The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian power that dominated large portion of Indian subcontinent in the 18th century. The empire formally existed from 1674 with the coronation of Chhatrapati Shivaji and ended in 1818 with the defeat of Puppet Peshwa Bajirao 2 installed by Maratha Nobles under Monarch Chhatrapati Pratapsingh. The Marathas are credited to a large extent for ending Mughal rule in India.[note 1]
The Warrior Maratha were a group of various castes usually referred to as "Mavla". Maratha Empire had Kshatriya Kings and people from all castes as warriors in the empire from the western Deccan Plateau (present-day Maharashtra) who rose to prominence by establishing a Hindavi Swarajya (meaning "self-rule of Hindu/Indian people"). The Maratha became prominent in the 17th century under the leadership of Shivaji, who revolted against the Adil Shahi dynasty, and founded the empire with Raigad as his capital. Known for their mobility, the Maratha were able to consolidate their territory during the Mughal–Maratha Wars and later controlled a large part of the Indian subcontinent. After Shivaji his son Sambhaji a very talented and clever King,a sanskrit Scholar and having a great Physique ruled the kingdom.
After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707,Sambhajis son Chhattrapati Shahu, grandson of Shivaji, was released by the Mughals. Following a brief struggle with his aunt Tarabai, Shahu became the ruler and appointed Bahiroji Pingale and later, Balaji Vishwanath and his descendants, as the peshwas of the empire. Shahu also appointed Ashtapradhan like Chitnis, Nyayadhish, Sar Senapati(Supreme Commander of Maratha forces), etc  Maratha Nobles(Sardar) played a key role in the expansion of Maratha rule. The empire at its peak stretched from Tamil Nadu in the south, to Peshawar (modern-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan[note 2]) in the north, and Bengal Subah in the east. The Maratha discussed abolishing the Mughal throne and placing Vishwasrao on the Mughal imperial throne in Delhi but were not able to do so. This lead to a decrease in the power of Peshwa like that of later Chhatrapati's In 1761, the Maratha Army lost the Third Battle of Panipat against Ahmad Shah Abdali of the Afghan Durrani Empire, which halted their imperial expansion into Afghanistan. Ten years after Panipat, the young Peshwa Madhavrao I's Maratha Resurrection reinstated Maratha authority over North India. But after his death Peshwas became puppet of the Maratha Nobles like Shindes, Gaekwads, Holkars, Bhonsales of Nagpur
In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, Madhavrao gave semi-autonomy to the strongest of the knights, and created a confederacy of Maratha states. These leaders became known as the Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and Malwa, the Scindias of Gwalior and Ujjain, the Bhonsales of Nagpur, the Meheres of Vidharbha and the Puars of Dhar and Dewas. In 1775, the East India Company intervened in a Peshwa family succession struggle in Pune, which led to the First Anglo-Maratha War. The Marathas were victorious. The Maratha remained the pre-eminent power in India until their defeat in the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha Wars (1805–1818), which resulted in the East India Company controlling most of India.
A large portion of the Maratha empire was coastline, which had been secured by the potent Maratha Navy under commanders such as Kanhoji Angre. He was very successful at keeping foreign naval ships at bay, particularly those of the Portuguese and British nations. Securing the coastal areas and building land-based fortifications were crucial aspects of the Maratha's defensive strategy and regional military history.
Territory under Maratha control in 1760 (yellow).
|Common languages||Marathi and Sanskrit|
Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism (minorities)
|Pratap Singh (last)|
|Peshwa (Prime Minister)|
|Moropant Pingle (first)|
|Baji Rao II (last)|
|1760||2,500,000 km2 (970,000 sq mi)|
|Currency||Rupee, Paisa, Mohur, Shivrai, Hon|
|Today part of|
The Maratha Empire is also referred to as the Maratha Confederacy. The historian Barbara Ramusack says that the former is a designation preferred by Indian nationalists, while the latter was that used by British historians. She notes, "neither term is fully accurate since one implies a substantial degree of centralisation and the other signifies some surrender of power to a central government and a longstanding core of political administrators. Maratha power was fragmented among several discrete fragments".
The empire had its head in the Chhatrapati as de facto rulers, but after the death of Shahu the de facto governance was in the hands of the Peshwas. After the death of Chhatrapati Shahu and with the death of Madhavrao – I, various chiefs played the role of the de facto rulers in their own regions.
Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1630–1680) son of Shahaji Bhonsale and Rajmata Jijabai was a Maratha aristocrat of the Bhosale clan who is considered to be the founder of the Maratha empire. It was his parents dream to found a Empire of Self rule usually referred to as Hindavi Swarajya. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj led a resistance to free the people from the Sultanate of Bijapur in 1645 by winning the fort Torna, followed by many more forts, placing the area under his control and establishing Hindavi Swarajya (self-rule of Hindu people). He created an independent Maratha kingdom with Raigad as its capital and successfully fought against the Mughals to defend his kingdom. He was crowned as Chhatrapati (sovereign) of the new Maratha kingdom in 1674.
The Maratha kingdom comprised about 4.1% of the subcontinent, but it was spread over large tracts from Tanjavore in Tamil Nadu till Northern Maharashtra . At the time of his death, it was reinforced with about 352 forts, and defended by about 50,000 cavalry, and 80,000 foot soldiers, as well as naval establishments along the west coast.He is also known as the "Father of Indian Navy". Over time, the kingdom would increase in size and heterogeneity; by the time of his grandson's Shahu rule, and later under the Peshwas in the early and late 18th century, it was a full-fledged empire.
