The vibrant history of the city of Chennai which was previously named as Madras, traces back to 368 years and Chennai was originally a tiny fishing village. The region surrounding Chennai has served as a significant administrative, military, and economic centre dating back to the 1st century. It has been ruled by renowned South Indian kingdoms like the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya, and Vijaynagar empires.
On 22 August 1639, Francis Day of the British East India Company acquired a small strip of land in the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King, Peda Venkata Raya (a.k.a. Venkata III) in Chandragiri. The region was under by the Damerla Venkatapathy, Nayak of Vandavasi.The permission was granted to build a factory and warehouse for their trading activities. A year later, Fort St George was built, which gradually became the nucleus around which the colonial city grew. In 1746, Fort St George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who ransacked the town and its outlying villages.
The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1749 ensured the reacquiring of British regained control over the town and consequently equipped the base to endure further attacks from the French and Hyder Ali, the powerful Sultan of Mysore. By the late 18th century, the British had occupied most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern-day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to establish the Madras Presidency, whose capital was Madras and under the British patronage only the city of Madras or contemporary Chennai evolved as a major urban centre and naval base.
Chennai is the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden. After independence in 1947, the city attained the status of the capital of Madras State, which was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1969.