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Battle of the Jankau, 6 March 1645

Battle of the Jankau, 6 March 1645

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The Thirty Years War , C.V.Wedgewood. Despite its age (first published in 1938), this is still one of the best english language narratives of this most complex of wars, tracing the intricate dance of diplomacy and combat that involved all of Europe in the fate of Germany.

Battle of Jankau

The Battle of Jankau or Jankov, one of the bloodiest of the Thirty Years' War, was fought on 24 February 1645 in southern Bohemia, some 50 km southeast of Prague, between the army of Sweden and that of the Holy Roman Empire.

The battle proved a decisive Swedish victory, which was largely due to the personal command skills of Lennart Torstensson, and the tactical skill and maneuverability of the Swedish artillery.

Torstensson was intent on recovering those portions of Bohemia and Moravia he had lost to the Imperials during the Danish distraction. Pushing contemptuously past the Imperial forces, the Swedes advanced from Eger, through Budweis and Pilsen toward Tabor in Moravia.

The Emperor had raised such troops as he could and called to Maximillian I for assistance. The combined armies under Götz pursued Torstensson, catching up to him at Jankau near Tabor. On 6 March, 1645, battle was joined.

The forces were nearly evenly matched and the battle was hard fought. In the end, the Imperials were handed a crushing defeat, losing half their forces, their general Götz dead on the field

Key Facts:

Date: 14th June, 1645
War: English Civil War
Location: Naseby, Northamptonshire
Belligerents: Royalists and Parliamentarians
Victors: Parliamentarians
Numbers: Royalists around 9,000, Parliamentarians around 14,000
Casualties: Royalists around 1000, Parliamentarians around 150
Commanders: King Charles I and Prince Rupert of the Rhine (Royalists), Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell (Parliamentarians)

Richard of York

Henry’s lack of leadership led him to lose almost all his holdings in France. This and the corruption and mismanagement of power in England, not to mention heavy taxation, caused frustrated property owners and peasants from Kent to revolt in 1450.

Led by Jack Cade, they marched on London and presented Henry with a list of demands known as the 𠇌omplaint of the Poor Commons of Kent.”

Henry never officially agreed to Cade’s demands, one of which was to recall Richard, Duke of York, from Ireland back to England. Richard of York𠅊s great-grandson of King Edward III—had a strong competing claim on the English throne.

After a series of skirmishes, Henry squashed Cade’s rebellion and pardoned the rebels𠅎xcept for Jack Cade himself, who would later die from a mortal wound during his arrest.

Henry believed Richard of York was behind Cade’s rebellion (though there’s scant evidence that the Duke of York was involved). This rivalry set the stage for 30 years of battles for power involving three generations of Yorks and Lancasters.

1427 Battle of Tachov

The second half of the 14 th century in Europe of that time was marked by deep crisis in economy and society. In years 1378 – 1417 the crisis was even stronger because of the papal schism, a situation in which there were two or even three appointed popes fighting for the leadership of the church.

This situation led to several attempts to reform the church, or more precisely the whole feudal society. The most successful of them was the Hussite movement which ushered far wider turbulence which followed as German reformation a hundred years later.

