A History of British India

Explore the storied era of British-ruled India, the dissolution of Britain's empire, and the forging of independent India and Pakistan.
A History of British India is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 75.
  • y_2021, m_10, d_17, h_19
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.19
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_3, tr_72
  • loc_en_CA, sid_8431, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getAggregateRating, 31.14ms
Rated 5 out of 5 by from New information to me I bought this set to fill in my knowledge about the British Empire. It has exceeded my expectations.
Date published: 2021-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course This course is very well focused and taught. The information is highly relevant to understanding modern India and the influence of the British experience. I liked the organization, the mix of information and analysis, and the course summaries. I wish that we had this professor when I was at USNA.
Date published: 2021-08-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing. 1. The professor just reads from the teleprompter, poses questions and then answers them himself. 2. He does not give a nuanced analysis of the British in India. The British took from India but gave back as well. Did the ordinary Indian consumer (not producer) benefit from cheaper cotton goods? Did ordinary Indians have a rising standard of living during the period of British rule, whether direct or indirect? As compared to the Princely States? As compared to the Mughals? I would have liked more on infant and maternal mortality rates, life expectancy, education, social mobility, and status of women. I finally just had to give up during lecture 16.
Date published: 2021-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Learned a lot! I bought this course a couple of weeks ago and have been immersed in it ever since. It's a lot of information but I learned so much. Fascinating and enlightening.
Date published: 2021-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great overview This course was what I was looking for. It is a very large topic and much must be left out but I appreciate that it was not a "this happened, then that happened" format but the professor drew conclusions about the effects of the events. In the end, history is not a series of agreed-upon "facts" but a deeper look and, ultimately, a judgement about what happened. I particularly appreciated his outlook on the partitioning of Pakistan and India. Thank you for this course.
Date published: 2021-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent historical lecture on the British colonization of India
Date published: 2021-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent !! I am of South Asian heritage, with Pakistani citizenry and now permanently settled in Canada. I would say that the current pandemic lockdown gave me an immense opportunity to revisit the theme and complexities of the Indo-Pak partition, that from my perspective for a long time needed and required unraveling. I, probably due to my secular upbringing, never clearly understood the root cause of the very visible distrust along both sides of the border, given that we have so much in common in terms of food, culture and language. I had always been reluctant to explore the historical meanings of so many unanswered questions that folks from my generation had been grappling with, through the earlier or contemporary research done by well-meaning scholars on both side of the border, and now easily available and sold on Amazon. It was possibly my apprehensions of an inherent bias that might have permeated in such sources, and which, I thought might prevent me in getting a fair and reasonable assessment of what, why and how it all happened. Although, I was exposed to most of the elements of the history of partition through a mandated history course included in my primary school curriculum, however, it was a mishmash of distorted history and possibly reflected the aim of the powers-to-be, to present to our generation, who we are, and what would or should be our future identity. It certainly created more confusion to say the least. The Indian sub-continent due to its history and geography is quite complex and I must say that I was immensely impressed with very relevant, succinct, and methodical flow of events and their context presented by the professor. He has very eloquently and sometimes very passionately discussed themes and ideas that reshaped the Indian sub-continent from the time the East India Company entered India to the time when the British left. It is certainly a reflection of his mastery of the subject and his eloquence of presenting such a complicated history in mere 24 lectures. I was quite satisfied at the end. I do look at the comments made by other reviewers before selecting a course and noticed that there are always few who are looking for more in-depth understanding and analysis. I think it would be quite challenging to present such complicated historical events spread over 300 years in a series of 30-minutes lecture. I would, therefore, suggest that anyone looking for more detailed knowledge should refer to the suggested readings presented at the end of the pdf version of the lecture.
Date published: 2021-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the finest Great Courses! This is a fantastic course on the cultural history of British rule in India. I admit, I'm biased, I much prefer cultural history to "traditional" history - I get more out of it. Instead of meticulously detailing every event and actor from British arrival to Indian independence, Bellenoit offers highly insightful analysis of the cultural transformations that took place during this time, mostly regarding how the British influenced India, but also to a lesser degree how India and Indians affected the British. A few examples of the things you will learn during this course: How British commercial and political interests in understanding law in India were based on cultural misunderstandings and led to a codification of written, religious dogma as law, which upended more flexible custom-based systems; how race theories and notions of gender affected cultural understandings and "justified" British rule up until WWII; how British notions of class influenced Indian society; how the Kama Sutra came to be known as a sex manual due to British interpretations and emphasis, when the Kama Sutra itself is mostly focused on other topics. You will also learn about Gandhi's political thought and, of course, the callous mismanagement of Indian society by the British. Those who have given this course a low score seem to have been looking forward to a more traditional history -- if that's your cup of tea, you won't find that here. I suggest e.g. William Dalrymple's book The Anarchy, which offers an exhaustive, traditionalist history of the East India Company's exploits and eventual rule in India. If you're looking for a "balanced" story in which the British did well by Indians, there is no such story to be told, and you will simply have to accept the fact that the British, like other colonial powers, committed terrible, inexcusable crimes.
Date published: 2021-01-05
  • y_2021, m_10, d_17, h_19
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.19
  • cp_1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_3, tr_72
  • loc_en_CA, sid_8431, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 4.33ms


The 200 years of Britain's colonial rule of India was a time of seminal transformation and change-for India, for Britain, and for the world. In A History of British India, explore how the British took power in India, built a massive economic machine, and ruled until India's 1947 independence. You'll relive a crucial era in international relations, one with deep and lasting implications for our contemporary world.


