Mughal Empire - 1526-1857
The Mughal Empire was one of the largest centralized states in premodern history and was the precursor to the British Indian Empire. Mughal Empire [405,000], Mogul Empire [157,000], Moghul Empire [149,000] - a derivation of the word "Mongol" - were Turkic conquerors of India who established an empire that lasted from 1526 to 1857, but held only nominal power after 1803.
The word Mughal formerly and properly denoted the Tatar conquerors ot both Persia and India. But in the latter country it had for centuries been applied to the naturalized descendants of Persians as well as Tatars, of Iranians as well as Turanians. The Padshah Babar's mother was a Mughal, but throughout his memoirs Babar speaks with contempt and dislike of the race, by the name of which the Indians erroneously called his dynasty. Mughal is a generic term with them for a Muhammadan who enters India from beyond Afghanistan.
|Ekber Mirza Shah||1556||1605|
|Shah-i Cihan I||1627||1658|
|Aurangzeb Alemgir Shah I||1658||1707|
|Bahadir Shah I||1707||1712|
|Shah-i Cihan II||1719|
|Alemgir Shah II||1754||1759|
|Bahadir Shah II||1837||1858|
His determination was to expand eastward into Punjab, where he had made a number of forays. Then an invitation from an opportunistic Afghan chief in Punjab brought him to the very heart of the Delhi Sultanate, ruled by Ibrahim Lodi (1517-26). Babur, a seasoned military commander, entered India in 1526 with his well-trained veteran army of 12,000 to meet the sultan's huge but unwieldy and disunited force of more than 100,000 men. Babur defeated the Lodi sultan decisively at Panipat (in modern-day Haryana, about ninety kilometers north of Delhi). Employing gun carts, moveable artillery, and superior cavalry tactics, Babur achieved a resounding victory. A year later, he decisively defeated a Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sangha.
Babur became the first Mughal ruler (1526-30). Although the seat of the great Mughal Empire he founded was in India, Babur's memoirs stressed his love for Kabul--both as a commercial strategic center as well as a beautiful highland city with an "extremely delightful" climate. In 1529 Babur routed the joint forces of Afghans and the sultan of Bengal but died in 1530 before he could consolidate his military gains. He left behind as legacies his memoirs (Babur Namah ), several beautiful gardens in Kabul, Lahore, and Agra, and descendants who would fulfill his dream of establishing an empire in Hindustan.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, most of the Hindu Kush area was hotly contested between the Mughals of India and the powerful Safavids of Iran. Just as Kabul dominates the high road from Central Asia into India, Qandahar commands the only approach to India that skirts the Hindu Kush. The strategically important Kabul-Qandahar axis was the primary forces of competition between the Mughals and the Safavids, and Qandahar itself changed hands several times during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Safavids and the Mughals were not the only contenders, however. Less powerful but closer at hand were the Uzbeks of Central Asia, who fought for control of Herat in western Afghanistan and for the northern regions as well where neither the Mughals nor the Safavids were in strength.
Although Indian Mughal rule technically lasted until the nineteenth century, its days of power extended from 1526 until the death of Babur's great-great-great-grandson, Aurangzeb in 1707. The perennial question of who was the greatest of the six "Great Mughals" receives varying answers in present-day Pakistan and India. Some favor Babur the pioneer and others his great-grandson, Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58), builder of the Taj Mahal and other magnificent buildings. The other two towering figures of the era by general consensus were Akbar (r. 1556-1605) and Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707). Both rulers expanded the empire greatly and were able administrators. However, Akbar was known for his religious tolerance and administrative genius, while Aurangzeb was a pious Muslim and fierce protector of orthodox Islam in an alien and heterodox environment.
Portuguese Power at its Zenith, 1550-1600 AD
A just appreciation of the power of the Portuguese in India is only possible by considering their Indian possessions in connection with the rest of their dominions in the east, and by remembering that theirs was a maritime supremacy established to secure their trade. Their very first expedition to India under Vasco da Gama was a trading expedition. But on their arrival they found the Indian export trade entirely in the hands of Arab merchants. These "Moors," as they were called, obtained their wares from Africa, India, Malacca, China, and the Moluccas, and carried them by way of the Bed Sea and the Persian Gulf, to Egypt, Turkey, and Persia, whence they found their way to Europe.
From China and Tartary the trade routes went by way of Samarkand, and from the north of India by Bamian and Termez to Sultanieh, Tabriz (or Tauris), Aleppo and the Mediterranean, or to Brussa and to Constantinople. By sea the merchandise from China and the Spice Islands was carried by Malacca to Calicut and Cambay. Then the routes divided. The first went by Ormuz either overland to Sultanieh and then to Constantinople, or by sea to Bassorah, and then by Bagdad and Damascus to the Mediterranean, where the European merchants, notably Venetians, received the goods in the ports of Beirut, Haleb, and Tripoli. The other route went from Cambay and Calicut to Aden. Then it branched off to the south along the African coast and to the north by way of Jedda either to Mecca and Damascus, or to Tor, Suez, Alexandria and the Mediterranean.
These were the commercial rivals the Portuguese had to deal with. First then only to hold their ground against these "Moors," and later on to secure the monopoly of the trade at sea, -which they gradually acquired, they built fort after fort along the seaboard which surrounds the eastern seas. These forts exacted due respect from the native rulers, served them as naval bases for their fleets, and dominated important straits where they levied toll on all passing ships.
The first Portuguese fort was erected at Cochin in 1503. In 1504 Zanzibar was made tributary, and in 1505 forts were built at Mozambique, Sofala, and Kilwa on the African coast, and at Cannanore in India. In 1507 Socotra was temporarily occupied and a fort erected. In the same year the Sultan of Muscat was made tributary. In 1510 Albuquerque took Goa and made it the capital of the Portuguese possessions, in 1511 he conquered Malacca, and in 1515 he occupied Ormuz. In 1518 Colombo was taken. In 1522 the Portuguese fortified Ternate, which became their chief station in the Moluccas. Fortifications were erected at Chaul in 1521. In 1534 Bahadur Shah of Gujerat ceded Bassein and the Bombay islands to the Portuguese, and gave permission to build a fort at Diu, which was completed in 1535.
In 1557 Macao was founded on a promontory south of the estuary of the Canton Eiver. It became the base for the ships trading with China and Japan. No fort, however, was erected before 1615. In 1559 the Portuguese occupied Daman. In 1560 Jaffna was made tributary and a fort erected on Manar Island. Towards the close of the century (1597) the King of Spain and Portugal1 was proclaimed King of Ceylon. The interior, however, remained practically independent. Forts were erected at Muscat towards the close of the 16th century, at Trincomali in 1623, and at Batticaloa in 1629.
Thus in the second half of the 16th century the Portuguese were supreme in the Indian seas. They controlled the important Straits of Malacca and Ormuz, compelled the traders of other nations to buy their passports, and their fleets cruised about to uphold their authority. But with the opening of the 17th century the English and the Dutch, Spain's enemies in Europe, began to dispute the superiority of the kingdoms of the united Peninsula. About the year 1600 the Dutch established themselves in the Moluccas, and subsequently excluded the Portuguese from the China Sea. In 1622 Ormuz surrendered to the combined forces of the English and Persians. In 1639 the Dutch conquered Batticaloa, and in the following year Trincomali and Galle.