Battle of the Jankau, 6 March 1645 - History

William Forbes, son of Arthur 9/10th Lord Forbes and his wife Jean, daughter of Lord Alexander Elphinstone, was born in Fiddes in Aberdeenshire on 2 February 1614. He received a letter in 1634 which invited him to Germany, probably sent by his brother Baron Alexander Forbes [SSNE 1616] on the latter's second visit. He travelled to Stade from where he marched, in July 1634, with 100 men to Minden and Osnabruck to join his relative, Colonel Matthew Forbes [SSNE 2248], who was Governor there (and arriving on 28 August). His brothers, including Alexander all joined Swedish service including John [SSNE 4332], Arthur [SSNE 2226] and James [SSNE 3881]. They also had an illigitimate half-brother, Major John Forbes [SSNE 2243] in the Swedish army. William joined the Swedish army in the regiment of Alexander Leslie [SSNE 2913] and later Johan Skytte [SSNE 6280]. In 1635 he served in George Leslie's [SSNE 2922] regiment. He took part in the conquest of Nienburg and was quartered in Vechta for six months. After the arrival of Alexander Leslie [SSNE 1] he also took part in the raising of the siege of Osnabruck, the taking of Petershagen, Minden and Herford, the raising of the siege of Hanau and the conquest of Amoeneburg. Certainly he was in Johan Banér's army at the conquest of Lüneburg and he fought at the Battle of Wittstock in 1636. In 1637 he was in Banér's camp at Torgau, then in Landsberg O. S. [now Gorzow Slaskie district of Rosenberg] fighting against Imperial troops in Silesia. His regiment took part in the defense of castle of Wolgast [district of Greifswald], which had been conquered on 30 November/10 December 1637 by the Imperial troops under the command of Matthias Gallas. In 1639 after joining with Field-Marshal Herman Wrangel at Neustadt O. S. [Prudnik, Silesia] he marched to Stettin and then quartered in Bremen. He thereafter took part in the conquest of Gartz a. d. Oder [district of Randow] and marched to Mecklenburg. In his 'memorial' he recorded his part in the conquest of Horneburg, Lauenburg, Schladen and Mansfeld. He fought successfully in the battle at Chemnitz on 4/14 April against the Imperial troops under the command of Field-Marshall Matthias Gallas and the Saxonian commander Rudolf von Morzin. Forbes then took part in the conquest of Pirna and on 19/29 May 1639 at the battle at Melnik under Baner and the battle of Brandeis/Elbe [Bohemia] against Matthias Gallas. He also took part in the capture of Lieutenant-General Lorenz von Hofkirchen and colonel Raimondo Montecuccoli. Forbes was then ordered to Silesia, but he had to go in 1640 with Torsten Stalhåndske to the Swedish Army quartered at Saalfeld. After the departure of the Imperial Army into the Lower Saxonian Circle he first marched to Franconia and again to Lower Saxonia, then to the Upper Palatine and to Regensburg to take part in the siege of that town. Along with Banér he retreated to Halberstadt. In 1641 he fought in the successful battle at Wolfenbüttel on 19/29 June 1641 against the Imperial troops of Arch-duke Leopold Wilhelm and Ottavio Piccolomini. He was quartered in the Duchy of Luneburg and thereafter in Brandenburg, where he now served under Major-General Caspar Cornelius Mortaigne. In 1642 he fought again in Silesia and took part in the battle near Schweidnitz on 21 May against Franz Albrecht of Sachsen-Lauenburg. Forbes was quartered for a year in Olmütz and therefore he didn't take part in the battle of Leipzig on 2 November 1642. According to his own testimony he was promoted in 1643 to the rank of lieutenant-colonel for the Mortaigne regiment and fought in the kingdom of Bohemia and then against the Danes throughout 1643-1644. At the end of 1644 and in the beginning of 1645 he took part in the actions in Saxonia and then again in Bohemia. In the battle of Jankau on 6 March 1645 he was taken prisoner by Imperial troops, but was freed on the same day by his own troops. After that battle he took part in siege of Iglau, Znaim [Bohemia] and Krembs [Lower Austria], where he became commander. He was ordered to return into Torstensson's camp but was shot at Brünn in the left thigh and remained for a long time at Nikolsburg [Mikulov, district of Lundenberg, Bohemia] recovering from his wounds. Thereafter he fought again in Silesia, Bohemia,Thuringia and Lower Saxonia, and took part in the conquest of Höxter, Paderborn, Obermarsberg and Amoneburg. He went to Franconia and Bavaria under the command of Carl Gustav Wrangel and was shot in the right foot at Augsburg. Forbes later took Weilheim by storm and then was quartered in Upper Swabia. In January 1647 he took part in the conquest of Bregenz, Feldkirch and took Heiligenberg, where he was wounded again. After his successful campaigns he marched with the army to Ulm, where the truce between Maximilian I and Sweden was concluded. After Mortaigne joined the army of Hessen-Kassel, Forbes was made colonel of Mortaigne's regiment by Gustav Otto Steenbock (1614-1685). Thereafter the Scot took part in the successful siege of Schweinfurt (occupied on 25 April 1647), before joining the siege of Eger, where he was shot in the left shoulder. Nonetheless he went on to fight in Bohemia, until the truce between Bavaria and Sweden collapsed. Forbes retreated with the army to Hessisch-Oldendorf and in January 1648 he marched again under Wrangel's command to Bavaria until the peace of Munster and Osnabruck. In January 1649 he was quartered in Nurenburg, then ordered to Frankfurt/M to force the Elector of Trier to accept the quartering of Swedish regiments before returning to Nurenburg, to recover from his wounds. It was while there that he became a member of the Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft, the German political and cultural organisation. In this organisation Forbes took the name "Der Sonderliche". After nine months he was ordered by Carl Gustav Wrangel to go to Bremen. That year he was awarded a pension of 1000 riksdaler per annum and took over the fortification of Burg [today a suburb of Bremen] in Bremen-Verden. This fortification was strategically important in the Bremen War of 1654 when Forbes manned it with 500 men. Forbes continued to serve the Swedish army until his regiment was taken over on 16 May 1654. He died on 14 June the same year when forces of the City of Bremen attacked his fortification. His death is said to have been wept over by two kings! Forbes left a so-called "Memoriale" (written in German Language, Library of the University of Lund, Collection De la Gardie, Släktarkiven, Forbus 1: 2) with reminiscences of his military expeditions in the Holy Roman Empire, apparently written to get due recompense for his military service.

