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The Maratha State (1674-1720) & Maratha Confederacy (1720-1818)

The Maratha State: 1674-1720

1. Shivaji: 1674-1680

  • Shivaji was born at Shivneri Fort in 1627.
  • Father Name: Shahji Bhonsle
  • Mother Name: Jija Bai
  • Religious Teacher: Samarth Ramdas
  • He inherited the jagir of Poona from his father in 1637. At the age of 16 he captured the Torna fort, followed by many more forts.
  • He created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital.
  • He captured Javali from Chandrarao More in 1656. At the Battle of Pratapgarh (1659) he killed Afzal Khan (Adil shah’s general).
  • Battle of Pavankhind (1660) – smaller Maratha force led by Baji Prabhu Deshpande held back the larger enemy to buy time for Shivaji to escape.
  • Shivaji was defeated by Shaista Khan (sent by Aurangzeb). Later He made a bold attack on Shaista Khan’s military camp at Poona in 1663 & wounded him.
  • Treaty of Purander (1665):
  • According to the treaty, Shivaji had to surrender 23 forts to the Mughals out of 35 forts held by him.
  • The remaining 12 forts were to be left to Shivaji on condition of service and loyalty to Mughal Empire.
  • On the other hand, the Mughals recognized the right of Shivaji to hold certain parts of the Bijapur kingdom.
  • He defeated Mughals in Battle of Salher (1672). He was crowned & assumed the title Maharaja Chhatrapati in 1674 at Raigad fort.
  • He died in 1680 at the age of 52.
Shivaji’s Administration
  • He divided his territory under his rule (swaraj) into three provinces, each under a viceroy. Provinces were divided into Prants which were subdivided into Parganas or tarafs. The lowest unit was village headed by Patel (Headman).
  • He was helped by the ashtapradhan (eight ministers) which was unlike a collective of ministers, for there was no collective responsibility; each minister was directly responsible to Shivaji.
  • Shivaji’s Ashtapradhan were:
PeshwaFinance and General Administration, later he became Prime Minister and assumed great importance.
MajumdarRevenue and Finance Minister
WaqenavisHome Minister
DabirForeign Minister
SurnavisHead of Royal Correspondence
Pandit RaoHead of Religious Affair
Sar-i-NaubatMilitary Commander. This is honorary post with no real military power.
  • Most of the administrative reforms of Shivaji were based on Malik Ambar’s (Ahmadnagar) reforms.
  • Assessment of land revenue was based on measurement. The kathi of Malik Ambar was adopted as the unit of measurement.
  • Land revenue was fixed 1/3rd i.e. 33% of the gross produce (initially), 2/5th i.e. 40% of the gross produce (after reforms).
  • Chauth was 1/4th i.e. 25% of the land revenue was paid to the Maratha so for not being subjected to Maratha raids.
  • Sardeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10% on that land of Maharashtra over which the Maratha claimed hereditary rights, but which formed part of the Mughal Empire.

2. Sambhaji: 1680-1689

  • Sambhaji was the son of Shivaji Maharaj and as per Treaty of Purandar was a Mansabdar of Mughals.
  • His rule was largely shaped by the ongoing wars between the Maratha kingdom and Mughal Empire as well as other neighbouring powers such as Siddis, Mysore and the Portuguese in Goa.
  • In 1687, at the Battle of Wai he defeated Mughal forces.
  • In 1689, Sambhaji was captured, tortured and executed by the Mughals.

3. Rajaram: 1689-1700

  • He was succeeded the throne with the help of the minister at Rajgarh.
  • He fled from Rajgarh to Jinji in 1689 due to a Mughal invasion in which Rajgarh was captured along with Sambhaji wife and son (Shahu) by the Mughals.
  • Rajaram died at Satara, which has become the capital after the fall of Jinji to Mughal in 1698.
  • He created the new post of Pratinidhi, thus taking the total number of minister to nine (Pratinidhi+Ashtapradhan).

4. Tarabai: 1700-1707

  • Rajaram was succeeded by his minor son Shivaji II under the Guardianship of his mother Tarabai.
  • Tarabai continued the struggle with Mughals.

