East India Company

East India Company


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The East India Company, based in London, operated from 1600 to 1858, and was one of the richest and longest-lived trading companies in history. The colonial response to the tea tax in 1767 resulted in a precipitous decline in consumption, from 900,000 pounds in 1769 to just 237,000 in 1772.

With warehouses overflowing with unsold tea, the company negotiated with Parliament for the right to sell tea directly to the colonies, which was granted in the Regulating Act of 1773. Instead of gaining a new market for the East India Company, the act produced more opposition. After the Revolution, the East India Company had little direct contact with America.

Far from disappearing from history, however, the East India Company gained greater control of the Indian subcontinent, which they managed as a virtual corporate colony until the Mutiny of 1857. At this point, the British decided that they needed to rule India directly and took over in 1858. The company was dissolved in 1874.


5 Fast Facts About the East India Company

The British East India Company was a private corporation formed in December 1600 to establish a British presence in the lucrative Indian spice trade, which until then had been monopolized by Spain and Portugal. The company eventually became an immensely powerful agent of British imperialism in South Asia and the de facto colonial ruler of large parts of India. Partly because of endemic corruption, the company was gradually deprived of its commercial monopoly and political control, and its Indian possessions were nationalized by the British crown in 1858. It was formally dissolved in 1874 by the East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act (1873).

1. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the East India Company relied on slave labor and trafficked in slaves from West and East Africa, especially Mozambique and Madagascar, transporting them to its holdings in India and Indonesia as well as to the island of St. Helena in the Atlantic Ocean. Although its slave traffic was small in comparison with transatlantic slave-trading enterprises such as the Royal African Company, the East India Company crucially relied on transfers of slaves with specialized skills and experience to manage its far-flung territories.

2. The East India Company controlled its own army, which by 1800 comprised some 200,000 soldiers, more than twice the membership of the British Army at that time. The company used its armed force to subdue Indian states and principalities with which it had initially entered into trading agreements, to enforce ruinous taxation, to carry out officially sanctioned looting, and to protect its economic exploitation of both skilled and unskilled Indian labor. The company’s army played a notorious role in the unsuccessful Indian Uprising (also called the Indian Mutiny) of 1857–58, in which Indian soldiers in the company’s employ led an armed revolt against their British officers that quickly gained popular support as a war for Indian independence. During more than a year of fighting, both sides committed atrocities, including massacres of civilians, though the company’s reprisals ultimately far outweighed the violence of the rebels. The rebellion brought about the effective abolishment of the East India Company in 1858.

3. Beginning in the early 19th century, the East India Company illegally sold opium to China to finance its purchases of Indian tea and other goods. Chinese opposition to that trade precipitated the First and Second Opium Wars (1839–42 1856–60), in both of which British forces were victorious.

4. The company’s management was remarkably efficient and economical. During its first 20 years the East India Company was run from the home of its governor, Sir Thomas Smythe, and had a permanent staff of only six. In 1700 it operated with 35 permanent employees in its small London office. In 1785 it controlled a vast empire of millions of people with a permanent London staff of 159.

5. Following several years of misrule and a massive famine (1770) in Bengal, where the company had installed a puppet regime in 1757, the company’s land revenues fell precipitously, forcing it to appeal (1772) for an emergency loan of £1 million to avoid bankruptcy. Although the East India Company was bailed out by the British government, harsh criticism and investigations by parliamentary committees led to government oversight of its management (the Regulating Act of 1773) and later to government control of political policy in India (the India Act of 1784).


The Board of Control: Parliament Curbs Autonomy

Faced with this transformation and with growing concerns about mismanagement and corruption, the British Parliament decided to place a curb on the Company’s autonomy. From 1784 the Board of Control Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, appointed by an Act of Parliament to supervise the East India Company. supervised the East India Company’s administrative and political affairs, but not its commercial business nor the exercise of patronage by the directors.


A Brief History of the British East India Company

Between early 1600s and the mid-19th century, the British East India Company lead the establishment and expansion of international trade to Asia and subsequently leading to economic and political domination of the entire Indian subcontinent. It all started when the East India Company, or the “Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies”, as it was originally named, obtained a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth I, granting it “monopoly at the trade with the East”. A joint stock company, shares owned primarily by British merchants and aristocrats, the East India Company had no direct link to the British government.

