First Anglo Mysore War

From 1734 to 1766, Mysore was under Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. His commander in chiefs dominated his reign and among them; Hyder Ali came to prominence from 1760 onwards. When Krishnaraja died, Hyder Ali became the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1763, though Nanjaraja was placed on the throne of Mysore as nominal head.

The Mysore had territorial threats from both the Marathas and Nizam of Hyderabad. In 1758, Hyder Ali was able to successfully drive out Marathas from Bangalore where they had laid a siege. But the Marathas were dominant and kept raiding Mysore territories at their will.

But before Hyder could become a ruler of Mysore, he had to overcome a conspiracy by Queen Mother of Mysore and one Khanderao. He cleverly overcame this conspiracy and captured and imprisoned Khanderao and took over Shrirangpatnam. After that he tried to overrun the territories of Marathas  but got defeated.

In 1761, in the Battle of Panipat, the Marathas got defeated and due to this they drew their forces from Mysore. Hyder Ali was able to increase his influence after this battle. The British were conscious of rising power of Hyder Ali but they had no immediate reasons to become enemy of Hyder.

They immediate reason of the rivalry was the access to the Northern Circars, which was a series of coastal territories held by French. The Hyderabad Nizam was a French Protégé, who rejected the demand of Robert Clive for access to this area. But, Robert Clive took his application to Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II who in 1765 issued a decree granting the rights of that territory to Clive.

Now after getting a Firman from the Boss, British began occupying the Northern Circars, the Nizam objected. But the Nizam was too poor to fight a battle with the British. He sent letters to the Madras Presidency for a settlement.

  • As per terms of this settlement, he gave the company 4 of the 5 Circars for a payment of Rs. 7 Lakh in Nizams endeavors.
  • The British also provided Nizam, two battalions of the troops. Now Nizam was getting ready to get Mysore from Hyder Ali. The Marathas also joined the Nizam in this alliance against Hyder Ali.

The war started when Marathas attacked Mysore in 1766. But Hyder Ali made peace with Marathas paying them 35 Lakh Rupees. Half amount was paid immediately and for rest Kolar was kept with Marathas for security.

Now after Marathas returned, Nizam attacked Mysore with the assistance of British. But even before the war could be concluded, the Nizam changed the side and came towards Hyder Ali. The English forces could not retaliate and retreated to Trichinopoly under col. Smith. Later Col. Wood joined the British army and amid confusion, Hyder Ali retreated from the battle. Now the British threatened to attack Hyderabad. This brought the Nizam to thier knees and sign a treaty in 1768. As per the terms of this treaty:

  • Nizam agreed to abide by the treaty signed with British in context with the Northern Circars.
  • Hyder Ali was regarded as usurper and refused to acknowledge him as ruler of Mysore
  • Nizam agreed to help the British to punish Hyder Ali.

The important aspect of this treaty was that Nizam agreed to give the British Diwani Rights of Mysore when Hyder Ali was ousted and Mysore is won by him. Hyder Ali was left with no allies, but he was brave due to his solid Financial Position, partially. An English Force was sent to punish Hyder Ali, but it got defeated by this brave commander. The result was the Treaty of Madras. This Treaty of Madras was signed in April 1769 and it maintained the status quo.

As per the Treaty of Madras:

  • Both the Parties returned the areas won by each other.
  • The District of Arcot was given to Nawab of Arcot
  • British & Hyder Ali Promised that they would support each other if there is any foreign invasion.

Hyder Ali believed that as per the terms of this treaty, British would come to help in if there is a conflict with the Marathas. So, he started demanding tributes from the smaller states on the border of Maratha and Mysore. The Marathas responded this in 1770 with a force of over 30 thousand. Hyder Ali requested the British to help, but British did not turn up. The result was that all the territories of Hyder were confiscated by the Marathas.

Hyder again begged the British for the help, but the British placed some conditions which were not acceptable to him. The result was that Hyder requested for peace with Marathas. In return for the peace, he paid 36 Lakh Rupees to Marathas and 14 Lakh Rupee as annual Tribute. After this event, Hyder Ali remained an enemy of the British throughout his life.

Later, he came to know that his nominal ruler Nanjaraja was having a secret communication with the Marathas. So he executed him and placed Chamraraja as nominal head. However, soon after that the Marathas came under mutual dissention and this gave Hyder an opportunity to claim back all he had lost.

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  • Seshadri. S

    Very good comprehensive and brief narration of then history. Would have been more complete with reproduction of some extracts of those treaties.