Malacca fell into their hands in 1641. About the middle of the 17th century the Portuguese on the Coromandel Coast were supplanted by the French, the English (who settled at Madras), and the Dutch (who took Negapatam in 1658). In 1656 Colombo surrendered to the Dutch, who by the capture of Manar and Jaffna in 1658 obtained possession of the whole of Ceylon. Bombay was ceded to the English crown in 1661. In the same year Quilon was occupied by the Dutch, who took Cochin and Cannanore in 1663. The "Moors" too reasserted themselves. Muscat fell into the hands of the Arabs in 1650, and in 1699 they took Mombassa. In India the Portuguese fought without success against the Mahrattas, who overran Salsette (north of Bombay) in 1737. In 1739 Bassein, and in 1740 Chaul were surrendered to them. By this time all the Portuguese possessions in the ease were lost with the exception of Goa, Daman, and Diu in India, the greater part of the African coast, and Macao in China.
1556-1605 - Conquests of Akbar
In 1504 Prince Baber, a descendant of Tamerlane and Chenghis Khan, acquired the kingdom of Kabul, and in 1522 added Kandahar to his possessions. At the invitation of Daulat Lodi, a discontented governor of the Punjab, and encouraged by Sanga, the rana of Chitor, Baber invaded India and defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle of Panipat (1526), occupied Delhi, and took Agra. The rana of Chitor at first offered him assistance with a view of recovering for himself the ancient Eajput supremacy over Hindustan. But discovering that Baber intended to establish an empire of his own, he turned against the invader and marched against him at the head of his feudal lords, but suffered a defeat at Sikri near Agra (1527).
In the following year the important Rajput fortress of Chanderi was taken, and the opposition of the Hindus was crushed. Baber, before his death (1530), brought the whole of Hindustan under his power. Humayun, his son and successor, was, after nine year's reign, defeated at Baxar by Sher Shah, an Afghan, and Hindustan came once more under Afghan rulers from 1539 to 1555. Humayun fled to Persia, and re-established his authority in Afghanistan. In 1555 he invaded India and, with the help of Persian troops, won the battle of Sirhind.
He was succeeded by his son, the famous Akbar (1556-1605). In 1556 the second battle of Panipat was fought, in which the Afghan power in Hindustan was for ever broken and the Moghul supremacy established. In the course of his long reign Akbar conquered all Hindustan and extended his empire into the Dekkan. Gondwana, however, seems to have been only loosely connected with the Empire. Akbar gained over the Eajputs by inducing them to recognise him as their overlord. But the rana of Chitor, who had hitherto been the feudal superior of all the Eajputs, scorned the idea of acknowledging a suzerain and organised a resistance. Akbar attacked Chitor and forced it to surrender, while Udai Singh, the rana, fleeing to the Aravalli hills, founded Udaipur where he succeeded in maintaining his independence.
Abkar divided his realm into provinces or "subahs" ruled by viceroys or " subahdars," while the districts were placed in the hands of deputies or "nawabs". The list of Abkar's provinces is as follows :2—1. Kabul—2. Lahore—3. Multan—4. Delhi—5. Agra —6. Oudh—7. Allahabad—8. Ajmere—9. Gujerat —10. Malwa—11. Behar—12. Bengal—13. Khandesh—14. Berar—15. Ahmadnagar—16. Orissa— 17. Kashmir—18. Sindh.
The four Dekkani sultans had hitherto lived in constant warfare among themselves and against the princes of Gujerat, Malwa, Khandesh, and Vijayanagar; but at length they became united against the mighty Hindu supremacy of the South, and at Talikot (1565) fought a decisive battle, which was followed by the utter and ruthless destruction of Vijayanagar. The surviving princes of the Vijayanagar dynasty retired first to Penaconda and, when that security failed them, to Chandragiri. But their supremacy had passed away. They sank down to the level of merely local rajas, while one after another the chiefs of the south assumed their independence only a few of them still nominally acknowledging the Vijayanagar kings as their overlords.
Berar was annexed by Ahmednagar in 1524 and Bidar by Bijapur in 1529. Bijapur at Akbar's time was bounded on the north by the Nira river, and (before the southern conquests) extended along the coast from Bankot to Cape Eama; on the east the districts of Eaichur (Eedgeer), Mulkaid, and Bidar divided it from Golconda; Akalkot, Naldrag, and Kalyan became frontier-provinces alternately overrun by the troops of the various adjacent states. In the south the principal strongholds taken possession of were Adoni (Udni), Dharwar, and Bankapur; while many chiefs south of the Tungabhadra, as far down as Mysore (reduced in 1593) and Malabar (subdued in 1593), became tributary to the Adil Shah.
The kings of Qolconda also occupied large tracts Though Akbar had reduced Ahmadnagar and imprisoned its lawful prince, Malik Amber, an Abyssinian nobleman, set up a rival prince and governed in his name the remaining territory of the Nizam Shahi dynasty, holding his own against the imperial armies. He founded the town of Kirki (afterwards Aurangabad), but his chief stronghold was Daulatabad. The boundaries of his territories were continually shifting, but seem to have extended to the Arabian Sea.
In 1589 Ibrahim Kutb Shah founded the town of Haidarabad.
1637-1700 - European Conquests
In 1637 the last remnant of the Ahmadnagar kingdom was annexed by Shah Jehan (1627-1658). Aurangzib conquered Bijapur in 1686, Golconda in 1687, and all the territory south of the Kistna which had been dependent on these two kingdoms.
Still Aurangzib was unable to overcome the disorders which prevailed in his vast realm. The Rajputs and the Jats near Agra were in open hostility. The Moghul army was so demoralised that Vakinkera, a small mud-fort in the Dekkan, could only be subdued after the arrival of the emperor himself; and even then the chief who held it contrived to escape to Shorapur.
Kabul was always waiting an opportunity to throw off its allegiance. The Polygars in the south paid tribute only under compulsion. The Mahrattas were plundering and burning Malwa, Gujerat, and the Dekkan, which by incessant warfare had been reduced almost to a desert. The Moghul armies took fort after fort from the Mahrattas, but the latter were constantly retaking them, and Aurangzib with his degenerated troops was unable to subdue these stalwart warriors, who, when hard pressed, retired to their mountain fastnesses and defied generals, princes, and emperor alike.
Thus the overthrow of Bijapur and Golconda, which had so long kept down the Mahrattas (or Bergis), proved fatal to the Moghul empire, and enabled the Mahratta kingdom to rise on its ruins during the following century.
The year 1700 is a convenient time for enumerating the European possessions so far acquired in India. The Portuguese were the first on the scene. Prom the landing of Vasco da Gama in 1498 near Calicut to the appearance of the Dutch and English at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century, they had a monopoly of trade between Europe and India. They took Goa in 1510, fortified Chaul in 1521, acquired Diu, Bassein, and the Bombay islands in 1534, and Daman in 1559,4 all of which except Bombay they still possessed in 1700.
The chief settlements of the Dutch founded in the 17th century were: Negapatam, Sadras, Pulikat, Bimlipatam, and Cochin. Although the English East India Company (founded 1600) had established factories at Surat (1611), Calicut, Masulipatam, and other places, they built their first fort (St. George) at Madras only in 1639. Bombay, given in 1661 to Charles II as part of the marriage portion of Catherine of Braganza, was finally handed over to the English East India Company in 1669. Fort St. David (south of Madras) was acquired by purchase in 1691. In 1696 the villages of Chuttanatti, Calcutta, and Govindpur were purchased from Azim-u-Shan, Aurangzib's grandson.
In 1700 the French possessed Masulipatam (1669), Pondicherry (1674), and Chandarnagar. At about the same time the Danes held Tranquebar and Serampur.
Early Mahratta History
Maharashtra, the country of the Mahrattas, is bounded on the north by the Satpura mountains, and extends from Nandod on the west along those mountains to the Wainganga, east of Nagpur. The boundary follows the western bank of that river up to its confluence with the Wardha, whence it may be traced up the east bank of the Wardha to Manikgarh and then westward to Mahore. From this last place it passes in an irregular line to Goa. On the west the country is bounded by the ocean. The space about Surat, Broach, and Eajpipla, where Gujerati is spoken, may be excluded by drawing an imaginary line from Daman to the middle of Nandod district. The people of this country first rose into notice in the 17th century under Sivaji and became very powerful in the 18th century under the Peshwas.
