The Maratha Empire and the British East India Company engaged in three territorial conflicts in India known as the Anglo-Maratha Wars. What were the reasons for the Three Anglo-Maratha wars? What were their outcomes? What were the reasons for the defeat of the Marathas? Read the article to know more about the Marathas and the British.
Three Anglo-Maratha wars took place between the late 18th and early 19th centuries between the British and the Marathas.
- One of the Mughal Empire’s most tenacious adversaries, the Marathas, got the chance to rise to power as the empire was overthrown.
- They had control over a sizable portion of the continent and were paid tribute by nations who were not directly under their rule.
- They were in Lahore by the middle of the 18th century and were considering ruling the North Indian empire and serving as king-makers at the Mughal court.
- Although Ahmad Shah Abdali defeated them in the Third Battle of Panipat (1761), which altered the situation, they were able to regroup, regain their strength, and take control of India within a decade.
- The most renowned Peshwa of all time, Bajirao I (1720–40), founded a coalition of prominent Maratha chiefs to oversee the rapidly expanding Maratha power and, to some extent, appease the Kshatriya faction of the Marathas, led by Senapati Dabodi.
- Each prominent family under a chief was given a sphere of influence within the Maratha confederacy’s organisational structure, which he was expected to subdue and rule over in the name of the then-Maratha monarch, Shahu.
- Under Bajirao I to Madhavrao I, the confederacy ran smoothly, until the Third Battle of Panipat (1761) changed everything.
- Although the confederacy’s leaders occasionally united, such as when fighting the British (1775–82), they usually fought among themselves.
Peshwa Bajirao (1720–40)
- Shrimant, the seventh Peshwa Peshwa the Maratha Empire was expanded by Baji Rao I, also known as Bajirao Ballal, to include a major portion of present-day India.
- On August 18, 1700, Balaji Vishwanath and his wife Radhabhai Barve had a son named Baji Rao.
- Baji Rao I directed the Maratha’s focus away from Deccan and toward the north.
- He is recognised as the first Indian to see the Mughals’ weakness and waning power. He was well aware of Delhi’s vulnerability to the Mughal emperors.
- The idiom “Attock to Cuttack” refers to the Maratha Kingdom that Baji Rao-I imagined and wanted to raise the Saffron Flag above the ramparts of Attock.
- Baji Rao-I participated in 41 wars and never suffered a defeat.
- This astute Maratha Prime Minister was successful in uniting the Marathas who had scattered after Shivaji’s demise.
- The Scindias, under the leadership of Ranoji Shinde of Gwalior, the Holkars, under Malharrao of Indore, the Gaekwads, under Pilaji of Baroda, and the Pawars, under Udaiji of Dhar, are all members of the Confederacy.
- He was able to acquire one-third of Bundelkhand upon the passing of Maharaja Chhattrasal.
- Mastani, his half-Muslim sweetheart from Bundelkhand, was not accepted into Maratha culture.
- He moved the Marathas’ administrative centre from Satara to Pune.
- Balaji Baji Rao succeeded his father Baji Rao-I when the latter passed away in 1740 due to sickness.
Marathas versus British
The English finally prevailed in three battles between the Marathas and the English for governmental hegemony during the latter quarter of the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century. These conflicts resulted from the English’s great ambition and the Marathas’ split house, which gave them a reason to believe their endeavour would succeed.
The English in Bombay planned to establish an administration resembling that of Clive in Orissa, Bihar, and Bengal. The Marathas’ disagreement over succession provided the English with a long-awaited opportunity.
Causes of the Conflicts
The Great Maratha Wars or the Anglo-Maratha Wars refer to the three conflicts fought in India between the British East India Company and the Maratha confederacy or the Maratha Empire.
- The Maratha Empire in India was destroyed along with the British victory in the wars, which started in 1777 and ended in 1818.
- The third Peshwa, Balaji Baji Rao, passed away on June 23, 1761, the day after the Marathas were beaten at the Battle of Panipat.
- After his death, his son Madhav Rao took over as ruler.
- He was a capable and competent commander who kept his nobles and chiefs united and swiftly succeeded in regaining the lost power and dignity of the Marathas.
- As the Marathas’ authority increased, the British grew more cautious of them and worked to prevent their restoration.
