The great Peshwa Madhav Rao I history |Revival of Maratha Power

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Peshwa Madhavrao I was one of the most prominent figure of the Maratha empire who brilliantly handled the situation after the massive loss occured in the battle of Panipat. He restored the power of Marathas from South to North successfully.

Peshwa Madhav Rao the great warrior was credited for the resurrection of the Maratha empire after losing the third Battle of Panipat on 14th January 1761 A. D.

He was the 2nd son of Balaji Bajirao and Gopikabai and the fourth Peshwa of the Maratha empire.


 Peshwa Madhav Rao


 14 February 1745

 Famous for

Reviving Maratha empire after 3rd battle of Panipat


 Peshwa Nana Shaheb ( Balaji Bajirao )






 Not any children

 Major war with

 Nizam , Haider Ali , The English ( Britisher)


 18 November 1772 ( Tuberclosis )

Peshwa Madhav Rao became 4th Peshwa of Maratha empire in 1761 AD after the death of his elder brother Vishwasrao in the battle of Panipat and after the death of his father Peshwa Balaji Bajirao ( Nana Shaheb ) soon after Panipat battle in June 1761.

Madhav Rao’s remarkable and miraculous way of administrating the social and economic condition at most hypercritical time of devastation made him the hero of the resurrection of the Maratha empire.

Peshwa Madhavrao was actively busy in the war against Hyder Ali , Nizam of Hyderabad , British and resolving the internal revolt like with Raghunath Rao during his period of reign .

He brilliantly handled the situation in all cases . The wound of loosing the battle in Panipat was healed by the leadership of Peshwa Madhav Rao .

During the third battle of Panipat, nearly 28,000 warriors died in the most dreadful and trembling war between the Marathas and the Afghans invaders.

Around 50,000 horses and 500 elephants were captured. The ditch around the Maratha camp was full of dead bodies. This melancholy event left everyone in deep shock. 

Maratha lost many great warriors during the third battle of Panipat. Balaji Bajirao ( Peshwa Nana Saheb ) lost his eldest son Vishwas Rao, his cousin Sadeshiv Rao, Tukoji Sindhia, Jankoji Sindhia in the battlefield of Panipat in 1761.

Almost all the treasury of the Marathas were gone. Economically too , they became handicapped now. 

Balaji Bajirao lost his physical body in such a deep down phase of the Maratha empire that it became a challenging phase for the next Peshwa to restore the dignity and divinity of the Maratha empire.

The pain of losing near and dear ones was so stressful for Balaji Bajirao that he didn’t survive long and finally lost his physical body on 23rd June 1761 but Peshwa Madhav Rao brilliantly played the role of regency of empire building for the Marathas. 

The capability of the Young Peshwa Madhav Rao can be defined from a letter which Raghunath Rao wrote to Gopika Bai after the defeat of Hyder Ali in 1765 .It was as follows

” He has become very wise. He is managing everything and doing more than Nana Saheb Peshwa ( Balaji Bajirao Peshwa) and Bhau Saheb ever did.”

 According to great historian Grant Duff,

” The third battle of Panipat in 1761 was not that much fatal to the Maratha empire than the early death of Peshwa Madhav Rao in 1772.”

Grant Duff

The great Peshwa Madhavrao had also to face the internal intrigues and rebellions of Raghunath Rao, the big revolt of Janoji Bhonsle. Nizam Ali of Hyderabad and Haider Ali of Mysore, English ( Britishers) were the biggest enemy of the Maratha empire during his reign. 

Early life

Soon after the death of Balaji Bajirao, his 2nd youngest son Madhav Rao of age 17 had been seated on the throne of Peshwa in 1761 . Raghunath Rao became regent. 

Madhav Rao was married to Ramabai in 1758. Unfortunately they didn’t have any children. 

Madhav Rao’s relation with the Britishers

The company’s officers in Mumbai ( Britishers) were well-informed of the activities of the Marathas. They knew it very well that Marathas were in severe need of help both economically and militarily after brutal loss in the third battle of Panipat .

The treasury of Marathas had gone out of stock. It was high time for the Britishers to take the advantages of the weakness of Marathas. 

Though Peshwa had established a cannon ball factory at Amegavan, near Votur and another at Poona for manufacturing cannon, it became an expensive job for them to produce such cannon balls.

They didn’t have enough money to continue the work of manufacturing such modern artillery to use. It was an easy path for them to negotiate with British to purchase artillery from them.

To get the supply of ammunition, Marathas were dependent on European nations and the British. To purchase the ammunition, they have to agree on provision of the treaties. British and other European nation used it as a tool to enlarge thier territories in India.

On 14th September 1761 an agreement was signed between the young Peshwa Madhavrao and the Mumbai government which consisted of 6 articles .

All these 6 articles were favourable to the Britishers. But the cunningness of the British officers was not confined to these 6 articles ,they were ready to strike hard while the iron was hot . They disagreed on providing aid in terms of the military. 

