Maratha Empire

Maratha Empire, Govt Exam Preparation for SSC, UPSC, History Notes
Posted on 05-05-2022

The creation of the Maratha state is a revolutionary event. An important element in Indian politics came from the rise of Vijayanagara. The Maratha Federation and the Maratha Empire was an Indian power that dominated the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire generally began with the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in 1674 and ended with the defeat of Peshwa Bajirao II in 1818.  Most of the credit for ending the Mughal Empire in India is given to the Maratha Empire.

Chhatrapati Shivaji


Shivaji was born on April 20, 1627, in the fort of Shivner near PoonaShivaji was the son of Shahaji Bhonsle and Jijabai. Shivaji is said to be the founder of the Maratha Empire. Shivaji Maharaj had taken the initiative to release the Maratha people from the Bijapur Sultanate and got freedom from the captivity of the Mughals to millions of Marathas. After this, he gradually started to destroy the Mughal Empire and started establishing Hindavi Swarajya.

In 1656 AD, he declared Raigad as the capital of his empire and established an independent Maratha empire. After this, he continued to fight to save his empire from the Mughals. And started the expansion of his kingdom in 1643 AD by conquering the Sinhagad fort of Bijapur. After this, in 1646 AD, Shivaji also established his rule over the fort of Toran. The ruler of Bijapur sent Sardar Afzal Khan to suppress the power of Shivaji. Shivaji defeated Afzal Khan and killed him in 1659 AD. Fearing the growing power of Shivaji, Aurangzeb appointed Shaista Khan as the governor of the southShivajiDefeated Shaista Khan in 1663 ADThe Treaty of Purandar was signed between the Mughals and Shivaji in June 1665 after the victory of the Mughals at the fort of Purandar under the leadership of Jai Singh and the siege of RaigadIn 1670 AD, Shivaji launched a campaign against the Mughals and reconquered the lost fort by the Treaty of Purandar. In 1670 AD, Shivaji plundered Surat and demanded Chauth from the Mughals.

He was coronated as Chhatrapati of the newly established Maratha Empire in 1674The last important campaign of Shivaji after his coronation was the Carnatic campaign in 1676 AD.

Shivaji died on 12 April 1680At the time of his death, he had maintained an army of 300 forts, about 40,000 cavalries, and 50,000 infantry, as well as established a large navy up to the western seaboard. With the passage of time, this empire also expanded, and with this, its rulers also changed, after Shivaji Maharaj, his grandson took over the Maratha Empire, and then Peshwa took over the Maratha Empire in the early 18th century.

Shambaji  (1680  AD to 1689  AD)

Shivaji Maharaj had two sons: Sambhaji and Rajaram . Sambhaji Maharaj was his eldest son, who was quite famous among the courtiers.  In 1681, Sambhaji Maharaj took the crown of the Maratha Empire and by adopting the policies of his father, he followed his path. Sambhaji Maharaj had defeated Chikka Deva Raya of Portugal and Mysore in the very beginning.

After this, Aurangzeb himself took command of the south in 1681 to remove any Rajput-Maratha alliance. With his great court and a huge army of 5,000,00, he started the expansion of the Maratha Empire and also raised the flag of the Maratha Empire over the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda. During his eight-year reign, he did not allow the Marathas to lose a single battle or stronghold against Aurangzeb.

Around 1689, Sambhaji Maharaj invited his colleagues to Sangameshwar for a strategic meeting, so that the Mughal Empire could be removed forever. But Ganoji Shirke and Aurangzeb's commander Mukarrab Khan had carefully planned to attack at Sangameshwar when Sambhaji Maharaj would be with very few people. Before this Aurangzeb had never been successful in capturing Sambhaji Maharaj.

But this time he finally got success and on 1 February 1689, he attacked Sangameshwar and the Mughal army took Sambhaji Maharaj as a prisoner. He and his advisor Kavikalash were taken to Bahadurgarh, where Aurangzeb was killed for revolting against the Mughals. He killed Sambhaji Maharaj on 11 March 1689.