Through the mid-1700s and early 1800s, the company came to account for half of the world’s trade. They traded mainly in commodities exotic to Europe and Britain like cotton, indigo, salt, silk, saltpetre, opium and tea. Although initial interest of the company was aimed simply at reaping profits, their single minded focus on establishing a trading monopoly throughout Asia pacific, made them the heralding agents of British Colonial Imperialism. For the first 150 years the East India Company’s presence was largely confined to the coastal areas. It soon began to transform from a trading company to a ruling endeavor following their victory in the Battle of Plassey against the ruler of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daullah in the year 1757. Warren Hastings, the first governor-general, laid down the administrative foundations for the subsequent British consolidation. The revenues from Bengal were used for economic and military enrichment of the Company. Under directives from Governor Generals, Wellesly and Hastings, expansion of British territory by invasion or alliances was initiated, with the Company eventually acquiring major parts of present day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In 1857, the Indians raised their voice against the Company and its oppressive rule by breaking out into an armed rebellion, which historians termed as the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Although the company took brutal action to regain control, it lost much of its credibility and economic image back home in England. The Company lost its powers following the Government of India Act of 1858. The Company armed forces, territories and possessions were taken over by the Crown. The East India Company was formally dissolved by the Act of Parliament in 1874 which marked the commencement of the British Raj in India.

Founding of the Company

The British East India Company was formed to claim their share in the East Indian spice trade. The British were motivated the by the immense wealth of the ships that made the trip there, and back from the East. The East India Company was granted the Royal Charter on 31 December, 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I. The charter conceded the Company monopoly of all English trade in lands washed by the Indian Ocean (from the southern African peninsula, to Indonesian islands in South East Asia). British corporations unauthorized by the company treading the sea in these areas were termed interlopers and upon identification, they were liable to forfeiture of ships and cargo. The company was owned entirely by the stockholders and managed by a governor with a board of 24 directors.

Coat of Arms for the English East India Company

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Early Voyages

The first voyage of the company left in February 1601, under the commandership of Sir James Lanchaster, and headed for Indonesia to bring back pepper and fine spices. The four ships had a horrendous journey reaching Bantam, in Java in 1602, left behind a small group of merchants and assistants and returned back to England in 1603.

The second voyage was commandeered by Sir Henry Middleton. The third voyage was undertaken between 1607 and 1610, with General William Keeling aboard the Red Dragon, Captain William Hawkins aboard the Hector and the Captain David Middleton directing the Consent.

East India Company Ships, 1685

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Establishment of Foothold in India

The Company’s ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. In 1615, Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Nuruddin Salim Jahangir (1605–1627) as the emissary of King James I, to arrange for a commercial treaty and gained for the British the right to establish a factory at Surat. A treaty was signed with the British promising the Mughal emperor “all sorts of rarities and rich goods fit for my palace” in return of his generous patronage.

Trading interest soon collided with establishments from other European countries like Spain, Portugal, France and Netherlands. The British East India Company soon found itself engaged in constant conflicts over trading monopoly in India, China and South East Asia with its European counterparts.

After the Amboina Massacre in 1623, the British found themselves practically ousted from Indonesia (then known as The Dutch East Indies). Losing horribly to the Dutch, the Company abandoned all hopes of trading out of Indonesia, and concentrated instead on India, a territory they previously considered as a consolation prize.

Under the secure blanket of Imperial patronage, the British gradually out-competed the Portuguese trading endeavor, Estado da India, and over the years oversaw a massive expansion of trading operations in India. The British Company’s win over the Portuguese in a maritime battle off the coast of India (1612) won them the much desired trading concessions from the Mughal Empire. In 1611 its first factories were established in India in Surat followed by acquisition of Madras (Chennai) in 1639, Bombay in 1668, and Calcutta in 1690. The Portuguese bases at Goa, Bombay and Chittagong were ceded to the British authorities as the dowry of Catherine of Braganza (1638–1705), Queen consort of Charles II of England. Numerous trading posts were established along the east and west coasts of India, and most conspicuous of English establishment developed around Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras, the three most important trading ports. Each of these three provinces was roughly equidistant from each other along the Indian peninsular coastline, and allowed the East India Company to commandeer a monopoly of trade routes more effectively over the Indian Ocean. The company started steady trade in cotton, silk, indigo, saltpeter, and an array of spices from South India. In 1711, the company established its permanent trading post in Canton province of China, and started trading of tea in exchange for silver. By the end of 1715, in a bid to expand trading activities, the Company had established solid trade footings in ports around the Persian Gulf, Southeast and East Asia.