Peshwa Madhav Rao himself sent a letter to Mumbai Council to facilitate him with their army force through  one of his great Maratha warriors Baji Gandhar Rao

This time they demanded for the cede of Salsette which was most valuable in the terms of generating high revenues. 

Madhav Rao agreed but he put a condition that they would not dismiss or obstruct the owners of land and the deshmukh (levied tax) and give the freedom to the heirs to enjoy all the privileges conferred upon them during the Maratha empire.

This time the letter was sent through Ramaji pant. Britishers took it as an insult and refused to accept it as it was not sent by Baji Gandhar Rao. 

This time Peshwa Madhavrao stood with his great warriors and ultimately decided to fight with Nizam Ali with their own Maratha Warriors.

A severe battle was fought between Nizam Ali and the Maratha Warriors which was headed by Raghunath Rao. 

Courageous Maratha Warriors able to avert Nizam Army without the assistance of English Troops and guns. This time Madhavrao wrote to the Mumbai Council (English) on 17th January 1762The Mughal is returned distressed and peace is settled “.

War with Nizam of Hyderabad

The history of the first Revolt had been seen after the third battle of Panipat with Nizam of Hyderabad. Nizam Ali had an evil eye on Poona and for him this was the perfect time to capture Poona which could be a huge victory for him. 

To succeed in his campaign he managed to take the aid of Murar Rao Ghorpade, Hanumant Rao nimbalkar, the English, Savanur and Kadapa. But all the efforts of Nizam Ali were reduced to ashes when Raghunath Rao, assisted by the huge troops of Malhar Rao Holkar and Janoji Bhonsle, came to the battlefield. 

While Raghunath Rao was leading the attack from the left, the young Peshwa Madhavrao and Babuji Nayak fired on his right. Gopal Rao Patwardhan was in the charge of artillery.

After getting a brutal defeat from the Marathas, Nizam Ali in Urli overtures for peace with Raghunath Rao.

Leading Maratha Warriors weren’t in favour of making peace with the Nizam due to the past cheated history of Nizam with Marathas but the jealousy of Raghunath Rao with Peshwa for power-hunger made him blind and also receiving the advice of Sakharam Bapu to not strengthen the power of Peshwa by destroying the rivalry of Hyderabad compelled him for the peace making with the Nizam. 

An accommodation took place between Raghunath Rao and Nizam Ali in January 1762. These terms were very much favourable to Nizam Ali. This action of Raghunath Rao clearly set a picture that he discarded the patriotism towards Maratha empire for his self greed for power hunger . 

Peshwa Madhav Rao was fully aware of the mischievous act of Raghunath Rao and Sakharam Bapu.

Sakharam had already sensed the anger in young Peshwa so he found it better to offer his resignation. Even Raghunath Rao had expressed his desire to relieve of his responsibility.Now, Madhavrao gave these dignified posts of ministries to great Maratha warriors Trimbak Rao mama and Baburao Fadnis. 

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Internal revolt with Raghunath Rao

 The tussle was already going on between Gopika Bai and Raghunath Rao for attaining the power.

Gopika Bai was supported by Babu Rao Fadnis, Gopal Rao Patwardhan, Anand Rao and Malhar Rao Holkar against Raghunath Rao. 

It became impossible for Raghunath Rao to fight alone against such Great Maratha Warriors. So, on advice of Sakharam Bapu he tried to get the assistance of Nizam Ali.

It was a big opportunity for Nizam Ali to take advantage of this great opportunity as it had been never expected. He agreed to give his military support to Raghunath Rao . Janoji Bhonsle also joined them in the war.

Peshwa Madhavrao wasn’t happy with the moves of Raghunath Rao and he decided to meet his rebellious uncle. He met his uncle at the bank of the Ghor river where the situation became much worse which ultimately turned into a battle on 7th November 1762

Peshwa Bajirao lost the battle due to the treacherous flight of some sardars who were influenced by Sakharam Bapu. He was tracked and taken by Raghunath Rao.

As the young Peshwa was a foresighted king, he had sensed the whole situation and gave a deep thought that if it goes much worse then the division of the state is inevitable. 

With this approachable thought, he reached the camp of Raghunath Rao with his 200 Guards and placed his shoe on his head. This heart-breaking scene deeply softened  the uncle’s heart and he said ” Everything is yours. I don’t want anything. ” He just took four forts. 

War with Haider Ali

During the year 1760-63 , the Great marathas were deeply indulged in ongoing war with Nizam Ali and resolving the internal Revolt against Raghunath Rao.

This indulgence gave Haider Ali a great opportunity to expand his territories and touch the highest peak in Mysore.

Young Peshwa Madhavrao was incredibly good with the intricacies of War, diplomacy and administration. The young peshwa realised the tribute from Kolhapur, Kittur, Bidnur.

