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Thanjavur Maratha


Approximate extent of the

Thanjavur Marathas Thanjavur Maratha Kingdom,
during its accession to the British
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Thanjavur Marathas were the rulers of Capital Thanjavur
Thanjavur principality of Tamil Nadu between the
17th to the 19th century C.E. Their native Governmen
language was Marathi. Venkoji was the founder of t
the dynasty.
state of
Contents Thanjavur
• 1 Maratha Conquest of Thanjavur
• 2 Maratha Kings Succeeding
o 2.1 Venkoji states of
British India
o 2.2 Shahuji I Thanjavur
o 2.3 Serfoji I Marathas
o 2.4 Tukkoji
o 2.5 Pratapsingh
o 2.6 Thuljaji
o 2.7 Serfoji II
o 2.8 Shivaji
• 3 Literature
• 4 Administration
Part of a series on
• 5 Economy
History of Tamil Nadu
• 6 Bibliography

Maratha Conquest of
Chronology of Tamil history
Following the demise of Chola rule in the Ancient Tamil country
13th century, the Thanjavur country came Sources
under the rule of the Pandyas who ruled Geography · Political history
Government · Economy
for about a century .Following the
Society · Religion · Music
invasion of Malik Kafur , the Tanjore Early Cholas · Early Pandyans · Early Cheras
country fell into disorder. The rule of the Medieval history
Delhi Sultanate lasted for half a century Pallavas
before Pandya chieftains reasserted their Pandyas
independence. Soon afterwards, however, Chola Dynasty
they were conquered by the Vijayanagar Chera Dynasty
Vijayanagara Empire
Madurai Nayaks
Tanjore Nayaks
Thanjavur Marathas
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Empire. The supremacy of Vijayanagar was challenged by the Nayaks of Madurai who
eventually conquered Thanjavur in 1646. The rule of the Thanjavur Nayaks lasted until
1673 when Chokkanatha Nayak the ruler of Madurai invaded Thanjavur and killed the
ruler Vijayaraghava.

Serfoji II was the greatest ruler of the Thanjavur Marathas

Chokkanatha placed his brother Alagiri on the throne of Thanjavur, but within a year the
latter threw off his allegiance, and Chokkanatha was forced to recognise the
independence of Thanjavur. A son of Vijaya Raghava induced the Bijapur Sultan to help
him get back the Thanjavur throne. In 1675, the Sultan of Bijapur sent a force
commanded by the Maratha general Venkoji (alias Ekoji) to recapture the kingdom from
the new invader. Venkaji defeated Alagiri with ease, and occupied Thanjavur. He did not,
however, place his protege on the throne as instructed by the Bijapur Sultan, but seized
the kingdom and made himself king. Thus began the rule of the Marathas over Thanjavur.

Maratha Kings

Venkoji, a half-brother of the great Maratha king Shivaji was the first Raja of Thanjavur
from the Bhonsle dynasty. It is believed that he took over the administration of Thanjavur
in April 1674 and ruler till 1684. During his reign, his brother Shivaji invaded Gingee and
Thanjavur in 1676-1677 and made his brother Santaji the ruler of all lands to the north of
the Coleroon. During the last years of his reign, Venkoji also allied with Chokkanatha of
Madurai to repulse an invasion from Mysore.

Shahuji I

Shahuji I was the eldest son of Venkoji and he ascended the throne at the age of twelve.
During his reign, the Mughals occupied the Coromandel coast and Tiruchirapalli and
forced Shahuji I to pay tribute. Shahuji was a patron of literature. During his reign, there
were frequent skirmishes and battles with the Raja of Madurai and Ramnad for control of
the border lands.

Serfoji I

Serfoji I was a younger son of Venkoji and he ruled from 1712 to 1728. His rule was
marked by regular warfare and disputes with the Madurai Nayak.

Tukkoji, a younger brother of Serfoji I ruled Thanjavur from 1728 to 1736. His reign
witnessed the invasion of Chanda Sahib and he is credited with having repulsed a
Muhammedan invasion of Madurai.


A period of anarchy followed the death of Tukkoji and came to an end when Pratapsingh
succeeded to the throne in 1739. He ruled up to 1763. He allied with Muhammad Ali, the
Nawab of the Carnatic and aided the British against the French in the Carnatic Wars and
the Seven Years War. He was the last king to be addressed to be the Directors of the
British East India Company as "His Majesty". In 1762, a tripartite treaty was signed
between Thanjavur, Carnatic and the British by which he became a vassal of the Nawab
of the Carnatic.