The Mughal emperor Shah Alam hands a scroll to Robert Clive, the governor of Bengal

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Towards Complete Monopoly

In 1694, the House of Commons voted “that all the subjects of England had an equal right to trade to the East Indies unless prohibited by act of Parliament.” Under pressure from wealthy influential tradesmen not associated with the Company. Following this the English Company Trading to the East Indies was founded with a state-backed indemnity of £2 million. To maintain financial control over the new company, existing stockholders of the old company paid a hefty sum of £315,000. The new company could hardly make a dent in the established old company markets. The new company was ultimately absorbed by the old East India Company in 1708. A tripartite venture was established between the state, the old and the new trading companies under the banner of United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies. The following few decades saw a bitter tug of war between the company lobby and the British Parliament to acquire permanent establishment rights which the latter was hesitant to relinquish in view of the immense profits the company brought. The united company lent to the government an additional £1,200,000 without interest in exchange of renewal of charter until1726. In 1730, the charter was renewed until 1766, in exchange of the East India Company lowering the interests on the remaining debt amount by one percent, and contributed another £200,000 to the Royal treasury. In 1743, they loaned the government another £1,000,000 at 3% interest, and the government prolonged the charter until 1783. Effectively, the company bought monopoly of trading in the East Indies by bribing the Government. At every juncture when this monopoly was expiring, it could only affect a renewal of its Charter by offering fresh loans and by fresh presents to the Government.

The French were late to enter the Indian trading markets and consequently entered into fresh rivalry with the British. By the 1740s rivalry between the British and the French was becoming acute. The Seven Years war between 1756 and 1763 effectively stumped out the French threat led by Governor General Robert Clive. This set up the basis of Colonial monopoly of East India Company in India. By the 1750s, the Mughal Empire was in a state of decadence. The Mughals, threatened by the British fortifying Calcutta, attacked them. Although the Mughals were able to acquire a victory in that face-off in 1756, their victory was short-lived. The British recaptured Calcutta later that same year. The East India Company forces went onto defeat the local royal representatives at the battle of Plassey in 1757 and at Buxar in 1764. Following the Battle of Buxar in 1764, the Mughal emperor signed a treaty with the Company allowing them to oversee the administration of the province of Bengal, in exchange for a revised revenue amount every year. Thus began the metamorphosis of a mere trading concern to a colonial authority. The East India Company became responsible for administering the civil, judicial and revenue systems in one of India’s richest provinces. The arrangements made in Bengal provided the company direct administrative control over a region, and subsequently led to 200 years of Colonial supremacy and control.

Regulation of the Company’s Affairs

Throughout the next century, the East India Company continued to annex territory after territory until most of the Indian subcontinent was effectively under their control. From the 1760s onward, the government of Britain pulled the reins of the Company more and more, in an attempt to root out corruption and abuse of power.

As a direct repercussion of the military actions of Robert Clive, the Regulating Act of 1773 was enacted which prohibited people in the civil or military establishments from receiving any gift, reward, or financial assistance from Indians. This Act directed the promotion of the Governor of Bengal, to the rank of Governor General over the entire Company-controlled India. It also provided that nomination of Governor General, though made by a court of directors, would be subject to the approval of the Crown in conjunction with a council of four leaders (appointed by the Crown), in future. A Supreme Court was established in India. The justices were appointed by the Crown to be sent out to India.

William Pitt’s India Act (1784) established government authority over political policy making which needed to be approved through a Parliamentary regulatory board. It imposed the Board of Control, a body of six commissioners, above the Company Directors in London, consisting of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Secretary of State for India, together with the four councilors appointed by the Crown.

In 1813 the Company’s monopoly of the Indian trade was abolished, and, under the 1833 Charter Act, it lost its China trade monopoly as well. In 1854, the British Government in England ruled for the appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor to oversee regions of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha and the Governor General was directed to govern the entire Indian Colony. The Company continued its administrative functions until the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.

