The district of Madhubani was carved out of the old Darbhanga district in the year 1972 as a result of reorganisation of the districts in the State of Bihar. This was formerly the northern subdivision of Darbhanga district. It consists of 21 Development Blocks. Bounded on the north by a hill region of Nepal and extending to the border of its parent district Darbhanga in the south, Sitamarhi in the west and Supaul in the east, Madhubani fairly represents the centre of the territory once known as Mithila and the district has maintained a distinct individuality of its own.
Practically there are no prehistoric sites in the district though remains of the earliest aboriginal population can be seen in some parts of the district. Hunter in his "Statistical Accounts" has referred to the existence of the people, known as the Tharus in the erstwhile old subdivision of Madhubani. The Bhars are also believed to have belonged to some aboriginal race though nothing positive about them is known from any reliable source. The Bihar settlements in the north-eastern part of the district indicate that they possibly wielded some power in the remote part. From the work of Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterji entitled 'Kiratajanakirti' it appears that Kiratas also inhabited the district for a considerable period.
The Mahabharata also throws light on the Kirata culture. Prior to the Aryanisation of this land the area seems to have been under the aboriginal population and Shiva worship was predominant. The association of the family of Janaka with the worship of lord Shiva is an indication of the fact that though they formed the vanguard of Aryan culture they had to compromise with the local religious belief, dominated by the Shaivas. The kingdom of Videha included a greater portion of the district. In course of time it was ruled by a successive line of kings known as Janakas.
If tradition is to be relied upon, the Pandavas during their exile stayed in some portion of the present district and Pandaul (block headquarters) is associated with them. Janakpur, capital of Videha is situated at a short distance to the north-west of the district in the Nepalese territory and tradition points to the village of Phulhar in the north- east corner of the Benipatti thana as the flower- garden where the kings' priests used to gather flowers for worship and identifies its temple with that of Devi Girija, which was worshipped by Sita before her marriage with Ram. Legends and traditions associate this district with a number of sages and master- minds of ancient times. Village Kakraul is associated with Kapil, Ahiari with Ahilya wife of Gautama, Bisaul with Vishwamitra and Jagban with Yajnavalkya (ascribed to the great sage of Mithila).
Bimbisar, the founder of the Magadhan imperial power aspired for imperial power and the ambition ran in the veins of his son, Ajat Shatru as well. Ajat Shatru subdued the Lichchhavis and conquered the whole of North Bihar. He brought Mithila under the control of the Magadhan empire. The history of the Lichchhavis comes down unbroken to the days of the imperial Guptas. The Lichchhavis founded a kingdom in Nepal and even the earliest royal house of Tibet owed its origin to the Lichchhavis of Vaishali. The migration of Lichchhavis to Nepal and Tibet marks a great event in the history of North Bihar and the district of Madhubani being at the core of the region must have played a dominant part in this great trek as the route to Nepal lay through this district.
Madhubani must have shared in the religious and cultural ferment which so deeply stirred the hearts of the people of the Gangetic Valley in the 6th century B.C. Since the whole of North Bihar was deeply influenced by the teachings of two great reformers (Mahavira and Buddha) it is only natural to infer that the people of Madhubani actively participated in the propagation of these reform movements. According to one theory Mahavira himself was a Vaideha domiciled in the suburb of Vaishali and was the son of a daughter of Mithila. Buddha also visited Mithila thrice and he had a great love for Vaishali. It may be further noted here that Buddha's most devoted disciple, Anand was a Vaidehamuni, a monk of the land of Videhas. Both the Jain and the Buddhist literature contain innumerable references to the district of Madhubani and its neighboring territories. Very little is known about the history of Madhubani from the time of the Kusanas to the rise of the Guptas.
After a temporary period of instability, Madhubani came under the control of the Oinwaras, also known as the Kameshwara Thakura or the Sugauna dynasty. These Hindu chiefs were left undisturbed by the whole of Mithila. When Hajiriyas of Bengal divided Tirhut into two parts, the Oinwar Raja shifted his capital to Sugauna near Madhubani. The district thereafter remained a part of the Mughal Subah. There was no event of great significance during the next century and a half.
The decisive victory of the British in the battle of Buxar in 1764 gave them undisputed sway over the Lower Provinces of Bengal. As a consequence, Madhubani, along with other parts of Bihar, passed under the control of British. The British administrators took steps to establish law and order. Besides the trouble- mongers in Mithila, they had also to deal with the incursions of the Nepalese. The trouble with Nepal culminated in the Indo-Nepalese war. After concluding peace with Nepal, the British administrators had a comparatively quiet time till the 1857 movement.
In 1857, patriotic fervour raged-high in Madhubani district as in many other districts of Bihar. Later the call of the non-co-operation movement also found adequate response in the district of Madhubani and many people volunteered to serve the cause championed by Mahatma Gandhi. Khadi spinning and weaving was adopted as a must for congress workers. A Khadi centre was opened at Madhubani. It gradually expanded its activities. Khadi became very popular and Madhubani soon emerged as a renowned centre of Khadi production. The popularity of Khadi weaving and spinning in the district went a long way in inspiring the people towards the nationalist cause. Madhubani district played an important role in the country's freedom struggle.