Modern History Simplified: Learn about the Marathas during the post Mughal period (18th century)

The weakening of the central political structure of the Mughal Empire and erosion of its military strength created some sort of a political vacuum in India- tempting ambitious Subedars and powerful regional chiefs to carve out semi independent or independent principalities for themselves. 
Thus the eighteenth century saw the rise of a large number of autonomous states on the debris of the Mughal empire such as Bengal, Awadh, Hyderabad, Mysore, Marathas, Jats, Sikhs and Rajputs which is referred by many as a spectre of a fragmented polity.
Rise of Marathas in the 18th century
  1. The Maratha built mud fortresses, called Garhis and stone castles on the hilltops for their self-defence and were adept in guerilla warfare
  2. In the kingdoms of Ahmednagar and Bijapur, the Marathas attained high positions both in the Army and at the royal court. 
  3. In the grand political struggle, Shivajis’ father Shahji Bhosle realised their strength and asserted his power in the course of time.
Maratha Administration
  1. The Maratha administration was based on the pattern adopted by Malik Ambar in Ahmednagar and Mahmud Gawan in Bahmani kingdom.
  2. The king was the pivot of the government. He was assisted by a council of ministers called Ashtapradhan.
  3. The empire was divided into two parts-
    1. Swaraj (Mulk-i-Qasam)– meaning own kingdom.
    2. Other parts of the Mughal empire – which paid them Chauth.
  4. Shivaji’s kingdom was divided into
    1. Mahals/Subhas under Mamalutdar or Subedar
    2. Mahals into Parganas
    3. Paragnas into ‘Tarfs’
    4. Tarfs into Mauza
  5. Chauth and Sardeshmukhi both were land tax collected from Mughal territory.
    1. ‘Chauth’ means basically 1/4th i.e 25% of gross revenue or produce to be paid to jagirdars of Maratha empire from hostile or alien states. In return the state paying the tax would get an assurance of non aggression from the Maratha army against the enemy state.
    2. ‘Sardeshmukhi’ is an additional 10% tax levied upon the collected ‘Chauth’. The reasons for the additional tax was due to the King claiming hereditary rights upon the tax collection.
    3. The Sardeshmuki directly went to the King’s treasury whereas the share of the king in Chauth was 1/3rd of the gross Chauth collected.
    4. The territories of the enemies on which Chauth and Sardeshmuki were levied were called ‘Mughlai’.
  6. Deshmukh and Deshpande were district officials.
  7. The Peshwas employed a large number of foreigners in the army – English, French, Armenian, Swiss, Italian etc.
Ashta Pradhan of Maratha Administration
Peshwa or Mukya PradhanPrime Minister. The important and most powerful person after Chatrapati. 
Amatya or MaujadarFinance Minister
WaqnavisIntelligence, posts and household affairs.
Sachiva Incharge of correspondence and communication. 
Sumanta or Dabir Foreign affairs and the master of Royal ceremonies
Senapati Commander in Chief
Panditrao or Danda DyakshaHead of Religious affairs 
NyayadhishHighest court of appeal

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