Sources: Swedish Riksarkiv, P. Sondén, Militärachefer i svenska arméen och deras skrivelser Swedish Riksarkiv, Carl Gustaf's Arkiv i Stegeborgssamlingen, 11 letters of Colonel Commandant William Forbes, 1649-1654 Swedish Riksarkiv, Skoklostersamlingen E8359, several letters of William Forbes 1644-1651 in Swedish Swedish Krigsarkiv, Muster Roll, 1635/31,32 1636/20-23 1639/15 1649/15 1650/12 1651/14 1652/6 1653/6 1654/6 THE REGIMENT WAS TAKEN OVER BY PAUL WIRTZ C. Conermann, Die Mitglieder der Fruchtbringenden Gesellschaft 1617-1650 (Weinheim, 1985), III, no.527 A. and H. Tayler, The House of Forbes (revised edition, Bruceton Mills, 1987), pp.168, 184, 201 and 225 P. Wieselgren, (ed.), De La Gardiska Archivet, part 9 (Lund, 1837), pp.60-3 Beata-Christine Fiedler, Die Verwaltung der Herzogtümer Bremen und Verden in der Schwedenzeit 1652-1712 - Organisation und Wesen der Verwaltung (Stade, 1987), pp.236-237 Steve Murdoch, Network North: Scottish Kin, Commercial and Covert Associations in Northern Europe, 1603-1746 (Brill, Leiden, 2006), pp.369-373.

Thanks to Dr Bernd Warlich for the following references: Margret TEGEDER/Axel KREIENBRINK, ". der osnabrugischenn handlung und geschicht". Die Chronik des Rudolf von Bellinckhausen 1628-1637, (Osnabrueck 2002), p.325 Johann Philipp ABELINUS/Heinrich ORAEUS/Matthaeus MERIAN, Theatrum Europaeum, vol. III, (Frankfurt/M 1670), p.884 (, Detlev PLEISS, Das Kriegstagebuch des schwedischen Offiziers William Forbes: Von seiner Landung an der Unterelbe im Sommer 1634 bis zu seiner Rückkehr nach Stade im Winter 1649/50, in: Stader Jahrbuch Neue Folge 85, (1995), pp. 135-153.