Shivaji had two sons: Sambhaji and Rajaram, who had different mothers and were half-brothers. Sambhaji, the elder son, was very popular among the courtiers. He got involved in Politics at a very young age of 9. He was a very learned Prince and had written literary works like Budhbhushanam at the age of 14 and . His literary works include Budhbhushan, (Nakshikank), etc. He was well versed in about 14 languages including English. In 1681, Sambhaji succeeded to the crown after his father's death and resumed his expansionist policies. His first big achievement was the raid at Burhanpur the beloved city of Aurangzeb. Sambhaji collected huge ransom and plundered the city but ordered his soldiers not to touch any women, children or any Mosque. Sambhaji later defeated the Portuguese and Chikka Deva Raya of Mysore with the help of the Supreme Commander of the Maratha forces Hambirrao . Portugues were very much afraid of Sambhaji. The Portuguese colony of Goa at that time provided supplies to the Mughals, allowed them to use the Portuguese ports in India and pass through their territory. In order to deny this support to the Mughals, Sambhaji undertook a campaign against Portuguese Goa in late 1683, storming the colony and taking its forts. The situation for the colonists became so dire that the Portuguese viceroy, Francisco de Távora, conde de Alvor went with his remaining supporters to the cathedral where the crypt of Saint Francis Xavier was kept, where they prayed for deliverance. The viceroy had the casket opened and gave the saint's body his baton, royal credentials and a letter asking the saint's support. Sambhaji's Goa campaign was checked by the arrival of the Mughal army and navy in January 1684, forcing him to withdraw . Moreover, To nullify the alliance between his rebel son, Akbar, and the Maratha, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb headed south in 1681. With his entire imperial court, administration and an army of about 500,000 troops, he proceeded to expand the Mughal empire, gaining territories such as the sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda. During the eight years that followed, Sambhaji led the Maratha, never losing any of battles and even forts to Aurangzeb.It is believed that 120 battles were fought during his time never losing one
In early 1689, Sambhaji called his commanders for a strategic meeting at Sangameshwar to consider an onslaught on the Mughal forces. In a meticulously planned operation, Ganoji Shirke brother of Yesubai deflected to Mughals and gave secret information regarding Sambhajis being at Sangameshwar to Aurangzeb's commander, Mukarrab Khan, He attacked Sangameshwar when Sambhaji was accompanied by just a few men. Sambhaji was ambushed and captured by Mughal troops on February 1, 1689. As Aurangzeb knew that he would not be able to defeat Sambhaji on battle field. Sambhaji and his advisor, Kavi Kalash, were taken to Bahadurgad by the imperial army, where they were executed by the Mughals on 21 March 1689. Aurangzeb had charged Sambhaji with attacks by Maratha forces on Burhanpur;.
Upon Sambhaji's death, his half-brother Rajaram assumed the throne. The Mughal siege of Raigad continued, and he had to flee to Vishalgad and then to Gingee for safety. From there the Maratha raided Mughal territory, and many forts were recaptured by Maratha commanders such as Santaji Ghorpade, Dhanaji Jadhav, Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi, Shankaraji Narayan Sacheev and Melgiri Pandit. In 1697, Rajaram offered a truce but this was rejected by Aurangzeb. Rajaram died in 1700 at Sinhagad. His widow, Tarabai who was the daughter of Sar Senapati Hambirrao Mohite, assumed control in the name of her son, Ramaraja (Shivaji II). She led the Maratha against the Mughal, and by 1705 they had crossed the Narmada River and entered Malwa, then in Mughal possession. She was the bravest Maratha lady at that in the Indian subcontinent to have fought against Aurangzeb and defeating him. Through her sacrifies,like that of her Father in law, Brother in law and her Husband and many Maratha Soldiers the Maratha Empire kept Intact. As Shivaji 2 was not a capable to rule, Many Maratha Nobles mainly Dhanaji Jadhav deflected to Shahu's side
After Aurangzeb's death in 1707, Shahu, son of Sambhaji (and grandson of Shivaji), was released by Bahadur Shah I, the new Mughal emperor. His mother Shri sakhi radni jayati Maharani Yesubai was kept as a hostage of the Mughal, however, in order to ensure that Shahu adhered to the release conditions. Upon release, Shahu immediately claimed the Maratha throne and challenged his aunt Tarabai and her son. The spluttering Mughal-Maratha war became a three-cornered affair. The states of Satara and Kolhapur were organized in 1707 because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. Shahu appointed Dhanaji Jadhav as the supreme commander of the Maratha forces and Bahiroji Pingale as Peshwa. Later Balaji Vishwanath and his descendants were appointed as Peshwas of the Empire.  The Peshwa and other Maratha Nobles were instrumental in securing Mughal recognition of Shahu as the rightful heir of Shivaji & Sambhaji and the Chatrapati of the Maratha. Balaji also gained the release of Shahu's mother, Maharani then Rajmata Yesubai, from Mughal captivity in 1719. She died in the same year.
During Shahu's reign, Raghoji Bhosale expanded the empire in the East, reaching present-day Bengal. Khanderao Dabhade and later his son, Trimbakrao, expanded it in the West in Gujarat. Peshwa Bajirao and his three chiefs, Pawar (Dhar), Holkar (Indore), and Scindia (Gwalior), expanded in the North.
