With my interest in kukris, it’s probably not surprising that I’m reading John Pemble’s book Britain’s Gurkha War, in which I encountered the phrase “One after another they asseverated that the Indian market for British goods was glutted”.
In the late 1700s the East India Company had visions of a major trans-Himalayan trade route through Nepal into Tibet (although this was stymied by Nepal’s intransigence and Tibet closing its borders to Europeans on the instructions of the Chinese, Tibet even then being a Chinese vassal state).
The Nepalese Gurkhas were highly acquisitive of new territory, and such a people physically sited between the Company in northern India and its planned commercial route across the Himalayas was too inconvenient to permit.
David Ochterlony – then Agent at Ludhiana, but later commander of one of the columns which invaded Nepal – described the Gurkhas as “a body of ill-armed and undisciplined barbarians, who affect a wretched imitation of … a British native battalion and who might have been successfully resisted … by less than a third of their numbers“, an opinion he would come to radically revise.
The Anglo-Nepalese War, also known as the Gorkha War, of 1814-16, ended with the Treaty of Sugauli in which the Nepalese lost a range of territories – including Sikkim, Garwhal and Kumaon – and were obliged to accept a British Resident in Kathmandu.
This book is very readable - Pemble knows his subject and writes with authority – although it is clear that the author likes to exercise his very considerable vocabulary; but, then again, who doesn’t?
Buy Britain’s Gurkha War: The Invasion of Nepal, 1814-16 on Amazon UK.
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