Maratha Empire


  • The Maratha Empire or the Maratha Confederacy was an Indian imperial power that existed from 1674 to 1818. The Marathas are credited with ending the Mughal rule in India.
  • The Marathas were a yeoman warrior group from the western Deccan that rose to prominence during the rule of the Adil Shahi dynasty and Ahmadnagar Sultanate.
  • The empire was founded by Shivaji Bhosle, who formally crowned himself Chhatrapati (“Emperor”) with Raigad as his capital in 1674, and successfully fought against the Mughal Empire. The Maratha Empire waged war for 27 years with the Mughals from 1681 to 1707, which became the longest war in the history of India. Shivaji, pioneered “Shiva sutra” or Ganimi Kava (guerrilla tactics), which leveraged strategic factors like demographics, speed, surprise and focused attack to defeat his bigger and more powerful enemies.
  • Venkoji, the younger half-brother of Shivaji, founded the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom.


  • In 1707 Shahu, a grandson of Shivaji, was released by the Bahadur Shah I, the new Mughal emperor after the death of Aurangzeb.The conditions laid by the Mughals for his release rendered him a vassal of the Mughal emperor and kept his mother a hostage of the Mughals in order to ensure that Shahuji adhered to the release conditions. Upon release,Shahu immediately claimed the Maratha throne and challenged his aunt Tarabai and her son. This promptly turned the now-spluttering Mughal-Maratha war into a three-cornered affair.
  • The states of Satara and Kolhapur came into being in 1707, because of the succession dispute over the Maratha kingship. By 1710, two separate principalities had become an established fact, eventually confirmed by the Treaty of Warna in 1731.
  • During this period, he appointed Balaji Vishwanath Bhat and later his descendants as the Peshwas or the prime ministers of the Maratha Empire.

After the death of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the empire expanded greatly under the rule of the Peshwas. The empire at its peak stretched from Tamil Nadu in the south, to Peshawar (modern-day Pakistan) on the Afghanistan border in the north, and Bengal and Andaman Islands in east.

In 1761, the Maratha army lost the Third Battle of Panipat to Afghan Durrani Empire, led by Ahmed Shah Abdali which halted their imperial expansion in North western India. Ten years after Panipat, young Madhavrao Peshwa reinstated the Maratha authority over North India.

In a bid to effectively manage the large empire, he gave semi-autonomy to the strongest of the knights, which created a confederacy of Maratha states. They became known as Gaekwads of Baroda, the Holkars of Indore and Malwa, the Scindias of Gwalior and Ujjain, Bhonsales of Nagpur. In 1775, the British East India Company intervened in a succession struggle in Pune, which became the First Anglo-Maratha War. Marathas remained the preeminent power in India until their defeat in the Second and Third Anglo-Maratha wars (1805–1818), which left the British East India Company in control of most of India.



1674 ·         After the coronation of Shivaji in 1674, he appointed Moropant Trimbak Pingle as the first Peshwa.
(Balaji Vishwanath)
·         Balaji Vishwanath Bhat (1662–1720), better known as Peshw Balaji Vishwanath, was the first of a series of hereditary Peshwas

·         First hereditary peshwa

·         Belonged to Brahmin Bhat family

·         Shahu appointed him Peshwa

·         In July 1718 Balaji negotiated a Maratha-Mughal treaty with Hussain Ali Khan (one of the sayyid brothers who was sent by Farrukhsiyar to administer deccan), demanding the Maratha right of “chauth” (literally: 1/4th of revenues) and “sardeshmukhi” (an additional 10% of revenues) of the old Mughal provinces of the Deccan. He agreed to treaty to use maratha forces in his favour in his fight with Farrukhsiyar

·         Farrukhsiyar refused to ratify this treaty and sought to depose and murder the Sayyids.

·         Farrukhsiyar was dethroned, blinded and imprisoned by the Sayyid’s, who substituted in his place a more pliable puppet, Rafi-ul-darjat in February 1719.

·         Assisted the Syed Brothers in deposing the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1719

Baji Rao 1 (1720 – 40) ·         Baji Rao I, popular with the nickname ‘Rau’.

·         He is credited with expanding the Maratha Empire, especially in the north, which contributed to its reaching a zenith during his son’s reign twenty years after Baji Rao’s death.

·         son of the first Bhat family Peshwa, Balaji Vishwanath

  • Baji Rao, who fought over 41 major battles and many others, is reputed never to have lost a battle.
  • He moved the administrative capital of the Maratha Empire from Satara to the city of Pune in 1728.
  • He selected Pune as his base and started construction of Shaniwar Wada (Seat of Peshwas) on the right bank of the Mutha river.
  • In 1732, after the death of Maharaja Chhatrasal, a long-time ally of the Maratha Empire, Baji Rao was granted one-third of Chhatrasal’s kingdom in Bundelkhand.
  • Baji Rao was loved by his troops and his people. He fought for the protection of Hindu Dharma, and freed central and western India from Mughals. Under his command, Marathas defeated the Siddis(Moghul admirals), Portuguese, and Nizam, Bangash and other generals.