Takeover of the Company by the British Crown

The brutal and rapid annexation of native Indian states by introduction of unscrupulous policies like the Doctrine of lapse or on the grounds of inability to pay taxes along with forcible renunciation of titles sparked widespread discontent among the country’s nobility. Moreover, tactless efforts at social and religious reforms contributed to spread of discomfiture among the common people. The sorry state of Indian soldiers and their mistreatment compared to their British counterparts in the armed forces of the Company provided the final push towards the first real rebellion against the Company’s governance in 1857.Known as the Sepoy Mutiny, what began as soldiers protest soon took epic proportions when disgruntled royalties joined forces. The British forces were able to curb the rebels with some effort, but the munity resulted in major loss of face for the Company and advertised its inability to successfully govern the colony of India. In 1858, the Crown enacted the Government of India Act, and assumed all governmental responsibilities held by the company. They also incorporated the Company owned military force into the British Army. The East India Stock Dividend Redemption Act was brought in effect on January 1, 1874 and the East India Company was dissolved in its entirety.

Half Anna coins during the East India Company rule in India

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Legacy of the East India Company

Although the East India Company’s colonial rule was hugely detrimental to the interest of the common people due to the exploitative nature of governance and tax implementation, there is no denying the fact that it brought forward some interesting positive outcomes as well.

One of the most impactful of them was a complete overhaul of the Justice System and establishment of the Supreme Court. Next big important impact was the introduction of postal system and telegraphy which the Company arguably established for its own benefit in 1837. The East Indian Railway Company was awarded the contracts to construct a 120-mile railway from Howrah-Calcutta to Raniganj in 1849. The transport system in India saw improvements in leaps and bounds with the completion of a 21-mile rail-line from Bombay to Thane, the first-leg of the Bombay-Kalyan line, in 1853.

Artist’s impression of the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857

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The British also brought forth social reforms by abolishing immoral indigenous practices through acts like the Bengal Sati Regulation in 1829 prohibiting immolation of widows, the Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act, 1856, enabling adolescent Hindu widows to remarry and not live a life of unfair austerity. Establishment of several colleges in the principal presidencies of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras was undertaken by the Company governance. These institutions contributed towards enriching young minds bringing to them a taste of world literature, philosophy and science. The educational reforms also included encouragement of native citizens to sit for the civil services exams and absorbing them into the service consequently.

The Company is popularly associated with unfair exploitation of its colonies and widespread corruption. The humongous amounts of taxes levied on agriculture and business led to man-made famines such as the Great Bengal famine of 1770 and subsequent famines during the 18th and 19th centuries. Forceful cultivation of opium and unfair treatment of indigo farmers lead to much discontent resulting in widespread militant protests.

The positive aspects of social, education and communication advancements were overshadowed largely by the plundering attitude of the Company rule stripping its dominions bare for profit.


Our History


1600: The Royal Charter

The Company of Honourable Merchants of London trading into The East Indies was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I, and established itself with 125 shareholders and £72,000 of capital.

Sir Thomas Smythe was appointed The Company’s first Governor.

1601: The First Voyage

Five vessels left Woolwich for the Spice Islands or East Indies in February, 1601. The mission, led by James Lancaster, carried six letters of introduction from The Queen, each with a blank space for the name of the local King.

Though Lancaster’s intention was to trade iron, lead and British broad cloth for spice, he made little impression, as the Dutch restricted British access, and the broad cloth was deemed too heavy to be of use by those living in the tropics.


1608: Landing in India

The Company’s ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James I in 1615, and gained Britain the right to establish a factory in Surat.


1613: Japan Landing

In June 1613, The Clove, an East India Company ship, became the first British ship to reach Japan. Bearing official letters and gifts from King James I for retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his ruling son, Hidetada, and with the assistance of Englishman William Adams known as ‘Anjin’ (a trusted advisor of the Shogun), the Commander of The Clove, Captain John Saris presented from England, a telescope, a precious cup and cover and English Wool. By return, Hidetada presented Saris with two suits of armour for King James I, while Ieyasu gave to him ten spectacular painted gold-leaf screens, as well as a warm letter for the King and an official Vermilion Seal Letter granting the English permission to live and trade throughout Japan, thus beginning a remarkable friendship between two countries on opposite sides of the world.


1684: Trade with China

In 1664 England, with the demand for tea booming, The East India Company placed an order for 100 lbs of tea and by 1750 annual imports reached 4,727,992 Lbs. The Company received Chinese permission to trade from Guangzhou (Canton) importing silk, tea and porcelain, and so trade began with the Hongs who controlled trade within China.

Having initially traded tea for silver, the English were concerned that too much silver was leaving their shores. So they began to trade a product locally grown in its Indian territories, opium, in exchange for tea, which lead to the Opium Wars between Britain and China.