The enama of the Bhonsle family (from which Sivaji sprang) was at Verole near Ellora caves. Shaji Bhonsle first commanded a party of horse in the service of Mortiza Nizam Shah, sultan of Ahmadnagar, then entered the service of the emperor Shah Jehan, and eventually, in 1637, that of the Bijapur king, by whom he was confirmed in the possession of his family jaghir which consisted chiefly of Puna and Sopa. Jaghirs are lands or assignments of revenue. There are two kinds. The one is military, the other personal; the former is for the purpose of maintaining a body of troops for the service of the state, the latter is for the support of an individual or family. A jaghir is never, like an enam, entirely freehold; some service can by the original tenure be required.
For eminent service rendered by him in the Carnatic, the districts of Indapur, Baramati, and several of the Mawals, i.e., mountain-valleys near Puna, were added to his jaghir in the Dekkan. In the Carnatic Shahji acquired in jaghir Kolar, Bangalore, Uscota, Balapur and Sira, and held likewise, in jaghir or otherwise, Ami, Porto Novo, and Tanjore. Shahji died in 1664.
Shahji's son Sivaji, born in 1627, was brought up at Puna. Wishing to become independent, he led forth his hardy Mawalis and occupied the fort of Torna in 1646, built Eajgarh in 1647, obtained Kondaneh (to which he gave the name Singarh) in the same year, and in 1648 took ten other forts, among which were Lohgarh and Eajmach. As the Bijapur government now made Shahji responsible for the conduct of his son and kept him for years a prisoner at large at Bijapur, Sivaji abstained for a time from further aggressions. But on his father's release in 1655 he began again to capture existing hill forts and to erect new ones.
When Aurangzib made war on Bijapur in 1657, he accepted Sivaji's services, allowed him to keep what he already possessed of Bijapur territory and at the end of the campaign even agreed to the Konkan being transferred to his management. In 1659 Panalla surrendered and Vishalgarh was taken by assault. In 1660 Sivaji took Dabul and its dependencies, and in 1662 occupied the territory of the deshmukhs of Wari.
In 1662 Sivaji held sway over the Konkan from Kalyan to Goa, and the Ghauts (or Konkan-GhautMahta) from the Bhima to tho Warna. On the death of his father in 1664 Sivaji assumed the title of raja and struck coins in his own name. He also possessed a fleet at that time.
In 1665, as a result of an unsuccessful war with Aurangzib's generals, Sivaji relinquished whatever forts or territory he had taken from the Moghuls, and of the thirty-two forts taken or built by him on Bijapur territory he was only allowed to keep twelve, with the rest of his possessions as jaghir under the Emperor. He obtained, however, permission from Aurangzib to collect the fourth and the tenth of the revenue in certain districts of Bijapur.
Sivaji soon recovered his lost possessions: Puna, Chakun, and Sopa in 1667,3 Singarh, Purandhar, Lohgarh, Karnala, Maholi, and Kalyan district in 1670. In 1668 Golconda, and in 1670 Khandesh, agreed to pay chauth to the Mahrattas. In 1670 the forts Aundha, Pattah, Salher were taken, and a Moghul force defeated near the latter place. In 1672 many polygars in the northern Konkan were forced to join Sivaji. In the same year Sivaji retook Panalla, Satara, Parli, and other forts, and sent his fleet to reduce Karwar, Ankola and other places. In 1674 he defeated the Bijapur army, assumed the insignia of royalty, and was enthroned at Eaigarh. In 1676 he again took possession of the open country between Panalla and Tattora, and protected it by a series of forts (Vardangarh, Sadashivgarh and others).
In 1677 Sivaji invaded the Carnatic, took Vellore, and recovered all his father's jaghirs (Kolar, Bangalore, Uscota, Balapur, Sira), but in 1678 restored them all to his brother Venkaji on condition of receiving a share of the revenue. In 1679 a Moghul army invaded Bijapur, but being hard pressed by Sivaji was forced to retreat. For this timely service Sivaji was given the country round Kopal and Bellari and the sovereignty over Tanjore, his father's jaghir, and all the conquered districts in the south.
On the 5th April, 1680, Sivaji died. Sivaji, at the time of his death, was in possession of the whole part of the Konkan extending from Gandavi to Ponda; with the exception of Goa, lower Chaul, Salsette, and Bassein, belonging to the Portuguese ; Janjira in possession of the Abyssinians; and the English settlement on the island of Bombay. He had thannas [military posts at which the inferior revenue officers are stationed to protect the country, aid the police, and collect the revenue] in Karwar, Ankola, and several places on the coast, where he shared the districts with the deshmukhs.
The chief of Sonda acknowledged his authority, and the rana of Bednor paid him an annual tribute. Exclusive of his possessions around Bellari and Kopal, his conquest in Drawed (i.e., south of India), his supremacy as well as share in Tanjore, and the jaghir districts of his father in the Carnatic, Sivaji occupied that tract of Maharashtra from the Hiranyakeshi river oh the south, to the Indrayani river on the north, between Puna and Junir.
The districts of Sopa, Baramati, and Indapur were occasionally held, and always claimed by him as his paternal jaghir; and the line of forts, built from- Tattora to Panalla, distinctly mark the boundary of his consolidated territory to the eastward. He, however, had a number of detached places. Singnapur, at the temple of Mahdeo, was his hereditary enam village; the fort of Parneira, near Daman, was rebuilt by Moro Trimmul; and his garrisons and thannas occupied a great part of Buglana, and several strong places in Khandesh and Sangamnere.
Mahratta States - 1785-1795
The Peshwa then administered not only most of that part of the present Bombay Presidency which lies south of Gujerat and the Satpura Eange, but also the lands comprised in the present districts of Sagar, Damoh, Jabalpur, and Mandla in the Central Provinces and large tracts in Bundelkhand. He claimed tribute from the princes of Bundelkhand (excepting Orchha) and Baghelkhand, and shared with the Gaekwar the tribute which the chiefs of Kathiawar were forced to pay.
Sindia's possessions in 1795, besides the territories which he now has, extended over the country between the Jumna and the Ganges (Upper Doab) and north of Jodhpur and Jaipur. Broach had been granted him by the English in 1782, and Ahmadnagar fell into his hands in 1795 after Madhu Eao's death. South of the Narbada he possessed the western portion of the present district of Hoshangabad, the district of Nimar with Asirgarh and Burhanpur, and the eastern portion of Khandesh. Dholpur, Bari, and Eajakhera in Eajputana were enam-lands of his. In Gujerat he owned the Panch Mahals and in Eajputana, Ajmere. He exacted tribute from Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Kotah in Eajputana and from Rajgarh, Eatlam, Kilchipur, and Sitamau in Malwa. Of these only the two latter are still tributary to his successor.
Holkar owned, in addition to the territories he now possesses, the lands now forming the principality of Tonk, part of the present state of Kotah, and places north of the Bundi hills. He levied chauth from Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kotah, Bundi, and Karauli in Eajputana and from Narsinghgarh and Jhabua in Malwa.
Bersia, the northern district of Bhopal, then belonged to the Puars of Dhar, to whom the following principalities paid tribute:—Banswara and Dungarpur in Eajputana, and Ali Mohun (the present Ali Bajpur).
