Subsidiary Treaty

Subsidiary Treaty

 

one of a number of one-sided treaties concluded in the 18th century between the French and English East India Companies and the rulers of the Indian principalities; the treaties served as a way of extending the colonialists’ rule over the principalities.

The English East India Company made the most extensive use of subsidiary treaties. Under the treaties the Indian princes pledged to conduct foreign relations exclusively through the East India Company, to keep English resident officials at their courts, and, as allies of the company, to help the latter with armed forces. In return, the company undertook to “protect” the principalities and to this end stationed its troops in the principalities, while the princes pledged to pay subsidies for the maintenance of the troops (hence the term “subsidiary treaty”). Quite often the company “commuted” the payment of the subsidies in return for the right to collect land and other taxes from a specified territory. Viewing arrears in tax collection as a debt of the principality, the company either confiscated part of the prince’s land in repayment of the debt or annexed the whole principality under the pretext of bad government.

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