Political History of Mysore and Coorg (1565–1760)

The political history of Mysore and Coorg (1565–1760) is the political history of the contiguous historical regions of Mysore state and Coorg province located on the Deccan Plateau in west-central peninsular India (Map 1). It begins with the fall of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in 1565 and ends just before the rise of Sultan Haidar Ali in 1761.

At the height of the Vijayanagara Empire (1350–1565), the Mysore and Coorg region was ruled by motley chieftains, or rajas ("little kings"), each having dominion over a small area, and each supplying soldiers and annual tribute for the empire's needs. Soon after the empire's fall and the subsequent eastward move of the diminished ruling family, many chieftains, especially in the west, tried to loosen their imperial bonds and expand their realms. Sensing opportunity amidst the new uncertainty, various powers from the north, the Sultanate of Bijapur to the northwest, the Sultanate of Golconda to the northeast, the fledgling Maratha empire, farther northwest, and the Mughal empire, farther north still, invaded the region intermittently. For much of the 17th century the tussles between the little kings and the big powers, and amongst the little kings themselves, resulted in shifting sovereignties, loyalties, and borders. By the turn of the 18th century, the political landscape had become better defined: the northwestern hills were being ruled by the Nayaka rulers of Ikkeri, the southwestern, in the Western Ghats, by the Rajas of Coorg, the southern plains by the Wodeyar rulers of Mysore, Hindu dynasties all; whereas the eastern and northeastern regions were ruled by the Muslim Nawabs of Arcot and Sira. Of these, Ikkeri and Coorg were independent, Mysore, although much expanded, was formally a Mughal dependency, and Arcot and Sira, Mughal subahs (or provinces).

The stability, however, was not to last. Mysore's expansions had been based on unstable alliances. When the alliances began to unravel, as they did during the next half century, political decay set in, presided over inevitably by pageant kings. The Mughal governor, Nawab of Arcot, in a display of the still far-flung reach of a declining Mughal empire, raided the Mysore capital, Seringapatam, to collect unpaid taxes; the neighbouring Raja of Coorg began a war of attrition with Mysore over western territory; and soon, the Maratha empire invaded again and exacted more concessions of territory. In the chaotic last decade of this period, a little-known Muslim cavalryman, Haidar Ali, seized power in Mysore. Under him, in the decades following, Mysore was not only to expand again—and to do so prodigiously—to match in size southern India itself, but also to pose the last serious threat to the new rising power on the subcontinent, the English East India Company.

A common feature of all large regimes in the region during the period 1565–1760 is increased military fiscalism. This mode of creating income for the state, comprising extraction of tribute payments from local chiefs under threat of military action, differed both from the more segmentary modes of preceding regimes and the more absolutist modes of succeeding ones—the latter achieved through direct tax collection from citizens. Another common feature of these regimes is the fragmentary historiography devoted to them, making broad generalizations difficult.

Read more about Political History Of Mysore And Coorg (1565–1760):  Poligars of Vijayanagara, 1565–1635, Bijapur, Marathas, Mughals, 1636–1687, Wodeyars of Mysore, 1610–1760, Nayakas of Ikkeri and Kanara Trade, 1565–1763, Subahdars of Sira, 1689–1760, Rajas of Coorg, Mid-16th Century–1768, Assessment: The Period and Its Historiography, See Also

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