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French East India Company

The French East India Company (French Compagnie des Indes Orientales) was a commercial enterprise, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch East India companies. Planned by Jean Baptiste Colbert, it was chartered by King Louis XIV for the purpose of trading in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The Company failed to found a colony on Madagascar but established ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon and Île-de-France (today's La Réunion and Mauritius). By 1719, it had established itself in India but was near bankruptcy. In the same year it was combined under John Law with other French trading companies to form the Compagnie Perpétuelle des Indes. It resumed independence in 1723.

With the decline of the Mogul Empire, the French decided to intervene in Indian political affairs to protect their interests, notably by forging alliances with local rulers in south India. From 1741 the French under Joseph François Dupleix pursued an aggressive policy against both the Indians and the English until they ultimately were defeated by Robert Clive.

The Company was not able to maintain itself financially, and it was abolished in 1769, a few years before the French Revolution.

Several Indian trading ports, including Pondicherry and Chandernagore, remained under French control until 1949.

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