Vue des magasins de la Compagnie des Indes à Pondichéry, de l’amirauté et de la maison du gouverneur, gravure, XVIIIe siècle (Lorient, Musée de la Compagnie des Indes)
View on the warehouses of the Compagnie des Indes in Pondichery, of the Amiralty, and of the governor’s house.
The French East India Company set up a trading centre at Pondicherry in 1674. This outpost eventually became the chief French settlement in India.
Wars raged between European countries and spilled over into the Indian subcontinent. The Dutch captured Pondicherry in 1693 but returned it to France by the Treaty of Ryswick in 1699.The French acquired Mahe in the 1720s, Yanam in 1731, and Karaikal in 1738. During the Anglo-French wars (1742–1763), Pondicherry changed hands frequently. On January 16, 1761, the British captured Pondicherry from the French, but the Treaty of Paris (1763) returned the city to the French.
The British took it again in 1793 amid the Wars of the French Revolution, and then once again returned to France in 1814. In the 1850s, the British allowed the French to retain their settlements in the country. Pondicherry, Mahe, Yanam, Karaikal and Chandernagar remained a part of French India until 1954.
The independence of India in 1947 gave impetus to the union of France’s Indian possessions with former British India. An agreement between France and India in 1948 agreed that the inhabitants of France’s Indian possessions would choose their political future. The de jure union of French India with the Indian Union did not take place until 1962, although de facto, the bureaucracy had been united with India’s on 1 November 1954. It was organized as a Union Territory in 1963.
Pondicherry is now a part of India.