In February 1764, Peshwa along with his huge army tried to cross the Krishna river to make the battle in his favour. Aware of the activities of Peshwa, Haider Ali  made an alliance with Nizam Ali.

Hyder Ali left Bidnur and advanced towards Savanur where he encamped in dense forest which was secured from rivalry.

Peshwa with his infantry and artillery started to take the charges of Manoli,Hubli and also secured Nawab of savanur from.  the control of Hyder Ali. 

Gopal Rao joined Peshwa from right and Naro Shankar from left and Vitthal Shivdeo guarding him from  back. A Furious battle took place between Haider Ali and Peshwa which eventually went into the favour of young Peshwa Madhavrao. 

Achievements of Peshwa Madhav Rao 

  • In September 1764 Peshwa captured Haveri
  • In November 1764, the major dharwar Fort came into the charge of young Peshwa with assist of Gopal Rao and Anand Rao. Only bankapur was left under the control of Haider Ali. 
  • In February 1765 Peshwa marched towards Bidnur and took Honnali, kumsi, Anantpur and Chitradurg.

Dispute with Janoji Bhonsle

The major reason behind the dispute between Peshwa Madhavrao and Janoji Bhonsle was Peshwa’s right to levy Sardeshmukhi and Bahti (tax)in Berar . So to defeat Peshwa, Janoji Bhonsle joined his hands with Nizam Ali. 

Peshwa started his expedition against Bhonsle in 1765. This battle was won by the young Peshwa bravely. After getting the defeat from Peshwa , Bhonsle himself came forward for the negotiation of peace. 

Expedition against Hyder Ali in 1766

In December 1766, Haider Ali’s general Mir Faizulla and Mir Reza had started to ravage Maratha territories in Carnatic and demanded for tribute from Raidurg, belari, harpanhalli, chitraldurg. 

In January 1767, Peshwa crossed Krishna river and captured Jetgi, kittor, kanchan, garh, godwal, bellary, shidnoot, adoni and devdurg. He then captured Madagiri fort, channarayadurga. 

Other major places which came under the hands of Peshwa Madhav Rao were Dewanhalli, Hoskote, Nandigardh and kolar. 

Mir Reza ( Governer of Sira) surrendered himself to Peshwa in February 1767.

Resurgency of Peshwa in North

After facing the defeat in third battle of Panipat in 1761, the dominant of Maratha in North started to get defunctioned at a larger extent. 

The responsibilities to resurgency of Maratha power fell upon Malhar Rao Holkar who was a great warrior of Maratha.

Malhar Rao started to capture the territories :

  • Gagroni ( In Malwa in May 1761 ) 
  • Malhar Rao defeated the Jaipur army in the battle of mangrol in 29th November 1761.
  • He recovered Jhansi in December 1765.
  • Malhar Rao Holkar unfortunately died on 20th May 1766 . It was a major loss for Marathas. 
  • Tukoji Rao Holkar ( adopted son of Malhar Rao Holkar) and Mahadji Sindhia advanced to Mewar and gave their support to Ari Singh in critical condition of politics. In return they received 64 lakhs as contribution in May 1769.
  • At the end of May, they raided Farrukhabad which was then the territory of Bangash
  • On 9th February 1771 Maratha defeated Qasim Ali and on 10th February , expelled e troops of Zabitabh Khan in Delhi. 
  • Finally, Saif-ud-in Muhammad agreed to pay 25 lakhs of sum, assigned some Mahals including Meerut to the Marathas. 


The great Peshwa Madhav Rao died in 1772 due to tuberculosis. He spent his last few days in the Ganesha Chintamani temple in Theur near Pune. He was cremated near the banks of the Bhima river.

After the death of Madhav Rao, Narayan Rao, his youngest brother became the next Peshwa. But soon on 30th August 1773, he was murdered through a subtle conspiracy executed by his Raghunath Rao’s wife Anandi Bai for making his husband the Peshwa of Maratha empire.

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How old was Madhavrao Peshwa when he died?

Peshwa Madhav Rao was just 27 years old when he died because of Tuberculosis in the Ganesha Chintamani Temple near Pune .

Which Peshwa was killed by his uncle?

Narayan Rao , the youngest brother of Peshwa Madhav Rao , was killed by his uncle Raghunath Rao in 30th August 1773 . It was a well- planned murder executed by his wife Anandibai by changing a word in a letter sent by Raghunath to Sumer Singh Gardi and it was ” Dharaa ” by ” Maraa” which means killing . He was brutally murdered in front of Raghunath Rao by Sumer Singh Gardi .

Who was the last Peshwa?

Baji Rao II was the last Peshwa of the Maratha empire who accessed the throne in 1795 and remained as Peshwa till 1818 .

Who was the first Peshwa in Maharashtra?

The First Peshwa of the Maratha empire was Balaji Vishwanath on 16th November 1713 in the reign of Maharaja Shahuji , son of Sambhaji Maharaja .

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