Shivaji belonged to the Bhonsle clan of the Marathas. His father Shahji was a military commander under the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmadnagar. After the decline of Ahmadnagar, he transferred his services to Bijapur. He had two wives.
Shivaji was born to Jijabai in the hill fortress of Shivner in Poona in 1627. Apart from Jijabai the two persons who influenced his life were Dadaji Kondev and Guru Ramdas.
Shahji gave him the Jagir of Poona. He first captured Torna in 1646.
In the next two years he conquered Chakan, Kondanaand Purandhar.
In 1656, he captured Javli from Chandra Rao More. He also acquired the port towns of Kalyana and Bhivandi. He raided the Portuguese settlement Daman and received tribute from them.
Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur sent Afzal Khan to teach Shivaji a lesson in 1659. Shivaji killed Afzal Khan with his tiger claws.
Shaista Khan, the Viceroy of Mughal Deccan was sent by Aurangzeb in 1660 to strike at the Maratha territories. The war continued till 1663.
In 1664, Shivaji sacked the rich port town of Surat for the first time.
Aurangzeb sent Mirza Raja Jai Singh and Diler Khan to destroy the Maratha power. After two months of fighting Shivaji sued for peace. The Treaty of Purandhar was signed on June 24, 1665.
In October 1670 he sacked Surat second time.
He defeated the Mughals in the Battle of Salher in 1672.
He was coronated at Raigarh on June 16, 1674. He assumed the title of Maharaja Chhattrapati.
He died in 1680 at the age of 53.
Shivaji was succeeded by Sambhaji (1680-89). He was a man of loose morals and was widely unpopular.
He made Kavi Kalash, a Brahman his personal counsellor. He was nick-named Kalusha-an instigator of strife.
Prince Akbar, the rebellious son of Aurangzeb took shelter with him. He was defeated by the Mughal commander Muqqarrab Khan at Sangameshwar in 1689 and met with his death along with his minister Kavi Kalash.
The widow of Sambhaji, Yesubai could not protect the fort of Raigarh and along with her son Shahu were made prisoners.
Sambhaji was succeeded by Rajaram. He shifted his headquarters to Jinji.
Rajaram claimed that he was ruling on behalf of Shahu and so never sat on the throne.
After the Mughals conquered Jinji, he fled to Vishalgarh and then to Satara. He died in 1700.
On the death of Rajaram, his gallant wife Tarabai became the regent of her infant son Shivaji-II
Azam Shah, the son of Aurangzeb released Shahu in 1707. His advisor Zulfikar Khan hoped that it would lead to a civil war among the Marathas.
Tarabi sent Dhanaji Jadhav to oust Shahu from Maharashtra but Dhanjai Jadhav was won over by Shahu.
In November 1707, Tarabai was defeated in a place called Khed. On January 12, 1708 Shahu was coronated at Satara.
In 1714 Rajabai, the second wife of Rajaram imprisoned Tarabai and her son Sambhaji II settled in Kolhapur. They ruled from Kolhapur. This was sanctioned by the Treaty of Warna in 1731. Kolhapur was called the southern Maratha confederacy.
The Maratha administration was based on the pattern adopted by Malik Amber in Ahmadnagar and Mahmud Gawan in the Bahmani Kingdom.
The Maratha kingdom was called Swarajya or Mulk-e-kadim.
Shivaji's kingdom was parcelled out into four provinces under the charge of a Subedar or Mamlatdar.
The provinces were called Mahal or Suba.
The Mahals were divided into parganas and parganas into tarfs. The tarfs were divided into mauza.
The Maratha collected chauth or one fourth of the land revenue.
The sardesmukhi or one tenth of the standard land revenue was imposed on the entire population of village or town in token of their recognition of the Maratha king as their `sardeshmukh' or suzerain.
The territories of the enemies on which chauth and sardesmukhi were levied were called `Mughlai'. These taxes were also collected from swara-jya territory.
Shivaji was helped by ministers or Astapradhan.
The hierarchy of officers from top to bottom was Peshwa, Majumdar, Sachiva and Mantri.
The eight ministers were assisted by eight clerks. They were Diwan (secretary), Majumdar (accountant), Chitnis (treasurer), Fadnis (Officer Incharge), Potnis (cashier), and Karkhanis (commissioner).
At the lowest level, the revenue was collected by Patil, Kulkarni (village record keeper) and Chaugula.
Balutedar was the hereditary village servant or artisan.
Deshmukh was the hereditary revenue collector at the district or sub-dis-trict level.
Deshpande was the hereditary accountant at the district and sub-district level. He was also the record keeper at the pargana level.
In the revenue administration the measuring rod was the Kathi.
State's revenue claim was 40%.
Mirasdars were the hereditary owners of land.
The `Bargis' were cavalrymen who were supplied horses and arms from the state.
The Silandars had to use their own equipment.
One unit of cavalry consisted of 25 troopers under a hawaldar.
5 hawaldars were under a jumladar, ten jumladars made a hazari, 5 hazaris were under a panjahazari. The panjahazaris were under the sar-i-naubat.
The smallest unit of infantry consisted of 9 soldiers who were under a Naik, 5 naiks were under a hawaldar, three hawaldars under a jumladar, ten jumladars under a hazari.
Saranjami system was a system of revenue grants given to soldiers instead of their salaries.