1733: St Helena, The Forgotten Coffee

The East India Company first introduced coffee plants and seeds from Yemen to St Helena on board the Houghton from the Red Sea port of Mocha.

Unique and rare in flavour, St Helena coffee is produced from a single type of Arabica bean known as Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica. It is still grown in St Helena and remains one of the world’s finest and most respected coffees.

Napoleon Bonaparte, exiled to the island in 1816, remarked on the fine quality of St Helena coffee, and allegedly even asked for it as his dying wish.


1773: The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was driven by resistance throughout British America against the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act as it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives.

Men thinly disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests overboard the Dartmouth, Eleanor and Beaver ships into the Boston Harbour. Each chest was loaded with precious cargo, tea from The East India Company.

Today, a single chest, with its original East India Company marks survives in Boston’s Tea Party Museum.


1848: Darjeeling Tea Established

Once a botanist, Robert Fortune was hired by The Company to obtain the finest tea plants from China to establish plantations in India.

He began his espionage disguised as Chinese man ‘from a distant province’ and hired an interpreter as a precaution, as the Chinese were extremely protective of their virtual monopoly on tea production.

His efforts eventually resulted in the shipment of 20,000 plants to the Himalayas, established Darjeeling as one of the finest tea producing regions in the world, and India as a dominant world tea producer.


1873: The East India Company Stock Redemption Act

By the time of The Act’s passing, the East India Company was effectively dissolved, as The Crown had assumed all governmental responsibilities held by The Company by The Act for the Better Government of India. The Company’s 24,000-man military force was incorporated into the British Army, leaving it with only a shadow of the power it had wielded years earlier.

Its legacy was to last forever, as quoted by The Times in 1874, “[The Company] accomplished a work such as in the whole history of the human race no other company ever attempted and as such is likely to attempt in the years to come.” Queen Victoria, the ruling monarch at the time, became the first monarch to use the title ‘Empress of India’.

On 15th August 2010, on Indian Independence Day, a Mumbai born entrepreneur and businessman, Sanjiv Mehta, relaunched The East India Company to the world, with the opening of a flagship store in London’s Mayfair. Mr Mehta had acquired the intellectual property some years before, including the right to use the Company’s Coat of Arms.

In an interview for the journal Caravan by a former school mate Salil Tripathi, who together with the new owner, had sat together as school boys learning about The East India Company, Tripathi describes how Mr Mehta thought that his whole business life had led to this moment. He says “ Mehta got up, excited, to show me a box holding the Company’s original Merchant’s Mark, known as the ‘chop, which was dipped in ink and stamped on the goods of The East India Company from the 17th century. He cradled the box in his arms, as if it were an infant. ‘Imagine’ he said, ‘The East India Company. It is mine!’ “


16 'Taboo' Main Characters, Ranked by How Dirty They Are (Photos)

"Taboo" is an extremely dirty show. Like, not just in the "trashy subject matter" kind of way but in the "the Prince Regent of England looks like a toad and Tom Hardy bites people's throats out" kind of way. And also in the "these are not good people" kind of way. So we're rating the characters of "Taboo" by dirtiness in all the various kinds of ways, from least to most dirty. (Warning: mild spoilers ahead).

16. George Chichester (Lucian Msamati)
The double whammy of apparently being a legitimately good, upstanding person (the only one on the show, among the adults at least), and also being kempt at all times. Good work, George.

15. Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley)
She seems generally good, but being an actor who performs on stage in front of the literal unwashed masses gives her a barely visible sheen of grime.

14. Godfrey (Edward Hogg)
Godfrey is the main secretary for the East India Company, so he has to wear relatively clean clothes and probably is expected to not smell like manure most of the time. And then at night he layers on makeup and wears a dress. I can't help but assume this combination of things requires a ton of bathing since he pretty much looks impeccable at all times.

13. Zilpha (Oona Chaplin)
She seems like she takes a bath every single episode, which I imagine makes her physically the cleanest character on the whole show by default. But her demonic sex sessions with her dear half-brother James seems like it could be hygienically and/or spiritually problematic.

12. Zilpha's husband (Jefferson Hall)
He's an angry drunk! He beats his wife! He falls on the ground a lot! Is extremely insecure! Wants to move to Australia! All of this is problematic, but at least he's not usually all that physically dirty. In the grand scheme of this show he's kind of a mundane level of metaphorically dirty.

