July 23, 2013

Rise and Fall of Maratha Empire

Maratha Kingdom: In 18th century, Maratha kingdom was the most powerful one in India. But they were divided into many different states under different chiefs. The most important dynasties were :
  • Gaekwad of Baroda
  • Raghuji Bhonsle of Nagpur,
  • Malhar Rao Holkar of Indore and
  • Ranaji Scindia of Gwalior.

Peshwa Baji Rao organized them into one union known as the confederacy and allowed them to levy the taxes and to enjoy the maximum autonomy. But they had to pay the share of the state income and work under the Peshwa and are also required to join the Peshwa in military campaign against the common enemy.

After the death of Peshwa Baji Rao in 1740 A.D., his son, Balaji Baji Rao became the Peshwa. He was just 18 years old at that time. He also followed the footsteps of his father and extended the Empire further in all the directions. During his reign, Maratha's glory and prestige reached its heights.

Rise of Marathas:
  • The Maratha armies under their chiefs started to overrun the whole of India. They invaded Bengal many times.
  • At the end of 1751 A.D., the Nawab of Bengal gave them Orissa. During this period the state of Mysore also became ready to pay the tribute to the Maratha power.
  • They also defeated the Nizam of Hyderabad at Udgir who  was forced to give away his vast territories to Marathas.
  • In the North they reached Delhi in 1752 A.D. In 1753, they captured Delhi from  Ahmed Shah Abdali.
  • In 1758 A.D., Punjab was caputured from the son of Ahmed Shah Abdali.
  • Thus by 1761 A.D., the Maratha Kingdom reached its heights of prestige and glory and their Kesaria flag flew over the fort of which they attacked.

Fall of Marathas:
In 1761 A.D., Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded In­dia and fought a fierce battle with Marathas at Panipat. This was known as the Third Battle of Panipat. This battle is important in the aspect that the defeat of Marathas along with rapid decline of Mughal empire led to the initialization of British rule.

WEAKNESSES OF THE MARATHAS / What were the major causes of decline of Maratha's ?

Inspite of being a dominant power for about four decades Marathas failed to establish a permanent empire in India due to the following reasons :
  • There was no unity among the Marathas. There were a number of kingdoms in the Marathas Empire. They always fought with one another.
  • The policy of expansion itself proved a cause of failure of the Maratha Empire, because it was very difficult for them to have control over the vast empire which extended from Attack to Cuttak.
  • The Marathas were defeated in the Third Battle of Panipat. This defeat made the way to the rise of British power in India, because after the Marathas no strong power was there in India which could face the British.
  • Their policy of plundering the Hindu States made them enemies of Jats, Sikhs and Rajputs.
  • The Marathas had not promoted industry, agriculture and trade. They even lost the goodwill of the people because they collected a number of taxes from them, such as Chauth and Sardeshmukhi. Thus they failed to establish a powerful state and a strong empire.


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