During this era, Peshwas belonging to the Bhat family controlled the Maratha Army and later became de facto rulers of the Maratha Empire after death of Shahu in 1749. As Shahu did not have any male heir Tarabai brought Rajaram II to Shahu and told him that Rajaram II was her Grandson and had the Royal blood. Rajaram II was a powerful ruler but Tarabai wanted to control him so she told everyone that Rajaram II is just an imposter and Chhatrapati became Nominal rulers. Peshwas became de facto rulers for some time ,but soon they lost their power and other Maratha nobles became Independent Kings. During their reign, the Maratha Empire dominated most of the Indian subcontinent.
After Balaji Vishwanath's death in April 1720, his son, Baji Rao I, was appointed Peshwa by Chhatrapati Shahu even when many Maratha Nobles were opposed to it. Shahu was very powerful ruler, so he had total control over his ministers and appointed Bajirao as Peshwa (one of the ministers in Ashtapradhan Mandal of Shahu) . Bajirao under commands of Shahu is credited with expanding the Maratha Empire tenfold from 3% to 30% with the help of Gaekwads, Bhonsale, Shinde, Holkars, Pawars of the modern Indian landscape during 1720–1740. He fought over 41 battles before his death in April 1740 and is reputed to have never lost one.
Baji Rao's son, Balaji Bajirao (Nanasaheb), was appointed as the next Peshwa by Shahuji despite the opposition of other chiefs. In 1749 when Shahu died, Ramraja became Chhatrapati(King) of the Maratha Empire
After the successful campaign of Karnataka and the Trichinopolly, Raghuji returned from Karnataka. He undertook six expeditions into Bengal from 1741 to 1748. Raghuji was able to annex Odisha to his kingdom permanently as he successfully exploited the chaotic conditions prevailing in Bengal after the death of its governor Murshid Quli Khan in 1727. Constantly harassed by the Bhonsles, Odisha, Bengal and parts of Bihar were economically ruined. Alivardi Khan, the Nawab of Bengal made peace with Raghuji in 1751 ceding Cuttack (Odisha) up to the river Subarnarekha, and agreeing to pay Rs.1.2 million annually as the Chauth for Bengal and Bihar.
During their occupation of western Bengal, the Marathas perpetrated atrocities against the local population. The Maratha atrocities were recorded by both Bengali and European sources, which reported that the Marathas demanded payments, and tortured and killed anyone who couldn't pay. Dutch sources estimate a total of 400,000 people in Bengal were killed by the Marathas. According to Bengali sources, the atrocities led to much of the local population opposing the Marathas and developing support for the Nawabs.
Just prior to the battle of Panipat in 1761, Marathas looted "Diwan-i-Khas" or Hall of Private Audiences in the Red Fort of Delhi, which was the place where the Mughal emperors used to receive courtiers and state guests, in one of their expeditions of Delhi.
"The Marathas who were hard pressed for money stripped the ceiling of Diwan-i-Khas of its silver and looted the shrines dedicated to Muslim saints".
During the Maratha invasion of Rohilkhand in the 1750s
"The Marathas defeated the Rohillas, forced them to seek shelter in hills and ransacked their country in such a manner that the Rohillas dreaded the Marathas and hated them ever afterwards".
In 1759, the Marathas under Sadashivrao Bhau (referred to as the Bhau or Bhao in sources) responded to the news of the Afghans' return to North India by sending a large army north. Bhau's force was bolstered by some Maratha forces under Holkar, Scindia, Gaikwad and Govind Pant Bundele. The combined army of over 100,000 regular troops re-captured the former Mughal capital, Delhi, from an Afghan garrison in August 1760. Delhi had been reduced to ashes many times due to previous invasions, and there was an acute shortage of supplies in the Maratha camp. Bhau ordered the sacking of the already depopulated city. He is said to have planned to place his nephew and the Peshwa's son, Vishwasrao, on the Mughal throne. By 1760, with defeat of the Nizam in the Deccan, Maratha power had reached its zenith with a territory of over 2,500,000 square miles (6,500,000 km2).
Ahmad Shah Durrani called on the Rohillas and the Nawab of Oudh to assist him in driving out the Marathas from Delhi. Huge armies of Muslim forces and Marathas collided with each other on January 14, 1761 in the Third Battle of Panipat. The Maratha Army lost the battle, which halted their imperial expansion. The Jats and Rajputs did not support the Marathas. Their withdrawal from the ensuing battle played a crucial role in its result. Historians have criticised the Maratha treatment of fellow Hindu groups. Kaushik Roy says "The treatment of Marathas with their co-religionist fellows – Jats and Rajputs was definitely unfair and ultimately they had to pay its price in Panipat where Muslim forces had united in the name of religion." The Marathas had antagonised the Jats and Rajputs by taxing them heavily, punishing them after defeating the Mughals and interfering in their internal affairs. The Marathas were abandoned by Raja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur and the Rajputs, who quit the Maratha alliance at Agra before the start of the great battle and withdrew their troops as Maratha general Sadashivrao Bhau did not heed the advice to leave soldier's families (women and children) and pilgrims at Agra and not take them to the battle field with the soldiers, rejected their co-operation. Their supply chains (earlier assured by Raja Suraj Mal and Rajputs) did not exist.