Service record

© 1995 - Steve Murdoch & Alexia Grosjean.
Published to the internet by the University of St Andrews, November 2004
ISSN 1749-7000

Key Facts:

Date: 10th July, 1645

War: English Civil War

Location: Langport, near Yeovil, Somerset

Belligerents: Royalists and Parliamentarians

Victors: Parliamentarians

Numbers: Royalists around 7,000, Parliamentarians around 10,000

Casualties: Royalists around 500, Parliamentarians unknown

Commanders: George, Lord Goring (Royalists – pictured below), Sir Thomas Fairfax (Parliamentarians – pictured at the top of this article)

Slaget vid Jankow (1645) [sv]

The Battle of Jankau, also known as Jankov, Jankow, or Jankowitz, took place in central Bohemia, on 6 March 1645. One of the last major battles of the 1618 to 1648 Thirty Years' War, it was fought between Swedish and Imperial armies, each containing around 16,000 men.

The more mobile and better led Swedes under Lennart Torstensson effectively destroyed their opponents, commanded by Melchior von Hatzfeldt. However, by this stage of the war, the devastated countryside forced armies to spend much of their time trying to support themselves, and the Swedes were unable to take advantage.

By 1646, Imperial forces had regained control of Bohemia combined with inconclusive campaigns in the Rhineland and Saxony, it was clear a military solution was no longer possible. Fighting continued, as participants tried to improve their positions, but it increased the urgency of negotiations leading to the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.

Slaget vid Jankov var ett fältslag som ägde rum den 24 februari 1645 under trettioåriga kriget. Slaget var ett av krigets hårdaste och utkämpades mellan en svensk armé under Lennart Torstenssons befäl och en kejserlig under Melchior von Hatzfeldt, cirka 50 km sydöst om Prag.

Drabbningen slutade med svensk seger, till stor del på grund av Torstensons skicklighet som fältherre, samt det överlägsna svenska artilleriet. Den kejserliga armén led nära 60% förluster och bland de 4 000 krigsfångarna fanns Hatzfeld själv.

Greatest Swedish victory and their greatest defeat

Similar to thread I did for the roman empire. A poll has been included and for it to work you must vote for 1 victory and 1 defeat. I have primarily focused on conflicts during Swedens time as a great power, but I have included some other battles as well.

Greatest Victories in my opinion
1. March across the belts
I think this one wins just for the sheer insanity of it all. Marching an army across a sheet of ice? Totally crazy, but it took the Danes completely by surprise and saw Sweden reach its greatest territorial extent under Karl X.
2. Battle of Breitenfeld
This is the battle that alerted the rest of europe to Swedens emergence as a serious player in european affairs. Under Gustav Adolph the Swedes destroyed the catholic armies and greatly emboldened the protestant cause.
3. Battle of Narva
The russians had the high ground as well as vast numerical superiority(3 or 4 times as many troops) but a daring attack under the cover of the snow completely routed the Russian army. Karl XII personally led one of the flanks and managed to kill 2 russian soldiers.

Worst Defeats
1. Poltava- The battle that destroyed the Swedish empire, and effectively made Russia the new great northern power.
2. Kircholm- Even though the Swedes would later beat the poles in several battles through out the rest of the century this battle deserves to be placed here just for the sheer embarassment it caused the swedes. Even the shah of Iran congratulated the poles.
3. Battle of Nordlingen
This defeat saw many german principalities abandon their alliance with sweden and when Sweden finally did win in 1648 they received only a pittance of territories for their vast efforts.


Greatest victory was probably either Breitenfeld or Fraustadt.

Greatest defeat was undeniably Poltava. Nordlingen was also a very complete defeat in many ways but at least the Swedes recovered from that one more. The campaign of 1708-09 as a whole, in spite of some tactical victories at places such as Holowyczyn, was pretty much disastrous and basically crippled Sweden as a dominant military power.

Lord Oda Nobunaga

Karl XII




For significance, taking a slightly contrarian view here , I'd put the conjoined failed storming of Copenhagen (Feb 1659) + the Öresund sea battle (Oct 1658) as the most important defeat — actions that if the Swedes had been successful would likely have been directly war-winning, and kicked the situation up into a higher orbit entirely.

