Short Notes on Mysore-Kerala Relations

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The second half of the 18th century was a critical period in the history of South India. Mysore under Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan resisted the growth of the British power in India. Mysore kingdom originally belonged to Vijayanagar, but after the break up of that empire, it passed to the Wodeyar dynasty. This dynasty produced a series of weak and inefficient rulers that it offered an alluring opportunity to the Muslim adventurer Haider to seize power in Mysore in 1761.

His military skill and financial acumen kept him in power for a long time, during which period he embarked on a programme of conquest and consolidation in the Carnatic and in Malabar the chaotic conditions created as a result of internal strife, mutual rivalries between the local chieftains, intrigues by the European powers etc., had given an opportunity to Mysore to interest herself actively in the politics of Kerala.

The ambitious and authoritarian rule of Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan turned the isolated peninsular India into an area of vigorous political and military activity. From 1774 onwards, Haider Ali appears to have established his direct administration in south Malabar on a permanent basis and in the north the ruler became his tributaries.

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Later Tipu made further settlements with the chieftains of north Malabar. By 1788 he started the conversion movement to chastise the refractory Hindu and establish regularity in the government of Malabar. In 1789 the English, the Nizam and the Marathas formed a coalition to combat Tipu’s aggressions. The subsequent war ended in the Treaty of Seringapatam (1792).

This freed the Kerala coast from the menace of the Mysore Sultans for ever. The Mysorean thunderbolt left the Zamorin crushed, Cochin powerless and even Travancore, the most powerful amount the three, dependent on the rising English East India Company.

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