5. Shahu: 1707-1749

  • Shahu’s reign saw the rise of Peshwas & reducing Bhosale’s to mere figureheads.
  • By the time of Rajaram II/Ram raja the power of Chhatrapati was almost overshadowed by that of Peshwa.

6. Balaji Vishwanath: 1713-20

  • He began his career as a small revenue official and was given the title of Sena Karte (marker of the army) by Shahu in 1708.
  • He became Peshwa in 1713 and made the post the most important and powerful as well as hereditary.
  • He played a crucial role in the final victory of Shahu by winning over almost all the Maratha Sardars to the side of Shahu.
  • He concluded an agreement with the Syed Brothers-King Maker (1719) by which the Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar recognised Shahu as the king of the Swaraiya.

Maratha Confederacy: 1720-1818

1. Baji Rao I: 1720-40

  • Baji Rao, the eldest son of Balaji Vishwanath, succeeded him as Peshwa at the young age of 20.
  • He was considered the greatest exponent of Guerrilla tactics after Shivaji and Maratha power reached its zenith under him.
  • Under him several Maratha families became prominent and got themselves entrenched in different parts of India.
The ScindiaGwalior
The HolkarIndore
The PawarDhar
The GaekwadBaroda
The BhonsleNagpur
The PeshwaPoona
  • After defeating and expelling the Siddis of Janjira from the mainland (1722), he conquered Bassein and Salsette from the Portuguese (1739).
  • He also defeated the Nizam-ul-Mulk near Bhopal and concluded the treaty of Doraha Sarai by which he got Malwa and Bundelkhand from the latter (1738).
  • He led innumerable successful expeditions into North India to weaken the Mughal Empire and to make the Marathas the Supreme power in India.
  • He said about Mughals: ‘Lets us strike at the trunk of the withering tree and the branches will fall of themselves.

2. Balaji Baji Rao: 1740-1761

Popularly known as Nana Saheb, he succeeded his father at the age of 20.

After the death of Shahu (1749), the management of all state affairs was left in his hands.

In an agreement with the Mughal emperor Ahmad Shah, The Peshwa was to protect the Mughal Empire from internal and external enemies (like Ahmad shah Abdali) in return for Chauth (1752).

Third Battle of Panipat (Jan.14, 1761) resulted in the defeat of the Marathas by Ahmad shah Abdali and the death of Vishwas Rao and Sadashiv Rao Bhau. This event shocked the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao and after six month he also died. This battle ended the Maratha Power.

Successors of Balaji Baji Rao:

  • Madhav Rao(1761-72)
  • Narayan Rao(1772-73)
  • Sawai Madhav Rao(1773-95)
  • Baji Rao II(1795-1818)

Anglo Maratha War

  First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782)    Struggle of Power between Sawai Madhav Rao and Raghunath Rao was supported by British resulted in First Anglo-Maratha War.   The treaty of Salbai in May, 1782 – British acknowledged Madhavrao as the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire and ended the Anglo-Maratha War.  
    Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–05)    The second war was caused by the Peshwa Baji Rao II’s defeat by the Holkar (one of the leading Maratha clans) and his acceptance subsidiary alliance (Treaty of Bassein) in 1802.   Unhappy Maratha confederacy challenged the British power but got defeated.  
          Third Anglo-Maratha War  (1817-1818)Distressed By low income Pindaris made up of many castes and started plundering neighbouring territories, including those of companies.   Lord Hasting (Governor General) charged Marathas with giving shelter to the Pindaris and hence fought war.   Maratha warlords fought separately instead of forming a common front and they surrendered one by one.  

The End of Maratha Empire

  • Third Anglo-Martha war led to the end of the Maratha Empire. All the Maratha powers surrendered to the British.
  • The Peshwa was eventually captured and placed on a small estate at Bithur, near Kanpur.
  • The Maharaja of Satara was restored as the ruler of his territory as a princely state. Most of his territory was annexed and became part of the Bombay Presidency.
  • In 1848 this territory was also annexed under the “doctrine of lapse policy” of Lord Dalhousie.