Rajaram  (1689  AD to 1700 AD)

After the death of Shambhaji, Rajaram was declared the Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire. Fearing the invasion of the Mughals, Rajaram moved his capital from Raigad to JinjiJinji remained the center of Maratha's activities against the Mughals till 1698. In 1699, Satara became the capital of the Marathas. Rajaram never sat on the throne considering himself the representative of Shahu, the son of Shambhaji. Under the leadership of Raja Ram, the Marathas started a campaign for independence against the Mughals, which lasted till 1700 AD. After the death of Raja Ram, in 1700 AD, his widowed wife Tara Bai put her four-year-old son Shivaji II on the throne and continued the struggle against the Mughals.

Shivaji II (1700 AD to 1707 AD)

Rajaram's widowed wife Tara Bai put her four-year-old son Shivaji II on the throne and continued the struggle against the Mughals. He took command of the Maratha Empire against the Mughals for some time and from 1705 he also crossed the Narmada River and entered Malwa, to establish his dominance over the Mughal Empire.

Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj (from 1707 AD)

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Sambhaji Maharaj's son (Shivaji's grandson) was released to the new ruler of the Maratha Empire, Bahadur Shah I, but he was released only under the condition that he would obey Mughal law. As soon as he was released, Shahu immediately demanded the Maratha throne and challenged his aunt Tarabai and her son. This led to the beginning of another Mughal-Maratha war.

In 1707, Satara and Kolhapur states were established because due to the succession, disputes started in the Maratha Empire itself. But in the end, Shahu was made the new Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire. But his mother was still in the possession of the Mughals but eventually when the Maratha Empire became fully empowered, Shahu was able to release his mother as well.

Shahu appointed Balaji to the post of Peshwa in 1713 AD. With the appointment of Balaji Vishwanath, the position of Peshwa became powerful. Chhatrapati remained a nominal ruler. During Shahu's reign, Raghuji Bhosale expanded the Maratha Empire to the east (present-day Bengal). Senapati Dhabde expanded in the west. Peshwa Bajirao and his three chiefs Pawar (Dhar), Holkar (Indore), and Scindia (Gwalior) expanded north. All these states were part of the Maratha Empire at that time.


Maratha Empire under Peshwas _

In this era, the Peshwas belonged to the Chitpavan family, which controlled the Maratha armies and later became the rulers of the Maratha Empire. During his reign, the Peshwas maintained their dominance over most of the Indian subcontinent.

Balaji Vishwanath (1713 AD to 1720 AD)

Balaji Vishwanath was a Brahmin. Balaji Vishwanath started his political career as a small revenue officer. In 1713 Shahu appointed Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath. From that time the office of Peshwa became supreme and Shahuji Maharaj became the main figure. His first major achievement was the conclusion of the 1714 Treaty of Lannaval with Kanhojo Angre, one of the most powerful naval chiefs of the Western Seaboard. Later he joined the Maratha itself. In 1719, the Maratha army attacked Delhi and defeated the Mughal governor of Deccan, Sayeed Hussain Hali. At that time, for the first time, the Mughal Empire realized its weak power.

Bajirao  (1720  AD –  1740 AD)

After the death of Balaji Vishwanath in 1720, Shahu appointed his son Bajirao I as Peshwa. The power of the Maratha Empire reached its zenith during the Peshwa period of Bajirao I. Nizam-ul-Mulk defeated Mughal Subedar Mubariz Khan in the Deccan with the help of the Marathas in the battle of Shukar Kheda in 1724 and established an independent state. Nizam-ul-Mulk after consolidating his position started action against the Marathas. Bajirao I defeated Nizam-ul-Mulk in the Battle of Palkheda in 1728In 1728, there was a treaty of Munshi Shivgaon between Nizam-ul-Mulk Bajirao I, in which Nizam accepted to give Chauth and Sardeshmukhi to Marathas. Bajirao I adopted Shivaji's guerrilla warfare system. 1739 AD Bajirao I snatched Salsit and Basin from the PortugueseBalaji Bajirao I established a Maratha Mandal comprising the Scindias of Gwalior, the Gaekwads, the Holkars of Indore, and the Bhonsle of Nagpur. Before his death in 1740, he fought in a total of 41 wars and he did not lose a single battle.

