Madras and Pondicherry were the chief trading centres for the English and French respectively on the Coromandel Coast.
The relations between both the companies were tense. The Carnatic region was totally disturbed politically.
It was but natural for English and French to support different groups/parties in the region and take opposite stand on various issues.
The Anglo-French struggle in India began in the coastal areas north and south of Madras then known as the Carnatic.
The Anglo-French rivalry unfolded in the form of three Carnatic Wars between 1740 and 1763 in Southern India.
First Carnatic War :
The First Carnatic War (1746-48) was largely an extension of Anglo-French rivalries in Europe and America.
In Europe, the Austrian war of succession broke out in 1740. France and Britain wanted to place their candidate on the Austrian throne.
Moreover, in the wake of the declining Mughal authority in India both English and French East India Companies wanted to have control over the Indian trade.
This technically gave rise to conflict and pushed the two companies in the state of war in India.
In the course of the First Carnatic War the French besieged Madras both by sea and land. A large British army was sent from England under Rear Admiral Boscawen in June 1748 to avenge the capture of Madras.
But by October the War of Austrian Succession had been concluded and under the treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle and termination of hostilities in Europe, the war in India came to an end. Madras was restored to British and there was an exchange of each other’s prisoners and territories.
Second Carnatic War :
The Second Carnatic War (1749-54) broke out due to conflicting ambitions between the two powers who supported rival claimants to the disputed thrones of Hyderabad and Carnatic.
The French sided with Muzaffar Jang and Chanda Sahib while the English supported the claims of Nasir Jang and Anwar-ud-Din.
The combined forces of Muzaffar Jang, Chanda Sahib and the French defeated and killed Anwar-ud-Din at the battle of Ambur near Vellore in 1749.
The Carnatic came under the control of Chanda Sahib who rewarded the French with a grant of 80 villages around Pondicherry.
French were also successful in Hyderabad. Nasir Jang was killed and Muzaffar Jang became the Viceroy or Nizam of the Deccan.
When Muzaffar Jang was accidentally killed in 1751, the French placed Salamat Jang on the throne who in return gave the area known as the Northern Sarkars to the French. The French power in South India was now at its height.
To offset French influence, the British allied with Nasir Jang and Muhammad Ali (Anwar-ud-Din’s son).
In order to help Muhammad Ali, who was besieged by French forces at Trichinapalli, Robert Clive attacked Arcot, the capital of Carnatic.
This compelled the French to raise the siege of Trichinappalli and led to their defeat. Chanda Sahib was soon captured and killed.
The French fortunes were at the lowest ebb and French Government initiated peace negotiations.
By the Treaty of Pondicherry the hostilities ended for a while. The English and the French decided not to the quarrels for the native princes and took possession of the territories, which were actually occupied by them before the war.
Third Carnatic War :
The Third Carnatic War (1758-63) which broke out after the Seven Years War started (1756) in Europe.
In the beginning of the war, the British acquired Bengal which turned the scales decisively in favour of the British.
The final blow was dealt in 1760 when the British General Sir Eyre Coote defeated the French army in the Battle of Wandiwash and took Bussy as prisoner.
By the 1763, Treaty of Paris, though the French factories were restored, they could not be fortified or even garrisoned with troops.
They could only serve as centres of trade. The battle of Wandiwash ended almost a century old conflict between British and the French and finally established the supremacy of the English in India.