Peshwa Madhavrao I was the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire under the Ruler Chhatrapati Rajaram II . It was during his tenure that the Maratha Resurrection took place. He worked as a unifying force in the Maratha Empire and moved to the south to subdue Nizam and Mysore to assert Maratha power. He sent generals such as Bhonsle, Scindia and Holkar to the north, where they re-established Maratha authority by the early 1770s.
Prof G. S. Chhabra wrote:
Young though he was, Madhav Rao had a cool and calculating head of a seasoned and experienced man. The diplomacy by which he could win over his uncle Raghoba when he had no strength to fight and the way he could crush his power when he had the means to do so later on proved in him a genius who knows when and how to act. The formidable power of the Nizam was crushed, Hyder Ali, who was a terror even to the British, was effectually humbled and before he died in 1772, the Marathas were almost there in the north where they had been before Panipat. What could not have the Marathas achieved if Madhav had continued living just for a few years more? Destiny was not in favour of the Marathas, the death of Madhav was a greater blow than their defeat of Panipat and from this blow they could never again recover.
Madhav Rao died in 1772, at the age of 27. His death is considered to be a fatal blow to the Maratha Empire and from that time Maratha power started to move on a downward trajectory, less an empire than a confederacy. After Madhavrao's death Peshwas became puppets of Maratha Nobles But "The Great Maratha" Mahadji Shinde kept Britishers out of the Maratha Territory. His death in 1793 was the biggest blow to the Maratha empire during that time.
In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, Chhatrapati (Rajaram 2) and Madhavrao Peshwa gave Autonomy to the strongest of the knights. After the death of Peshwa Madhavrao I, various chiefs and statesman became de facto rulers and regents for the infant Peshwa Madhavrao II. Thus, the semi-autonomous Maratha states came into being in far-flung regions of the empire:
The Marathas came into conflict with Tipu Sultan and his Kingdom of Mysore, leading to the Maratha–Mysore War in 1785. The war ended in 1787 with the Marathas defeating Tipu Sultan. In 1791–92, large areas of the Maratha Confederacy suffered massive population loss due to the Doji bara famine.
In 1791, irregulars like lamaans and pindari of Maratha army raided and looted the temple of Sringeri Shankaracharya, killing and wounding many people including Brahmins, plundering the monastery of all its valuable possessions, and desecrating the temple by displacing the image of goddess Sarada. The incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid:
"People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: "Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate" (People do [evil] deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying)."
Tipu Sultan immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. Tipu Sultan's interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years, and he was still writing to the Swami in the 1790s.
The Maratha Empire soon allied with the British East India Company (based in the Bengal Presidency) against Mysore in the Anglo-Mysore Wars. After the British had suffered defeat against Mysore in the first two Anglo-Mysore War, the Maratha cavalry assisted the British in the last two Anglo-Mysore Wars from 1790 onwards, eventually helping the British conquer Mysore in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799. After the British conquest, however, the Marathas launched frequent raids in Mysore to plunder the region, which they justified as compensation for past losses to Tipu Sultan.
In 1775, the British East India Company, from its base in Bombay, intervened in a succession struggle in Pune, on behalf of Raghunathrao (also called Raghobadada), who wanted to become Peshwa of the empire. Marathas forces under Tukojirao Holkar and Mahadaji Shinde defeated a British expeditionary force at the Battle of Wadgaon, but the heavy surrender terms, which included the return of annexed territory and a share of revenues, were disavowed by the British authorities at Bengal and fighting continued. What became known as the First Anglo-Maratha War ended in 1782 with a restoration of the pre-war status quo and the East India Company's abandonment of Raghunathrao's cause.
In 1799, Yashwantrao Holkar was crowned King of Holkars, he captured Ujjain. He started campaigning towards the north to expand his empire in that region. Yashwant Rao rebelled against the policies of the Peshwa Baji Rao II. In May 1802, he marched towards Pune the seat of the Peshwa. This gave rise to the Battle of Poona in which the Peshwa was defeated. After the Battle of Poona, the flight of Peshwa left the government of Maratha state in the hands of Yashwantrao Holkar.(Kincaid & Pārasanīsa 1925, p. 194) He appointed Amrutrao as the Peshwa and went to Indore on March 13, 1803. All except Gaikwad chief of Baroda, who had already accepted British protection by a separate treaty on July 26, 1802, supported the new regime. He made a treaty with the British. Also, Yashwant-Rao successfully resolved the disputes with Scindia and the Peshwa. He tried to unite the Maratha Confederacy but to no avail. In 1802, the British intervened in Baroda to support the heir to the throne against rival claimants and they signed a treaty with the new Maharaja recognising his independence from the Maratha Empire in return for his acknowledgment of British paramountcy. Before the Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1805), the Peshwa Baji Rao II signed a similar treaty. The defeat in Battle of Delhi, 1803 during Second Anglo-Maratha War resulted in the loss of the city of Delhi for the Marathas.
The Second Anglo-Maratha War represents the military high-water mark of the Marathas who posed the last serious opposition to the formation of the British Raj. The real contest for India was never a single decisive battle for the subcontinent. Rather it turned on a complex social and political struggle for control of the South Asian military economy. The victory in 1803 hinged as much on finance, diplomacy, politics and intelligence as it did on battlefield maneuver and war itself.
