What was the East India Company?
The British East India Company was a company that was set up to trade with the Spice Islands but which eventually came to rule much of India before the British government took control of India and made it a colony.
The company had a hard time actually trading in the Spice Islands because the Dutch East India Company was well established there. This helped cause it to turn to the Indian subcontinent. The British government gave the company the right to have military forces and to take and rule territories. At the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the Company defeated the ruler of Bengal and took control of the area. Their power gradually spread until they controlled much more territory. The Company held power over India for about 100 years.