Thuljaji was a very weak ruler and the last independent ruler of Thanjavur. In 1773,
Thanjavur was annexed by the Nawab of the Carnatic who ruled till 1736. The throne
was restored to him by the Directors of the British East India Company. But his
restoration came at a heavy price as it deprived him of his independence.

Serfoji II

Thuljaji was succeeded by his teenage son Serfoji in 1787. Soon afterwards, he was
deposed by his uncle and regent Amarsingh who seized the throne for himself. With the
help of the British, Serfoji II recovered the throne in 1798. A subsequent treaty forced
him to hand over the reins of the kingdom to the British East India Company. Serfoji II
was however left in control of the Fort and the surrounding areas. He reigned till 1832.
His reign is noted for the literary, scientific and technological accomplishments of the
Tanjore country.


Shivaji was the last Maratha ruler of Thanjavur and reigned from 1832 to 1855. He was a
weak and feeble prince with barely any authority. As he died childless in 1855, Thanjavur
was annexed by the British as per the provisions of the Doctrine of Lapse.

The Thanjavur Maratha Rajas favored Sanskrit and Telugu to such an extent that classical
Tamil began to decline. Most of the plays were in Sanskrit. Venkoji, the first ruler of the
Bhonsle dynasty composed a 'Dvipada' Ramayana in Telugu. His son Shahuji was a great
patron of learning and of literature. Most of the Thanjavur Maratha literature is from his
period. Most of them were versions of the Ramayana or plays and short stories of a
historical nature. Sanskrit and Telugu were the languages used in most of these plays
while there were some Tamil 'koothu' as well. Advaita Kirtana is one of the prominent
works from this period. Later Thanjavur rulers like Serfoji II and Shivaji immersed
themselves in learning and literary pursuits when they were dispossessed of their empire.
Serfoji built the Saraswathi Mahal Library within the precints of the palace to house his
enormous book and manuscript collection. Apart from Indian languages, Serfoji II was
proficient in English, French, Dutch, Greek and Latin as well.


Map of the Thanjavur Maratha kingdom

The king was assisted in the administration of his country by a council of ministers. The
supreme head of this council of ministers was a Mantri or Dalavoy. The Dalavoy was
also the Commander-in-chief of the Army. Next in importance at the court was a
Pradhani or Dewan also called Dabir Pandit. The country was divided into subahs,
seemais and maganams in the decreasing order of size and importance. The five subahs of
the country were Pattukkottai, Mayavaram, Kumbakonam, Mannargudi and Tiruvadi.

The ruler collected his taxes from the people through his mirasdars or puttackdars. They
were collected right from the village level onwards and were based on the agricultural
produce of the village. Rice was one of the primary crops in the region and the land used
for cultivation was owned by big landlords. It was Anatharama Sashtry who proposed
collecting taxes to improve conditions for the poor. No foreign trade was carried out. The
only foreign trade in the country was carried out by European traders who paid a
particular amount of money as rent to the Raja. The currency system used was that of a
chakram or pon (1 chakram = one and three-fourths of a British East India Company
rupee). Other systems of coinage used were that of pagoda (1 pagoda = three and a half
Company rupees), a big panam(one-sixth of a Company rupee) and a small 'panam(one-
thirteenth of a Company rupee).
• The Maratha Rajas of Tanjore by K.R.Subramanian, 1928.



Maratha Empire

Shivaji - Shambhaji - Raja Ram - Tarabai - Shahuji -

History Balaji Vishwanath - Peshwas - Third Battle of Panipat -
Anglo-Maratha Wars (First · Second · Third) - Nana Sahib

Battle of Pratapgarh - Battle of Kolhapur - Battle of Pavan

Khind - Battle of Surat - Battle of Sinhagad - Battle of
Palkhed - Battle of Vasai - Third Battle of Panipat - Battle
of Patan - Battle of Poona - Battle of Delhi - Battle of
Assaye - Battle of Laswari - Battle of Farrukhabad - Battle
of Bharatpur - Battle of Khadki - Battle of Mahidpur

Peshwa of Poona - Bhonsle of Nagpur - Gaekwad of

Maratha Confederacy
Baroda - Sindhia of Gwalior - Holkar of Indore

Adversaries Aurangazeb - Ahmad Shah Abdali - British Empire

Lohagad - Pratapgad - Raigad - Ratangad - Sindhudurg -


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