Balaji Bajirao  (1740 AD –  1761  AD)

After the death of Bajirao I , Balaji Bajirao became the new Peshwa. Also known as Nana Saheb. In 1750, with the mediation of Raghuji Bhonsle, the Treaty of Sangaula was signed between Rajaram II. By this treaty, the Peshwa became the de facto head of the Maratha Empire. Chhatrapati remained a nominal king. Poona became the center of Maratha politics during the Balaji Bajirao Peshwa period. During the reign of Balaji Bajirao, the third battle of Panipat took place in 1761 ADThis war took place between the Marathas Ahmed Shah Abdali.

The third battle of Panipat was due for two reasons -

  • Like the first Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah Abdali also wanted to plunder India.
  • Second, the Marathas wanted to establish their influence over Delhi, inspired by the spirit of the Hindu post padshahi.

Balaji Bajirao sent a powerful army under the leadership of his minor son Vishwas Rao in the battle of Panipat but the real commander was Sadashivrao Bhau, cousin of Vishwas Rao. The Marathas were defeated in this war and 28 thousand soldiers including Vishwas Rao and Sadashivrao were killed.

Madhav Rao ( 1761  AD –  1772  AD)

Madhavrao was made Peshwa after the defeat of the Marathas in the third battle of Panipat. Madhavrao's greatest success was the conquest of Malwa and BundelkhandMadhav defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad in the Battle of Udgir in 1763There was a treaty of Rakshasa Bhavan between Madhavrao and the Nizam. In 1771 AD, he defeated Hyder Ali of Mysore and forced him to pay tribute. Madhavrao established Maratha supremacy over North India by subjugating Ruhelas, Rajputs, and Jats. In 1771, during the reign of Madhavrao, the Marathas made the exiled Mughal emperor Shah Alam a pensioner on the throne of Delhi. Madhavrao died of Chhaya disease in November 1772 .

Narayan Rao  (1772 AD – 1774 AD)

Madhavrao had no children of his own. Therefore, after the death of Madhavrao, his younger brother Narayanrao became the Peshwa. Narayanrao had a long struggle for the throne with his uncle Raghoba, in which Raghoba eventually killed Narayanrao in 1774.

Madhavanarayan (1774E.– 1796 E.)

After the assassination of Peshwa Narayanrao in 1774 AD, his son Madhavrao Narayan was placed on the throne of Peshwa. During this time a Council of Regency was formed under the leadership of Nana Fadnavis, in whose hands was the actual administration. During this period the first Anglo Maratha war took place.  The First Anglo-Maratha War ended on 17 May 1782  by the Treaty of Salbai. This treaty was signed between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire. Maratha power was once again established after defeating Tipu Sultan in 1792 and the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1795.

Bajirao II  (1796 AD - 1818 AD)

After the death of Madhavrao Narayan, Raghoba's son Bajirao II became Peshwa. Due to its inefficient policies, mutual differences arose in the Maratha union. In 1802 AD, the mutual dispute of Marathas came on the table after Bajirao II accepted the subsidiary treaty of the British through the Treaty of Basin. Scindia and Bhonsle strongly opposed this treaty made with the British. Second and Third Anglo- Maratha Wars It happened during the reign of Bajirao II. After defeating Scindia and Bhonsle in the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the British forced Scindia and Bhonsle to make separate treaties. In 1803, the British and the Bhonsles made a treaty of Devgaon and took the area west of the river Wardha and Cuttack. The British made the Treaty of Surji-Arjangaon with the Sindhis in 1803 and forced them to give the area of ​​Ganga and Yamuna to the East India Company. In 1804, the Third Anglo-Maratha War took place between the British and the Holkars, in which the Holkars defeated the British and made a treaty of Ghat at Rajpur. The decline of Maratha power took place in 1817-1818 AD when Peshwa Bajirao II himself completely subjugated himself to the British. The post of Peshwa was abolished by Bajirao II by merging the Poona region with the English state.


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