Peshwa

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The Peshwa were the hereditary rulers of the Maratha empire of central India from 1713 to 1818. The title is the equivalent of a Prime Minister to a king.

The Maratha empire was founded by Shivaji in 1658. In 1674, Shivaji declared himself king (raja), and his descendants ruled as leaders of the empire from the city of Satara. Shivaji's grandson, Shahu, gave considerable authority to the hereditary Peshwas to command the Maratha armies. By Shahu's death in 1749, the Peshwas were the effective rulers of the Maratha state, and they moved their capital from Satara to Pune. Shivaji's descendants remained in Satara, and were rulers in name only.

The first Peshwa was Balaji Vishwanath, a Brahmin who came from the village of Srivardhan in Konkan. 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, brought to an end by the Maratha's defeat by an Afghan army at the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761. The last Peshwa, Baji Rao II, was defeated by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War. The Peshwa's territory in central Maharashtra was annexed to the British Raj's Bombay province, and the Peshwa was pensioned off.

Maratha Peshwas

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