As for victories, the significance of Sweden losing the battle of Helsingborg 1710, is likely to have opened the floodgates, and a more general unravelling.

Yes, of all Sweden's adversaries in this period of war-making-wholsesle, I tend to think that the Danes get undeservedly overlooked and underestimated a lot of the time. Sweden only got the opportunity to operate outside its recurrent death-matches with Denmark through a series of victories, but none of these ever proved final enough to allow Sweden to put the original-arch enemy down, and allow it to really go crazy.

Copenhagen 1659 was Charles X's realization that the way to really unleash Sweden would be to finally destroy and absorb the Danish kingdom. Without that, it would never happen. Of course, the Dutch with their own umbilical cord to the situation in the form of the Baltic trade (where the Dutch always made most of their money, allowing for the more far-ranging, exotic adventuring) were hell-bent on saving the Danes.

Simulateously, Helsingborg 1710 was the last serious Danish attempt at reconquest. The victory was regarded as a bit if a miracle, and Magnus Stenbock as a mircle-worker. It started a momentum for him that led to the continent, his victories at Damgarten and Gadebusch, only to end ignominiously with his surrender after being cut-off and out of supply. The situation is, in my opinion, also improved for historical interest by one of the key's to Stenbocks success (the miracles) by his discovery of the young artillery genius Carl Cronstrand.

Otoh, the reverse — a Swedish defeat at Helsingborg — would have removed the last Swedish army for the defense of the Swedish heartland, and allowed the Danes to not just retake the lost provinces, but to strike directly at the Swedish home-base.

I think one of the underestimated aspects of the Swedish so-called "great power" century is that Swedish ability to keep war AWAY from its own lands most the time (the Russian occupation of Finland in the Great Nordic War being the great exception), and the relative advantage that gave Sweden. It's akin to the underestimation of the French feat under the Louis kings of making sure war was something that happened outside French territory for a century and a half, despite France being more or less continuously involved.

The Defence of London: AD 1642

During the ‘December Days’ in late 1641, the political crisis in relations between Court and Parliament tipped over into revolution. Vast crowds of ordinary Londoners besieged Parliament to force through the anti-royalist measures they supported. Then, in early January 1642, an attempted coup by the Court backfired. King Charles entered Parliament to arrest opposition leaders, only to discover ‘that the birds had flown’.

They had ‘flown’ into the City, where gates were shut, portcullises lowered, and chains put across streets. For several days, thousands of men stood armed and ready, and women boiled water ‘to throw on the cavaliers’.

But the cavaliers never came. Charles fled the capital on 10 January, and London became a revolutionary city in armed revolt against King and Church.

London was the country’s chief port and financial centre, the seat of government, and, with the Tower of London, the nation’s chief arsenal. Charles’s flight at the beginning of the war therefore placed his cause at a distinct disadvantage. To many Parliamentarians, it was obvious that the King would attempt to regain the capital by force.

So, between the autumn of 1642 and the spring of 1643, an 18km circuit of forts and bulwarks connected by ramparts and ditches was thrown up around London. It was the largest feat of military engineering undertaken anywhere in the country during the conflict, and at the time the circuit was among the largest urban defence systems in Europe.

The map below shows a detailed plan of the Parliamentarian defences around London, drawn by George Vertue in 1738.

The full article can be seen in issue 24 of Military History Monthly.

1. Bulwark and half-bulwark: Gravel Lane
2. Hornwork: Whitechapel Road
3. Redoubt and two  anks: Brick Lane
4. Redoubt and four  anks: Hackney Road
5. Redoubt and four  anks: Kingsland Road

6. Battery and breastwork: Mountmill
7. Battery and breastwork: St John Street
8. Small redoubt: Islington Road
9. Large fort and four half-bulwarks: Upper Pond, New River
10. Battery and breastwork: Blackmary Hill
11. Two batteries and breastwork: Bedford House
12. Redoubt and two  anks: St Giles Road
13. Small fort: Tyburn Road
14. Large fort and four half-bulwarks: Wardour Street
15. Small bulwark: Oliver’s Mount
16. Large fort and four bulwarks: Hyde Park Corner

