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FeatureMarathas (Peshwas)
AD 1720 - 1858

At the time of his death in 1749, Maratha emperor Shahu appointed a Peshwa (chief minister) as head of state with certain conditions that he must follow. The Peshwas became the de facto leaders of the Maratha empire, while Shivaji's successors continued as nominal rulers from their base in Satara.

The authority of the Peshwas was weakened after the First Maratha War, which took place against the British East India Company between 1775-1782. The Maratha losses at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761 has already halted the expansion of the empire and reduced the power of Peshwa. After 1782 the empire became a looser confederacy, with political power resting in a 'pentarchy' of five Maratha dynasties: the Peshwas of Pune, the Sindhias or Shindes of Malwa and Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Bhonsles of Nagpur, and the Gaekwads of Baroda.

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

1640 - 1652

Sonopant Dabir

Maratha and first (unofficial) peshwa.

1652 - 1657

Shyampant Kulkarni Ranzekar

Peshwa (chief minister) under Maratha Shahaji Bhosale.

1657 - 1683

Moropant Pingale

Peshwa under Maratha Shivaji Maharaj.

1683 - 1689

Moreshwar Pingale

Peshwa under Maratha Sambhaji.

1689 - 1708

Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bawadekar

Peshwa under Maratha Raja Ram.

1708 - 1711

Bahiroji Pingale

Peshwa under Maratha Shahu I.

1711 - 1713

Parshuram Tribak Kulkarni

Peshwa under Maratha Shahu I.

1713 - 1719

Balaji Vishwanath Bhatt

Bhatt family civilian representative of the Maratha emperor.

1719

Shahu appoints a Peshwa (chief minister) as head of the Maratha state with certain conditions that he must follow, making the position an hereditary one. The Peshwas become the de facto leaders of the empire, while Shivaji's successors continue as nominal rulers from their base in Satara.

1720 - 1740

Baji Rao I

FeatureSon. Appointed by Maratha emperor Shahuji.

1722

The Portuguese viceroy of Goa concludes a treaty with the Marathas.

1728

Peshwa Baji Rao I has been successful in his expeditions to subjugate the regions of Malwa, accompanied by Maratha Sardar Udaji Pawar and his brothers. In recognition of the services of Udaji Pawar, he is rewarded with the jagir of Dhar in 1728.

1735 - 1740

The Maratha emperor, Shahuji, appoints Baji Rao the commander of his imperial army, which is well-trained and very experienced after its long and hard battles. Baji Rao, true to the expectations of his master, carries out his duties well from his capital at Pune. The Maratha army reaches Rajasthan in 1735, Delhi in 1737, and Orissa and Bengal by 1740, and Baji Rao dies in 1740, having consolidated the power of the Marathas.

On the way back from Delhi, Baji Rao's generals establish their own holdings which later become kingdoms in their own right, still owing loyalty to the Maratha throne in Satara. The Gaekwads establish themselves in Baroda (modern Gujarat), the Holkars at Indore (in the present day state of Madhya Pradesh), and the Shindes (later known as Scindias) at Gwalior (in Madhya Pradesh). Baji Rao himself also gains part of the Bundela kingdom of Panna through his marriage to the former king's daughter.

Peshwa palace of Shaniwarwada
The palace of the Peshwas, Shaniwarwada, photographed in 1860

1740 - 1761

Balaji Baji Rao I / Nanasaheb I

FeatureSon.

1761

Nanasaheb proves to be an able ruler until his last act. He sends an army to challenge the Afghans under Ahmad Shah Abdali, and the Maratha army is decisively defeated on 13 January 1761 at the Third Battle of Panipat. Maratha internal feuding costs them greatly in this battle, which checks their expansion, prevents the capture of Delhi, and encourages the fragmentation of the empire (even today the phrase in Marathi, 'meet your Panipat', has a similar meaning as the phrase 'meet your Waterloo' does in English). Unable to cope with the defeat, and the loss of his son, Vishwasrao, and his brother, Sadashivrao Bhau, Nanasaeb dies soon after.

