Alfred Martineau was a prominent colonial officer during the Third French Republic, and a scholar in history and international politics. His studies dealt with the problem of the origins of the “modern” form of colonialism in the second half of the nineteenth century, besides Ancien Régime French colonization. He saw the roots of “modern” European colonial rule in the activities of Dupleix and Bussy in eighteenth-century India. By underscoring the importance of both French officers, Martineau noticed important differences in the colonial activities of the two. According to Martineau, while Dupleix supported the idea of direct military conquest, Bussy favored a method of “indirect” colonization that was in some way the harbinger of the nineteenth-century model of protectorates. Yet in the light of the sources at our disposal today, the differences in the action of the two French colonizers are much less marked than in the frame depicted by Martineau. Both Dupleix and Bussy, in fact, used both coercion and more conciliatory policies toward indigenous India rulers. Dupleix and Bussy welded the usual economic and trade interests to the necessities of governance, in a similar way to French protectorates in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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