The Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817–1818) was fought between the British East India Company and the Maratha Empire. Despite all efforts to unite the Marathas, they continued to fight and got themselves divided instead. All efforts to unite failed. It was a boon for the English because they wanted the Marathas divided and subdivided so that they would humble them. You will learn about the Third Anglo-Maratha War in this article, which can be helpful in preparing for the UPSC Civil Service and other competitive exams.
Background of the Third Anglo-Maratha War
On October 20, 1811, Jaswant Rao Holkar died as an insane, and was succeeded by Malhar Rao II. His wife Tulsi Bai had failed to manage the state efficiently, and his territories were completely mismanaged, and the people were suffering greatly. He had failed to pay his soldiers’ salaries so his soldiers were not under his control. Raghuji Bhonsle was being harassed by both Pandaras and Pathans. On April 21, 1805, Gaekwad of Baroda had signed a subsidiary alliance with the East India Company and was not in the mood to violate it.
No single chief of the Marathas dared challenge the supremacy and authority of the Company because the Marathas were disunited. The tragedy was that each one had signed a treaty with the English and accepted a subordinate position as a result. Even though they shared a grudge against the English, they still did not come together to fight a common enemy unitedly.
Under Lord Hastings, the Company decided to follow an aggressive policy aimed at finishing the Marathas disunited as they were, regardless of the Marathas’ insistence on remaining disunited.
Despite signing a treaty with the East India Company, Peshwa Baji Rao was totally dissatisfied with them. He was keen that the Marathas Chiefs like Scindia, Bhonsle and Holkar sign a treaty of friendship so they may finish the English together. He also began negotiations with the Pathans and Pandaras with this end in mind. Also, he improved his military strength as well.
Ahemdabad territory was requested by the Peshwa from Gaekwad, a friendly faction of Marathas affiliated with the East Indian Company. As a result, the Gaekwad sent his Minister Gangadhar Shastri to negotiate with the Peshwa and find a solution to the dispute.
Elphistone was British Resident at Poona at the time of the Shastri murder, and there was every reason to believe that Trimbaka Ji had been involved in the murder. His attention was fixed on Peshwa, who drifted away from the English towards the other side. He demanded Trimbaka Ji’s surrender as soon as he could. Although he was very reluctant to surrender him, the Peshwa decided to surrender him because it was between war and his favourite.
However, Trimbaka Ji managed to escape from the prison with the assistance of the Peshwa. Peshwa was also charged with creating the Maratha confederacy and plotting with Scindia, Bhonsle and Holkar against the British. So, the British forced the Peshwa to sign a new treaty at Poona in 1817.
The Treaty of Poona
By signing a new treaty with the East India Company on June 13, 1817, Peshwa Baji Rao promised to capture Trimbaka Ji and hand him over to the English. His family would be kept as hostages until he was arrested.
He agreed not to claim himself as the leader of all Maratha chiefs. As well, he agreed not to negotiate with any other power other than the British Resident. Also, he agreed to withdraw all his claims over Gaekwad.
The Peshwa satisfied himself by getting Rs. 4 lakhs a year from him for the disputed territories. The Peshwa agreed to cede Konkan to the British. Thus, he greatly diminished his power and his position. The Maratha chiefs no longer regarded him as their leader.
Gaekwad signed a treaty of subsidiary alliance with the East India Company in 1805 and wanted to maintain it. However, the Governor General wanted to further reduce Gaekwad’s authority. By signing another treaty with him, he agreed to further reduce the strength of his army, resulting in an even greater dependence on the Company. At his expense, he agreed to two regiments of cavalry and a thousand pieces of artillery being added to the British forces. To meet extra costs, he ceded some more territories to the Company.
During his lifetime, Bhonsle was harassed both by the Pandaras and by the Pathans. In 1816, he died. His son, Persoji, suffered from mental disorder and was replaced by his cousin Appa Sahib. Raghuji Bhonsle’s widow, however, desired that a Regency would run administration for him, and Appa Sahib should not be included. This meant that Appa Sahib should not be allowed to remain in his position of authority.
Obviously, Appa Sahib found this annoyance frustrating. Appa Sahib was included in the Council at last, but this should have blown the storm, but it did not. The English wanted to take advantage of the situation. They forced Appa Sahib to sign a new treaty with them.
The Treaty of Mandsor
Pathan’s territories were surrendered to the East India Company by Holkar in the Mandsor treaty of January 6, 1818. Furthermore, he agreed to not claim any Rajput states, including Bundi and the Satpura range, as well as all states south of it.
Not only this, but he also agreed to have a British Resident in his court. He also accepted the subsidiary alliance system and agreed to keep British forces on his territory at his expense. According to the treaty, Holkar was now to be totally dependent on the English. As with Scindia and Bhonsle, Holkar had to deal in all foreign affairs matters with the Company’s approval.
Course of the Third Anglo-Maratha War
Appa Sahib was arrested and given back his throne, but after some time the English discovered he was collaborating with Peshwa Baji Rao. The English couldn’t tolerate this and arrested him. While imprisoned in Allahabad, he somehow managed to escape and run away to the hills. After that, he began harassing the English with the Pandaras’ help. At Asirgarh, the English, however, succeeded in besieging him and arresting him.
After escaping from the jail once more, Appa Sahib went to Punjab. After that, he moved to Jodhpur. However, they settled their affairs in the same manner as the Peshwa and the Company. He was granted a pension worth rupees two lakhs and permitted to reside in the British territories until his death in 1840 AD. He died in Jodhpur in 1840 AD.
Peshwa Baji Rao, who burned the British Residency at Kirkee, was defeated shortly thereafter and fled to Satara. After losing at Koregaon in January 1818, the English forces which followed defeated him at Ashti on February 20, 1818 within a short period of time.
Result of the Third Anglo-Maratha War
The British abolished the Peshwai (office of the Peshwa) and annexed all the Peshwa’s dominions. But the jagirs of the fief holders were restored.
Until his death in 1851 Baji Rao II remained a prisoner with an annual pension.
Pratap Singh, a descendent of Shivaji, was made the king of a small kingdom carved around Satara.
The Maratha Confederacy organised by Baji Rao I comprising Bhonsle, Holkar and Scindia was dissolved.
Mountstuart Elphinstone, who had been Resident at Poona, became Governor of Bombay.
With the end of the Maratha war, the great Maratha power was also brought to an end. There was no powerful chief who could claim any sort of independence anymore. As a result, all had become completely dependent on the English, who took all their territories away from them and forced them to live on small pensions. Their dependence was created by signing subsidiary alliance agreements with them that required them to maintain British forces on their own.