chapter  5
41 Pages

Commercial, social, and intellectual engagements

ByUma Shanker Pandey

The French adventurers’ commercial enterprises shed light on the trading dynamics of 18th-century India. Largely known in terms of their military profession, many of these adventurers delved into trade and made immense profits. Polier, Gentil, Claude Martin, De Boigne, and even Perron invested money and carried out trade, particularly in indigo and piece goods. The commercial successes of these adventurers shows that trade, politics, and social contacts were intertwined, and the adventurers used these connections for their trade during the period. The social worlds of the adventurers showtheir indigenisation process with knowledge of Persian language and matrimonial alliances forming important push factors. The intellectual engagement of these adventurers is another facet to their presence in Hindustan in the 18th century. Anquetil Duperron, Gentil, Polier, De Boigne, and Perron were some of the leading French figures whose intellectual engagements with Indian literature opened a new facet of the Oriental learning to the Occident. They were pioneers in exploring this new aspect of Indian world. But the credit for this effort is generally attributed to the British Indologists. A relatively less known fact is that a significant procurement of Indian textual material was the work of these French ‘cultural’ enthusiasts.