in the region of Mysore. Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II ruled from 1734 to 1766. 
  • Prominence: During the second half of the 18th century, Mysore gained significant strength under the leadership of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan
  • English perception: The English perceived their political and commercial interests in South India to be at risk due to Mysore's proximity to the French and Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan's control over the lucrative trade of the Malabar coast. 
  • Growing power: Additionally, Mysore's growing power posed a threat to English control over Madras.


Rise of Hyder Ali

In the early 18th century, two brothers named Nanjaraj and Devaraj reduced Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar to a mere puppet. 

  • Haidar Ali:  He was born in 1721 into an obscure family and began his career as a horseman in the Mysore army under the ministers Nanjaraj and Devaraj. 
    • Despite his lack of education, Haidar Ali possessed a keen intellect and displayed great energy and determination.
  • Incursions: The repeated incursions of the Marathas and Nizam's troops into Mysore's territories resulted in heavy financial demands imposed by the aggressors. This weakened Mysore financially and politically. 
  • De Facto ruler: Recognizing the need for a leader with military prowess and diplomatic skills, Haidar Ali seized the opportunity and became the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1761. 
  • Realisation: He understood that the Marathas, known for their mobility, could only be countered with swift cavalry, while the cannons of the French-trained Nizami army required an effective artillery response. 
  • Weapons acquisition: Haidar Ali also recognised the importance of matching the superior arms from the West by acquiring weapons from the same source or manufacturing them using similar techniques.
  • French assistance: To achieve these objectives, Haidar Ali sought the assistance of the French and established an arms factory in Dindigul. He also introduced Western methods of training for his army and employed his diplomatic skills to outmanoeuvre his opponents. 
  • Success: With his superior military abilities, he successfully captured various regions such as Dod Ballapur, Sera, Bednur, and Hoskote between 1761 and 1763. Haidar Ali also brought the troublesome Poligars of South India under submission.
  • Attacks of Maratha: However, following their defeat at Panipat, the Marathas, under Madhavrao, launched attacks on Mysore and defeated Haidar Ali in 1764, 1766, and 1771. Haidar Ali had to pay large sums of money to the Marathas to secure peace. 
  • Haider’s retaliation: After Madhavrao died in 1772, Haidar Ali retaliated and raided the Marathas multiple times from 1774 to 1776. He not only recovered the territories he had previously lost but also captṣured new areas.
  • Estimation: Overall, Haidar Ali's strategic military skills, the establishment of the arms factory, and his diplomatic manoeuvres played a significant role in strengthening Mysore and expanding its influence.


The First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)

  • Background: 
    • After their successful conquest of Bengal, the English grew confident in their military strength. 
    • They then entered into a treaty with the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1766, offering to protect the Nizam from Haidar Ali in exchange for the Northern Circars region. 
    • Haidar Ali already had territorial disputes with the Nawab of Arcot and differences with the Marathas.
  • Shifting alliances: 
    • As a result, alliances shifted, and the Nizam, Marathas, and English formed a unified front against Haidar Ali. 
    • Haidar displayed considerable tact and diplomatic skill. He paid the Marathas to maintain neutrality and convinced the Nizam to become his ally by promising to share the conquered territories. 
    • Together with the Nizam, Haidar Ali launched an attack on the Nawab of Arcot.
  • The course of the war: 
    • The war between the parties dragged on for a year and a half without reaching a conclusive outcome. 
    • Sensing the need for a change in strategy, Haidar Ali surprised the English by suddenly appearing at the gates of Madras. 
  • Treaty of Madras:
  • The chaotic and panicked situation in Madras forced the English to negotiate a humiliating treaty with Haidar Ali on April 4, 1769, known as the Treaty of Madras. 
  • The treaty included provisions for the exchange of prisoners and the restoration of conquered territories
  • Furthermore, Haidar Ali secured a promise of English assistance in the event of an attack by any other power.


The Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)

  • Background: 
    • Haidar Ali accused the English of breaching the Treaty of Madras and failing to provide assistance when he was attacked by the Marathas in 1771. 
    • Furthermore, he found the French to be more supportive than the English in supplying his army with guns, saltpetre, and lead. 
    • As a result, French war material was brought to Mysore through Mahe, a French possession on the Malabar coast. 
    • The American War of Independence also erupted, with the French siding with the rebels against the English. Haidar Ali's alliance with the French intensified English concerns. 
    • Consequently, the English attempted to capture Mahe, which Haidar Ali considered under his protection, and he perceived this as a direct challenge to his authority.
  • The course of the war: 
    • Haidar Ali formed an anti-English alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam. He launched an attack in the Carnatic, capturing Arcot and defeating the English army under Colonel Baillie in 1781. 
    • Despite the English managing to detach the Marathas and the Nizam from Haidar's side under the leadership of Sir Eyre Coote, Haidar Ali remained undeterred and confronted the English with boldness. 
    • Although he suffered a defeat at Porto Novo in November 1781, he regrouped his forces, defeated the English, and captured their commander, Braithwaite.
  • Treaty of Mangalore: 
    • Following Haidar Ali's death from cancer in December 1782, his son Tipu Sultan continued the war for another year without achieving any significant gains. 
    • Tired of the inconclusive conflict, both sides opted for peace and negotiated the Treaty of Mangalore in March 1784. The treaty stipulated the return of territories taken by each party from the other.