17. Small bulwark and battery: Constitution Hill
18. Court of Guards: Chelsea Turnpike
19. Battery and breastwork: Tothill Field

20. Quadrant fort and half-bulwarks: Vauxhall
21. Fort and four half-bulwarks: St George Field
22. Large fort and four bulwarks: Blackman Street
23. Redoubt and four  anks: Kent Street

The Maratha Empire

The Maratha Empire, also known as the Maratha Confederacy, dominated a large portion of India during the 17th and 18th century. The Maratha Empire formally began with the rise of Chhatrapati Shivaji in 1674. The Maratha Empire brought an end to the chaos that prevailed in the Deccan Plateau, as a result of the expansion and advent of the Mughal Empire into south India. Hence, Maratha Empire is largely credited with ending the Mughal rule in India and is often seen as a true Indian power, as it dominated the Indian subcontinent during 17th and 18th centuries. At its peak, the Maratha Empire extended from Peshawar in the north to Thanjavur in the south. The Marathas, who started as a warrior group emerging from the Deccan Plateau, went on to control most parts of the Indian subcontinent before their decadence in the early 19th century.

Image Credit :

For many years, the western Deccan Plateau served as the home for a group of Marathi warriors, which flourished under a prominent warrior named Shivaji Bhonsle. The Marathas, as they called themselves, were led by Shivaji in a protest against the rule of the Sultanate of Bijapur in 1645. Subsequently, Shivaji coined the term ‘Hindavi Swarajya,’ which called for self-rule among the Hindus. The Marathas were also determined to drive the Mughal rulers out of India as they wanted their country to be ruled by the Hindus. Also, Shivaji’s conflicts with the Mughals, which started from the year 1657, served as one of the primary reasons for the hatred towards the Mughals. Meanwhile, Shivaji had accumulated large areas of land through his campaigns. He had also gathered an armed force to tackle issues with various other rulers, including the Mughals. However, he lacked an official title to rule over the new land of the Marathas. Hence, with an aim of establishing and expanding a Hindu state in the subcontinent, Shivaji was declared the ruler of the Maratha kingdom on June 6, 1674.

The coronation of Shivaji took place in such a manner that it sent out a message to all the non-Hindu rulers. The message was loud and clear – it is time for the Hindus to take control over their motherland. By hosting a grand coronation, which included the act of feeding over 50,000 guests, Shivaji announced himself on the big stage, which sent a direct warning signal to the Mughals. Also, the title ‘Chhatrapati’ was bestowed upon Shivaji, which proclaimed him to be the king of the new Maratha kingdom. At the time of his coronation, Shivaji had 4.1 percent of the subcontinent to rule and hence focused on expanding his territory right from the outset. Making Raigad as the capital, Shivaji acted almost immediately after his coronation by raiding Khandesh on October 1674. He then went on a spree by capturing the nearby territories like Ponda, Karwar, Kolhapur, and Athani within a span of two years. In 1677, Shivaji entered into a treaty with the ruler of the Golkonda sultanate, who agreed to Shivaji’s terms to oppose the Mughals unitedly. In the same year, Shivaji invaded Karnataka and marched further southwards to seize the forts of Gingee and Vellore.

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After Shivaji’s demise, the Maratha Empire continued to flourish under his son Sambhaji. Despite constant threat from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the Sambhaji-led Maratha forces never lost a battle to the forces led by Aurangzeb for eight consecutive years. However, in 1689 Sambhaji was captured and executed by the Mughals on various charges, including rape and murder. The Maratha Empire was then ruled by various rulers like Sambhaji’s half-brother Rajaram, Rajaram’s widow Tarabai, and then by Sambhaji’s son Shahu. Under Shahu’s rule, Balaji Vishwanath was appointed as the Prime Minister (Peshwa) of the Maratha Empire in 1713. This would later go down in history as one of the prominent events as the empire would later be ruled by the Peshwa clan. Shahu’s rule also saw the expansion of the empire in the east, thanks to his skilled and brave general, Raghoji Bhosale. As days passed by, Shahu became more of a puppet at the hands of his Prime Minister Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath, who took major decisions for the betterment of the empire.

