The Flag of the East India Company
The East India Company
was granted a Royal Charter by Elizabeth I in 1600 to trade with the East Indies, but its primary operations were in China and India, where it traded cotton, silk, tea, opium and indigo dye. As its power grew in India, it took on an administrative and then military role. The Company effectively ruled most of India from 1757 until 1858 when, after the Indian Mutiny, India was ruled directly by the Crown. The Company was formally dissolved in 1873, having been one of those most powerful commercial and colonial organisations in the world.