Bhonsle's territories extended over the greater part of the present Central Provinces, except such portions over which the Peshwa held sway, Berar, Cuttack, and Balasor. The chiefs of the Orissa hill tribes, of the Sarguja group of states, of Bastar, Nandgaon, Khairagarh, and Kawardha paid him tribute.
The Gaekwar's possessions were composed not only of his present dominions but also of the lands round Ahmadabad and the Gulf of Cambay, which were ceded to the English in 1805. The chiefs of Palanpur and Kankrej, of Mahi Kanta and Eewa Eanta, almost the whole of Gujerat, were tributary to him. He had a share in the Kathiawar tribute and farmed the Peshwa's share of tribute in Kathiawar and Ahmadabad.
Mysore Dominions of Chick Deo Eaja Wadeyar, 1704 AD
Since the downfall of Vijayanagar (1565) the chiefs of Mysore extended their power more and more by taking towns, forts, and villages, but remained in some form of subjection, either to the viceroy of Vijayanagar who resided at Seringapatam, or to the Bijapur government, or to the Moghuls. Of the acquisitions of Chick Deo Eaja (1672-1704) no fewer than forty-eight are enumerated. Among these Bangalore is the most important, though its possession seems to have been disputed by the chief of Sira.
The southernmost part of the Moghul Empire consisted then of two subahs, Haidarabad and Bijapur. To these belonged Haidarabad Carnatic and Bijapur Carnatic, which were subdivided into Bala Ghaut and Payeen Ghaut, so as to distinguish the countries above and below the passes.
Haidarabad Carnatic Bala Ghaut comprised: Cumbum, Guti, Gandikot, Sidhaut, Gurramconda.1 Haidarabad Carnatic Payeen Ghaut consisted of the whole country from Guntur to the Coleroon along the Coromandel Coast. This is afterwards known as the province of Arcot.
Bijapur Carnatic seems to have consisted of Bala Ghaut provinces only. The more important districts were Sira, Bangalore, Harpanhalli, Conderpi, Anagundi, Bednor (Nagar), Chitaldrug, and Mysore. The chiefs of most of these districts paid tribute under compulsion only. The districts of Adoni (Udni), Ghazipur (Nandial), and Savanur Bankapur belonged to the province of Bijapur (not Carnatic). The two Carnajtics were governed by Zulfikar Khan till the death of Aurangzib, but they were in an unsettled condition.
Carnatic Wars - English and French - 1746-1763 AD
In Madras the long wars between the British and the French were at last concluded by the Peace of Paris in 1763. The eventful history of these wars has been often told. It was a momentous struggle for the possession of Southern India. It was a contest between Dupleix, who began the construction of a French empire, and Robert Clive, who demolished that unfinished structure. Later on, it was a patriotic and persevering endeavour made by the talented Bussy and the impetuous Lally for saving the power of France in the East, which was finally destroyed by Eyre Coote. The Treaty of Paris finally recognised the success of England; France was never after her rival in India.
Nizam ul Mulk, originally viceroy of the Dekkan and Carnatic provinces of the empire, had since 1723 become practically independent, though, even while waging war against the emperor, he professed obedienoe to him. He claimed sovereignty over the states and principalities south of the rivers Tungabhadra and Kistna, while the Mahrattas demanded tribute from the same. Many of these states were almost independent, and their chiefs assumed the title "nawab".
The territory of the nawab of Arcot consisted of Haidarabad Payeen Ghaut, and extended, after the acquisition of Trichinopoli and Madura (1732), down to Cape Comorin. The whole of Haidarabad Carnatic Bala Ghaut enlarged to the south, formed the principality of the nawab of Kurpa (Cuddapah). In 1743 Nizam ul Mulk recognised Morari Eao, the Mahratta, as chief of Guti. The Patan chiefs of Karnul and Savanur also claimed the title nawab.
The rana of Bednor seems to have been in possession of a considerable portion of the western Ghauts and the west coast. South of Bednor were the rajas of Coorg, Travancore, Cochin, and the chiefs of Malabar, all independent. In Mysore sham rajas were nominated by Hindu and Muhammadan usurpers.7 Dindigul was acquired by this state in 1745.
The boundaries of the possessions of the Patan nawab of Savanur and the raja of Sonda, cannot be clearly ascertained. The country between Bednor, Kurpa, Mysore, Savanur, and Guti was probably subject to the chief of Sira.
The Mahrattas were continually encroaching from the north and west on the dominions of the Nizam. The frontier line to the west was ill defined. Northwards the Painganga formed (in 1751) the boundary. The districts along the east coast from the Chilka lake to the Gundakamma were called the Northern Circars. From this time the province designated Arcot on the map, begins to be called "the Carnatic," and its ruler nawab of the Carnatic or of Arcot.
This was the group of states among which the English and French competed for supremacy in India. Except for two intervals of peace, each lasting three years, the contest was carried on without intermission from 1746 to 1763.
The twenty years' struggle between the French and the English ended in 1763. The settlement of Pondicherry and a few other places were restored to the French, but the English remained supreme in Southern India. Mahomed Ali, a creature of the British, was recognised as Nawab of the Karnatic, while the immediate possessions of the British extended over some territory round Madras, and over the whole of the eastern seaboard stretching northwards to Bengal.
The character of Mahomed Ali, Nawab of the Karnatic, was the very opposite of that of his contemporary, Mir Kasim, Nawab of Bengal. Mir Kasim was a determined man and a strong ruler; Mahomed Ali was a feeble man and a luxurious prince. Mir Kasim removed his seat of government to Monghyr in order to organise his own administration away from British influence; Mahomed Ali left his own capital, Arcot, to live amidst the luxuries of the British town of Madras. Mir Kasim was a stern economist, and paid off all his pecuniary obligations to the British in two years after ho had ascended the throne; Mahomed Ali never could liquidate the claims of the Company, and drifted more and more into debt. Mir Kasim fought with the British in order to keep the inland trade of Bengal in the hands of his own subjects; Mahomed Ali made assignments of his land revenues to his British money-lenders, until virtually the whole of his territories passed into the hands of his creditors. Mir Kasim was driven out of his dominions and died an exile; Mahomed Ali lived in inglorious dependence, luxury, and debt, and died in ripe old age. A strong ruler had no place in the scheme of British dominion in the East; a weak ruler was permitted to live and to borrow, and to pay the interest out of the revenues of his kingdom.
Under the administration of this feeble potentate the Company found it easy to extend its influence and power. The Company did not stand forth as the Dewan of the Karnatic, as they had done in Bengal in 1765. On the contrary, Mahomed Ali remained nominally the Dewan or revenue administrator, as well as the Nizam or military governor, while the Company virtually enjoyed all real power. The military defence of the country was undertaken by the Company, and a part of the Nawab's revenues was assigned for this purpose. The demands of the Company increased with their wars, and the Nawab came to adopt the strange method of borrowing from the servants of the Company in order to meet the demands of the Company.
What was still more significant and fatal was the security which the Nawab offered for these private debts. Unable or unwilling to draw from his own hoards, he readily delivered up to his private creditors the revenues of his territories. The cultivators of the Karnatic passed from the rule of the Nawab's agents to the rule of British money-lenders. The crops that grew in the fields were subject to the inalienable claims of British creditors. The collections which were made by the Nawab's servants, often under coercion and the use of the whip, were handed over to the British servants of the Company in order to be remitted to Europe. The whole of the Karnatic resembled an egg-shell with its contents taken out. The fields and villages of Southern India were converted into a vast farm, and the tillers tilled and the labourers toiled in order that all the value of the produce might bo annually exported to Europe.