- The British were free to assault the Marathas after Madhav Rao’s death in 1772.
Anglo-Maratha War I (1775–82)
- The British’s increasing intervention in Maratha internal and external matters, as well as the rivalry for power between Madhav Rao and Raghunath Rao, were the primary causes of the first Maratha war.
- When Peshwa Madhav Rao passed away, his younger brother Narain Rao succeeded him as Peshwa, but Raghunath Rao actually wanted the position.
- So, in exchange for Salsette and Bessien as well as income from the Surat and Bharuch provinces, he asked the English to help kill him and make him Peshwa.
- Raghunath Rao received help from the British, who also provided him with 2,500 troops.
- The Peshwa was invaded and defeated by the English and Raghunath Rao’s combined force.
- The Pact of Surat was signed on March 6, 1775, but it was not approved by the British Calcutta Council. Colonel Upton, who abandoned Raghunath’s sovereignty and only promised him a pension, revoked the contract in Pune.
- Raghunath was given shelter notwithstanding the Bombay administration’s denial of this.
- Nana Phadnis gave the French a port on the west coast in 1777, breaking the agreement with the Calcutta Council.
- As a result, fighting broke out between British and Maratha forces at Wadgaon, just outside of Pune.
First Anglo-Maratha War’s outcome
- The East India Company held Salsette and Bessien.
- The Marathas also gave it a guarantee that they would get their Deccan holdings back from Hyder Ali of Mysore.
- In addition, the Marathas swore not to give the French any other provinces.
- Every year, Raghunathrao was to receive a pension of Rs. 3 lakh.
- Following the Purandar Treaty, the British handed over to the Marathas all areas they had taken by force.
- Madhavrao II, Narayanrao’s son, was recognised as the Peshwa by the English.
Anglo-Maratha War II (1803–05)
- The British East India Company and the Maratha Empire engaged in combat in Central India between 1803 and 1805 during the Second Anglo-Maratha War.
- The second Maratha war was primarily sparked by the Holkars, one of the major Maratha clans, defeating Peshwa Baji Rao II.
- As a result, Peshwa Baji Rao II signed the Treaty of Bassein in December 1802, requesting British protection.
- Other Maratha kings, such as the Gwalior-based Scindia rulers and the Nagpur and Berar-based Bhonsle rulers, would not accept this and attempted to fight the British.
- As a result, in Central India, the second Anglo-Maratha war broke out in 1803.
Second Anglo-Maratha War’s outcome
- In these battles, the Maratha army was completely routed by the British.
- An infant was installed on the throne under British guidance.
- The Peshwa gave up in 1818.
- After being removed, he withdrew to a small estate in Bithur (near Kanpur). The Bombay Presidency took over most of his territory.
- His adopted son, Nana Saheb, served as the revolt’s leader in Kanpur in 1857.
- The Central Provinces of British India were created from the Pindaris’ territories.
- The outcome of this fight was the demise of the Maratha Empire. The Maratha kingdoms were all seized by the British.
- An unidentified Chhatrapati Shivaji ancestor was appointed as the Maratha Confederacy’s ceremonial leader in Satara.
- The British were given the territory of Rohtak, Ganga-Yamuna Doab, Gurgaon, the Delhi-Agra region, Broach, numerous Gujarati districts, portions of Bundelkhand, and the Ahmednagar fort when the Scindias signed the Surji-Anjangaon Treaty in 1803.
- The Treaty of Deogaon, which was signed by the Bhonsle in 1803, gave the English control over Cuttack, Balasore, and the area west of the Wardha River.
- In 1805, the Holkars agreed to the Treaty of Rajghat, which gave the British Tonk, Bundi, and Rampura.
- The British took over substantial portions of central India as a result of the conflict.
Anglo-Maratha War III (1817–19)
- The rising Maratha desire to restore their lost territory and the British’s oppressive rule over Maratha nobles and chiefs were the two main factors that led to the third and final conflict between the British and the Marathas.
- The British dispute with the Pindaris, who the British thought was being protected by the Marathas, was another factor in the war.
- During the years 1817 and 1818, the conflict took place in Maharashtra and the neighbouring areas.
- The Peshwa defeated the Maratha chiefs in places like Ashti, Nagpur, and Mahidpur when they invaded the British Residency in November 1817.