Hayden J. Bellenoit
Hayden J. Bellenoit

The human experience is inevitably complex and defies any simple question, category, solution, theory, or understanding.


U.S. Naval Academy
Hayden J. Bellenoit is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating summa cum laude in History and Economics from Wheaton College, he attended Oxford University, where he completed his master of studies in Historical Research and his doctor of philosophy in Modern History, focusing on late colonial India. While studying at Oxford, Dr. Bellenoit spent a year in India conducting research in Delhi, Lucknow, and Allahabad. At the Naval Academy, Dr. Bellenoit offered the academy's first courses on the history of India from 1700 to the present, the history of Islam and the origins of jihad in South Asia, the history of Pakistan, the premodern history of Asia, and the history of the Mughal Empire. Dr. Bellenoit has researched and published extensively on modern Indian religious, social, and cultural history. His first book was Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India, 1860-1920. He also has had peer-reviewed articles published in journals and edited volumes, including "Education, Missionaries and the Indian Nation, c. 1880-1920" and "Missionary Education, Religion and Knowledge in India, c. 1880-1915." Dr. Bellenoit's second book is The Formation of the Colonial State in India: Scribes, Paper and Taxes, 1760-1860. He is also a life member of Cambridge University's Clare Hall.

By This Professor

A History of British India
A History of British India


Introduction to India

01: Introduction to India

Delve into core aspects of Indian culture that provide a rich background for the story of British rule. Grasp the key precepts of Hinduism, and the notions of dharma, karma, and samsara. Study the caste system, the features of Indian families and marriages, and explore how society and religion shape politics in India.

33 min
The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India

02: The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India

Examine the monumental empire of the Mughals, the Islamic rulers of India. Investigate how the Mughals governed through military skill, administrative brilliance, and religious tolerance. Look at the state of Indian society in the 18th century, and how changes in Mughal politics and economics laid the foundation for the British conquest of India.

33 min
Indian and British Economic Interests

03: Indian and British Economic Interests

Here, explore further how the Indian subcontinent drifted toward colonialism. Observe how the "regionalization" of the Mughal Empire compromised the emperors' ability to govern. Take account of India's prominence within the broader global economy, and chart the rise of powerful banking families who played a critical role in the emergence of British rule.

32 min
British Expansion in India (1757-1820)

04: British Expansion in India (1757-1820)

Witness how the English East India Company, a trading organization, expanded its early footing in Bengal. Study the Company's extraordinary transformation, through military conquests, from a merchant venture into a political entity. Finally, follow the Company's expansion into other regions, employing the Mughal revenue system to tax India's agrarian countryside.

29 min
Knowing the Country: British Orientalism

05: Knowing the Country: British Orientalism

Learn how British scholars and administrators pursued knowledge of Indian culture, and how the early British colonials adapted to living within Indian society. Grasp the ways in which British romanticizing of India and misunderstanding of traditional customs had major consequences for colonial policy and the well-being of the Indian populace.

31 min
Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)

06: Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)

The opening up of India gave rise to a discourse on race that became central to the colonial relationship. Study British racial paradigms in Company-ruled India, which emphasized differences between Indians and the British to "justify" colonial rule. Also explore the British notion of masculinity and how it bolstered their self-perception as colonial masters.

31 min
The Age of Reform (1830-1850)

07: The Age of Reform (1830-1850)

Contemporary currents of thought in England affected the ways in which India was governed. Learn how utilitarianism and Christian evangelicalism undergirded attempts by the British to educate and "reform" India. Track the major changes in the economic relationship between Britain and India that contributed to the Great Uprising of 1857....

30 min
The Great Uprising (1857-1858)

08: The Great Uprising (1857-1858)

Study the accumulation of religious, economic, and political grievances against the East India Company that set the stage for the Great Uprising of 1857. Then witness the outbreak and bloody unfolding of the Uprising itself. Observe how the "mutiny" changed British attitudes toward India, and the way Britain governed it under the Raj....

28 min
Economics and Society under the Raj

09: Economics and Society under the Raj

Examine the nature of the colonial economy, and trace economic decisions by the British that constrained the livelihoods of artisans and peasants. Assess the Raj's fiscal policy, which privileged British interests over public works. Observe how these policies affected the lives of millions who toiled to produce the wealth of the Raj....

