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Anglo Maratha War - Who Wants to be the Supreme Leader? #IndianHistory #History #compete4exams #upsc #eduvictors

Anglo Maratha War - Who Wants to be the Supreme Leader?

Indian History

Anglo Maratha War - Who Wants to be the Supreme Leader? #IndianHistory #History #compete4exams #upsc #eduvictors

Image Credits: By Joseph Constantine Stadler - National Army Museum, London, Public Domain, wikipedia

The Anglo-Maratha Wars were three wars fought in the Indian subcontinent between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company over territory. Basically the war was a struggle for supremacy.

The Mughals' demise provided the Marathas with an opportunity to build an empire, as well as the East India Company. The Marathas had risen to become India's most formidable state, and the English had destroyed their European competitors. It was time for them to square off against the Maratha might, which was waning in the face of the English Company's rising power.

Three wars were fought. They were:

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775–1782)

Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1806)

Third Anglo-Maratha War (also known as the Pindaris War) (1817–1818)

Ist Anglo Maratha War, 1775-82: 

The war fueled the English's ambition, which was exacerbated by the Marathas' internal strife. The company was given the much-desired opportunity due to the Maratha leaders' mutual disputes. Raghunath Rao signed the Surat Treaty in order to aspire to the throne in Poona, but the British attempt was premature. The Treaty of Salbai (1782) established peace on the basis of mutual restoration of territory.

IInd Anglo – Maratha  Wars (1803 – 1805): 

Marathas turned down Governor General's invitations to join the Allied Alliance, but were dragged into Wellesley's trap by internal strife and criminal self-interest. Nana Fadnavis, who died in 1800, was fully aware of the dangers of English interference in Maratha politics. Baji Rao's worst traits were given wide reign after his death. He was entangled in his own web of intrigues. At Poona, both Daulat Rao Sindhia and Jaswant Rao Holkar aspired to be the best. Holkar defeated the united troops of Peshwa and Sindhia in April 1801, after the Peshwa cruelly murdered Holkar's brother. In 1802, Peshwa fled to the British and signed the Treaty of Bassein.

Main points of the treaty were:

1. The pact stipulated that the British would station a permanent infantry force at Poona.

2. Surrendered territories between the Narmada and Tapti rivers, as well as others near Tungabhadra, yielded income of 26 lakhs of rupees.

3. Surrendered Surat, relinquished all claims to chauth over the Nizam's domains, and pledged not to use force against Gaekwad.

4. Agreed to the Nizam and Gaekwad being arbitrated by the corporation.

5. Wouldn't hire any Europeans if they were at odds with the English.

6. Would not enter into any negotiations with any foreign power without first informing the East India Company.

Significance of the Treaty: 

To get the throne of Poona, Baji Rao II signed the Treaty of Bassein (1802) with Lord Wellesley, who was the Governor- General of British East India Company, yet it afforded the English significant political benefits. At Poona, a stronghold of British power was formed.

Peshwa had made the Company's answer for every battle in which the Peshwa's government would be involved by abandoning his foreign policy.

The Peshwa ensured that the State of Hyderabad passed under the protection of the Company by giving up claims of chauth on the Nizam.

The company's subsidiary armies were stationed in Mysore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, and Poona, the capitals of the four Indian powers.

The Sindhia and Bhonsle posed a threat to British power, while the Gaekwar and Holkar remained on the sidelines. Sindhia and Bhonsle were defeated and forced to sign the Seagaon (Bhonsle) and Surji-Anjangaon Treaties (Sindhia). Apart from relinquishing major regions, both princes had to admit British residents at their Courts.

Holkar, who had remained aloof until then, was drawn into a battle with the company in 1804. He was beaten and forced to sign the Treaty of Rajputgarh, giving up his claims to areas north of the Chambal River, over Bundelkhand, the Peshwa, and other company supporters.

IIIrd Anglo Maratha War (1817 – 18): 

Hastings' actions against the Pindaris dragged the Marathas into yet another confrontation with the British, and the English forced humiliating treaties on the Raja of Nagpur and Peshwa the Sindhia with calculated tactics. When they rose up against the British, they were all defeated. Poona was annexed, and the remainder were reduced to minor regions under the Company's control.

Causes for the defeat of the Marathas: 

Material resources, military organisation, diplomacy, and leadership are all inferior to the English. Their middle-ages administration methods couldn't hold a candle to the English Renaissance:

Inept Leadership - The Maratha State was dictatorial in nature, and the personality of the state's chief weighed heavily. The empire's demise was brought about by the activities of Baji Rao II and Daulat Rao Sindhia. Baji Rao - II exchanged Maratha independence for personal gain, which he could not maintain for a long time. These inept and inept leaders faced off against capable generals and administrators.

Inherent defeats of Maratha State – Marathas took no steps to organize communal improvement, spread of education or unification of people either under Shivaji or the Peshwa.  The religion – national movement had spent itself in the process of expansion of the Maratha empire. 

Due to the lack of a solid economic policy, the Maratha people lived by the sword, attacking and looting the Mughals in their Gujarat territories. Malwa, Bundelkhand, and so on. Plunder and the collecting of chauth and sardeshmukhi were used to fund the state. Later, Maratha leaders exacerbated the situation by waging civil wars, destroying Maharashtra's economy. Fighting was the only way for the kids to make money in the lack of any industry or foreign trade opportunities.

Maratha's Weak Political Structure: The Maratha Empire was a loose confederation led by the Chhatrapati and later the Peshwa rulers. Powerful chiefs established  independent kingdoms for themselves while remaining loyal to the Peshwa's authority. They had an unbreakable hatred for each other, which prevented them from putting up a united face.

Inferior Military System: In terms of force structure, war weapons, disciplined action, and competent leadership, the Marathas were inferior to their opponents. Treason among the Maratha ranks wreaked havoc. The mercenary soldier had no allegiance or higher goal than personal gain; losing a war meant losing their job for the time being. The Marathas neglected artillery, which could never equal the British guns' quality. The three wings of the army, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, did not grow in lockstep.

Superior English Diplomacy: Before beginning operations, the company made every effort to recruit allies and diplomatically isolate the enemy. This was true of all Indian princes, not just the Marathas.

Superior English Espionage — When it came to military intelligence, the Marathas were sloppy. The Marathas had little awareness of England, its administration, or their character, inclinations, guns, or armaments. The company's residents at the courts of Indian rulers provided the secretariat with a wealth of information. They were aware of the Marathas' potential, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

The English had liberated themselves from the tyranny of the Church and were dedicating their energies to scientific inventions, ocean journeys, and the purchase of colonies. Indians, on the other hand, were still clinging to old dogmas and beliefs. The entire Indian mindset was mediaeval rather than modern.


The English were more diplomatic than the Marathas. In Marathas' kingdoms internal animosity and personal betrayal triumphed over public interest among them. They lacked the entrepreneurial spirit that is so important for national freedom. When the Marathas came into confrontation with the English, they never strove to construct an ordered, orderly, and well-governed empire, and as a result, they were unable to gain the devotion of the Indians. They were devoid of any scientific spirit of inquiry and advancement.

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