Timeline History

Chhatrapati Shahuji

Shrimant Shahu Shivaji Raje Bhonsle Chhatrapati Maharaj (1682-1749) was the fourth ruler of the Maratha Empire created by his grandfather, Chhatrapati Shivaji, and was officially the Raja of Satara (now in state of Maharashtra, India). More popularly known as Chattrapati Shahuji, he came out of captivity by the Mughals and survived a civil war to gain the throne in 1707. Somewhat of a roi faineant, he was a good judge of character, but was content to let his Prime Ministers (the Peshwas) rule on a day-to-day basis.
He was the son of the second Chattrapati Sambhaji who was killed by the Mughals in 1689.
During Mughal-Maratha war of 27 years Shahuji was imprisoned by the Mughals after the fall of Raigarh, the Maratha capital in 1689. The Marathas emerged as victorious in this long war. The Mughals retreated around 1707. After the death of the then Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, the next Emperor Bahadur Shah released Shahuji in 1707 under conditions which rendered him a vassal of the Mughal emperor
After his release Shahuji had to contend with a competing claim by his aunt, Tarabai and her son, Raje Sambhaji II (son of Rajaram). She set up a competing Kingdom of Kolhapur. With the assistance of Balaji Vishwanath who was later appointed the Peshwa (Marathi for Prime Minister), Shahuji outmanouvered Tarabai in 1714 and consolidated his power
Shahuji's primary accomplishment was stabilising the fractured Maratha empire after defeat of the Mughals by Marathas.During war of 27 years ,many maratha nobles became powerful .He was the binding force of the Marathas. Under his patronage his many civilian officers like Balaji or army commanders like Bajirao,Raghoji Bhosale and many more expanded the maratha frontiers.In a real sense he was the emperor of contemporary India, but remained grateful to even weak descendents of the great mughals for the reasons during his captivity ,Mughals raised him as a prince only and never compromised with honor of his or his mother.He spent his entire childhood and youth, from age 7 to age 28 in the custody of mughals.He had passed through hardships and all uncertainties of life.Born as a prince, became a prisoner at the age of 7, became a Chattrapati at the age of 28 and saw the empire spreading all over the continent.These all events made him rather stronger person . As a patron, he always gave space to the rising talented buds to act and as an authority made those ambitious chiefs to submit before his highness. Shahuji was instrumental in giving space to new talents irresepctive their background. His reign saw rise of many like Balaji, Shinde and many more talented people who later became the strong support on which the Maratha empire expanded and flourished, especially Bajirao Peshwa and Holkars in North. He is credited with establishing the position of Peshwa, which later became a hereditary position. In addition to appointing the first Peshwa, he also appointed a young Balaji Bajirao I as Peshwa on April 17, 1719, after the premature death of his father.He also appointed Nanasaheb, as Peshwa. These three Peshwa saw the rise essentially due to their patron otherwise it was not possible. These three more or less bear the influence of their master. He is also responsible for appointing Sarkhel Kanhoji Angre to the position of the first Maratha naval chief, in return for his moving loyalty from the Tarabai camp. During his tenure almost all sections of society rose to power. Perhaps Maratha empire was the most socially mobile empire which accommodated many new socio-economic groups which were hitherto miles away from the power. It had had an effect on the social fabric of the nation. Maharashtra witnessed a spate of social changes in late 19th century as a result of this.
Shahuji had four wives, and fathered two sons and four daughters. He also adopted two other sons, Meherban Shrimant Fatehsinh I Raje Sahib Bhonsle and Shrimant Rajaram II Raje Bhonsle Chhatrapati Maharaj Sahib in 1745 (who succeeded him as the Raja of Satara). After Shahuji's death in 1749 his adopted son, Rajaram II succeeded him, but he was largely incompetent. The Maratha empire was primarily governed by the Peshwas from then onwards, with the Chattrapatis remaining the titular head. He passed and with him had gone away the dignity of the marathas. Whatever unity they were having vanished and with the Battle of Panipat, Marathas fell apart never to unite till freedom movement.

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