Ultimately, the Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818) resulted in the loss of Maratha independence. It left the British in control of most of India. The Peshwa was exiled to Bithoor (Marat, near Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh) as a pensioner of the British. The Maratha heartland of Desh, including Pune, came under direct British rule, with the exception of the states of Kolhapur and Satara, which retained local Maratha rulers (descendants of Shivaji and Sambhaji II ruled over Kolhapur). The Maratha-ruled states of Gwalior, Indore, and Nagpur all lost territory and came under subordinate alliance with the British Raj as princely states that retained internal sovereignty under British paramountcy. Other small princely states of Maratha knights were retained under the British Raj as well.
The Third Anglo-Maratha War was fought by Maratha war lords separately instead of forming a common front and they surrendered one by one. Shinde and the Pashtun Amir Khan were subdued by the use of diplomacy and pressure, which resulted in the Treaty of Gwalior on November 5, 1817. All other Maratha chiefs like Holkars, Bhonsles and Peshwa gave up arms by 1818. British historian Percival Spear describes 1818 as a watershed year in the history of India, saying that by the year "the British dominion in India became the British dominion of India".
The war left the British, under the auspices of the British East India Company, in control of virtually all of present-day India south of the Sutlej River. The famed Nassak Diamond was acquired by the Company as part of the spoils of the war. The British acquired large chunks of territory from the Maratha Empire and in effect put an end to their most dynamic opposition. The terms of surrender Major-general John Malcolm offered to the Peshwa were controversial amongst the British for being too liberal: The Peshwa was offered a luxurious life near Kanpur and given a pension of about 80,000 pounds.
The Ashtapradhan (The Council of Eight) was a council of eight ministers that administered the Maratha empire. This system was formed by Shivaji. Ministerial designations were drawn from the Sanskrit language and comprised:
With the notable exception of the priestly Panditrao and the judicial Nyayadisha, the other pradhans held full-time military commands and their deputies performed their civil duties in their stead. In the later era of the Maratha Empire, these deputies and their staff constituted the core of the Peshwa's bureaucracy.
The Peshwa was the titular equivalent of a modern Prime Minister. Shivaji created the Peshwa designation in order to more effectively delegate administrative duties during the growth of the Maratha Empire. Prior to 1749, Peshwas held office for 8–9 years and controlled the Maratha Army. They later became the de facto hereditary administrators of the Maratha Empire from 1749 till its end in 1818.
Under Peshwa administration and with the support of several key generals and diplomats (listed below), the Maratha Empire reached its zenith, ruling most of the Indian subcontinent. It was also under the Peshwas that the Maratha Empire came to its end through its formal annexation into the British Empire by the British East India Company in 1818.
The Marathas used a secular policy of administration and allowed complete freedom of religion. There were many notable Muslims in the military and administration of Marathas like Ibrahim Khan Gardi, Haider Ali Kohari, Daulat Khan, Siddi Ibrahim, and Jiva Mahal.
Shivaji was an able administrator who established a government that included modern concepts such as cabinet, foreign policy and internal intelligence. He established an effective civil and military administration. He believed that there was a close bond between the state and the citizens. He is remembered as a just and welfare-minded king. Cosme da Guarda says of him that:
Such was the good treatment Shivaji accorded to people and such was the honesty with which he observed the capitulations that none looked upon him without a feeling of love and confidence. By his people he was exceedingly loved. Both in matters of reward and punishment he was so impartial that while he lived he made no exception for any person; no merit was left unrewarded, no offence went unpunished; and this he did with so much care and attention that he specially charged his governors to inform him in writing of the conduct of his soldiers, mentioning in particular those who had distinguished themselves, and he would at once order their promotion, either in rank or in pay, according to their merit. He was naturally loved by all men of valor and good conduct.
English traveller John Fryer found Shivaji's tax-collecting regime oppressive, describing it as poor people having land "imposed upon them at double the former Rates," and if they refused it, being "carried to Prison, there they are famished almost to death. While French physician Dellon reports that Shivaji was "looked upon as one of the most politic princes in those parts."
Maratha empire carried out a number of sea raids, such as plunders targeting Mughal pilgrim ships and European trading vessels. European traders described these attacks as piracy, but the Marathas viewed them as legitimate targets because they were trading with, and thus financially supporting, their Mughal and Bijapur enemies. After the representatives of various European powers signed agreements with Shivaji or his successors that the threat of plundering or raids against Europeans began to reduce.
The Maratha Empire, at its peak, ruled over a large area in the Indian sub-continent. Apart from capturing various regions, the Marathas maintained a large number of tributaries who were bounded by agreement to pay a certain amount of regular tax, known as Chauth. The empire defeated the Sultanate of Mysore under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Nawab of Oudh, Nawab of Bengal, Nizam of Hyderabad and Nawab of Arcot as well as the Polygar kingdoms of South India. They extracted chauth from the rulers in Delhi, Oudh, Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Hyderabad, Mysore, Uttar Pradesh and Rajputana.
The Marathas were requested by Safdarjung, the Nawab of Oudh, in 1752 to help him defeat Afghani Rohilla. The Maratha force left Pune and defeated Afghan Rohilla in 1752, capturing the whole of Rohilkhand (present-day northwestern Uttar Pradesh). In 1752, Marathas entered into an agreement with the Mughal emperor, through his wazir, Safdarjung, Mughals gave Marathas the chauth of Punjab, Sindh and Doab in addition to the subedari of Ajmer and Agra. In 1758, Marathas started their north-west conquest and expanded their boundary till Afghanistan. They defeated Afghan forces of Ahmed Shah Abdali, in what is now Pakistan, including Pakistani Punjab Province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The Afghans were numbered around 25,000–30,000 and were led by Timur Shah, the son of Ahmad Shah Durrani. The Marathas massacred and looted thousands of Afghan soldiers and captured Lahore, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Attock, Peshawar in the Punjab region and Kashmir.