The Third Anglo-Mysore War

  • Background: 
    • A dispute arose between Tipu and the state of Travancore when Travancore purchased Jalkottal and Cannanore from the Dutch in the Cochin state. 
    • As Cochin was under Tipu's suzerainty, he viewed Travancore's actions as a violation of his sovereign rights. 
    • Consequently, in April 1790, Tipu declared war against Travancore to restore his rights.
  • The course of the war: 
    • The English, siding with Travancore, launched an attack against Tipu. In 1790, Tipu successfully defeated the English under General Meadows. 
    • However, in 1791, General Cornwallis assumed leadership and led a large army from Ambur and Vellore to Bangalore, which was captured in March 1791. 
    • From there, they advanced towards Seringapatam. Although the English briefly gained control of Coimbatore, they lost it again. 
    • Ultimately, with the support of the Marathas and the Nizam, the English launched a second attack on Seringapatam. 
    • Tipu put up significant resistance, but the odds were against him. As a result, he had to bear heavy consequences under the Treaty of Seringapatam.
  • Treaty of Seringapatam:
    • Under the Treaty of Seringapatam in 1792, the victorious parties took over nearly half of the Mysorean territory
    • The English acquired Baramahal, Dindigul, and Malabar, while the Marathas obtained regions surrounding the Tungabhadra River and its tributaries. 
    • The Nizam received areas extending from the Krishna River to beyond the Pennar River. 
    • Additionally, a war damage payment of three crore rupees was imposed on Tipu. 
    • Half of the war indemnity was required to be paid immediately, while the remainder was to be given in instalments.
    • As collateral, Tipu's two sons were taken as hostages by the English.


The Fourth Anglo-Mysore War

  • Background: 
    • Tipu Sultan utilised the period from 1792 to 1799 to recover from their losses. 
    • Tipu fulfilled all the terms stipulated in the Treaty of Seringapatam and secured the release of his sons. 
    • However, in 1796, upon the death of the Hindu ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty, Tipu refused to place the minor son of Wodeyar on the throne and instead declared himself sultan. 
    • This decision was driven by his desire to avenge his humiliating defeat and the terms imposed by the Treaty of Seringapatam.
    • In 1798, Lord Wellesley succeeded Sir John Shore as the new Governor-General of India. 
    • Possessing imperialist ambitions, Wellesley grew concerned about Tipu's growing alliance with the French and aimed to either eradicate Tipu's independent existence or bring him under submission through the implementation of the Subsidiary Alliance system. 
    • The charges levelled against Tipu included plotting against the English with the Nizam and the Marathas, as well as sending emissaries to Arabia, Afghanistan, Kabul, Zaman Shah, Isle of France (Mauritius), and Versailles with treasonous intentions. 
    • Tipu's explanations failed to satisfy Wellesley.
  • The course of the war: 
    • The war between Tipu and the English commenced on April 17, 1799, and concluded on May 4, 1799, with the fall of Seringapatam
    • Tipu suffered defeat first at the hands of English General Stuart and then by General Harris
    • The Marathas and the Nizam once again assisted the English. The Marathas had been promised half of Tipu's territory, and the Nizam had already signed the Subsidiary Alliance. 
    • Tipu valiantly fought until the end, sacrificing his life in the battle. His family members were imprisoned in Vellore, and the English confiscated his treasures. 
    • The English selected a boy from the previous Hindu royal family of Mysore as the new maharaja and imposed the subsidiary alliance system upon him.



Tipu Sultan

Previous Years Questions (PYQs)



Q) With reference to Indian history, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2021)

  1. The Nizamat of Arcot emerged out of Hyderabad State.
  2. The Mysore Kingdom emerged out of Vijayanagara Empire.
  3. Rohilkhand Kingdom was formed out of the territories occupied by Ahmad Shah Durrani.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 3 only

Answer: (b) 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q) Who won the Third Anglo-Mysore War?

The Third Anglo-Mysore War resulted in a stalemate, with the Treaty of Mangalore signed in 1784, bringing an end to hostilities and restoring the territorial status quo between the British East India Company and Mysore.


Q) What was the cause behind the Anglo-Mysore wars?

The main cause behind the Anglo-Mysore wars was the territorial expansion and growing influence of the Kingdom of Mysore, led by rulers like Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, which posed a threat to the British East India Company's political and commercial interests in South India. 


Q) Who was the Governor during the First Anglo-Mysore War?

The Governor during the First Anglo-Mysore War was Warren Hastings. He served as the Governor-General of Bengal and was in charge of the British East India Company's affairs in India during that period.


Q) Which treaty ended the Third Anglo-Mysore War?

The Third Anglo-Mysore War was ended by the Treaty of Seringapatam in 1792. This treaty was signed between Tipu Sultan of Mysore and the British East India Company, and it resulted in the cession of territories to the British and their allies, the Marathas and the Nizam.