1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/India, French

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INDIA, FRENCH, a general name for the French possessions in India—on the Coromandel coast, Pondicherry, Karikal and Yanaon; on the Malabar coast, Mahé; and in Bengal, Chandernagore. In addition there are a few “lodges” elsewhere, but they are merely nominal remnants of French factories. The total area amounts to 203 sq. m., of which 113 sq. m. belong to the territory of Pondicherry. In 1901 the total population amounted to 273,185. By decree of the 25th of January 1879 French India was provided with an elective general council and elective local councils. The results of this measure have not been very satisfactory, and the qualifications for and the classes of the franchise have been modified. The governor resides at Pondicherry, and is assisted by a council. There are two tribunals of first instance (at Pondicherry and Karikal), one court of appeal (at Pondicherry) and five justices of the peace. The agricultural produce consists of rice, earth-nuts, tobacco, betel nuts and vegetables.

History.—The first French expedition to India is believed to have taken place in the reign of Francis I., when two ships were fitted out by some merchants of Rouen to trade in eastern seas; they sailed from Havre in that year and were never afterwards heard of. In 1604 a company was granted letters patent by Henry IV., but the project failed. Fresh letters patent were issued in 1615, and two ships went to India, only one returning. La Compagnie des Indes was formed under the auspices of Richelieu (1642) and reconstructed under Colbert (1664), sending an expedition to Madagascar. In 1667 the French India Company sent out another expedition, which reached Surat in 1668, where the first French factory in India was established. In 1672 Saint Thomé was taken, but the French were driven out by the Dutch and retired to Pondicherry (1674). In 1741 Dupleix became governor of Pondicherry and in 1744 war broke out between France and England; for the remaining history of the French in India see India.

See Haurigot, French India (Paris, 1887); Henrique, Les Colonies françaises (Paris, 1889); Lee, French Colonies (Foreign Office Report, 1900); L’Année coloniale (Paris, 1900); and F. C. Danvers, Records of the India Office (1887).