1902 Encyclopedia > Joseph François Dupleix

Joseph François Dupleix
French administrator
(1697-1763)




JOSEPH DUPLEIX, governor-general of the French establishments in India, was born about the close of the 17th century. The son of a rich farmer-general, he was carefully educated, made several voyages to America and India, and in 1720 was named a member of the superior council at Pondicherry. He displayed great business aptitude, and, in addition to his official duties, made large ventures on his own account, and acquired a fortune. In 1730 he was made superintendent of French affairs in Chandernagore, the town prospering under his energetic administration and growing into great importance. His reputation procured him in 1742 the appointment of governor-general of all French establishments in India. His ambition now was to acquire for France vast territories in India ; and for this purpose he entered into relations with the native princes, and adopted a style of Oriental gorgeousness in his dress and surroundings. The English took the alarm. But the danger to their settlements and power was partly averted by the bitter mutual jealousy which existed between Dupleix and La Bourdonnais, French governor of the Isle of Bourbon. When Madras capitulated to the French in 1746, Dupleix opposed the restoration of the town to the English, thus violating the treaty signed by La Bourdonnais. He then sent an expedition against Fort St David (1747), which was defeated on its march by the nabob of Arcot, the ally of the English. Dupleix succeeded in gaining over the nabob, and again attempted the capture of Fort St David, but unsuccessfully. A midnight attack on Cuddalore was repulsed with great loss. In 1748 Pondicherry was besieged by the English; but in the course of the operations news arrived of the peace concluded between the French and the English at Aix-la-Chapelle. Dupleix next entered into negotiations which had for their object the subjugation of Southern India, and he sent a large body of troops to the aid of two claimants of the sovereignty of the Carnatic and the Deccan. The English were engaged on the side of their rivals. After temporary successes the scheme failed. The conflicts be-tween the French and the English in India continued till 1754, when Dupleix was recalled to France. He had spent immense sums out of his private fortune on account of the French company, but in opposition to their wishes, and vainly attempted to recover them from the Government. He appears to have died in obscurity and want about 1763.







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