The Marathas were formidable power in western and central India during the second half of the eighteenth century. But the struggle for power among themselves gave the British an opportunity to intervene in their internal matters.

With their defeat in the Third Battle of Panipat in 1761, the Marathas dream of ruling from Delhi was shattered. They were divided into many states under different chiefs (sardars) belonging to dynasties such as Sindhia, Holkar, Gaikwad and Bhonsle. These chiefs were held together in a confederacy under a Peshwa (Principal Minister) who became its effective military and administrative head based in Pune.

The Anglo-Maratha (1775-1818) Wars were three wars fought in the Indian sub-continent between Maratha Empire and the British East India Company.

In the first war that ended in 1782 with the Treaty of Salbai, there was no clear victor. The Second Anglo Maratha War (1803-1805) was fought on different fronts, resulting in the British gaining Orissa and the territories north of the Yamuna river including Agra and Delhi.

Finally, the Third Anglo-Maratha War of 1817-19 crushed Maratha power. The Peshwa was removed and sent away to Bithur near Kanpur with a pension. The Company now had complete control over the territories south of the Vindhyas.