A double injury was thus done to the country and to the people. The Nawab's methods of collodion, though always harsh and severe, were elastic; and his demands were suited to the produce of the soil from year to year. But when his creditors appeared on the scene, the harshness of the Nawab's method was combined with the strictness and in-elasticity of the British procedure. The claims of the Nawab's creditors were strictly enforced, and the agriculturists felt a pressure which they had seldom known before. In the second place, so long as the revenues were enjoyed by the Nawab, they were spent in the country and flowed back to the people in one shape or another; but when the entire revenues of the assigned districts were claimed and obtained by the British money-lenders, they left the country once and for ever. The country became poorer, industries and trades declined.
1812-1817 - Pindarry Wars
In the plenitude of the power of the Mahratta chieftains, the Pindarries were attached to, and usually accompanied, the Mahratta armies. By 1809 they appeared to form for the most part a separate and independant body. In 1811 and 1812 the increasing number and depredations of the Pindarries were forced upon the attention of the British government. Before the Mahratta war they had been attached to the Mahratta armies. One body was known as Sindia's Pindarries; another body as Holkar's Pindarries. Since then they had formed separate and independent bodies, but followed the standard of any turbulent chieftain, or desperate adventurer; as well as prosecuted their own separate views of rapine and devastation.
The Pindarries generally invade a country in bodies from four thousand to one thousand each. They advanced to the frontier with such rapidity, that the account of their depredations was generally the first intelligence of their approach. As soon as they passed the frontier, they dispersed in small parties from five hundred to two hundred each. They were not encumbered with tents, bazars, or saddlecloths are their beds; both men and horses are accustomed to endure extraordinary fatigue. They make long and successive marches. They never halt except to refresh themselves, to collect their plunder, and to indulge their passions of lust and cruelty. They subsist themselves and their horses on the grain and provisions which they plunder on their march. They carry off every thing which is valuable and easy of conveyance: what they cannot carry off they wantonly destroy.
They indulged their licentious passions upon the women, and sometimes destroy the miserable females whom they have first robbed, and then polluted by their savage embraces. They beat and wounded and murdered the unfortunate inhabitants. They compelled them to clean their horses, to provide forage, to collect provisions, and to carry such parts of their plunder as are too bulky to be put upon their horses. They seldom left a village without setting fire to the houses and grain.
They avoided fighting; for they came to plunder, not to fight. They have neither encampments nor regular halting places. They moved to a certain distance, and halted a few hours to refresh themselves and their horses, they then resumed their march. Their movements were equally rapid and uncertain. Being dispersed into small bodies, and marching in any direction where they expect plunder, it was difficult to procure certain intelligence of their position or their numbers. They retired with nearly the same rapidity as they approached, and they generally reached their strong-holds, and secured their booty, before a Government can adopt any actual measures to repel them.
As they destroyed every thing which they cannot carry off, and as they exercised the most wanton and inhuman cruelty upou the inhabitants, their depredations are not to be measured by the quantity of booty which they acquire. What they destroyed was generally more valuable to a country than what they carry away. The inhabitants deserted their villages, and sought refuge in the walled towns, and in the recesses of neighboring woods and mountains. It was some time before they venture to return to their villages; and after their return, it was some time before they can resume their labors. Many of the inhabitants abandoned their villages, which are exposed to such sudden attacks and to such merciless spoliations. These were not the only evils ; every incursion of Pindarries affords the means to the Collectors to defraud the Government. The depredations of these freebooters are much exaggerated, to justify the Collector in a larger reduction of the public revenues than would be warranted by the actual loss sustained by those depredations.
It must be evident that no system of defence, and no distribution of troops, could completely protect a country against the occasional depredations of the Pindarries. The employment of infantry in the pursuit of them was quite out of the question. Even the cavalry, regularly equipped, is scarcely capable of overtaking an enemy who is prepared and accustomed to move with the greatest rapidity, and has nothing with him to retard his movements. It has already been observed, that it was very difficult to obtain correct information of the position and numbers of the Pindarries. As they were dispersed into small bodies who were moving rapidly in different directions, intelligence of them was irregular, uncertain, and sometimes contradictory. If one of their light parties parties should be overtaken and destroyed, the other parties may retreat with impunity.
A permanent system of defence would be productive of permanent expense and constant inconvenience, and no system of defence, however well arranged, can cover all the points of an extensive frontier, through which the Pindarries can penetrate into the Deccan. As they march without guns or baggage, every road is accessible and easy.
It would appear that the number of the Pindarries had been gradually increasing for the four years up to 1809, and probably amounted to twentyfive thousand. Their numbers, strength, and resources, continued to increase rapidly. They were already possessed of considerable tracts of land, and their possessions were of course extensive. Some parties of them appeared to be in the service, or at the requisition of Holkar and Scindia; other parties did not appear to be attached to any chieftain. Indeed, the nature of their connexion with Holkar and Scindia appeared vague and indefinite; and the influence and authority of those princes over any of the Pindarries seemed too weak and uncertain.
The existence of those large bands of freebooters held out an encouragement to all the disaffected and turbulent in the neighbouring States. Every horseman who was discharged from the service of a regular government, or who wanted employment and subsistence, joined one of the durrahs" of the Pindarries; so that no vagabond who had a horse and a sword at his command would be at a loss for employment.
Early in 1817, the Pindarries made their second Second incursion into British territories, and retired with British" ° their booty into the dominions of Dowlut Rao KndanL, Sindia. Such a proceeding could not be passed over1817" by the British government in silence without discredit. Moreover, it furnished the British government with an opportunity of fixing Sindia to a declaration of the justice and expediency of the intended punishment of the Pindarries.
Maratha Wars (1775–82, 1803–05, 1817–18)
The Maratha / Mahratta Wars (1775–82, 1803–05, 1817–18) were three conflicts between the British and the Maratha confederacy, resulting in the destruction of the confederacy. Maharashtra lies on the western shore of middle India and is in shape a triangle. Its base is the sea from Daman to Karwar. The perpendicular side is formed by a line running from Daman beyond Nagpur. The hypotenuse is formed by an irregular line from beyond Nagpur to Karwar. The area of this tract is over 100,000 square miles and its population exceeds thirty millions. The people that inhabited it varied just as Frenchmen of different provinces varied. But it had distinct characteristics, which differentiate it from other Indian peoples.
The people of Maharashtra as a rule lacked the regular features of the Northern Indian. Their tempers, too, were usually less under control than those of the dwellers in the Gangetic plain. But their courage was at least as high as that of any other Indian nation, while their exquisitely keen sense of humor, the lofty intelligence of their educated classes, their blunt speech and frank bearing rarely failed to win the love and admiration of those Englishmen whose lot it was to serve among them the Indian Government.
Maharashtra had three distinct divisions. Of these, the seaboard below the Sahyadri Mountains is known as the Konkan; the tract occupied by the Sahyadris is known as the Mawal; while the wide, rolling plains to the east are known as the Desh. Maharashtra receives from the monsoon a rainfall that varies greatly. In many parts of the Konkan 100 inches in a single year are not unusual. In the Sahyadris as many as 400 inches have been recorded. In the eastern parts of the Desh a fall of 20 inches is welcomed with the utmost gratitude. The Konkan is, owing to its low level, hotter than the other two divisions. It is, however, in parts extremely fertile. The Mawal is cool and eminently healthy for Europeans, but, except for its ricefields, of little value for cultivation. The Desh is barren to the west, but grows richer to the east, where the deep black soil needs only rain to produce crops in abundance. The climate of the Desh, while hotter than that of the Mawal, is still pleasant and salubrious.