During the confederacy era, Mahadji Shinde resurrected the Maratha domination on much of North India, which was lost after the Third battle of Panipat including the cis-Sutlej states (south of Sutlej) like Kaithal, Patiala, Jind, Thanesar, Maler Kotla and Faridkot, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were under the suzerainty of the Scindhias of the Maratha Empire, following the Second Anglo-Maratha War of 1803–1805, Marathas lost these territories to the British East India Company.
During the 17th century through late 18th century, the Maratha emperors, prime ministers, and dominion/fiefdom chiefs contributed on military as well as non-military fronts such as building forts, naval facilities, development of towns, constructing and patronizing temples, among others. During the 19th and 20th centuries, when Maratha principalities ruled as a feudatory of the British, Maratha rulers built palaces, contributed towards fine arts, introduced social reforms, and developed civic amenities in their territories.
The Maratha army was not homogenous, but employed soldiers of different backgrounds, both locals and foreign mercenaries, including large numbers of Arabs, Sikhs, Rajputs, Sindhis, Rohillas, Abyssinians, Pathans, Topiwalas and Europeans. The army of Nana Fadnavis, for example, included 5,000 Arabs.
The Maratha army, especially its infantry, was praised by almost all the enemies of Maratha Empire, ranging from Duke of Wellington to Ahmad Shah Abdali. After the Third Battle of Panipat, Abdali was relieved as Maratha army in the initial stages were almost in the position of destroying the Afghan armies and their Indian Allies Nawab of Oudh and Rohillas. The grand wazir of Durrani Empire, Sardar Shah Wali Khan was shocked when Maratha commander-in-chief Sadashivrao Bhau launched a fierce assault on the centre of Afghan Army, over 3,000 Durrani soldiers were killed alongside Haji Atai Khan, one of the chief commander of Afghan army and nephew of wazir Shah Wali Khan. Such was the fierce assault of Maratha infantry in hand-to-hand combat that Afghan armies started to flee and the wazir in desperation and rage shouted, "Comrades Whither do you fly, our country is far off". Post battle, Ahmad Shah Abdali in a letter to one Indian ruler claimed that Afghans were able to defeat the Marathas only because of the blessings of almighty and any other army would have been destroyed by the Maratha army on that particular day even though Maratha army was numerically inferior to Afghan army and its Indian allies. Though Abdali won the battle, he also had heavy casualties on his side. So, he sought immediate peace with the Marathas. Abdali wrote in his letter to Peshwa on February 10, 1761:
There is no reason to have animosity amongst us. Your son Vishwasrao and your brother Sadashivrao died in battle, was unfortunate. Bhau started the battle, so I had to fight back unwillingly. Yet I feel sorry for his death. Please continue your guardianship of Delhi as before, to that I have no opposition. Only let Punjab until Sutlaj remain with us. Reinstate Shah Alam on Delhi's throne as you did before and let there be peace and friendship between us, this is my ardent desire. Grant me that desire.
Similarly, the Duke of Wellington, after defeating the Marathas, noted that the Marathas, though poorly led by their Generals, had regular infantry and artillery that matched the level of that of the Europeans and warned other British officers from underestimating the Marathas on the battlefield. He cautioned one British general that: "You must never allow Maratha infantry to attack head on or in close hand to hand combat as in that your army will cover itself with utter disgrace". Even when Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, became the Prime Minister of Britain, he held the Maratha infantry in utmost respect, claiming it to be one of the best in the world. However, at the same time he noted the poor leadership of Maratha Generals, who were often responsible for their defeats. Charles Metcalfe, one of the ablest of the British Officials in India and later acting Governor-General, wrote in 1806:
Norman Gash says that the Maratha infantry was equal to that of British infantry. After the Third Anglo-Maratha war in 1818, Britain listed the Marathas as one of the Martial Races to serve in the British Indian Army. The 19th century diplomat Sir Justin Sheil commented about the British East India Company copying the French Indian army in raising an army of Indians:
It is to the military genius of the French that we are indebted for the formation of the Indian army. Our warlike neighbours were the first to introduce into India the system of drilling native troops and converting them into a regularly disciplined force. Their example was copied by us, and the result is what we now behold. The French carried to Persia the same military and administrative faculties, and established the origin of the present Persian regular army, as it is styled. When Napoleon the Great resolved to take Iran under his auspices, he dispatched several officers of superior intelligence to that country with the mission of General Gardanne in 1808. Those gentlemen commenced their operations in the provinces of Azerbaijan and Kermanshah, and it is said with considerable success.
Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bawdekar was a court administrator who rose from the ranks of a local Kulkarni to the ranks of Ashtapradhan under guidance and support of Shivaji. He was one of the prominent Peshwas from the time of Shivaji, prior to the rise of the later Peshwas who controlled the empire after Shahuji.