Dawn of the Peshwa

In 1714, Balaji Vishwanath came up with a brilliant strategy of entering into a treaty (Treaty of Lonavala) with Kanhoji Angre, which gave the Marathas access to navy. The army of the Marathas kept growing, which gave them the confidence to march towards Delhi in 1719, where they managed to defeat the Mughal governor Sayyid Hussain Ali, before deposing the then Mughal emperor. From this moment onwards, the already weakened Mughal Empire started fearing the Marathas. In 1720, Baji Rao I was appointed as the new Peshwa of the empire, after his father Balaji Vishwanath’s demise in April. Baji Rao went on to become a prominent Peshwa of the Maratha Empire as he was responsible for the empire’s great expansion from 1720 to 1740. Baji Rao I is said to have led the Maratha forces in more than 40 battles, winning most of them, including the ‘Battle of Palkhed’ (1728), ‘Battle of Delhi’ (1737), and ‘Battle of Bhopal’ (1737).

After Baji Rao’s demise in April 1740, Shahu appointed Baji Rao’s 19 year old son Balaji Baji Rao as the new Peshwa. During Balaji Baji Rao’s reign, the Maratha Empire extended further, before reaching its peak. Another important reason for the empire’s impressive expansion is Raghoji I Bhonsale, a Maratha general who controlled the Nagpur Kingdom of the empire. Raghoji then initiated a series of six expeditions into Bengal, during which he was able to annex Odisha into the Maratha Empire. In 1751, the then Nawab of Bengal, Alivardi Khan agreed to cough up 1.2 million rupees as an annual tax, which increased the already flourishing wealth of the Maratha Empire. Marathas’ North Indian conquest looked impressive than ever after their decisive victory over the Afghan troops. After capturing Peshawar on May 8, 1758, the Marathas were now prominent figures in the north as well. By 1760, the Maratha Empire had reached its peak with a territory of more than 2.5 million square km acres.

Third Battle of Panipat

The expansion of Maratha power in the northern territory of the Indian subcontinent caused a great concern in the court of Ahmad Shah Durrani. In an attempt to drive the Marathas out of North India, Durrani joined forces with Nawab of Oudh and the Rohillas, before challenging the Marathas for a battle. The ensuing battle that took place on January 14, 1761 would later be called as the ‘Third Battle of Panipat.’ Before the battle, the Marathas had sought the help of the Rajputs and Jats in order to combat the joint forces of Durrani, Rohillas, and the Nawab of Oudh. However, the Marathas were deserted by Rajputs and the Jats just before the battle, which ensured Marathas’ defeat at the battle. The Marathas were later criticized for failing to treat their fellow Hindus equally when they were in power. While explaining their motive behind turning their back on the Marathas, Rajputs and the Jats cited Marathas’ arrogance and haughtiness as reasons for abandoning them at the cusp of an important battle.

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Resurrection of the Maratha Power

After the battle of Panipat, Madhav Rao I, the fourth Peshwa of the empire, began to resurrect the Maratha Empire. In order to manage the empire more effectively, he gave semi-autonomy to selected knights, who took charge of various semi-autonomous Maratha states. Hence, leaders of various groups like the Peshwas, Holkars, Gaekwads, Scindias, Bhonsales, and Puars started ruling different Maratha states. After the battle of Panipat, the Rajputs were defeated by the forces led by Malhar Rao Holkar, which restored Maratha rule in Rajasthan. Another prominent leader who was largely responsible in restoring the Maratha power was Mahadji Shinde. After defeating the Rohillas and the Jats, Shinde’s forces recaptured Delhi and Haryana, which brought the Marathas back into the picture in the north. Meanwhile, Tukojirao Holkar defeated a prominent South Indian ruler known as Tipu Sultan in the ‘Battle of Gajendragad,’ which extended the territory of the Marathas till Tungabhadra River in the south.