The power of the Mahrattas in southern India began to be formidable under the guidance of Sevaji, who had been originally a leader of banditti, and had gained the chieftaincy of the wild mountain tribes between Canara and Gujarát. Sevaji had acquired great strength during the civil wars which preceded the accession of Aureng-zib, but he had submitted to the conqueror and offered to lead a part of the imperial forces against the Persians. A wanton insult from the emperor drove him to rebellion, and his progress in the south was facilitated by a simultaneous rising of the Afghans, who never forgot that the empire of northern India belonged to them before the arrival of Baber. The Afghan chiefs were invited to a banquet, and treacherously murdered; an act of treachery disavowed by Aureng-zib, but by which he profited without scruple.
It was impossible to employ such arts against the Mahrattas: Sevaji and his successor Sambaji were too suspicious to place themselves voluntarily in the emperor's power. Sambaji was, however, surprised and made prisoner while amusing himself in the mountains; he was at once put to death, his capital was forced to surrender, his wives and his infant son were made prisoners. As Aureng-zib had previously subdued the kingdoms of Golconda and Peijapore, his empire over southern India seemed on the point of being completed; but Rama, the brother of Sambaji, with other Mahratta chieftains, maintained the war, eluding encounter when pursued, and issuing from their fastnesses to devastate the country so soon as the imperial forces were withdrawn. So enriched were they by the spoils they obtained, and so strengthened by the number of desperate adventurers who joined their ranks, that towards the close of Aureng-zib's reign, the advantages of the war had decisively turned in their favour. This contest continued to the emperor's death, which took place in the ninety-fourth year of his age and forty-eighth of his reign (AD 1707).
The Mahrattas, a warlike race fast rising into importance, ravaged the imperial territories, while the feeble emperor wasted his time in indolent luxury. These freebooters extended their incursions to the very gates of Dehli, and, though they suffered a defeat, they induced the imperial generals to purchase their future forbearance by a large and dishonourable bribe. The injury which his invasion had inflicted on the empire, was incurable; the army was destroyed, the treasury exhausted, nearly all financial resources cut off: the Mahrattas ravaged the South, and all the provinces which had escaped their devastation were laid waste.
The energy, ferocity, and cunning of the Mahrattas, soon made them the most conspicuous among the new powers which were generated by the curruption of the decaying monarchy. At firstwthey were only robbers. They soon rose to the dignity of conquerors. Half the provinces of the empire were turned into Mahratta principalities. Freehooters sprung from low castes, and accustomed to menial employments, became mighty Rajahs. That was the time, throughout India, of double government. The form and the power were every where separated. The Mussulman nabobs, who had become sovereign princes-the Vizier in Oude, and the N izam at Hydrabad—still called themselves the viceroys of the house of Tamerlane. 1n the same manner the Mahratta states, though really independent, pretended to be members of one empire.
First Maratha War, (1775–82)
From 1776 forward up to the end of the century, the battle-fields were all in the west and south of India. In Bengal, the subsidiary alliance with Oudh remained the corner-stone of the British defensive system; nor was that province ever invaded, though often threatened, by the Maratha armies.
But in Bombay, the President and Council being anxious to distinguish themselves by the acquisition of territory, especially of Salsette, which is close to Bombay, entered into a covenant with a Maratha chief named Raghunath Rao, who had been ejected from power at Poona, to replace him at the head of the Maratha government, stipulating for the cession of certain districts to the Company in return. The object of the Bombay President was to obtain political ascendency at Poona and to make his presidency pay its way by an increase of land revenue.
But the plan was very badly laid, and the means adopted proved quite inadequate for the ends in view. When the Calcutta government received from Bombay a copy of the treaty with Raghunath Rao, they at once totally condemned the measures that had been taken, declaring the war "impolitic, dangerous, unauthorized, and unjust," and protesting that the Bombay Presidency had imposed upon itself "the charge of conquering the whole Maratha empire for a man who appeared incapable of affording effectual assistance in the undertaking." They foretold, rightly, that the enterprise would only embark them upon an indefinite sea of troubles; and they peremptorily ordered the Company's forces to be withdrawn, if it could be done without danger.
But before this letter could reach Bombay, the expedition had started; Salsette and Bassein, two very important points, had been forcibly occupied; and the English were committed to the war. At Arras was fought the first of that long series of battles between the English and the Marathas, almost all of which have been well and honourably contested. The Bombay troops were obliged to fall back in disorder, losing many English officers, who sacrificed themselves with their usual devotion in the attempt to rally their sepoys. It now seemed to Hastings impossible to make peace immediately and honourably, so he insisted that his countrymen must stand their ground and face their reverses; reinforcements were sent across India; and attempts were made at negotiation with the Marathas, who were justly incensed by these proceedings.
In this manner England became entangled in a long, costly, and unprofitable war, which may be taken to have been the original source of the interminable hostilities which occupied Hastings for the next seven years, straining his finances, damaging his reputation, distracting his administration, and bringing both Bombay and Madras at different moments into serious jeopardy.
Any attempt to give a brief and also intelligible narrative of the straggling inconclusive fighting that went on must inevitably fail. The essence of the whole matter is that the Marathas were at this period far too strong and too well united to be shaken or overawed by such forces as the English could despatch against them. They held a position in the center of India which enabled them to threaten all the three divided English Presidencies, to intrigue successfully against the British at Haidarabad and Mysore, and to communicate with the French by their ports on the western seacoast.
The two minor Presidencies of Bombay and Madras were governed by rash, incompetent persons who were exceedingly jealous of the Governor-General's superior authority, who disregarded his advice or orders, and thwarted his policy; while Hastings himself was hampered by opposition in his own Council and by enemies at headquarters in London. If he had been able to withdraw from the war at once, and to insist on making peace with the Marathas, he might have escaped the graver complications that followed upon the original blunder of attacking them.
But the English still held, and were determined to retain, Salsette and Bassein, and although Hastings sent an envoy to Poona, the refusal of the Marathas to cede these two valuable points protracted negotiations up to the end of 1776, when a turn of European politics materially affected, as usual, the situation in India. By this time the United States had declared their independence, and England had now become so deeply involved in the attempt to put down rebellion in North America that the French determined to use such an apparently excellent opportunity of revenge for the injuries suffered during the Seven Years' War.
A French agent reached India in 1777 to propose alliance with the Marathas on conditions including the cession of a seaport on the west coast. His overtures, which were naturally encouraged by the Peshwa at Poona, filled with alarm and indignation the English, to whom the actual state of affairs in Europe, India, and America rendered the prospect of such a combination exceedingly disagreeable.
1767-1799 - Four Mysore Wars
The Mysore State is situated in Southern India, between 11° 40' and 150 N. lat., and between 740 40' and 78° 30' E. long., and is surrounded on all sides by British territory. Its total area was 29,444 square miles. The inhabitants were almost exclusively Hindus, who constitute more than 94 per cent, of the whole population. In early times Mysore was the principal seat of the Jains, who left many interesting memorials of their occupation.
The state had always been under Hindu rulers, except during the short interval caused by the usurpation of power during the 18th century by Haidar Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan. After the death of the latter, at the capture of Seringapatam in 1799, the English restored a representative of the ancient line in the person of Krishna Raj, son of Chama Raj of Arakotara. His subsequent misrule, when admitted to power on attaining his majority, led to the resumption of the administrative control of the province by the British government in the year 1831. The government, however, continued to be carried on in the name of the native prince, and at his death an adopted son was recognised as successor. This chief, since dead, was duly installed on coming of age in 1881. The British chief commissioner thereupon handed over office to the native diwan, and a political resident was appointed to represent British interests.
In 1780 Mysore, the government of which had, since 1760, been usurped by Haider/Haidar Ali Khan, may be said to have reached its largest extent. Haidar's territory extended northwards to the river Kistna, westwards to the Arabian Sea, southwards to Dindigul, and eastwards, for the most part, to the edge of the eastern Ghauts. His tributary chiefs were the polygars of Harpanhalli, Kanakgiri, Raiding, and Anagundi, and the raja of Cochin.
