The Maratha Age

SHIVAJI (1627-80)

  • Born at Shivneri to Shahji Bhonsle and Jija Bai, he inherited the Jagir of Poona from his father in 1637.  
  • After the death of his guardian, Dadaji Kondadev, in 1647, he assumed full charge of his Jagir. Before that, at the age of 18, he conquered Torna, built forts at Raigarh and Pratapgarh (1645-47).
  • Afzal Khan was deputed by the Adil Shah ruled to punish Shivaji, but the latter murdered Afzal in 1659.
  • Later Shaista khan, governor of Deccan, was deputed by Aurangzeb to put down the rising power of Shivji in 1660.  
  • Shivaji lost Poona and suffered several defeats till he made a bold attack on Shaista’s military camp and plundered Surat (1664) and later Ahmednagar.
  • Raja Jai Singh of Amber was appointed by Aurangzeb to put down shivaii (1665) and Jai Singh succeeded in besieging Shivaji in the fort of Purandhar.  
  • The treatly of Purandhar (1665) was signed according to which Shivaji ceded some forts to the Mughals and pay a visit to the Mughal Court to Agra in 1674.
  • He was coroneted at Raigarh and assumed the title of ‘Haindave Dhamodhark’ (Protector of Hinduism).  
  • Shivaji died in 1680.


Shivaji’s Administration

  • Shivaji divided his territory into three provinces, each under a viceroy.  
  • Provinces were divided into Prants, which were subdivided into Pargans or Tarafs.  
  • The lowest unit was village headed by Headman or Pate.
  • The Astapradhan (eight ministers) which was unlike a Council of Ministers for there was no collective responsibility helped Shivaji. Each minister was directly responsible to Shivaji.

These were:

    • Peshwa or Mukhya Pradhan (Prime Minister)
    • Majumadar or Amatya (Finance Minister)
    • Mantri or Waqianavis (Personal safety of king)
    • Sachiva or Surnavis (In charge of royal secretariat)
    • Samant or Dabir (Foreign Minister)
    • Senapati (commander in Chief)
    • Pandit Rao (Chief Religious Advisor)
    • Nyayadhish (Administration of justice)
  • Most of the administrative reforms of Shivaji were based on Malik Ambar’s (Ahmednagar) reforms.


Shivaji’s Revenue administration

  • Assessment of land revenue was based on measurement. The kathi of Ambar was adopted as the unit of measurement.
  • Share of the state was fixed at two-fifths of the gross produce.
  • Chauth was one-fourth of the land revenue paid to the Marathas, so as not be subjected to Maratha raids.
  • Saredeshmukhi was an additional levy of 10 per cent on those lands of Maharashtra over which the Marathas claimed hereditary rights, but which formed part of the Mughal Empire.



Sambhaji (1680-89)

  • Sambhaji the younger son of Shivaji defeated Rajaram in the war of succession.  
  • He provided protection and support to Akbar, the rebellious son of Aurangzeb.  
  • He was captured at Sangamesvar by a Mughal noble and executed.


Rajaram (1689-1700)

  • He succeeded the throne with the help of the ministers at Raigarh.  
  • He fied from Rajgarh to Jinji in 1689 due to a Mughal invasion in which Rajgarh was captured along with Sambhaji’s wife and son (Shahu) by the Mughals.  
  • Rajaram died at Satara, which had become the capital after the fall of Jinji to Mughals in 1698.
  • Rajaram created the new post of Prathindhi, thus taking the total number of ministers to nine.


Shivaji II and Tarabai (1700-1707)

  • His minor son Shivaji II under the guardianship of his mother Tarabai succeeded Rajaram.


Shahu (1707-1749)

  • The Mughal Emperor Bahdur Shah released Shahu.  
  • Shahu at the Battle of Khed (1700) defeated Tarabai’a army and Shahu occupied Satara.  
  • However, the southern part of Maratha kingdom with its capital at kohlapur continued to be under the control of the descendants of Rajaram.  
  • Shahu’s reign saw the rise of Peshwas and transformation of the Maratha kingdom into an empire based on the principle of confederacy.  


THE PESHWAS (1713-1818)


  • He began his carrier as a small revenue official and was given the title of ‘Sena karte’ (marker of the army) by Shahu in 1708.  
  • He became Peshwa in 1713 and made the post important and powerful as well as hereditary.  
  • He played a crucial role by wining over almost all side of Shahu.  
  • He concluded an agreement with the Sayyid brothers (1719) by which the Murghal Emperor (Farukh Siyar) recognized Shahu as the king of the Swarajya.



  • Baji Rao, the eldest son of Balaji Vishawanath succeeded him as Peshwa at the young age of 20. He was considered the greatest exponent of gurrilla tactics after Shivaji and Maratha power reached its zenith under him.
  • Under him several Maratha families became prominent and got themselves entrenched in different parts of India : (a) The Gaekwad of Baroda (b) The Bhonsles of Nagpur
    1. The Holkars of Indore
    2. The Scindias of Gwalior   
    3. The Peshwas of Poona  
  • After defeating and expelling the Siddhis of Janjira form the mainland (1722), he conquered Bassein and Salsette from the Portuguese (1733).  
  • He also defeated Nizam-ul-Mulk near Bhopal and concluded the treaty of Duraisaria by which he got Malwa and Bundelkhad from the latter (1737).  
  • He led innumerable successful expeditions into North India to weaken the Mughal Empire and to make the Marathas the supreme power in India.  
  • He said, “Let us stir at the trunk of the withering tree and the branches will fall themselves.


  • Popularly known as Nana Sahab, he succeeded his father at the age of 20.  
  • After the death of Shahu (1749), the management of all State affairs was left in his hands.  
  • In an agreement with the Mughal Empire form internal and external enemies in return for the chauth.  
  • The Battle of Panipat (January 14, 1761) resulted in the defeat of the Marathas by Ahmed Shah Abdali and the death of Viswas Rao (son of Nana Saheb).   Nana Saheb died in 1761.



  • Madhav Rao (1761-72),  
  • Narayan Rao (1772-73),  
  • Sawai Madhav Rao (1773-95) and Baji Rao II (1795-1818).