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Lord Clive

India. 1707.


The death of Aurungzebe, emperor of India and the last of the great Mogul emperors, meant the end of a brutal and ruthless regime.

Yet with order no longer being maintained by Delhi, India was set to endure a period of immense disorder.

There was now a political vacuum and an increasing number of Moslem conquests in the midst of a predominantly Hindu population.

Provinces were governed by Subadars, a large army, and deputies known as Nawabs who crushed Rajah rebellions and enforced Moslem law.

Allegiance to the crown was faltering and in 1739 Delhi was plundered by Nadir Shah, the Shah of Persia.

By 1740 the Maharattas had overrun the Carnatic and anarchy ensued, which left French and English powers vying for allies within an increasingly corrupt and volatile political atmosphere.

In 1744 the conflict had intensified rather than abated, and it was at this time that Robert Clive, aged eighteen years old and with no money to his name, arrived in Madras to take up his post as ‘writer’ in the East India Company’s Service.

He was to become known as the ‘Conqueror of India’, as he carved out a military career which saw him curb French aspirations, preserve British settlements and lay the foundations of the British Empire in India.

Yet his success was not without scandal. It was sullied by acts of treachery, brazen flamboyance and the fortune he amassed at India’s expense, which has drawn pronounced criticism from modern historians.

In this extraordinary account, Charles Wilson documents the life of a controversial but undoubtedly brilliant military man of his time.

Charles Wilson (1836-1905) served as an officer in the Royal Engineers. He spent four years stationed in North America mapping terrain. Later Wilson was appointed director of the topographical department of the British War Officer and assistant quartermaster-general in the British Intelligence Department.

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