1st Mysore War - 1767-1769
So long as the French colony at Pondicherry was powerful and flourishing, the English at Madras remained without influence in the inland countries of that vast peninsula, included between the coast of Coromandel, and the borders of Malabar. But when the mistakes of Lally had opened to them the gates of Pondicherry, they concluded to extend their power over the adjacent fertile countries, and to take advantage of the weakness of the native chiefs whom their disinterested rivals had respected. The prodigious success of their countrymen in Bengal had excited their ardor, and the Governor of Madras wished to attain the same riches and power as the Governors of Calcutta. But a vast empire was founded near them, whose enterprising leader presented serious obstacles to their ambition, and gave new opportunities for the development of their perfidious instincts.
Hyder Ali had, by his talents, formed in the peninsula a vast kingdom, the capital of which was the ancient province of Mysore. We have already alluded to the rivalries in birth and religion which separated the Mussulmen from the Hindoos. After the battle of the 20th of May, 1740, the power of the former had decreased, and the kingdoms of Mysore, Canara, Tanjaour, and Calicut, of Villapour, and many others, had returned under the government of the rajah. Hyder Ali, as fanatical as he was ambitious, summoned around him all the Mohammedans, and availed himself of the interests of Islamism to increase his power.
Having first conquered Mysore, he left the rajah his title, and disdaining useless cruelties, he confined him in a fortress. He then attacked the kingdoms of Canary, Calicut, Tanjaour, and Villapour, and placed under Mussulman rule all those countries which, after the Persian invasion, had fallen into the power of the Hindoo rajahs. The powerful confederation of the Mahrattas alone preserved its independence and ancient faith. But from the frontiers of this warlike people to Cape Comorin, there was space enough to satisfy the desires of a vast ambition, and Hyder Ali, elated by his triumphs, attempted to bring together the scattered ruins of the empire of Aurengzeyb.
But the coast of Coromandel was occupied by foreigners more formidable than the feeble rajahs. The English government at Madras sought on their part to found a European empire*of the same territory, which Hyder Ali wished to concentrate under the rule of the Mussulmen. The chief of Mysore had become acquainted with his neighbors, and had often had occasion to know their policy. A companion in arms of Bussy, he had shared in the successes and reverses of the French, and his hatred to the British, which had commenced in his battles with them, had increased in proportion as his conquests approximated the English establishments.
The Governor of Madras, on his part, was aware of the danger arising from his powerful neighbors, and following their usual policy, the English attempted to corrupt the officers of Hyder Ali, with a view to betray him. But the latter, knowing their skill in intrigue, resolved to prevent them by open war; he therefore proposed to the soubah of Deccan, and all the nabobs on the coast of Coromandel, to join in a general confederacy against the foreigners. "Let us lay aside," said he, " all our rivalries, and unite our forces against the common enemy. These English, who merely come to trade, have robbed our country of its riches, its inhabitants, its fertility, and glory. They pretend to be merchants; they act like pirates. In exchange for our wealth, they have brought to Hindostan their vices, their diseases, and their wretchedness. The princes whom credulity or misfortune has placed in their power, have been treated as objects of trade, which are offered in the markets. These avaricious strangers have speculated upon the blood of our countrymen. The number of their treasons and perjuries is equal to that of their treaties and agreements."
There was much truth in these remarks, and they made an impression. The soubah of Deccan and the small nabobs joined Hyder Ali, with an army of one hundred thousand men. The other chiefs also joined him, and he soon found himself at the head of an army of two hundred thousand men. The English were forced to abandon all dissimulation, and to collect their troops from their different possessions. They amounted to ninety thousand men, most of whom were European soldiers and Sepoys. The troops of the allies of the English company numbered twenty thousand men.
The chief of Mysore had already advanced till within seven leagues of Madras; the English were preparing to dispute with him the passage of the river St. Thomas, when he suddenly disappeared, and before his line of march could be discovered, he appeared at the gates of the city, and dictated terms of peace to the British councils, April 3d, 1769. It was the first time that an Indian chief had triumphed over the British forces, and the government was obliged to regain by intrigue the advantages they had lost in war. Compelled to lay aside their arms, they used the arms of others for their plans, and whilst signing a peace, without risk to themselves, they excited new enemies against Hyder Ali.
The Mahrattas, who alone of all the Hindoos had resisted the Mussulmen, formed a vast confederacy of fierce and warlike people on the frontiers of the empire of Mysore. The agents of the British went among them, and excited the chiefs by presents, and the people by persuasion, to take up arms against the enemy of their religion. The territory of Mysore was suddenly invaded; Hyder Ali was surprised and beaten some distance from Bednore, its capital, into which he was compelled to retire. But the Mahrattas were ignorant of the art of sieges: and accustomed to live by pillage, they were deficient in the provisions necessary for a long campaign. They were soon obliged to leave a country which had been entirely desolated, and the famine which they had caused became the auxiliary of Hyder Ali.
The war of American Independence commenced at this time, and Pondicherry being suddenly attacked by the English, was captured and dismantled. The misfortunes of the French deprived Hyder Ali of his most powerful aid, for he could not depend upon his Indian allies. In fact, the councils of Madras and Calcutta despaired of conquering the confederation, and attempted to weaken it by intrigue. The Mahrattas, who were always avaricious, could not resist the power of corruption; the soubah of Deccan, jealous of Hyder Ali, and fearing his aggrandizement, was easily seduced; the rajahs were distrustful of the chief of the Mussulmen. Hyder Ali was soon abandoned by his allies, and was obliged to contend single handed against the united forces of the governments of Madras and Bengal.
The English company, however, depended so much upon the efficacy of their intrigues, that they neglected an enemy whom they supposed to be conquered, and the army of Mysore suddenly appeared in the Carnatic, marking its course by fire and desolation. The English were twice beaten before Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, and the city, after a siege of a few days, fell into the hands of Hyder Ali. This skilful warrior profited by his successes, excited in every part the hatred of the population against the English, and proclaimed himself, in his march, the saviour and avenger of Hindostan.
The English were alarmed at his progress, and collected their troops from Bengal, and by their discipline soon arrested the progress of their formidable enemy. Hyder Ali, however, although beaten in several engagements, still had immense resources, and always rallied from victories which seemed decisive. His son Tippoo had routed General Matthews on the coast of Malabar, and Madras was again threatened. But the Mahrattas, excited by the English, armed themselves openly against the chief of Mysore; the rajahs also joined them; Hyder Ali suddenly found himself surrounded with enemies, and the British troops, making a diversion into Malabar, invaded the rich provinces of Canara.
This sudden treason of his ancient allies caused Hyder Ali to retrace his steps, when he was about to give his enemies their death blow, and forced him to despair. A cruel disease, symptoms of which had appeared long before, advanced rapidly, and his death, on the 9th of December, 1782, deprived Hindostan of the only man who could oppose British intrigue successfully.
2nd Mysore War - 1780-1782
The second Mysore war, undertaken by Marquis Wellesley on his own responsibility, was conceived by Parliament to be so clearly founded in policy and justice, that thanks were unanimously voted to Lord Wellesley, by both Houses, without a dissenting voice.
The principality of Travancore commences near the island of Vipeen, at the mouth of the Chinnamangolum river, whence it extends southward to Cape Comorin, being bounded eastward by the chain of mountains terminating near that promontory, by which it is separated from the province of Tinnevelly. A double line of works, facing from N. to N. E., was connected with the natural defence of this mountain barrier. Part of the territory of the Cochin sovereign lay northward of this line of defence ; but a considerable part, including his capital, was blended with Travancore on the southern side.
