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Hyder Ali was a man of obscure birth, who, by his bravery and ability, rose to the command of the Mysore army. For some time the Queen Dowager of Mysore, jealous of the influence of Nundi Raj, the minister of her state, endeavoured to preserve a balance of power between the rivals, but failed; and in elevating Hyder, found she had displaced her old servant for an infinitely more dangerous and rapacious adventurer. Counter intrigues began, and eventually Hyder Ali was defeated, and obliged to fly. He returned, however, went privately to Nundi Raj by night, laid his head on his feet, and vowed faithful allegiance and co-operation, and was nominally re-instated in his office. But this did not suffice. Hyder attacked the troops under Khunde Rao, defeated them, and pursuing them to Seringapatam, extorted terms from the Rajah, which included deliverance of Khunde Rao to him; and thenceforward Hyder had no rival. Khunde Rao was imprisoned in an iron cage in the fort of Bangalore, and eventually died there. Hyder Ali was now supreme, and the royal house of Mysore existed only as a pageant. 

The lives and actions of Hyder Ali, and his son Tippoo Sultan, are interwoven with the fierce struggles of French, English, Mahrattas, and Mussulmans, for the supremacy of Southern India, if not, indeed, of India at large. They belong to the history of the time, and form one of the most interesting periods of Indian struggles, and as such are familiar to most. On the 2nd of May, 1799, Tippoo died in defence of Seringapatam, and the dominions of Mysore were at the mercy of the conquerors. For thirty-five years father and son had usurped the power of the state, and confined its princes; but they had enlarged the state dominions, they had increased its political power, and in the last Mussulman struggle in India had borne themselves gallantly against all foes. After the death of Tippoo Sultan, the question arose as to the disposal of the Mysore dominions. The English, of the Nizam, and the Mahrattas had executed a tripartite treaty for the conduct of the war against a common enemy; and whether the Mysore dominions were to be divided among the three powers, or whether the Mysore family was to be re-instated, remained to be decided. Finally the Mahrattas, the Nizam, and the English, each received portions, and the original dominions of the Mysore house were reserved for its further maintenance. 

Although Hyder Ali had actually deposed the Rajah, yet he had not himself assumed regal power, and the royal race was preserved. In 1772 Hyder had even elevated Nundi Raj, a prince of the house, to the dignity of Rajah; but he was kept in close confinement, and afterwards, being suspected of endeavors to escape and resume his power, was strangled. His successor, Cham Raj, died of small pox. His son, an infant, was preserved by his mother, and throve well, and was proclaimed Rajah at Seringapatam, to the great delight of all classes of Hindoos. The heirs of the usurping power were pensioned, and eventually removed to