The Peshwa (Marathi:पेशवा, plural Peshwe, Marathi:पेशवे) were Brahmin Prime Ministers to the Maratha Chattrapatis (Kings), who began commanding Maratha armies and later became the hereditary rulers of the Maratha empire of central India from 1749 to 1818. Prior to 1700 one Peshwa received the status of king for 8-9 years. They oversaw the greatest expansion of the Maratha Empire (Empire is a misnomer as they never directly ruled, but only collected tribute/ransom) around 1760 with the help of Sardars (Generals) like Holkar, Shinde, Bhosale, Pantprainidhi, Gayakwad, Panse, Vinchurkar, Pethe, Raste, Phadke, Patwardhan, Pawar, Pandit and Purandare, and also its eventual annexation by the British East India Company in 1818.
The word Peshwa may have originated in Persian
, meaning "foremost", and was introduced in Deccan
by the Muslim rulers. After his coronation as a Maratha Chhatrapati in 1674
, the founder of the Maratha Empire
appointed Moropant Trimbak Pingle
as the first Peshwa. However, the first Peshwa was Sonopant Dabir
, appointed by Shahaji
to assist Shivaji
. Duties and authorities of a Peshwa were equal to that of a Prime Minister
. Shivaji renamed this designation as “Pantpradhan” in 1674 but this name was less frequently used.
Moropant Trimbak Pingle was the first Peshwa (Prime Minister) in the court of Shivaji, the founder king of the Maratha empire in western India. He joined the service of Shivaji in 1647
. He was one of the warriors in the famous 1659 war against Afzal Khan. Later he also won the battle of Trimbakeshwar fort, and assisted Netaji Palkar in the battle of Wani-Dindori against Mughals and in Surat’s war of 1665
He can be credited for appropriate revenue administration techniques. He also played a role in planning the fort’s resources.
When Shivaji died in 1680, he was busy at development activity Salher-Mulher in Baglan-Nashik District. He died in 1683.
Ramchandra Amatya received King status from Chatrapti Rajaram as “Hukumatpanha” during 1689-1699. He was a basically good administrator who rose from the level of Local Kulkarni
to the ranks of Ashtapradhan due to guidance and support from Shivaji Maharaj, one of the prominent Peshwas earlier from 1700.
He recaptured many forts from Moguls during 1690-1694. Some forts he captured personally using guerilla war techniques. When Chatrapati Rajaram fled to Jinji in 1689 then before leaving from Maharastra, he gave “Hukumat panha” (King Status) to Pant. Ramchandra Pant managed the entire state under many challenges like influx of Moguls, betrayal of Vatandars, and scarcity of food. With the help of Pantpratindhi, Sachiv kept the economic condition of Maratha State in a proper way. He got tremendous military help from Santaji Ghorpade and Dhanaji Jadhav the great Maratha warriors. Many times he directly participated in war, especially during 1689-1695; he personally re-captured many forts in south Maharastra from the Moguls and played a role of shadow king in the absence of Chatrapati Rajaram.
In 1698, he happily stepped down from the post of “Hukumatpanha” and Rajaram offered this post to his wife Tarabai. Tarabai gave an important position to Pant in senior administration of Maratha State. He wrote a book called Adnyapatra मराठी: आज्ञापञ which explained different techniques of war, maintenance of forts and administration etc.
The concepts in Adnyapatra and the wisdom and leadership of Tararani (Tarabai) greatly helped the Maratha empire in building the foundation of state. As he was more loyal to Tararani than Shahu, he was sidelined after the arrival of Shahu. Later the Peshwa post was given to Balaji Vishwanath in 1713. Ramchandra Pant died in 1716 on Panhala fort.
The position moved to the Bhat family of Shrivardhan in the Konkan
region, upon appointment of Balaji Vishwanath Bhat
as Peshwa by the fourth Chattrapati Shahu
. The appointment of his son, Baji Rao I
as Peshwa in 1719
by Shahu made the position hereditary in the Bhat family, and also led to a rebellion by General Trimbak Rao Dhabade, the senapati
(commander in chief), who thought that his father should have been appointed Peshwa. The followers of Baji and Trimbak clashed at the Battle of Bilhapur on April 1
, and Trimbak was killed, giving the peshwas and the Bhat family unchallenged control over Maratha. Shahu, who also appointed Baji Rao's son as Peshwa in 1740
, gave considerable authority to the Peshwas to command the Maratha
armies, and they responded well during his reigns.
At the time of his death in 1749, Shahu made the Peshwas his successors under such conditions. Shivaji's descendants, who remained as the titular Raja of Satara, were called Swami (Marathi:The real Owner) by the Peshwas who reported to them, and they were to seek guidance from the Raja. However, the Peshwa also became a ceremonial head of state after the battle of Panipat and the death of Madhavrao.
First Peshwa to receive king status was Ramchandra Pant Amatya Bawdekar in 1689 by Chatrapati Rajaram.The first Bhat family Peshwa was Balaji Vishwanath Bhat, a chitpavan Brahmin
. He was succeeded as Peshwa by his son Baji Rao I
, who never lost a battle. Baji Rao and his son, Balaji Baji Rao, oversaw the period of greatest Maratha
expansion (see map at right), brought to an end by the Maratha's defeat by an Afghan
army at the Third Battle of Panipat
. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II
, was defeated by the British East India Company
in the Battle of Khadki
which was a part of Third Anglo-Maratha War
). The Peshwa's territory in central Maharashtra
was annexed to the British East India Company
's Bombay province
, and he was pensioned off.
From 1749 ,after death of Shahu , peshawa became head of maratha empire ,offcourse reporting to Chatrapati.
Hereafter they remained titular
- Narayanrao Bajirao (13 dec.1772-30 aug.1773) (b.10 aug.1755, d. 30 aug.1773)
- Raghunathrao (5 dec.1773-1774) (b.18 aug.1734, d. 11 dec.1783)self -claimed not accepted by Chatrapati
- Sawai Madhava Rao II Narayan (1774-27 oct.1795) (b.18 apr.1774, d. 27 oct.1795)
- Chimnajee Madhavarao (26 May 1796 - 3 Dec 1796) (brother of Bajirao II, adopted by Madhavrao II's wife)
- Baji Rao II (4 dec.1796-3 jun.1818) (d. 28 jan.1851)
- Amritrao (brother of Bajirao II), Peshwa for a short period during Yashwantrao Holkar's siege of Pune. Bajirao was later reinstated by the British.
- Nana Sahib (1 jul.1857-1858) (b.19 may.1825, d. 24 sep.1859)
Generals and Diplomats of Peshwas (1720 to 1795)