When Rajaram fled to Jinji in 1689 leaving Maratha Empire, he gave a Hukumat Panha (King Status) to Pant before leaving. Ramchandra Pant managed the entire state under many challenges like influx of Mughals, betrayal from Vatandars (local satraps under the Maratha state) and social challenges like scarcity of food. With the help of Pantpratinidhi, Sachiv, he kept the economic condition of Maratha Empire in an appropriate state.
In 1698, he stepped down from the post of Hukumat Panha when Rajaram offered this post to his wife, Tarabai. Tarabai gave an important position to Pant among senior administrators of Maratha State. He wrote Adnyapatra (मराठी: आज्ञापत्र) in which he has explained different techniques of war, maintenance of forts and administration etc. But owing to his loyalty to Tarabai against Shahuji (who was supported by more local satraps), he was sidelined after the arrival of Shahuji in 1707.
Nana Phadnavis was an influential minister and statesman of the Maratha Empire during the Peshwa administration. After the assassination of Peshwa Narayanrao in 1773, Nana Phadnavis managed the affairs of the state with the help of a twelve-member regency council known as the Barbhai council and he remained the chief strategist of Maratha state till his death in 1800 AD. Nana Phadnavis played a pivotal role in holding the Maratha Confederacy together in the midst of internal dissension and the growing power of British. Nana's administrative, diplomatic and financial skills brought prosperity to the Maratha Empire and his management of external affairs kept the Maratha Empire away from the thrust of the British East India Company.
From Balaji Vishwanath onwards, actual power gradually shifted to the Bhat family Peshwas based in Pune.
The Thanjavur Marathas were the rulers of Thanjavur principality of Tamil Nadu between the 17th and 19th centuries. Their native language was Thanjavur Marathi. Venkoji, Shahaji's son and Shivaji's half brother, was the founder of the dynasty.
List of rulers of Thanjavur Maratha dynasty :
Serfoji, Tanjore Maharaja (1979). Journal of the Tanjore Maharaja Serfoji's Sarasvati Mahal Library.
The Anglo–Maratha Wars were three wars fought in the Indian sub-continent between Maratha Empire and the British East India Company:
First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782)
Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1806)
Third Anglo-Maratha War, also known as the Pindari War (1817–1818)Battle of Alegaon
The Battle of Alegaon was fought between Nizam Ali Khan of Hyderabad and Raghunathrao of the Maratha Empire against Madhavrao I of the Maratha Empire. Raghunathrao had established an alliance with Nizam Ali Khan of Hyderabad. When conflict arose between Raghunathrao and Madhavrao I, a joint campaign between Nizam Ali Khan and Raghunathrao resulted in Madhavrao I being heavily defeated. Madhavrao I surrendered on November 12, 1762. Nizam Ali Khan got all of his previously lost territories that were lost at the Battle of Udgir. Madhavrao I submitted to his uncle, Raghunathrao.Battle of Bhopal
The Battle of Bhopal was fought on 24 December 1737 in Bhopal between the Maratha Empire and the combined army of Mughals and their allies (Rajputs of Amber).Battle of Chakan
The Battle of Chakan was fought between the Maratha Empire and the Mughal Empire in the year 1660.Battle of Purandar
The Battle of Purandar was fought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire in 1665. The Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, sent his general Jai Singh to besiege Shivaji's fortress at Purandar. After Mughal forces killed Maratha General Murarbaji on June 2nd, 1665, Shivaji surrendered and gave up 23 of his fortresses. Most of the fortresses were later recaptured by Marathas.Battle of Satara
The Battle of Satara was fought between the Mughal Empire and Maratha Empire between 1699–1700. Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb ordered for an attack on the fort of Satara. The Mughals destroyed major parts of the fortress and Maratha commander Subhanji surrendered on April 21, 1700.Battle of Torna
The Battle of Torna was fought on between the Mughal Empire and the Maratha Empire. Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb ordered to besiege the fortress of Torna where Mughal Generals, Muhammad Amin Khan and Tarbiyat Khan stormed into Torna and defeated the Marathas. In recognition of the difficult defense the Mughals had to overcome to capture this fort, Aurangzeb renamed it as Futulgaib.First Battle of Katwa
The First Battle of Katwa occurred between Bengal and Maratha Empire in 1742. The Marathas initially attacked and captured Katwa and Hooghly in Bengal. The Nawab of Bengal Alivardi Khan responded with a direct attack on the Maratha camp at Katwa and inflicted so heavy losses on them that the entire Maratha army was driven out of Bengal on 17 September 1742.Jankibai
Janki Bhosale (née Gujar) (1675 - 2 March 1700 CE) was Empress consort of the Maratha Empire as the first wife of Rajaram Chhatrapati.
