The ‘Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies’ was set up in 1660, with a monopoly of trade with the East Indies, a vast area that included both India and China.
The East India Company traded mainly in textiles from India, spices from South East Asia and tea and silks from China. Vast fortunes were made by the traders.
By the middle of the 18th century, the Company had built up an army and navy to protect its merchant ships.
William James was in India at the turning point in the Company’s history. His capture of Suvarnadurg was to protect the Company’s ships. Two years later he transported troops to Kolkata (Calcutta) to support Robert Clive’s battle at Plassey – marking the beginning of the Company’s conquest of India.