The Peshwas (1713-1818)

Balaji Viswanath (1714-20): The First Peshwa

  • He began his carrier as a small revenue official & was given the title of Sena Karte (a marker of the army) by Shahu in 1708.
  • He became Peshwa in 1713 & made the post the most important & powerful as well as hereditary.
  • He concluded an agreement with the Syed Brothers-King Maker (1719) by which the Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar recognized Shahu as the king of the Swarajya.

Baji Rao I: 1720-40

  • Baji Rao, the eldest son of Balaji Viswanath, succeeded him as Peshwa at the young age of 20.
  • He was considered the greatest exponent of guerrilla tactics after Shivaji & Maratha’s power reached its zenith under him.
  • Under him, several Maratha families became prominent & got themselves entrenched in different parts of India.
  • Salsette from the Portuguese (1739).
  • He also defeated the Nizam-ul-Mulk near Bhopal & concluded the treaty of Doraha Sarai by which he got Malwa & Bundelkhand from the latter (1738).
  • He said about Mughals: ‘Let us strike at the trunk of the
  • withering tree & the branches will fall of themselves.

Balaji Baji Rao: 1740-61

  • Popularly known as Nana Saheb, 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 emperor Ahmad Shah, the Peshwa was to protect the Mughal empire from internal & external enemies (like Ahmad Shah Abdali) in return for Chauth (1752).
  • The third battle of Panipat (Jan 14, 1761) resulted in the defeat of the Marathas by Ahmad Shah Abdali & the death of Viswas Rao & Sadashiv Rao Bhau. This event shocked the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao & after six months he also died. This battle ended the Maratha power.

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