In 1700, the Mughal Empire (1526-1858) still controlled much of India, but following the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, the dynasty was beset by internal conflict and weak rule. This leadership vacuum led to a new political order comprised of several smaller kingdoms.
The Maratha Confederation: By the early 1700s, the Marathas of central west India had come together in a semiformal alliance, binding together the diplomatic and military powers of their sovereign states.
The Sikh Kingdoms: Clans that followed the Sikh religion in the Punjab region of modern India and Pakistan came to rule a number of small principalities in the area.
The Rajput Kingdoms: These clans ruled extensive lands across northern and central India and soon came into conflict with the Marathas, Sikhs, and other emerging powers.
The Kingdom of Mysore: In 1782, Tipu Sultan, son of a Muslim army officer, took over the throne and transformed Mysore into a center of military and economic power and artistic patronage.
Rulers often allied against a common enemy, only to rearrange alliances as power changed. Such shifting alliances were often based on political considerations rather than on affinities of religion, clan, or culture.