In the aftermath of Tipu Sultan's fall, the British took control of his family and wealth. Tipu's eldest son Fateh Hyder surrendered himself to General Harris, the Commander-in-Chief of the army which stormed Srirangapatna. He expected that the British would reinstate him in his father's dominions.
Whom did Wellesley chose to the throne of Mysore? Was it the heir of Hyder and Tipu or that of the Wodeyars?
Lord Mornington, also known as Richard Marquess Wellesley, the Governor General of Fort William, Bengal, faced a crucial decision: who should govern the newly acquired territory of Mysore? In a letter addressed to the Court of Directors, he weighed the options between the family of Tipu Sultan and the ancient lineage of the Rajas of Mysore. He declared that:
"Since the peace treaty of Srirangapatna, particularly since 1796, Tipu Sultan has been relentlessly striving to annihilate the British power in India. He never accepted his losses from the peace treaty of 1792 and was determined to regain control of his lost territories. To achieve his aim and seek revenge, he resorted to his ancestral ties with France.
His strong dislike of the British is evident from his numerous correspondence with the French in Tranquebar (now Tharangambadi in Tamil Nadu), as well as with those on the Isle of France, and the executive Directory at Paris. His embassy to Zaman Shah, involvements in Pune and Hyderabad, and interactions with Mons. Raymond all demonstrate his unwavering determination to restore the grandeur and strength of his empire.
The heir of Tipu Sultan must have been raised with the same principles as his predecessors. Our triumph had shaken the very foundations of his father's empire, and all the civil and military power of Mysore had been transferred to our possession. If we were to place him on the throne, with limitations under our control, he would undoubtedly feel humiliated and weakened, which no self-respecting prince would tolerate. Any land that we held onto would be viewed by the prince as an infringement upon his rightful inheritance.
Driven by the unyielding spirit of his parents, and accustomed to the commanding view of independent sovereignty, he may willingly risk the remaining hereditary possessions to achieve the proud goal of reclaiming the vast and powerful empire that had made his ancestors the scourge of the Carnatic and the terror of this region of India for many years.
Therefore, if Tipu's son became the ruler of Mysore, it would be impossible to establish a true friendship or alliance with him. He would be opposed to British power and would seek to support our enemies. This would result in a persistent threat within your territories, always on the lookout for opportunities to exploit your misfortunes and use them to his advantage.
By Samuel William Reynolds
On the contrary, the Rajas of Mysore had endured many hardships, especially during the reign of Tipu Sultan. The deplorable conditions and suffering they endured would naturally create a sense of gratitude and loyalty towards the power that not only freed them from oppression but also raised them to a state of significant wealth and prestige. They had not formed any connections with the enemies of the British, even during the toughest times. Therefore, the support of the British was crucial for them to maintain their position on the throne. Thus, the kingdom of Mysore, so long the source of calamity and alarm to the Carnatic, could become a new harrier of our defense and provide fresh means of wealth and strength to the Company, their subjects and allies."
In short, Wellesley feared that placing a son of Tipu Sultan on the throne would leave Mysore vulnerable to ongoing threats such as internal uprisings and foreign conflicts. This could also harm the stability of the alliance between England and her Indian allies. As Tipu's favorite goal was to eradicate British influence in India, his heir must have been raised with the same anti-British sentiments. He could never consider himself dignified, if placed on the throne by the British and limited by British control. Nor he could ever forget the great power and independence from which he had fallen. Revived by the spirit of his ancestors, he would definitely attempt to establish independent sovereignty and recover the powerful empire that had been lost.
In the end, Wellesley made the decision to favor the descendant of the Wodeyars of Mysore over the heir of Tipu Sultan.
Image taken from 'A Journey from Madras Through the Countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar' by Francis Buchanan
On June 30th, 1799, the five-year old Prince Krishnaraja Wodeyar, ascended to the throne of Mysore, marking the beginning of his reign as Mummudi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, or Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. The capital was subsequently moved from Srirangapatna to Mysore.
Years later, in 1973, the Indian state of Mysore underwent a significant transformation as it was officially renamed Karnataka.