1761 - 1772

Madhavrao I / Thorle Madhavrao the Elder

FeatureSurviving son. Died of tuberculosis.

1765

Janoji of Nagpur attempts to play power politics in the war between the Peshwa and the nizam of Hyderabad. Betraying both of them in turn, they surprise him by uniting and destroying Nagpur. His eventual death leads to a period of intense instability in Pune.

1772 - 1773

Raghunathrao

Dissident uncle who unsettled the empire.

1772 - 1773

Narayanrao Bajirao

Younger brother of Madhavrao I. Killed on Raghunathrao's orders.

1773 - 1774

Raghunathrao

Seized the throne. Not recognised by emperor and overthrown.

1774 - 1800

Nana Phadanvis

Former minister. Seized the throne and installed a puppet.

1774

Former minister Nana Phadanvis seizes the throne and installs Madhavrao II. Nana Phadanvis manages the affairs of the Maratha confederacy through a twelve member regency council also called the Barbhai Council (comprising of Haripant Phadke, Moroba Phadnis, Sakharambapu Bokil, Trimbakraomama Pethe, Mahadji Shinde, Tukojirao Holkar, Phaltankar, Bhagwanrao Pratinidhi, Maloji Ghorpade, Raste, and Babuji Naik).

1774 - 1795

Madhavrao II / Sawai Madhavrao

Puppet of Nana Phadanvis. Allegedly jumped from castle walls.

1775 - 1782

The First Maratha War takes place against the British East India Company. The empire becomes a looser confederacy, with political power resting in a 'pentarchy' of five Maratha dynasties: the Peshwas themselves in Pune, the Sindhias of Malwa and Gwalior, the Holkars of Indore, the Bhonsles of Nagpur, and the Gaekwads of Baroda.

1796

Chimnajee Madhavarao

Adopted by Madhavrao's wife.

1796 - 1818

Bajirao II / Baji Rao II

FeatureBrother. Puppet of Nana Phadanvis (to 1800).

1800

Nana Phadanvis dies at Pune on 13 March, just before Baji Rao II places himself in the hands of the British.

1802 - 1805

A situation of near civil war exists by 1802, when two Peshwa generals, Daulatrao Shinde of Gwalior and Yeshwantrao Holkar of Indore, start fighting between themselves. Bajirao II aligns himself with his mentor, Daulatrao. However, Holkar ultimately triumphs, and Baji Rao flees to Bombay in September 1802, to seek help from the British who, fresh from their successes in other parts of India, are waiting for an excuse to take on the Marathas. But the Peshwa's move infuriates the Shindes of Gwalior and the Bhosales of Nagpur, who considered it a insult to Maratha self respect. They chose to fight, in the Second Maratha War (1803-1805), but both are defeated by the British. The Holkars of Indore join the war late, and eventually force the British to agree peace terms.

1817 - 1819

The Third Maratha War results in a decisive victory for the British against the Peshwa. Amritrao rules as Peshwa for a short time during the war, when Yashwantrao Holkar is besieging Pune, but the British restore the rightful ruler soon afterwards. The Marathas are bound by treaty to the British Bombay presidency in India. They appear to rule, but are little more than puppets under the command of the British. Baji Rao is exiled to Bithoor (near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh) as a pensioner of the British, although he retains his title for life. The Maratha states of Kolhapur and Satara retain local Maratha rulers.

1818 - 1819

Amritrao

Brother.

1796 - 1851

Bajirao II / Baji Rao II

Restored. Last Peshwa.

1857

Nanasaheb II / Nana Sahib II

Adopted son of Baji Rao II & nominal Peshwa.

1857 - 1858

The nominal Peshwa, Nanasaheb II, together with his minister, Tatya Tope, attempt to revive Maratha glory. He assists the mutineers in the 1857 Great Mutiny, or Sepoy Mutiny, in India. However, after the fall of Kanpur, Nanasaheb disappears without trace. His minister is executed by the British in 1859.