- On November 5, 1817, the Treaty of Gwalior was signed, and Sindia was relegated to the role of a bystander in the fight.
- Malhar Rao Holkar and the British agreed to the Treaty of Mandsaur on January 6, 1818, which led to the deposition of the Peshwa and his pension.
- The British seized more of his holdings, thus solidifying their control over India.
Third Anglo-Maratha War’s outcome
- Despite not taking part in the war, Sindia and the British signed the Treaty of Gwalior in 1817.
- In accordance with the conditions of this treaty, Sindia gave the British Rajasthan.
- The Rajas of Rajputana retained the Princely States until 1947 after consenting to British rule.
- The Treaty of Mandsaur was drafted and signed by the British and the Holkar kings in 1818.
- Causes of Marathas’ Demise: Inept Leadership
- There was a dictatorial element to the Maratha state. The state’s activities were greatly influenced by the personality and character of the ruler.
- However, later Maratha leaders like Bajirao II, Daulatrao Scindia, and Jaswantrao Holkar were useless and egotistical.
- Against English authorities like Elphinstone, John Malcolm, and Arthur Wellesley, they had little hope (who eventually led the English to victory against Napoleon).
Reasons for Maratha’s defeat
- The cohesiveness of the Maratha state’s populace was constructed and accidental rather than organic, making it unstable.
- Since Shivaji’s reign, no attempt has been made to put together a well-planned effort to develop the community, spread knowledge, or bring the populace together.
- The religious-national movement helped the Maratha state to rise to power.
- This shortcoming was exposed when the Maratha kingdom was placed against a European force constructed after the best Western models.
- The Chhatrapati and the Peshwa were in charge of the loose confederation known as the Maratha empire.
- While giving lip service to the Peshwa’s authority, strong rulers like the Gaikwad, Holkar, Scindia, and Bhonsle carved out established semi-independent kingdoms for themselves.
- In addition, the various parts of the confederacy were at constant odds with one another.
- The Maratha chief regularly sided with one or the other side.
- The Maratha kingdom suffered from the lack of cooperation among the Maratha leaders.
- Despite their power and bravery, the Marathas fell short of the English in terms of effective leadership, troop organisation, and military equipment.
- Many of Maratha’s defeats were caused by the centrifugal tendencies of fragmented leadership.
- The Maratha army was weakened by treason within the ranks.
- The Marathas’ application of modern military techniques was insufficient.
- The Marathas disregarded the vital importance of artillery. An artillery department was set up by the Poona administration, although it was ineffectual.
- The Maratha leadership was unable to create a sound economic strategy to satisfy the period’s changing demands.
- There were no businesses or chances for international trade.
- Because of this, a stable political system was not supported by the Maratha economy.
- The English were better at using diplomacy to gain allies and isolate their enemies.
- The division among the Maratha leaders made the work of the English simpler.
- The English were able to attack the goal right away thanks to their superior diplomatic position.
- The English maintained a well-oiled spy network to gather information regarding their adversaries’ potentialities, strengths, vulnerabilities, and military strategies, in contrast to the Marathas’ ignorance and lack of information about their opponent.
- The forces of the Renaissance raised the English from the dead, releasing them from the Church’s control.
- They focused their efforts on colonial conquest, lengthy ocean voyages, and scientific discoveries.
- On the other hand, medievalism, which was characterised by antiquated dogmas and beliefs, was still rife among Indians.
- The day-to-day administration of the state didn’t worry the Maratha chiefs.
- Imperial merging was rendered impossible by the insistence on preserving the social stratification that existed due to the influence of the priestly class.
The Anglo-Maratha Wars I, II, and III all played significant roles in Indian history. The Mughal Empire was already under British rule at the time. However, despite their best efforts, the British were unable to seize control of the southern regions, which were governed by Maratha chieftains.
As a result of treaties with princely states, the British gained substantial holdings and territory in India, and India was unquestionably the crown jewel of the British Empire. These wars led to the collapse of the Maratha Empire. India was entirely governed by the British.
In truth, after the battles, India was claimed by the British, who defined it in an Orientalist fashion and mapped it according to their own concepts.
Article Written By: Atheena Fathima Riyas