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Lord Wellesley's confrontation with the Maratha 'Empire'

Halliwell, William Arthur Clare (1999) Lord Wellesley's confrontation with the Maratha 'Empire' University of Southampton, Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 274pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


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.

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Published date: July 1999
Additional Information: Digitized via the E-THOS exercise
Organisations: University of Southampton


Local EPrints ID: 42326
PURE UUID: eccbbd6b-ac2a-4355-9ae8-9f1a043b4b02

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Date deposited: 05 Dec 2006
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:22

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Author: William Arthur Clare Halliwell

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