·         Baji Rao also took Mastani as a wife. She was the daughter of Maharaja Chhatrasal of Panna by a Muslim wife.

·         She bore him a third son, who was named Krishnarao at birth. The Brahmins did not accept the boy as a pure Hindu Brahmin since his mother was a Muslim. Baji Rao’s love affair with Mastani caused a rift in the orthodox Hindu Pune society of the time, and led to a major crisis within the royal Peshwa family.

·         Bajirao ardently wanted Krishnarao to be invested with the “sacred thread” of Hinduism and be declared a Brahmin. But he could not get the orthodox Pune Brahmin priests to. He had to bring up the boy as a Muslim. Renamed Shamsher Bahadur, their son fought valiantly for the Marathas in the Battle of Panipat 1761, where he was killed at the age of nearly 27. Shamsher Bahadur’s own son, Ali Bahadur, later ruled over Baji Rao’s lands in Bundelkhand, and founded the state of Banda, Uttar Pradesh.


Balaji Baji Rao (1740 – 1761) ·         Nanasaheb Peshwa (b.8 Dec. 1720, d. 23 Jun. 1761), also known as Balaji Baji Rao, was the son of Bajirao from his marriage with Kashibai

·         He contributed heavily to the development of the city of Pune, India and made many peths (neighbourhoods) called the ravivar peth budhwar peth etc.

·         He was appointed as Peshwa by issueless Chattrapati Shahu himself at the time of his death.

·         He built the famous Parvati temple atop a hillock that overlooks the city of Pune and built the first permanent bridge across the river Mutha.

·         Nanasaheb lost his cousin, Sadashivrao Bhau (sent as commander in 3rd ), and his eldest son, Vishwasrao, at the Third Battle of Panipat. He could not recover from the shock, and died soon after probably from a consumptive illness.

Madhav Rao I (1761 1772) ·         Fraught with internal dissensions and successful Wars with the Nizam

·         Internal dissensions with uncle Raghunath Rao

·         War with Hyder Ali in 1764 and almost defeated him. He sent Raghunath Rao who forged a treaty with Hyder Ali, to his disappointment

·         His wife Ramabai performed sati

Narayan Rao (1772 – 1773) ·         Assassinated by his guards on plot by Raghunath Rao
Raghunath Rao (1773-74) ·         He was instrumental in the downfall of the Peshwa clan.

·         Raghunathrao, also known as “Raghoba” and “Ragho Bharari,” was the younger brother of Nanasaheb Peshwa.

·         His first expedition during 1753–1755 was concluded by an advantageous treaty with Jat. In his second expedition he expanded the Maratha Empire to Peshawar (now in Pakistan) until 1760.

·         He is favorably remembered by Hindus for the fact that during that expedition he brought an end to Muslim rule at Hindu religious places such as Mathura, Vrindavan, Gaya, Kurukshetra.

·         Raghunathrao imprisoned Mughal Emperor Ahmad Shah Bahadur and made Alamgir II Emperor in his place.

·         After Narayanrao’s murder, Raghoba became Peshwa, but he was shortly overthrown by Nana Phadnis and 11 other administrators in what is called “The Baarbhaai Conspiracy” (Conspiracy by the Twelve).

Madhav Rao II (1774-96) ·         Dominated by the political intrigues of Nana Phadnis. Saw the resurgence of Maratha power in North India.

·         Nana Phadnis was called “the Marattha Machiavelli” by the Europeans.

·         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.

·         The council was Nana’s mastermind plan to protect, Madhavrao II, son of Narayanrao, borne posthumously,to Gangabai, the widow of Narayanrao from the Peshwa family’s internal conflicts.

·         1775 – 82 First Anglo Maratha war

·         Treaty of Surat to Treaty of Salbai

·         Peace with English

Baji Rao (1796-1818) ·         His reign was marked by confrontations with the British.

·         1st Reign – Was defeated by Yashwantrao Holkar, ruler of Indore, at the Battle of Poona. Fled to British protection, and in December 1802, concluded the Treaty of Bassein with the British East India Company, ceding territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary force and agreeing to treaty with no other power. This provoked the Second Anglo-Maratha War that began the breakup of the Maratha confederacy.

·         2nd Reign – During his second reign began the Third Anglo-Maratha War. After the defeat at the Battle of Koregaon in January 1818, he was on the run from the British.

·         Eventually, the British took over his dominion and made the Maratha King Pratap Singh of Satara declare in favour of the British and this ended the Peshwa’s legal position as head of the Maratha confederacy.

·         Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British East India Company in the Battle of Khadki which was a part of Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818).

·         On 3 June 1818, Baji Rao surrendered to the British; he was banished to Bithur near Kanpur.

Nana Sahib


·         Was a leader during the Indian Uprising of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he sought to restore the Maratha confederacy and the Peshwa tradition.

·         The Last Peshwa


January 2, 2018

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