“A Great and Famous Superstructure”
This book concludes by reflecting upon the connections between the Company’s seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century history and its expansion after the battle of Plassey in 1757 and the assumption of the Mughal position of diwan, revenue collector and administrator, in Bengal in 1765. While the Company’s early modern colonial system was by no means a sufficient condition for the establishment of territorial empire, the conditions that made a British Empire in India possible, both in the expansion of the Company-State in India and the expansion of the British state’s power over the Company, had deep and long-term roots. The Conclusion suggests that the expansion of the British empire in India was thus not the work of a company that had strayed from its proper purpose as a commercial firm but was embedded in the transformation from an early modern form of maritime and enclaved empire to a modern, territorial one. The political crisis that emerged in Britain over Plassey and diwani, in turn, represented not a self-evident response of a public to the excesses of a private corporation, but shifting definitions and expectations in Europe over the proper agents of state, sovereign, and imperial power.
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