REGIONAL POWERS IN 18TH CENTURY – PART 2

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In the first part on Regional Powers in 18th century we focussed on kingdoms in northern and central India. In this second part we will know about the powers in the deccan and south of the deccan that existed in the 18th century.

KERALA

  • The kingdom of Travancore rose into prominence after 1729 under King Martanda Verma, one of the leading statesmen of the 18th
  • He subdued the feudatories, conquered Quilon and Elayadam.
  • Martand Verma defeated the Dutch, thus ending their political power in Kerala.
  • He organized a strong army on the western model and undertook many irrigation works, and also the canals for communication.
  • Travancore in the second half of the 18th century became a famous center of Sanskrit scholarship.
  • Rama Varma, successor of Martanda Verma was himself a poet, scholar, and musician. He conversed fluently in English, took a keen interest in European affairs, and regularly read newspapers and journals published in London, Calcutta and Madras.

MYSORE

  • Once part of Vijayanagara Empire, Mysore became independent under Raja Wodeyar during rule of Venkata-II.
  • Raja also made Srirangapatnam, an island in Kaveri River his capital.
  • In the 18th century, the two ministers Nanjaraj (the Sarvadhikari) and Devraj (the Dulwai) had assumed power and made King Chikka Krishna Raj a mere puppet.

HAIDER ALI (1761-82)

  • Beginning his career as a soldier in the service of the Mysore state, he became the faujdar of Dindigul where he trained his troops on western lines and established a modern arsenal (1755) at Dindigul with French help.
  • Hider overthrew Nanjaraja and assumed power in 1761, but continued to recognize Krishna Raja as the lawful ruler.
  • He conquered several territories – Bidnur, Sunda, Sera, Malabar, and Canara etc.
  • He brought under his control the rebellious Poligars Chieftains and Zamindars.
  • His administrative reforms also made Mysore on the leading Indian powers.
  • He repeatedly defeated the English during First Anglo – Mysore War and reached the walls of Madras.
  • During the Second Anglo – Mysore War, he was defeated by Eyre Coote at Porto Novo.
  • He died due to cancer during the course of the war.

TIPU SULTAN (1782-99)

  • Haider was succeeded by his son Tipu who continued the Second Anglo-Mysore war with British till 1785.
  • Tipu Sultan was one of the most remarkable personalities of 18th century and a great innovator who introduced a new system of coin age, new scales of weights and measures, and a new calendar.
  • His interest in French Revolution can be seen in his planting of a Tree of Liberty at Seringapatam and becoming a member of the Jacobian club.
  • Though deeply religious he was a tolerant in approach to other religions.
  • He gave money for construction of image of goddess Sharda in the Shringeri temple after it was looted by Marathas in 1791.
  • The famous temple of Shri Ranganatha was near his palace.

ECONOMIC REFORMS

  • He was the only Indian ruler to have understood the importance of economic strength as the foundation of military strength.
  • His reforms include attempts to introduce modern industries by importing foreign experts and extending state support to many industries; sending ambassadors to France, Turkey, Iran and Pegu to develop foreign trade.
  • He attempted to set up a trading company on the European lines.
  • He sought to increase the state income by the abolition of the jagir system, and by reducing the hereditary possessions of the poligars (feudal chiefs)

MILITARY REFORMS

  • His infantry had muskets and bayonets in European fashion manufactured in Mysore.
  • He is said to have designed first rockets in India which were used against British.
  • He also attempted to build a modern navy and established two dockyards where ships designed by him were built.
  • Such was his organizational capacity that his troops remained loyal to him till last.
  • He fought third and fourth Anglo-Mysore battle.
  • This courageous leader declared that “better to live a day as a lion than a lifetime as a sheep” and “better to die like a soldier, than to live a miserable dependent on the infidels in the list of their pensioned rajas and nabobs”.
  • True to his words, he died defending his capital Seringapatnam during the IV Anglo-Mysore war.

MARATHA BID FOR INDIAN EMPIRE

  • With the disintegration of Mughal Empire, Marathas were the only Indian power who had any realistic chance of becoming Emperors of India.
  • But lack of unity among Maratha sardars and absence of political outlook and programme for an all-India empire eliminated them from the race.
  • Shahu won the civil war against his aunt Tarabai. But as result of this civil war a new form of government evolved under the leadership of Balaji Vishwanath, the Peshwa of Shahu.
  • Balaji Vishwanath for his valuable service during the Civil War was given the title of ‘Senakarte’ by Shahu.

 

BALAJI VISHVANATH

  • In 1713 Shahu made him his Peshwa (1713-1720) or mukh pradhan (chief minister).
  • Peshwa concentrated power in his office and eclipsed other sardars.
  • Master of diplomacy, Balaji vishvanath took full advantage of the internal conflicts of the Mughal officials to increase Maratha power.
  • He had persuaded Zulfiqar Khan to grant the chauth and sardeshmukhi of the Deccan to Shahu.
  • He signed a pact with the Saiyid brothers by which all the territories that had earlier formed Shivaji’s kingdom (called Swarajya) were restored to Shahu who was also assigned the chauth and sardeshmukhi of the six provinces of the Deccan.
  • In return Shahu recognized Mughal suzerainty and also walked barefoot to make obeisance at the tomb of Aurangzeb at Khuldabad.
  • Balaji Vishvanath with Maratha force accompanied Saiyid Hussain Ali to Delhi and helped the Saiyid brothers in overthrowing Farrukh Siyar.
  • Balaji Vishvanath established a complicated system in which Maratha Sardars were assigned separate areas to collect Chauth and Sardeshmukhi and then this was distributed between the King and Sardars (allowed to keep greater share for their expenses).
  • This system of Assignment also increased the power of Peshwa as he had the instrument of patronage which made ambitious Sardars to flock around him and thus weakened the central authority.
  • The system of watans and saranjams (jagirs) had made Maratha sardars strong, autonomous and jealous of central power.
  • They constantly fought with one another and even with the central authority. In these internal quarrels they were not averse to take the help of Nizam or British.
  • The conquest made by Marathas outside Maharashtra and Deccan were not by any Central army directly controlled by King and Peshwa but by autonomous chiefs and their armies loyal and managed by them.
  • Balaji Vishvanath was succeeded as Peshwa by his 20-year-old son Baji Rao I.

Also Read:

Regional Powers in 18th Century – Part 1

Regional Powers in 18th Century – Part 3

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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Guest Author
 

GN Kumar is guest author at IASKracker.com contributing articles on various topics related to IAS Preparation. He is also contributor of Current Affairs in Hindi available on this site.

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