11. Stuart Strange
Strange doesn't appear to ever go outside, he's extremely rich and I haven't noticed any dirt on his face yet. He's very dirty on the inside, though, since he's the CEO of a globe-spanning corporation in an era without much in the way of regulations.

10. Brace (David Hayman)
We never see him bathe or anything, but he's a housekeeper. That's gotta count for something even if he is also a murderer.

9. Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins)
Ole Solomon is the kind of guy who tells other people to do the torture while he watches instead of doing it himself because he's the only who has to report back to the Prince Regent and for some reason that requires he be physically clean. But he ain't clean. Not on the inside. Now you know the metaphor of this show.

8. Robert (Tom Taylor)
This is a child who makes gunpowder. Meaning he's not clean. But he's also just trying to get by with no vile ulterior motives or whatever, making him the extreme average of this group.

7. Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood)
Is a child who lives in a dirty brothel. We don't presently have words for that kind of dirty.

6. Helga (Franka Potente)
This madame runs the sort of brothel where everybody being dirty is a selling point.

5. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly)
An American doing espionage in London, Dumbarton stages fake cholera outbreaks to hide wherever he's living. Gets muck all over him and he just leaves it there. Wallows in it, really. Though his dirtiness may be strategic in his capacity as a spy, dirt is dirt.

4. Chomondley (Tom Hollander)
I was gonna say something like "he's clean enough to be allowed into classy society parties," but they also let ole Demon Delaney into those. Given that he's a chemist who is constantly hitting on women I'm just going to assume the worst about him.

3. Atticus (Stephen Graham)
The first time we met this guy he was covered in blood and didn't even try to wipe it off his face. He enjoys doing murders, but his complete lack of any moral pretension helps him a little bit.

2. Prince Regent (Mark Gatiss)
He's so physically disgusting it's hard to imagine this character wasn't designed as some kind of metaphor by "Taboo" creator Steven Knight. But when he's onscreen, I'm far too distracted by how gross he is to figure out what the metaphor is supposed to mean.

1. James Delaney (Tom Hardy)
His hygiene is aided by his jaunts into the river, but he's the dirtiest character overall on the show even so because said accidental baths can't cleanse his blackened heart and soul. Also, we can't forget about those demonic sex powers he has.

Most people in the Tom Hardy FX drama are filthy — either physically, metaphorically, or both

"Taboo" is an extremely dirty show. Like, not just in the "trashy subject matter" kind of way but in the "the Prince Regent of England looks like a toad and Tom Hardy bites people's throats out" kind of way. And also in the "these are not good people" kind of way. So we're rating the characters of "Taboo" by dirtiness in all the various kinds of ways, from least to most dirty. (Warning: mild spoilers ahead).


In 1770, Bengal suffered a catastrophic famine in which about 1.2 million people died one fifth of the population.

The Company maintained the same levels of taxation and in some cases even raised them by 10%. No comprehensive famine relief programmes, like the ones previously implemented by the Mughal rulers were put in place. Rice was only stockpiled for company soldiers.

The EIC was a corporation, after all, whose first responsibility was to maximise its profits. They did this at an extraordinary human cost for the Indian people.


History

Granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, The East India Company was founded to explore the mysteries of the East. As The Company grew, it mapped trade routes through unchartered territory and changed social customs, tastes and ways of thought to influence the very fabric of our lives today.

The Company’s pioneering spirit and sense of adventure created British India, founded Hong Kong and Singapore and introduced tea to Britain and India. Their warehouses were places of wonder, stocking never before seen silks, chintzes, calicos, porcelain, coffees, chocolates and spices from around the world. They played a pivotal role in writing our history by planting the first teas in Darjeeling, causing the Boston Tea Party holding Napoleon captive and generating the fortune of Elihu Yale, founder of Yale University.

  • 1600
  • 1601
  • 1608
  • 1613
  • 1684
  • 1733
  • 1773
  • 1848
  • 1873

1600: The Royal Charter

The Company of Honourable Merchants of London trading into The East Indies was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I, and established itself with 125 shareholders and £72,000 of capital.

Sir Thomas Smythe was appointed The Company’s first Governor.

1601: The First Voyage

Five vessels left Woolwich for the Spice Islands or East Indies in February, 1601. The mission, led by James Lancaster, carried six letters of introduction from The Queen, each with a blank space for the name of the local King.

