Maratha Wars

Three conflicts between the British and the Maratha confederacy in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

At the time, the confederacy controlled large portions of the Deccan and of the western coast of the Indian peninsula. The British lost the first conflict (1775–82), in which they supported one contender's bid for the office of peshwa (chief minister). They won the second (1803–05), defeating members of the confederacy who challenged their restoration of an ousted peshwa. The third war (1817–18) started after the British invaded Maratha territory in pursuit of robber bands. When Maratha forces rose against the British, they were defeated, Maratha territory was annexed, and British supremacy in India became complete.

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▪ British-Maratha history
      (1775–82, 1803–05, 1817–18), three conflicts between the British and the Marāṭhā confederacy, resulting in the destruction of the confederacy.

      The first war (1775–82) began with British support for Raghunath Rāo's bid for the office of peshwa (chief minister) of the confederacy. The British were defeated at Wadgaon (see Wadgaon, Convention of ) in January 1779, but they continued to fight the Marāṭhā until conclusion of the Treaty of Salbai (May 1782); the sole British gain was the island of Salsette adjacent to Bombay.

      The second war (1803–05) was caused by the peshwa Bājī Rāo II's defeat by the Holkars (Holkar dynasty) (one of the leading Marāṭhā clans) and his acceptance of British protection by the Treaty of Bassein in December 1802. The Sindhia (Sindhia Family) and the Bhonsle (Bhonsle dynasty) families contested the agreement, but they were defeated, respectively, at Laswari and Delhi by Lord Lake and at Assaye and Argaon by Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington). The Holkar clan then joined in, and the Marāṭhā were left with a free hand in the regions of central India and Rājasthān.

      The third war (1817–18) was the result of an invasion of Marāṭhā territory in the course of operations against Pindari robber bands by the British governor-general, Lord Hastings. The peshwa's forces, followed by those of the Bhonsle and Holkar, rose against the British (November 1817), but the Sindhia remained neutral. Defeat was swift, followed by the pensioning of the peshwa and the annexation of his territories, thus completing the supremacy of the British in India.

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Universalium. 2010.

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