Halliwell, William Arthur Clare
Lord Wellesley's confrontation with the Maratha 'Empire'
University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities,
Restricted to Repository staff only
The purpose of the thesis is to reinterpret Lord Wellesley's forward
policy in India, with particular reference to his dealings with the
Marathas, and to consider its motivation and the reasons for its failure.
Lord Wellesley was the product of his age and environment. He was a
colonial with ambitions to play a major role in metropolitan affairs.
At the time of his appointment as Governor General of India the most
important aspect of metropolitan concerns was the war with France, so
that a major element in his policy was the protection of India from French
interference. His policy was formed before he reached India, and had
as its motivation, not only fear of the French, but fear of aggression
by the Indian rulers, with or without French support. This fear derived
from a conviction that Indian rulers were totally untrustworthy; only
treaties permitting British control of their affairs (subsidiary treaties)
could be effective to preserve peace in India. A balance of power between
the Indian states, which was thought to have existed five years earlier,
had been destroyed.
Lord Wellesley succeeded at Mysore and Hyderabad, but failed with the
Marathas. His primary target had been the Pune state, which was emphasised
in the autumn of 1800 by conditional orders given to Arthur Wellesley
to occupy Pune in certain circumstances. These did not occur and he
retired. Meanwhile a new treaty had been concluded with the Nizam which
was intensely provocative to the Marathas. It involved the British in
protecting the Nizam's territory from all comers, including the Marathas
who had legitimate claims on the Nizam. Their pursuit of them was liable
to lead to war at some point and the British obligation made Lord
Wellesley's forward policy towards them irreversible.
The Peshwa of Pune was driven from Pune by Holkar and concluded the
Treaty of Bassein with the British. This further provocation of the
Marathas led to war with Sindhia and the Raja of Berar. The war was short
lived and peace treaties were concluded with the Maratha chiefs separately
by Arthur Wellesley who had been granted plenipotentiary powers in Western
India. His policy was one of conciliation, not as Lord Wellesley's
conquest. As a result the British failed to dominate Sindhia.
Holkar now arrived on the scene and after abortive diplomatic exchanges
war was declared on him. Lake the Commander-in-Chief failed to conquer
Holkar, and Arthur Wellesley took no direct part in the war. Sindhia
was sympathetic to Holkar and elements of his army, and, later, Sindhia
himself, joined him. Lake's failure and Arthur Wellesley's divergent
policy led to Lord Wellesley's failure to dominate the Marathas and,
therefore, his failure to bring peace to India by conquest.
||Digitized via the E-THOS exercise
||University of Southampton
||05 Dec 2006
||16 Apr 2017 18:53
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