30 min
Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism

10: Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism

As a social institution, caste changed markedly under British colonial rule. First, examine how the British encountered caste and tried to understand it. Then see how caste became significantly linked with the colonial tax revenue system. Take account of the ways in which caste distinctions became more prominent, codified, and pervasive under colonialism....

29 min
The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)

11: The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)

Discover how the broader traditions of Hinduism were affected by the colonial experience. Examine the theological assault on Hinduism by European Christian missionaries, and the responses of high-caste Hindus. Look at important Hindu reform movements, which sought to modernize Hinduism, and grasp how key currents of reformist thinking linked Hinduism with Indian nationhood....

32 min
Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule

12: Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule

Indian Islam underwent profound shifts under colonial rule. Investigate how the British codifying of Islamic law changed Indian Muslims' communal identity. See how the advent of English language and education, and the Indian census, distanced Muslims from Hindus. Lastly, assess how the Deobandi reform movement reinvented Indian Islam to ensure its survival....

31 min
The Late-19th-Century British Raj

13: The Late-19th-Century British Raj

Study British racial attitudes toward Indians in the late 19th century and how these conceptions were manifested in the way India was governed. Learn about the officials who administrated the Raj, the Indian Civil Service, and the modernization of India. Grasp how all of these elements reflect the mindset of the British Raj....

30 min
Princely States and Royalist Relationships

14: Princely States and Royalist Relationships

India's princely states played a crucial role in maintaining British power. Examine the history of the princely kingdoms, and why they remained separate from British-controlled territory. Follow how the British cultivated ties of loyalty with Indian princes and exerted "indirect rule." Explore the contradiction of a modernizing British Raj that supported feudal princes....

30 min
Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle

15: Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle

Analyze how a new generation of English-educated Indians spearheaded Indian nationalism. Trace the emergence of the Indian National Congress, which initially represented moderate nationalists, and observe how repressive British policies sowed anticolonial sentiment. Witness the strengthening of nationalist fervor, as it erupted into political extremism and violence in the early 20th century....

32 min
The Great War and Its Impact on India

16: The Great War and Its Impact on India

Examine the severe effects of the First World War on India's economy. Learn how both moderate and radical nationalists responded to the war to press for concessions and independence. Explore strains in the colonial relationship exposed by the war that made India ripe for the emergence of Mohandas Gandhi....

30 min
Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy

17: Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy

Investigate Gandhi's early life and how he became a nationalist leader. Study the elements of his political philosophy, the political tools of ahimsa (no harm) and satyagraha (force of truth), and the forces of modernity and British rule that Gandhi critiqued. Finally, examine the 1919 event that thrust him onto the national stage....

30 min
The Noncooperation Movement

18: The Noncooperation Movement

Observe how Gandhi reorganized the Indian National Congress into a mass political machine, as witnessed in the Noncooperation Movement, where Indians boycotted the British on a national scale. Note how these actions and others exposed moral faults in the Raj, and track the Raj's counterstrategies that attempted to marginalize those nationalists seeking independence....

32 min
Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars

19: Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars

Indian Muslim identity began to change in important ways in the 20th century. Study the impact on Indian Muslims of the First World War, and the resulting Muslim Khalifat Movement, which opposed Britain's war aims against the Ottoman Caliphate. See how Hindu/Muslim religious-political rivalries gave birth to the idea of Pakistan....

30 min
The Civil Disobedience Campaign

20: The Civil Disobedience Campaign

Now examine the "second round" of Indian nationalist action against the British Raj. Witness the effects on India of the global economic depression after 1929, which triggered the Civil Disobedience Campaign, a massive boycotting of British goods, services, and institutions. Assess the Raj's countertactic of extending constitutional concessions to stem nationalist agitation....

33 min
Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s

21: Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s

Witness how Britain's wartime mobilization alienated the Indian National Congress and took a horrific toll on the Indian poor. Study the resulting Quit India Movement, the largest uprising against the British since 1857, and the events of the war's aftermath that set the stage for the end of 200 years of colonial rule....

31 min
The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)

22: The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)

Investigate the increasing levels of dissent, mutiny, and agrarian suffering and unrest that followed World War II. Chart the astonishing rise of the Muslim League after 1940, its presence in the negotiations for independence, and the League's actions in key provinces that sparked terrible communal violence in the Raj's final days....

30 min
A Split India: Negotiating Independence

23: A Split India: Negotiating Independence

Examine the factors in Britain's decision to "quit" India. Take account of the final negotiations between the National Congress, the Muslim League, and the British, noting the contrasting visions of an independent India held by the Congress and the League. Grasp how Hindu-Muslim violence affected the ultimate partition of India and Pakistan....

31 min
Reflections on Postcolonial India

24: Reflections on Postcolonial India

Learn about the harrowing events following Partition, which saw widespread killings and the largest displacement of human populations in history. Assess what the events of 1947 meant for the Indian National Congress, Pakistanis, and the British. Finally, reflect on the lasting legacy of the British Raj and its rule of India....

31 min