SSC GK Medieval History Notes: The Marathas

By Ashwini Shivhare|Updated : December 29th, 2022

GK History Notes |The Marathas. History covers a good number of questions which makes it an important topic to cover in SSC Exams. Around 2-3 questions are asked from the History section which surely makes it an important subject for you to study the topic well for the upcoming SSC and all Other Competitive Exams in 2023. Here are Medieval History Notes on The Marathas”  which you should not ignore.

GK History Notes - The Marathas

Maratha Families












Important Pointers on the Maratha Empire

  • The first great leader of the Marathas was Chhatrapati Shivaji.
  • The Marathas became prominent in the latter half of the 17th century.
  • Shivaji belonged to the Bhonsle clan of the Marathas.
  • Shahaji Bhonsle and Jija Bai were the Parents of Shivaji.
  • He was born on 19 February 1627 at the fort of Shivner near Junnar.
  • His father was a military commander under the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmednagar and later of Bijapur.
  • Shivaji’s tutor was Dadaji Kondadev.
  • 1665, Shivaji signed the treaty of Purandar with Raja Jai Singh of Amber, who was deputed by Aurangazeb.
  • Shivaji Maharaj had two sons: Sambhaji and Rajaram.
  • Sambhaji Maharaj was the eldest son of Shivaji Maharaj.
  • Rajaram was a younger brother of Sambhaji Maharaj and he was the successor of Sambhaji.
  • Shivaji II was the son of Rajaram Maharaj and Rani Tarabai. After the death of Rajaram Maharaj, Tarabai crowned her son and took control of the Maratha Empire.
  • Aurangzeb died on March 3, 1707, while Tarabai still in power.
  • Nearly three months after Aurangazeb’s death, Sambhaji’s son Sahu (born May 18, 1682) who had been in Mughal captivity since November 3, 1689, was liberated on May 8, 1707, by Aurangzeb’s second son Azam Shah who ascended the throne as Bahadur Shah I. 
  • Sahu’s release was followed by a civil war between the forces of Tarabai and Sahu.
  • The support of the Maratha Senapati Dhanaji Jadhav and Diwan Balaji Vishwanath helped Sahu triumph over odds.
  • In the ensuing battle of Khed (October 12, 1707), between the forces of Sahu and Tarabai, the latter’s forces were defeated and in January 1708, Sahu occupied Satara. 
  • At his coronation in January 1708, Sahu conferred upon Balaji Vishwanath, the title of Sena-Karte (maker of the army) and eventually elevated him to the post of Peshwa in 1713.
  • With Balaji’s appointment as the Peshwa, the office of the Peshwa became hereditary and Balaji and his successors became the de facto rulers of the Maratha kingdom. From now onwards the Chhatrapati became just a figure-head.

Balaji Vishwanath (1713-20)

  • Balaji Vishwanath is called the second founder of the Maratha state. 
  • Balaji was credited with “a mastery of finance”.
  • Bajali opened direct negotiations with the Saiyyad brothers and in February 1719 all his demands were accepted.

Peshwa Baji Rao I (1720-40)

  • After the death of Balaji Vishwanath, his eldest son Baji Rao, a young man of hardly 20, was appointed the Peshwa by Sahu.
  • He formulated the policy of northward expansion of the Marathas, so that “the Maratha flag shall fly from the Krishna to Attock”.
  • Baji Rao, after setting his own house in order, finally defeated the Nizam near Bhopal and, by the convention of Durai Sarai (January 1738), compelled the Nizam to agree to surrender to the Peshwa the whole of Palwa, together with the complete sovereignty of the territory between the Narmada and the Chambal rivers and to pay rates 50 lakh as war indemnity.
  • He conquered Malwa, Bundelkhand, Bassein and Gujarat and reached up to Gujarat in 1737
  • He made Poona the centre of his activities and it soon came to be known as the seat of the Peshwas.
  • Baji Rao founded the Maratha empire through his conquest, but he didn’t consolidate it through the administrative organisation.

Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao (1740-61)

  • Peshwa Baji Rao died at the young age of 40 and was succeeded by his son Balaji Baji Rao who, throughout his Peshwaship, remained dependent on the advice and guidance of his cousin Sada Shiva Rao Bhau.
  • The Third battle of Panipat (1761) was fought between Maratha Empire and Durrani Empire (Afghanistan).

