Cartridges : A casing fitted with a bullet.
Firangi : Term used for foreigners as contempt.
Ghazis : An Arabic term which refers to a person who participates in military expeditions.
Mutiny : Revolt or rebellion against constituted authority, especially by sailors and armed personal against their officers.
Paramount : Supreme; more important than any other thing or person.
Sati : A rite to be performed by the Hindu women on the death of her husband. The widow used to burn herself on the funeral pyre of her husband.
Sepoy : An Indian soldier during colonial rule.
Suzerainty : The domain or area subject to a suzerain/ruler.
1849 : Announcement made by Lord Dalhousie that after the death of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the king’s family would be shifted out of the Red Fort and settled at some other place in Delhi.
1850 : A new law was passed which made conversion into Christianity easier.
1856 : Governor General Canning decided that Bahadur Shah Zafar would be the last Indian king and after his death, his descendants would be recognized as mere princess and not the kings; The Company passed a new law which stated that every person who agreed to be employed in the Company’s army would have to serve overseas, if required.
29th March, 1857 : Mangal Pandey, an Indian soldier, was hanged for attacking British officials in Barrackpore.
May, 1857 : Sepoys revolted at several places.
10th May, 1857 : Sepoys moved towards Delhi from Meerut.
September, 1857 : Delhi was reoccupied from the revolutionaries.
October, 1858 : Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was imprisoned in Rangoon jail along with his wife.
1858 : Powers of the East India Company were transferred to the British Crown through a new Act passed by the British Parliament.
November, 1862 : Bahadur Shah Zafar died in Rangoon jail.
The political causes of the Revolt
(i) The British policies of annexation led the displacement of a large number of rulers, specially the Doctrine of Lapse made the ruling section of society angry.(ii) The annexation of Awadh on the ground of misgovernment was greatly resented.
(iii) The British provided no alternative sources of employment to the people who lost their jobs due to collapse of their local ruler’s administration. The revolt of 1857 is known as the first war of independence as before this war, no one was so united in battles. In this battle, many social groups of the country came together to fight, such as- Nawabs, Rajas, Zamindars, Peasants. In this revolt, all the sepoys marched to the Britishers’ buildings, houses, police stations and burnt them. They killed the British officials. The main role in these activities was that of sepoys. Therefore, the Revolt of 1857 is also called sepoy mutiny (sepoy means soldiers and mutiny means ‘soldiers march’).
The Effects of the revolt of 1857 on India
(1) It brought the Mughal Empire to an end.
(2) The rule of East India Company in India came to an end.
(3) The British Crown took over the control of Indian administration.
(4) Company’s Board of Centre and Court of Director were abolished and all the powers were transferred to the Secretary of State of India.
(5) The British became suspicious of Indians and began to keep themselves confined to their clubs and offices.
(6) The policy of balance and counter check was adopted regarding military administration.
(7) Queen Victoria’s proclamation of 1858 promised to abstain from all interference in religious beliefs of the Indian people.
(8) Indian rulers were given the right to adoptions.
The causes of the failure of the revolt of 1857 were:
(1) Revolt did not embrace the entire country. In southern and most of the western Indian states, it could not even start.
(2) A large number of local zamindars and Indian princes did not join the revolt.
(3) The revolt was not supported by the educated Indians.
(4) The rebellious soldiers had lack of modern weapons and other materials of war.
(5) The organization of the rebellion soldiers was very weak.
(6) Modern concept of nationalism had not reached in India at that time.
(7) It broke out before the planned date.
The Economic Causes which led to the Revolt of 1857
(1) The British encouraged the imports of British goods to India.
(2) Due to the introduction of clothes made in England, the Indian handloom industry was adversely affected.
(3) Many craftsmen and artisans were thrown out of employment.
(4) The new plantation system brought misery for the peasants.
(5) The new land revenue system was impoverished on the peasants.
(6) Zamindars and taluqdars were displaced.
The changes introduced in the administrative setup of the British territories in India after the revolt of 1857 were :
(1) The East India Company’s rule was ended after the revolt.
(2) The Indian territories came under the direct control of the British Crown.
(3) Queen Victoria become the Empress of India.
(4) The power of the Company were transferred to a Cabinet Minister.
(5) The Governor General was changed to Viceroy.
(6) The Indian administration was run by the Viceroy on the behalf of the British Crown.
The Events during the Sepoy Mutiny
(i) On 29 March 1857, a young soldier, Mangal Pandey, was hanged to death for attacking his officers in Barrackpore.
(ii) Few days later, some sepoys of the regiment at Meerut refused to do the army drill using the new cartridges, which were suspected of being coated with the fat of cows and pigs.
(iii) As a result, eighty-five sepoys were dismissed from service and sentenced to jail for years for disobeying their officers. This happened on 9th May 1857.
(iv) On 10th May, the other soldiers marched to the jail in Meerut and released the imprisoned sepoys.
(v) British officers were killed, arms and ammunitions were seized and the buildings were set on fire.
(vi) Triumphant soldiers gathered around the walls of the Red Fort where the Badshah lived, demanding to meet him. The soldiers themselves proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar as their leader, which he had to accept.
The mutiny become a popular rebellion:
(i) A very large number of people began to believe that they had a common enemy and rose up against the enemy.
(ii) Sepoys mutinied at several places beginning from Meerut and a large number of people from different sections of society rose up in rebellion.
(iii) After a hundred years of conquest and administration, the English East India Company faced a massive rebellion that started in May 1857 and threatened the Company’s very presence in India.
(i) Rani Lakshmibai : Joined the rebel sepoys and fought the British along with Tantia Tope. (ii) Bakht Khan : A soldier from Bareilly took charge of a large force of fighters who came to Delhi. He became a key military leader of the rebellion.
(iii) Kunwar Singh : Joined the rebel sepoys and battled with the British for many months.
(iv) Mangal Pandey : Fought the Britishers for the cause of fat plated cartridges to be used in the newly introduced enfield rifles.
(v) Nana Saheb : He was adopted son of the late Peshwa Baji Rao, who lived near Kanpur. He gathered armed forces and expelled the British garrison from the city. He proclaimed himself as Peshwa.
(vi) Tantia Tope : Joined the rebel sepoys and fought the British with Rani Lakshmibai and Nana Saheb
(vii) Begum Hazrat Mahal : Wife of Wajid Ali Shah. She took active part in organizing the uprising revolt against the British.
The following rights were granted to the Indian Princes and Chiefs were:
(1) The British government declared that all the treaties and agreements would be honoured.
(2) The Doctrine of Lapse was abandoned.
(3) The Indian Princess were assured that their territories would never be annexed.
(4) The right to adoption was recognized.