The lines, constructed in 1775, consisted of a ditch about 16 feet broad and 20 deep, a strong bamboo hedge, a slight parapet, and good rampart, with bastions on rising grounds, almost flanking each other. They were, however, more imposing than effectual, as, throughout the dangerous extent of thirty miles, (the distance from the island of Vipeen to the Anamalaiah range,) few points were closed in the rear, and those imperfectly, so that nearly the whole would fall on carrying a single point. part of these lines were erected upon a stripe of land which, with other portions of territory, had been ceded to the Travancore Rajah by his neighbor, in recompense of the powerful aid afforded to him by the former in repelling an invasion of the Zamorin of Calicut in 1760-1.
Tippoo directed his tributary to demand back those districts of Cochin which had been ceded to the Rajah of Travancore, promising the aid of the Mysore troops to enforce his claim. He contended at the same time, in his communications with the Madras Government, that the line actually intersected the country of his tributary, and was consequently built on his own territory; that the Rajah of Travancore had no right to build a wall on his (the Sultan's) territory, nor to exclude him from visiting every part of his dominions on either side of the wall.
To obviate this pretence, the Travancore Rajah renewed a long-pending negotiation with the Dutch for the purchase of Cranganore. The validity of this purchase was contested by Tippoo; and the Madras Government were guilty of the imbecility of countenancing the thin pretext, and despatched a peremptory command to the Rajah to annul the contract, and restore these places to the Dutch.
In May 1789, Tippoo, having again descended to the coast, began with summoning the fort of Cranganore. Before he could gain the gate which it was his object to open, and at which he expected to admit the rest of his army, his troops were thrown into confusion by some slight resistance, and, a panic ensuing, they fled in disorder across the ditch, which was filled with the trampled and the slain. Tippoo himself was present at the attack, and not without personal danger made his escape. His palankeen remained in the ditch, the bearers having been trodden to death ; his seals, rings, and personal ornaments fell as trophies into the hands of the enemy; and a lameness, to which he was occasionally subject ever after, was occasioned by the severe contusions which he received.
No sooner did intelligence of these events reach Calcutta, than the Governor General announced to the Madras rulers, his intention to employ all the resources within his reach, " to exact a full reparation from Tippoo for this wanton and unprovoked violation of treaty." Tippoo renewed his operations, and having rendered himself master of the lines, soon obtained possession of Cranganore. The troops of the Rajah fled in all directions. All the northern quarter of Travancore was now seized by the conqueror, who razed the lines, and spread desolation over the country.
The first operations of the British against Mysore, were baffled by the activity of the Sultan, who, taking advantage of the separation of the invading army into three divisions, attacked them in detail, broke through their chain of communications, and compelled them ultimately to abandon the- plan of the campaign. For this success, he was greatly indebted to his admirable system of intelligence, which never failed him, while the English were repeatedly at fault. The war was transferred from Mysore to the Carnatic; but, in the mean time, the whole of Malabar was wrested from Tippoo by another British division, and that province was placed in possession of the Company.
The relief of hunger was soon the most urgent want in the English army, in which scarcely an individual had, during the preceding fortnight, partaken of a wholesome meal; and "the inimitable mercantile police of a Mahratta chief in his own camp, was never more skilfully exhibited than on this occasion, in holding up exorbitant prices, until the resources of individuals were exhausted, and gradually adapting the supply to the simple capacity of payment. above all, the tables of the money-changers, overspread with the coins of every country of the East, in the open air public street of the camp, gave evidence of an extent of mercantile activity, utterly inconceivable in any camp, excepting that of systematic plunderers by wholesale and retail. Every variety of trade appeared to be exercised with a large competition and considerable diligence; and among them one apparently the least adapted to a wandering life — the trade of tanner, was practised with eminent success.
Lord Cornwallis, having determined not to prosecute the war to the annihilation of Tippoo's power, endeavored to reconcile him as far as possible to his humbled condition. Cornwallis did every thing he could do, short of a sacrifice of faith and of essential interests, to conciliate the Sultan. His reception and treatment of the hostage princes was more than kind; it was parental. The whole course of his conduct on this memorable occasion, exhibited a union of good feeling, manly simplicity, and firmness, which added as much as his victories in the field to the fame of his country.
1790-1792 - 3rd Mysore War
At the time of passing the Indian Act Parliament had declared that 'to pursue schemes of conquest and acquisition of territory was contrary to the wish, the honour, and the policy of the British nation'. Instructions given in that spirit was honestly accepted by Lord Cornwallis, but before his rule ended he had to bow to necessity and lead in person a victorious army to extensive conquests. In 1790 an attack by Tipu, the ruler of Mysore, on Travancore, an ally of the British Government, compelled the Governor-General to declare war. An alliance with the Nizam and the Peshwa, Bajl Rao, was arranged on the condition that all conquests should be divided equally among the three allied powers.
The earlier operations of the war were unsatisfactory owing to the failure of the Madras authorities to provide supplies, and Lord Cornwallis found himself constrained to use his special powers and take command himself. In the third season's operations the British force, assisted by a contingent from Bombay, captured the outworks of Seringapatam, Tiptu's capital. Lord Comwallis granted peace to Tippoo when he was in his power, on the condition of his giving up half his territories, and half his treasures. On the principle of the resolution, Lord Comwallis, if he reserved the treasure to pay the expences of the war, was not justified in securing any part of the territories for the company.
The sultan was forced to accept the hard terms dictated by the victor, which exacted the cession of half his dominions, the payment of three hundred lakhs (thirty millions) of rupees, and the delivery of two of his sons as hostages. The districts acquired by the Company, the nucleus of the existing Presidency of Madras, yielded a revenue of forty lakhs of rupees, about four millions sterling. The Home Government confirmed the proceedings of the Governor-General, and the King raised Lord Cornwallis to the rank of marquess.
1799 - 4th Mysore War
The fourth and last Mysore war, when it came, was short and sharp. General Harris took command on February 3, 1799, and on the 5th of the following month his troops entered Mysore. On the 4th of April Tipu lay dead inside the breach in the walls of Seringapatam, which had been stormed by General Baird and his men in seven minutes. Thus was fulfilled the saying that Haidar Ali was born to win, and Tipu to lose a kingdom. This one exploit practically ended the war, which had carried the Governor-General farther than he had anticipated. He had planned to bridle the power of Mysore, and found that he had utterly destroyed it. The sultan's territory was divided. The Company took Kanara, the entire sea-coast, and other districts which gave them an uninterrupted territory from sea to sea.
The Nizam received Chitaldrog and some other lands to the north, while the Marathas were offered, on conditions which they declined, certain smaller areas adjoining their dominions. On their refusal, those lands were divided between the Nizam and the British. The rest of the kingdom was assigned to a youthful representative of the old dynasty of Hindu Rajas, dispossessed by Haidar Ali. The new State thus constituted was placed under the control of a Resident. The young chief, Krishna Raja Wodeyar, did well at first, but lapsed into evil ways, and in 1831 the Government of India was obliged to deprive him of all authority, and to confide the administration directly to British officers.
In the fourth Mysore war, Tippoo Sultaun lost his life, and his family was ruined. Lord Wellesley placed the Raja of Mysore on the throne of his ancestors, but he took for the company all the conquests made by Tippoo, and his father. By this arrangement a long line of sea coast was secured.
This arrangement, with various changes of form, lasted until 1881, when Lord Ripon felt justified in again making over the State to a native government. This event, known as the Rendition of Mysore, took place on the 25th of March, 1881, when Maharaja Chama Rajendra Wodeyar, adopted son of Krishna Raja, was installed with befitting ceremony, and the disinterested good faith of the British Government was triumphantly vindicated.
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