Jankibai was the daughter of Prataprao Gujar, an aristocratic general, who was the commander-in-chief of the Maratha Empire. Her father died in a battle against the Mughals at Nesari on 24 February 1674. Shivaji, the king of the Marathas upon hearing the solemn news, grieved his general's death. As a result, he married his second son, the ten-year-old Rajaram to the five-year-old Jankibai. They got married in a grand ceremony that took place in Raigad Fort on 7 March 1680. Her father-in-law Shivaji died on 3 April 1680, twenty five days after her marriage.Jijabai
Jijabai Shahaji Bhosale (12 January 1598 – 17 June 1674), referred to as Rajmata Jijabai, was the mother of Shivaji, founder of Maratha Empire. She was a daughter of Lakhuji Jadhavrao of Sindhkhed.Madhavrao I
Madhav Rao I (February 14, 1745 – November 18, 1772) was the fourth Peshwa of the Maratha Empire. During his tenure, the Maratha empire recovered from the losses they suffered during the Third Battle of Panipat, a phenomenon known as Maratha Resurrection. He is considered one of the greatest Peshwas in Maratha history.Maratha emperors
The Maratha emperors, belonging to the Bhonsale dynasty, from the early 17th century to the early 18th century, built and ruled the Maratha Empire on the Indian subcontinent, mainly corresponding to the modern countries of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Their power rapidly dwindled during the 19th century and the last of the emperors was deposed in 1818, with the establishment of the British Raj. At their empire's greatest extent in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, they controlled much of the Indian subcontinent, extending from Bengal in the east to Atak and Sindh in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Peshwas served as subordinates to the Chhatrapati (the Maratha king), but later, they became the leaders of the Marathas, and the Chatrapati was reduced to a nominal ruler. During the last years of the Maratha Empire, Peshwa were instrumental in expanding the Maratha Empire to this extent.Moropant Trimbak Pingle
Moropant Tryambak Pinglay (1620–1683), also known as Moropant Peshwā, was the peshwa of the Maratha Empire, serving on Chatrapati ShivajiMaharaja's Ashta Pradhan Council of Eight (English-Ashtapradhan Mandal, Marathi-अष्टप्रधान मंडळ).Peshwa
A Peshwa was the equivalent of a modern Prime Minister in the Maratha Empire of the Indian subcontinent. Originally, the Peshwas served as subordinates to the Chhatrapati (the Maratha king), but later, they became the de facto leaders of the Marathas, and the Chatrapati was reduced to a nominal ruler. During the last years of the Maratha Empire, the Peshwas themselves were reduced to titular leaders, and remained under the authority of the Maratha nobles and the British East India Company.
All the Peshwas during the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji and Sambhaji belonged to Deshastha Brahmin community The first Peshwa was Moropant Pingle, who was appointed as the head of the Ashta Pradhan (council of eight ministers) by Chhatrapati Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire. The initial Peshwas were all ministers who served as the chief executives to the king. The later Peshwas held the highest administrative office and also controlled the Maratha confederacy. Under the Chitpavan Brahmin Bhat family, the Peshwas became the de facto hereditary administrators of the Confederacy. The Peshwa's office was most powerful under Baji Rao I (r. 1720-1740). Under Peshwa administration and with the support of several key generals and diplomats, the Maratha Empire reached its zenith, ruling major areas of India. However, after the Peshwa Raghunathrao allied himself with the British, the Peshwa's power declined substantially. The subsequent Peshwas were titular leaders and are said to be responsible for the downfall of the Maratha empire, due to inefficiency in handling the affairs of the state. Later on many provinces were controlled and administered either by the Maratha nobles such as Daulat Rao Sindhia or by the East India Company. During this period, the Maratha confederacy came to its end through its formal annexation into the British Empire in 1818.Putalabai
Putalabai Bhosale was the third queen of Shivaji Maharaj. She was married to Shivaji Maharaj in the year 1653 and was from Palkar Family. Putalabai was the youngest of the surviving wives of Raja Shivaji. Being childless she went sati in funeral pyre of Shivaji Maharaj.Rajaram II of Satara
Rajaram II Bhonsle, also known as Ramaraja, was the 6th monarch of Maratha Empire. He was an adopted son of Chhattrapati Shahu. Tarabai had presented him to Shahu as her own grandson and used him to grab power after Shahu's death. However, after being sidelined, she stated that Rajaram II was only an impostor. Nevertheless, Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao retained him as the titular Chhatrapati. In reality, Peshwa and other chiefs had all the executive power, while Rajaram II was only a figurehead.Sakvarbai
Sakvarbai was a wife of Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of the Maratha empire in India.
Sakvarbai Gaikwad got married to Shivaji in January 1656 and later gave birth to a daughter. After Shivaji's death in 1680, Sakvarbai had wanted to commit sati just like her husband's third wife Putalabai, who was childless. But she was not allowed to do so because she had a daughter.Shivneri
Shivneri Fort is a 17th-century military fortification located near Junnar in Pune district in Maharashtra, India. It is the birthplace of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the founder of Maratha Empire.Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi
Shriniwasrao Parshuram (1687 – 1746 CE), popularly known as Shripatrao Pratinidhi or Shripatrao Pant Pratinidhi , was a General of the Maratha Empire. He served as Pratinidhi (Chief Delegate) during Chhatrapati Shahu I reign.
After the death of his father Parshuram Pant Pratinidhi in 1718, Shripat Rao won the favour of Shahu by his brilliant efforts as a soldier fighting many battles in the defence of the Maratha Empire. In 1718, he was appointed as the Pant Pratinidhi of Maratha Empire.Shripatrao was not only a very able administrator and organizer, but a great statesman too. His work to consolidate the Maratha Raj has been praised by most of its historians. Shahu Maharaj depended upon the advice of Shripatrao.If owing to some unavoidable reasons Rao didn't present at the court at the usual hour the king would go to his house and inquire about him.Thus Shripatrao, unlike his father had no problem of loyalty to Chatrapathi Shripatrao was asked by peshwas to establish his headquarters at Poona. Rao consistently refused to do so. He wanted to be at the side of King of the Maratha Empire, and away from the intrigues pomp, pride, and debauchery of the Peshwa court.