The Second Anglo-Maratha War (1803–1805) was fought between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire. The Marathas’ internal disputes and mutual conflicts intensified with time. There were no signs that their differences could be amicably resolved. In this article, you will learn about the Second Anglo-Maratha War that will help you in preparation for the UPSC IAS and other competitive exam.
Background of the Second Anglo-Maratha War
During October 25, 1795, Madhav Rao II committed suicide due to the growing differences between Nana Fadnavis and him. After he died, Baji Rao succeeded him as Peshwa, but he was incompetent and also couldn’t get along well with Nana Fadnavis, which worsened the Maratha situation.
After Trikoji Holkar died, a succession war began in which Nana and Peshwa took opposing sides. It was in this tense situation with the growing differences that Nana died in 1800.
During this time, Lord Wellesly became Governor General of the Company in India who was imperialist and expansionist. His goal was to make the Company supreme in the South. After defeating Hyder Ali, he chose to deal with the Marathas. For him, this was a great boon. He wanted to take the full advantage of the internal differences between the Marathas. By promising him that the Company might capture some of Tipu Sultan’s territories, he tried to befriend Peshwa Baji Rao.
In 1800 AD, he persuaded him to form a subsidiary alliance with the Company, and to keep British forces in his territory to provide him with protection. Baji Rao, however, declined many demands by the Company.
Among the Marathas, Jaswant Rao Holkar was plundering the territory of Daulat Rao Scindia, which led to a bitter rivalry between them. Peshwa was also sick of Vithoji, who had created terror in his domain. As a result of the combined efforts of Peshwa and Scindia, Vithoji was captured and killed on 16th April 1801. Jaswant Rao Holkar was also defeated.
Holkar defeated Peshwa on October 25, 1802 and forced him to flee Poona toward Bassein. As a result, Holkar appointed Vinayak Rao, the grandson of Raghu Nath Rao, as Peshwa. As Hoikar pursued him, the Peshwa sought refuge with the English and signed the Treaty of Bassein with them on December 31, 1802.
The Treaty of Bassein
The Treaty was signed between East India Company and Peshwa Baji Rao. According to which:
- Both the parties agreed to defend each other’s territories and the Company would help the Peshwa with 6000 infantry and also European artillery to enable him to regain his position. The Peshwa will keep these forces within his territory permanently.
- In order to meet the expenses to these forces the Peshwa agreed to surrender to the Company such territories which yielded annual income of Rs. 26 lakhs.
- He also agreed not to levy additional taxes for the forces to be thus maintained in his territories.
- The Peshwa agreed not to employ any foreigner in his service without the approval of the Company and surrendered his rights over Surat to the Company.
- In addition, he agreed to accept the English as arbitrators in the settlement of all his disputes with the Nizam of Hyderabad and Gaekwad of Baroda.
- He also agreed not to enter into any treaty agreement with any native princes without prior approval of the Company.
- He agreed not to employ any foreigner in his service and not to sign any treaty with any native prince.
- He accepted subsidiary alliance scheme of the Company to the disadvantage of the Marathas.
Thus, Peshwa completely surrendered to the English and became their supreme foreign affairs boss. He sold Marathas independence to regain his title of Peshwa.
As soon as the treaty was signed, the English moved quickly. On May 13, 1803, Arthur Wellesly led an army into Poona and declared Baji Rao Peshwa, giving the Britishers an advantage in the Deccan and in India itself. Although it greatly enhanced the Company’s prestige, it also had to fight a war with the Marathas in order to implement it. The treaty would have been meaningless without the victory in the war.
The Maratha chiefs felt humiliated and disturbed when they learned that Baji Rao had signed the Treaty of Bassein with the English to sell their interests for gaddi. As a result, all the Maratha chiefs Hoikar, Bhonsle, and Scindia united to bring an end to the treaty by secretly negotiating with the native states. Those negotiations, however, had no success.
For their part, the English were preparing to fight those chiefs trying to annul the treaty’s effects. As the Maratha chiefs were divided, they were unable to unite. Holkar chose to remain distanced and did not cooperate with Bhonsle and Scindia, so they all came together to oppose and annul this treaty.
As a result of these differences among Marathas, English forces under Arthur Wellesley entered Deccan and defeated Scindia at Assaye, while General Lake defeated Bhonsle at Aragaon in the north. A treaty known as the Treaty of Deogaon was signed by Bhonsle and the English on December 17, 1803.
The Treaty of Deogaon
In this treaty, Bhonsle signed with the East India Company that he would cede Balasore, Cuttack, and west of the Wardha river to the English and would have a British Resident at his court. His disputes with the Nizam of Hyderabad and Peshwa were settled by the English as arbitrators, and he accepted the validity of the Bassein Treaty signed between the Company and Baji Rao.
The Treaty of Suraj Arjan Gaon
The English also defeated Sciconia, and he signed a treaty with them. He agreed to give the English all the lands between the rivers Yamuna and Ganges. All the territories in the north of Jaipur, Jodhpur, and Gohu were also given to them. Ahmad Nagar, Baroach, and the areas between Ajanta and Godawari were surrendered by him.
He also surrendered all claims over the Mughal Emperor, the Peshwa, the Gaekwad, and the Nizam of Hyderabad in his major surrender. It was also agreed that he would not employ American or European citizens without the English’s approval and that his court would be staffed by an English resident.
As did Bhonsle, he agreed that the Treaty of Bassein was valid and that if war broke out with another party, the Company would support him. In case of war with a third party, he even agreed to support the English.
Result of the Second Anglo-Maratha War
After the Second Maratha War, the Marathas were completely crippled, and the Maratha confederacy was disintegrated. As a result of the Marathas’ weakness, the English gained political supremacy over other Indian States. Their possessions significantly increased as a result.