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The Marathas (1649-1748)

The Marathas (1649-1748):

At the beginning of the 17th century, most of the territory in the Maharashtra were under the position of Nizamshah of Ahmednagar and the Adilshah of Bijapur. They took the help of local, Marathi speaking people to run their administration. They recruited a large number of Maratha sardas and soldiers in their armies.

Shahji Bhonsle (1627-1680): The Bhonsle family of the Poona district acquired military and political advantage in the Ahmadnagar kingdom at the close of the 16th century. Shahji Bhonsle was married to Jija Bai. He sought fortune under the Sultan of Bijapur and had his Jagir at Poona.

Shivaji (1627-1680 A.D.) :- Shivaji was the son of Shahji Bhonsle. When he was 14 years old, his father entrusted the administration of the Pune Jagir to him. Shivaji’s responded to the aspiration of masses. Shivaji realised that he could establish a welfare state for the benefit of his subjects only by controlling the neighbouring forts and building new ones.


Shivaji showed his mettle at the young age of 18, when he overrun a number of hill forts near Poona- Rajgarh, Kondana and Torana during 1645-1647. Shivaji became his real career of conquest in 1656, when he conquered Javli from the Maratha Chief, Chandra Rao More. The Mughal invasion of Bijapur in 1657 saved Shivaji from the latter’s reprisal. Shivaji visit to Agra: Shivaji reached Agra in 1666, and was admitted in the hall of public audience. The emperor gave him a cold reception by making him stand among the mansabdars. A humiliated and angry Shivaji walked out of the court. He, along with his son, was put under house arrest. However, they tricked their guards and managed to escape in a basket of sweets which was to be sent as a gift to the consolidating his position and reorganising his administration, Shivaji renewed his was against the Mughals and gradully recovered many of his forts.

Important Events In Shivaji’s Life
  • Birth : 1627
  • Conquest of Tornana: 1646
  • Conquest of Kondana fort : 1647
  • Shivaji kills Afzal Khan : 1659
  • Attack on Surat : 1664; 1670
  • Coronation: 1674

Shivaji Adminstration: Shivaji laid the foundation of a sound system of administration. Shivaji system of administration was a largely borrowed from the administrative practice of the Deccan States. Although he designated eight ministers, sometimes called the Ashtapradhan it was not in the nature of the Council of ministers, each minister being directly responsible to the ruler.

Military system : In Army administration, Shivaji prefer to give cash raise to the regular soldiers, though sometimes the Chief received revenue grants. The regular army consisting of about 30,000 to 40,000.

Shivaji laid the foundation of a strong state by curbing the power of deshmukhs . The Army was an effective instrument of his policies where rapidity of movement was the most important factor. The army dependent for its salaries to a considerable extent on the plunder of the neighbouring areas.

The Rise of Peshwas :-


Balaji Viswanath (1713-1720) : He began his career as a small revenue official and was given the title of Sena Karte (maker of the Army) by Shahu 1708. He became Peshwa in 1730 and made the post of most important and powerful as well as hereditary. He played a crucial role in the final victory of Shahu over the Mughuls by winning over almost all the Marathas Sardas to the side of Shahu. He concluded an agreement with the Sayyid brothers (1719) by which the Mogul emperor recognised Shahu as the king of the Swarajya .


Baji Rao (1720-1740) : Baji Rao, the eldest son of Balaji Viswanath, became Pashwa at the yound age of 20. He was considered the greatest exponent of gurrilla tactic after Shivaji and Maratha Power reached zenith under him. Baji Rao I conquered Bassein and Salsette from the Portuguese (1733). He also defeated the Nizar-ul-Mulk near Bhopal and concluded the Treaty of Durai Sarai by which he got Malwa and Bundelkhand from the latter (1737). 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 “Let us strike at the trunk of the withering tree and the branches will fall of themselves.”


Balaji Baji Rao (1740-61) : Known as Nana Saheb, he succeeded his father at the age of 20. After the death of Sahu (1749), the management of all state of affairs was left in his hands. In an agreement with the Mughul emperor, the Peshwa (1752) was to protect the Mughal empire from internal and external enemies in return for the Chauth.

Third Battle of Panipat: Faught in 1761, the Maratha forces were routed by the forces of Ahmad Shah Abdali. Vishwas Rao, son of Nana Saheb, lost his life.

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