Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk - Ch.2

Chapter 2: Napoleonic Nightmare
  • "There were two schools of thought. One argued that he would advance overland through Syria or Turkey, and attack India from Afghanistan or Baluchistan, while the other was convinced that he would come by sea, setting sail from somewhere on Egypt's Red Sea coast." - 24-5
  • the East India Company "had found itself drawn reluctantly and expensively into the vacuum created by the disintegration of Mogul rule in India, and therefore increasingly involved in government and administration." - 25
  • August 1, 1798: Admiral Horatio Nelson finds the French Armada of 40,000 soldiers east of Alexandria, Egypt, traps the fleet, and destroys all but two ships (26)
  • January 24, 1801: after failing to convince Napoleon to join him, Tsar Paul I orders the Don Cossacks to attempt an overland invasion of India, through mainly unknown terrain; Paul told the Cossack leader, "You are to offer peace to all who are against the British....All the wealth of the Indies shall be your reward." - 28
  • March 23, 1801: Tsar Paul I is assassinated and his son Alexander soon sends a messenger to stop the Don Cossacks - 29-30
  • September 1801: Tsar Alexander annexes the independent kingdom of Georgia; "although Persian feelings ran high, actual hostilities did not break out between the two powers until June 1804, when the Russians thrust even further south, laying siege to Erivan, the capital of Armenia, a Christian possession of the Shah's." - 32
  • "Early in 1804, informed of what happened [involving the British neglecting to assist Persia against Russian incursions]..., Napoleon approached the Shah, offering to help him drive back the Russians in return for the use of Persia as a land-bridge for a French invasion of India." - 33
  • May 4, 1807: the Shah of Persia "signed a treaty with which he agreed to sever all political and commercial relations with Britain, declare war on her, and allow French troops the right of passage" - 33
  • "Fears of a Franco-Russian attack on India had brought home to those responsible for its defence how little they knew about the territories through which an invading army would have to march. Something had to be done quickly to remedy this, for all the treaties in the world would not stop a determined aggressor like Napoleon." - 36

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