Though Lancaster’s intention was to trade iron, lead and British broad cloth for spice, he made little impression, as the Dutch restricted British access, and the broad cloth was deemed too heavy to be of use by those living in the tropics.

1608: Landing in India

The Company’s ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James I in 1615, and gained Britain the right to establish a factory in Surat.

1613: Japan Landing

In June 1613, The Clove, an East India Company ship, became the first British ship to reach Japan. Bearing official letters and gifts from King James I for retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and his ruling son, Hidetada, and with the assistance of Englishman William Adams known as ‘Anjin’ (a trusted advisor of the Shogun), the Commander of The Clove, Captain John Saris presented from England, a telescope, a precious cup and cover and English Wool. By return, Hidetada presented Saris with two suits of armour for King James I, while Ieyasu gave to him ten spectacular painted gold-leaf screens, as well as a warm letter for the King and an official Vermilion Seal Letter granting the English permission to live and trade throughout Japan, thus beginning a remarkable friendship between two countries on opposite sides of the world.

1684: Trade with China

In 1664 England, with the demand for tea booming, The East India Company placed an order for 100 lbs of tea and by 1750 annual imports reached 4,727,992 Lbs. The Company received Chinese permission to trade from Guangzhou (Canton) importing silk, tea and porcelain, and so trade began with the Hongs who controlled trade within China.

Having initially traded tea for silver, the English were concerned that too much silver was leaving their shores. So they began to trade a product locally grown in its Indian territories, opium, in exchange for tea, which lead to the Opium Wars between Britain and China.

1733: St Helena, The Forgotten Coffee

The East India Company first introduced coffee plants and seeds from Yemen to St Helena on board the Houghton from the Red Sea port of Mocha.

Unique and rare in flavour, St Helena coffee is produced from a single type of Arabica bean known as Green Tipped Bourbon Arabica. It is still grown in St Helena and remains one of the world’s finest and most respected coffees.

Napoleon Bonaparte, exiled to the island in 1816, remarked on the fine quality of St Helena coffee, and allegedly even asked for it as his dying wish.

1773: The Boston Tea Party

The Boston Tea Party was driven by resistance throughout British America against the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act as it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives.

Men thinly disguised as Mohawk Indians dumped 342 chests overboard the Dartmouth, Eleanor and Beaver ships into the Boston Harbour. Each chest was loaded with precious cargo, tea from The East India Company.

Today, a single chest, with its original East India Company marks survives in Boston’s Tea Party Museum.

1848: Darjeeling Tea Established

Once a botanist, Robert Fortune was hired by The Company to obtain the finest tea plants from China to establish plantations in India.

He began his espionage disguised as Chinese man ‘from a distant province’ and hired an interpreter as a precaution, as the Chinese were extremely protective of their virtual monopoly on tea production.

His efforts eventually resulted in the shipment of 20,000 plants to the Himalayas, established Darjeeling as one of the finest tea producing regions in the world, and India as a dominant world tea producer.

1873: The East India Company Stock Redemption Act

By the time of The Act’s passing, the East India Company was effectively dissolved, as The Crown had assumed all governmental responsibilities held by The Company by The Act for the Better Government of India. The Company’s 24,000-man military force was incorporated into the British Army, leaving it with only a shadow of the power it had wielded years earlier.

Its legacy was to last forever, as quoted by The Times in 1874, “[The Company] accomplished a work such as in the whole history of the human race no other company ever attempted and as such is likely to attempt in the years to come.” Queen Victoria, the ruling monarch at the time, became the first monarch to use the title ‘Empress of India’.


New crystal produced with gunpowder is stronger than diamond

Scientists created the mineral lonsdaleite in a lab and tested its strength using sound waves — before it was obliterated.

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend because of their shine and glam, but they are also helpful in practical ways. The superstrong mineral is used as an industrial abrasive, on the edges of cutting tools, or on ultra-powerful drill bits.

Whether they are used for adornment or tools, diamonds aren't cheap. Scientists have long hoped to find a way to create a material that is as strong as diamonds. Now they may have something better.

It is believed that lonsdaleite, also called hexagonal diamond, is even stronger than diamond. But the rare six-sided crystalline mineral has seldom been found in nature — generally only at meteorite impact sites — and only in sample sizes that are too small to be measured.

Its exact hardness remained unknown — until now.


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