The East India Company had the unusual distinction of ruling an entire country. Its origins were much humbler. On 31 December 1600, a group of merchants who had incorporated themselves into the East India Company were given monopoly privileges on all trade with the East Indies. The Company's ships first arrived in India, at the port of Surat, in 1608. Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of the Mughal Emperor, Jahangir, as the emissary of King James I in 1615, and gained for the British the right to establish a factory at Surat. Gradually the British eclipsed the Portugese and over the years they saw a massive expansion of their trading operations in India. Numerous trading posts were established along the east and west coasts of India, and considerable English communities developed around thethree presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. In 1717, the Company achieved its hitherto most notable success when it received a firman or royal dictat from the Mughal Emperor exempting the Company from the payment of custom duties in Bengal.
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British Raj, Indian Rebellion of 1857, Governor-General of India