Fall of Maratha Empire

After defeating the Nawab of Bengal, the British East India Company had assumed power in the east and was now eyeing the northern territory of India, which was being largely controlled by the Marathas. At the ‘Battle of Delhi’ in 1803, the Marathas were defeated by the English forces, which were led by General Lake. During the ‘Second Anglo-Maratha War,’ which took place from 1803 to 1805, the British forces led by Arthur Wellesley defeated the Marathas, which gave rise to a number of treaties in favor of the British. Finally, during the ‘Third Anglo-Maratha War,’ Peshwa Baji Rao II was defeated by the British, which marked the end of the Maratha rule.


An administrative system known as ‘Ashtapradhan’ was formed by Shivaji during his reign. This administrative system, which consisted of a council of eight ministers, formed the base of the Maratha administration. The eight ministers were ‘Peshwa’ (Prime Minister), ‘Amatya’ (Finance Minister), ‘Sachiv’ (Secretary), ‘Mantri’ (Interior Minister), ‘Senapati’ (Commander-in-Chief), ‘Sumant’ (Foreign Minister), ‘Nyayadhyaksh’ (Chief Justice), and ‘Panditrao’ (High Priest). Shivaji had maintained a secular administration, which allowed the practice of any religion, as per the choice of an individual. To improve the revenue of the empire, Shivaji abolished the ‘Jagirdari System’ and introduced the ‘Ryotwari System.’ He also imposed heavy tax on non-Maratha territories and threatened non-Maratha rulers with dire consequences, should they fail to cough up the taxes imposed on them by the Marathas.

As far as the military administration was concerned, Shivaji paid special interest in building a strong navy as he had realized its importance as early as 1654. When it came to the land-based armed forces of the Marathas, the standards of the infantry and artillery were comparable to that of the standards of the European forces. The Marathas used weapons like cannons, muskets, matchlocks, daggers, and spears among other weapons. They were also intelligent in the way they used their weapons. Keeping in mind the hilly nature of their territory, the Marathas chose light cavalry over heavy cavalry, which proved advantageous during their battles against the Mughals.

Notable Rulers & Generals

Shivaji – Apart from founding the empire, Shivaji was also responsible in turning the Maratha power into a prominent force. The great warrior king is revered even today by a huge sect of people in India.

Sambhaji – After the demise of Shivaji, his eldest son Sambhaji ascended the throne and continued the expansion of his territory. However, Sambhaji came across as a cruel ruler as compared to his father.

Shahu – Under Shahu’s reign, the Maratha Empire saw a great expansion. He was also responsible for introducing the rule of the Peshwas within the Maratha Empire.

Tarabai Bhosale – Tarabai served as the regent of the empire from 1700 to 1708. She is largely credited for keeping the Mughals at bay after the demise of her husband, Chhatrapati Rajaram Bhosale.

Peshwa Balaji Vishwanath – Balaji Vishwanath was the sixth Prime Minister, who gained control of the empire during 18th century. During his reign as the Prime Minister, the Maratha Empire was expanded northwards.

Baji Rao – Baji Rao continued to expand the Maratha Empire. He was one of the reasons why Maratha Empire reached its pinnacle during his son’s reign. In his illustrious military career, which spanned across a couple of decades, Baji Rao remained undefeated in the battles.

Balaji Baji Rao – Also called as Nana Saheb, Balaji Baji Rao was one of the most important Prime Ministers of the empire as the actual king was nothing more than a mere figurehead during his tenure.

Madhav Rao I – Madhav Rao I was the fourth Peshwa of the empire. He became a Maratha Peshwa at a critical time, when the Marathas had lost the ‘Third Battle of Panipat.’ Hence, Madhav Rao I was largely responsible for rebuilding the empire, before it was finally annihilated by the British.

Watch the video: Battle of Zusmarshausen 1648 - Thirty Years War DOCUMENTARY (July 2022).


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