The Marathas managed to overcome the
crisis caused by their defeat at Panipat and after a decade recovered their
control over Delhi. However the old Maratha Confederacy controlled by the
Peshwa had given way to five virtually independent states. Peshwa at Pune,
Gaikwads at Baroda, Bhonsle at Nagpur, Holkars at Indore, and Scindias at
Gwalior. The Peshwa’s government was weakened by internal rivalries, and the
other four leaders were often hostile to one another. Despite this, the
Marathas were still a formidable power. The internal conflict among the
Marathas was best utilized by the British in their expansionist policy.
Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82)
In the case of the Marathas, the
first British intervention was at the time of dispute over succession to the
Peshwaship following the death of Narayan Rao. After the death of Narayan Rao,
Raghunath Rao (Raghoba) became the Peshwa, but his authority was challenged by a
strong party at Poona under Nana Phadnavis. The party recognised the infant
born posthumously to Narayan Rao’s wife, Ganga Bai, as the Peshwa and set up a
council of regency in his name. Having failed in his bid to capture power,
Raghunath Rao approached the British for help. The Treaty of Surat between the
English and Raghunath Rao was concluded in 1775. However, the majority of the
Supreme British Council in Calcutta was opposed to the Surat treaty, although
Warren Hastings himself had no objection to ratifying the treaty. The council
sent Colonel Upton to Poona to negotiate a peace with the Poona regency.
Accordingly, Upton concluded the Treaty of Purandhar in 1776. The treaty,
however, did not take effect due to opposition from the English government in
In 1781, Warren Hastings dispatched British troops under Captain Popham. He defeated the Maratha chief, Mahadaji Scindia, in a number of small battles and captured Gwalior. Later on 17th May 1782, the Treaty of Salbai was signed between Warren Hastings and Mahadaji Scindia.
* Raghunath Rao was pensioned off and
Madhav Rao II was accepted as the Peshwa.
* Salsette was given to the British.
* The Treaty of Salbai established the British
influence in Indian politics. It provided the British twenty years of peace
with the Marathas.
The internal affairs of the Marathas
The internal affairs of the Marathas
deteriorated further after the close of the first Maratha War. Nana Fadnavis
grew fond of power, jealous of Mahadaji Scindia and became progressively
inclined to seek the support of the English. The young Peshwa, Madhava Rao II,
tried to improve the affairs but could not check the rivalry of the Maratha
chiefs. Mahadaji Scindia died in 1794 and was succeeded by his grand nephew
Daulat Rao Scindia. His death left Nana Fadnavis supreme at Poona and the
English to expand their influence in north India. Peshwa Madhav Rao II
committed suicide in 1795, and BajiRao II, worthless son of Raghunath Rao,
became the Peshwa. The death of Nana Phadnavis in 1800 gave the British an
Jaswant Rao Holkar and Daulat Rao
Scindia were fighting against each other. The Peshwa supported Scindia against
Holkar. The Peshwa and the Scindia agreed to help each other.Holkar marched
against the Peshwa. The combined forces of Scindia and the Peshwa were utterly
defeated in 1802 and captured the city. BajiRao II approached Lord Wellesley,
the then Governor-General of India, for help. Lord Wellesley welcomed the
Peshwa and made him sign the Treaty of Bassein, in other words, the Treaty of
Subsidiary Alliance, accepting the status of a British subsidiary in 1802. As
an immediate to the Treaty of Bassein, the British troops marched under the
command of Arthur Wellesely towards Poona and restored the Peshwa to his
position. The forces of Holkar vanished from the Maratha capital.
Anglo-Maratha War (1803-05)
After accepted the subsidiary
alliance by the Peshwa, Daulat Rao Scindia and Raghoji Bhonsle attempted to
save Maratha's independence. But the well prepared and organised army of the
English under Arthur Wellesely defeated the combined armies of Scindia and
Bhonsle at Assaye and Argaon.
The English forced them to conclude
separate subsidiary treaties namely the Treaty of Deogaon and the Treaty of
Surji-Arjungaon respectively in 1803. But, Yashwant Rao Holkar (also called as
Jaswant Rao Holkar) was yet undefeated. He had not participated in the war so
far. Holkar plundered the territory of Jaipur and, in 1804, the English
declared war against him. Yashwant Rao Holkar made an attempt to form a
coalition of Indian rulers to fight against the British. But his attempt proved
unsuccessful. The Marathas were defeated, reduced to British vassalage and
islolated from one another.
* The Maratha power was gradually
* The English East India Company
started becoming the paramount power in India.
The Third Anglo-Maratha War
The Third Anglo-Maratha War was the
final and decisive conflict between the British East India Company and the
Maratha Empire in India. It began with an invasion of the Maratha territory by
British East India Company troops. The troops were led by the Governor General
Hastings and he was supported by a force under General Thomas Hislop.
The Peshwa Baji Rao II's forces,
followed by those ofMudhoji II Bhonsle of Nagpur andMalhar Rao Holkar III of
Indore, rose against the British. Daulat Rao Scindia of Gwalior remained
neutral. The Peshwa was defeated in the battles of Khadki and Koregaon and
several minor battles were fought by the Peshwa's forces to prevent his
capture. Bhonsle was defeated in the battle of Sitabaldi and Holkar in the
battle of Mahidpur.
*The Maratha confederacy was
dissolved and Peshwaship was abolished.
* Most of the territory of Peshwa
Baji Rao II was annexed and became part of the Bombay Presidency.
* The defeat of the Bhonsle and
Holkar also resulted in the acquisition of the Maratha kingdoms of Nagpur and
Indore by the British.
* The Baji Rao II, the last Peshwa
of Maratha was given an annual pension of 8 lakh rupees.