Thursday, May 19, 2016

Claude Martin's legacy

- By Aishwarya Javalgekar

Of all the Europeans who made fortunes in India, Major-General Claude Martin is unique,  because he bequeathed the major part of his wealth to charities, and thus left a lasting legacy in India.

Claude Martin was the son of a casket maker from Lyon. Abandoning the family business, he came to India as an officer in the French East India Company. When the French lost Pondicherry to the English, he switched over to the British East India Company. His fortunes took a turn for the better after that; and his services were requested by the Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daulah. As an able administrator and man of astute financial acumen, he soon amassed a great fortune. He was believed to be the richest Frenchman in India!
Claude Martin (Photo taken from
From this wealth, he commissioned the construction of Constantia, a palatial building that was supposed to be his country residence. Though its construction began in 1785, it could not be completed until 1802, two years after Martin's death. Martin is buried beneath the building, in a vault constructed specially for that purpose; for which he left detailed instructions in his will.

Martin dedicated his fortune to the establishment of schools in Lucknow, Calcutta and Lyon, his birthplace in France. The schools were named 'La Martinière' in his memory. As per his will, the school in Lucknow was established at Constantia. 
Constantia: now called La Martinière College, Lucknow

Even after all these years, La Martinière schools and colleges still remain among the grandest educational institutions in India.  

No comments:

Post a Comment