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East India Company, French

East India Company, French, 1664–1769, commercial enterprise planned by Jean Baptiste Colbert and chartered by King Louis XIV for the purpose of trading in the Eastern Hemisphere. It failed to found a colony on Madagascar but established ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon and Île-de-France (now Réunion and Mauritius). By 1719 the company had established itself in India but was near bankruptcy. In that year it was combined under John Law with other French trading companies to make the Compagnie des Indes (see Mississippi Scheme). It resumed independence in 1723. With the decline of the Mughal empire, the French found it necessary to intervene in Indian political affairs to protect their interests. From 1741 the French under Joseph François Dupleix pursued an aggressive policy against both the Indians and the English until they ultimately suffered defeat by Robert Clive. Despite its apparent success, the French company had never been able to maintain itself financially, and in 1769 it was abolished.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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