People involved: Sadashivrao Bhau (Commander-in-chief of the Maratha Army), Vishwasrao, Malharrao Holkar, Ahmad Shah Durrani (also called Ahmad Shah Abdali).
When: 14th January 1761.
Result: Victory for the Afghans. Durrani got support from the Rohillas of the Doab and Shuja-Ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh. The Marathas failed to get support from the Rajputs, Jats or the Sikhs.

Peshwa Madhava Rao I (1761-72)

  • After the death of Balaji Baji Rao, his younger son Madhava Rao was placed on the Peshwa’S throne.
  • Since the new Peshwa was only 17 years old, his uncle Raghunatha Rao, the eldest surviving member of the Peshwa's family, became his regent and the de facto ruler of the state.
  • During this period, serious differences broke out between the Peshwa and his uncle, leading to war between two 
    in 1762, in which the Peshwa's army was defeated.
  • In January 1771, Mahadaji Sindhia occupied Delhi and succeeded in exacting money from the leading Rajput princes; but the premature death of Madhava Rao in November 1772 placed the Maratha dominion in a deep crisis.

After Madhava Rao's death the fortunes of Maratha kingdom and the prestige of Peshwas under Narayana Rao (1772-74), Madhava Rao Narayan (1774-95), and Baji Rao II (1796-1818) rapidly declined.

The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British East India Company in the Battle of Khadki which was a part of Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818).

Anglo Maratha Wars

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82):

  • The immediate cause for the first Anglo Maratha War was English interference in the internal affairs of Marathas.
  • The then Maratha Peshwa, Narayan Rao died without an heir.
  • The birth of a posthumous son to Narayan Rao then drove Raghunath Rao to desperation and he eventually signed the Treaty of Surat in 1775 with the Bombay government with hopes to gain the throne with the help of English troops
  • By the treaty of Surat, Raghunatha Rao had promised to cede Salsette and Bassein, and also refrain from forming an alliance with the Company enemies.
  • In the First Anglo Maratha war that followed, none of the two parties was gaining ground and finally realized the futility of the struggle.
  • The treaty of Salbai in 1782 which ended the first Anglo Maratha War.
  • By the Treaty of Salbai, there was peace between with the Marathas.
  • In this treaty, the British began exerting pressure on Mysore with help from Marathas for recovering their territories from Haider Ali.

The Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803-1806):

  • In Poona, with the death of two shrewd statesmen, Mahadji Sindhia and Nana Fadnavis there began a fierce rivalry for power between the successor of Mahadji Sindhia, Daulat Rao Sindhia and Jaswant Rao Holkar.
  • Both of them tried to secure the throne at Poona. 
  • Thereafter, Baji Rao II fled to Bassein and then signed a subsidiary alliance with the British. Under the treaty of Bassein, the Peshwa surrendered the city of Surat and to give up claims for Chauth on Nizam’s dominions.
  • He also agreed to not take up arms against the Gaekwar.
  • With the efforts of Sir George Barlow the Holkar signed the Treaty of Rajpurghat in 1805 under which the Maratha chiefs gave up their claims to areas to the north of river Chambal, over Bundelkhand, and other allies of the Company.
  • This treaty of Rajpurghat marked the end of the Second Anglo-Maratha War.

The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-1818):

  • The third and the final battle of the Anglo-Maratha struggle began after coming of Lord Hastings as the Governor-General in the year 1813.
  • The Peshwa had to sign the Treaty of Poona in 1817, under which he gave up the headship of the Maratha Confederacy and he also had to conduct relations with other states through British Resident. 
  • The Peshwa also ceded the Konkan along with his rights in Malwa and Bundelkhand.
  • The Treaty of Gwalior (1817) was concluded by Lord Hastings with Daulat Rao Sindhia as part of preparations for the campaign against Pindaris.
  • Consequently, the Pindari war was merged in the Third Anglo- Maratha War.

All Maratha opposition to the British power ended after yet another attempt by the Confederacy against the British. A new settlement was made with the Maratha Chiefs. The Peshwa surrendered his name and authority forever in lieu of eight lakhs rupees as pension and retired to Bithur near Kanpur. A small district Satara was reserved for the descendant of Shivaji as the Raja of Satara. All the remaining Peshwa's territories were annexed to the Presidency of Bombay.


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