Hyder Ali (1728-82)
The Wodeyar Dynasty, one of the most prominent dynasties of the south, ruled the Kingdom of Mysore. Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan make their mark in this region.
Hyder Ali was born at Budikote around the year 1720. He started off his career as a soldier. He was a petty office in the army and was assistant to the Nizam, who was the Mughal deputy in South India. When the Nizam was assassinated, a lot of confusion followed and in the midst of all the chaos, Hyder Ali’s services attracted the attention of Nanjaraja, the minister of the Raja of Mysore. Hyder Ali received an independent command and over the next 12 years, the minister and the King depended on him and were under his control.
Mysore was left bankrupt under Nanjarana, and it is during this time that Hyder Ali rose in the ranks until he replaced the King.
He extended his empire right up to the lands in the north, beyond the Tungabhadra river. He spent much of him time in building up a strong army to deal with the Marathas in the northwest and the British on the East and West coast.
The Marathas waged four damaging wars against Hyder Ali, but after the death of their leader Peshwa Madhavrao I in 1772, Ali pressed his advantage and extended his territory up to the Krishna river.
Hyder Ali sought the friendship of the British so that they could together defeat the Marathas. The British however had other ideas and wanted to undermine his powers and use him. This led to the First Anglo-Mysore War in 1767. Hyder Ali campaign against the British proved successful, and he got the British to sign a mutual defence treaty with him. The British went back on their word when they were attacked by the Marathas.
In 1780, Hyder Ali waged his second battle against the British. He was defending his kingdom as best as he could, but then suAddenly died of cancer.
He was succeeded by his son Tipu Sultan whom he had educated and trained well. He was fluent in a number of languages and was a good student of mathematics and science. He had a great appetite for learning. He was also an avid reader and his library was filled with over 2000 books in different languages.
Tipu was given exposure to both military and political affairs at a very young age. By the time he was 15, he father took him along on all his military campaigns. In fact, it was Tipu who headed the First Anglo-Mysore Water, defeating Colonel Braithwaite on the banks of the Coleroon.
In 1772, Tipu was sent to the the North of Mysore to recover territories seized by the Marathas. He gained valuable experience in both warfare and diplomacy there.
During the Second Anglo-Mysore War in 1780, Tipu intercepted the British troops under Colonel Baillie as they moved South. He stopped them before they could join Sir Hector Munro in Kanchipuram.
Colonel Baillie was no match for Tipu and his army. Even when Munro sent reinforcements, they were no match for Tipu’s troops. The British suffered a humiliating defeat. Munro managed to flee while Colonel Baillie was arrested and put in prison.