British Colonization in Southeast Asia Essay

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Colonization for the British first began in 1591 when the merchant Sir James Lancaster had been commissioned to set sail by Commander Sir Francis Duke towards the East Indies. Sir James would continue to sail until in September 1592, he would land in Penang remaining there for two years pillaging any rival European ships that were to harbor there. Returning to Britain in 1594 and relaying the news of this newly found area, the British would not become a major participant in Penang’s history until 1786 with the Malay Sultanate of Kedah. During this time, the Burmese and the Siamese armies had increasingly threatened the Sultan of Penang forcing him to cut a deal with then Captain of the British Navy in the Southeast Asia region Francis …show more content…
The straits connected the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, which was extremely important to the British as a trade route. For the British company, the straits served as protection for their trading ships and other ships looking to trade in the area under the Company’s permission. The straits also were used as a major naval base for the British Company, which was a strategic key when countering the French ambitions in the area around Penang and Malacca. However great this deal may have been for the British, things did not quite workout for the Sultan. In 1790, the Sultan was attacked by the Siam and against prior agreement; the British military in Penang did nothing to intervene and protect the Sultan. This was because when Captain Light had commissioned the deal between himself and the Sultan, he was not acting under the approval of the British Company thus making the deal untenable. As a result, the Kedah attempted to overthrow the British rule in Penang. This attempt was a failure, however, the British Company agreed to pay a fee of almost $10,000 Spanish dollars per annum for the official cede of Penang. Penang became a successful British colony as it had accomplished exactly what the European country hoped it would. Primarily, the location of Penang relative to the rest of South East Asia helped thwart the success of
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