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Medieval History / Marathas

History of Maratha Empire


    Mahabharata gave reference to Marathas and Andhras, who sided Kauravas. Sahadeva defeated Marathas and Andhras. If we talk about the history of Maratha empire, in the first half of 18th C, the Marathas became a superpower ( they ruled from Delhi to Mysore and from Cuttack to Attock in Sindh). In the beginning of 19th C, Marathas were defeated by the Britishers.

    • Shivaji's grandfather Maloji Bhonsle was an ordinary soldier in Ahmadnagar Sultanate. Shivaji's father Shahji Bhonsle became the PM of Ahmadnagar. Ahmednagar rulers gave Pune jagir to Shahji.
    • In 1627 Shivaji was born in Shivneri Fort. Mother of Shivaji is Jijabai. At a very tender age, he became Jagirdar of Pune. He was trained by two teachers, Dadaji Kondadev, who trained Shivaji in warfare and administration and Samarth Ramdas (Bhakti saint), who was a religious and spiritual teacher of Shivaji.
    • Many Bijapur territories were conquered by Shivaji. In 1659, Afzal Khan, commander of Bijapur, was deputed by Bijapur Sultan to defeat Shivaji. But Khan was murdered by Shivaji. Shivaji used to loot the cities like Junnar, Ahmednagar, Surat, etc. Surat was twice looted, first in 1664 and next in 1670.
    • By looting the cities, he threw a challenge to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb sent Shaista Khan to end Shivaji but Khan failed. When Shaista Khan attacked Pune and occupied it for some time, on a fine day, Shivaji attacked Khan injuring him seriously and massacring a lot of Mughal soldiers.
    • Later Aurangzeb deputed Raja Jai Singh. Shivaji was defeated and a treaty was concluded at Purandar in 1665. 23 Forts were surrendered to Mughals. His son Sambhaji was admitted into Mughal service. By the terms of the treaty, Shivaji has to visit the court of Aurangzeb. But the treaty was violated by Shivaji. He brought back all the Forts. In 1674, he had a formal coronation. He claimed himself belonging to Sisodia dynasty. He took himself the title Chhatrapati. His capital was being Raigarh.
    • After coronation, his only victory was Bellary. Gingee (or Jinji) and Vellore were conquered from his cousin Ekoji. In 1680, Shivaji passed away. After him, his son Sambhaji came to power.
    • Sambhaji (1680-1689) followed the policy adopted by his father. In 1681, he gave Shelter to Prince Akbar (son of Aurangzeb). With this Aurangzeb decided to come to Deccan and settle three issues namely Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Sambhaji.
    • In 1689, in the battle of Sangameshwar, Sambhaji was killed and his son Shahu (9 years at that time) was sent to Delhi as a prisoner. Rajaram, who is the brother of Sambhaji came to power and ruled between 1689 and 1700. He was proficient in Guerrilla warfare.
    • Aurangzeb captured Raigarh and Rajaram escaped from Raigarh and reached Jinji (in TN) and made it as capital. And then he reached Maharashtra and made Satara as capital, which became the permanent capital of Marathas.
    • After Rajaram, his wife Tarabai (expert in Guerrilla warfare) became the queen. She caused huge losses to Mughal Army. Aurangzeb died in 1707 leaving Marathas unconquered.
    • After Aurangzeb, his son Bahadur Shah I came to power. He released Shahu (brought up in Red Fort for 17 years as a Prince) recognizing him as the king of Marathas.
    • In 1707, the Maratha kingdom was divided. A battle at Khed was fought between Tarabai and Shahu in which Tarabai got defeated. Shahu started ruling the Maratha empire.
    • During the reign of Shahu (1707-1749), rise of Peshwas (PM) started. Administration was taken over by the Peshwa. Peshwa became a hereditary post. Peshwas made Marathas as number one kingdom.