Why were the British interested in the subcontinent?

1 Answer | Add Yours

gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There were a number of reasons why the British were interested in the Indian subcontinent. India had long been a trading partner of mid-eastern empires (Greek and Romans) and the commonly traded commodities included silk, spices, ivory, clothes, etc. However during the religious wars (the crusades) between the Muslims and Christians for the holy city of Jerusalem, followed by the Dark Ages, this trade route was lost. During the Renaissance, lost knowledge was found again and the colonists set out to find the silk-route once more. Driven by a desire to find cheap products in a resourceful country, a number of colonists set out for the subcontinent. Several of these had arrangements and contracts with the local kingdoms, including the British, French and Portuguese; however, it is the British that triumphed in the end and took over the entire country. What started out as a trading arrangement between the East India Company and the rulers became a colonial arrangement, with India falling under the rule of the British Crown. The British were drawn to the cheap products (silk, ivory, spices, scents, clothes, etc.) and the bounty of resources (gold, minerals, etc.). Their triumph was aided by a divided country and weak kings. 

We’ve answered 318,996 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question