Sepoy Mutiny Amanda Coole and Jimmy Kruse

Prior to the event

  • 100 years the British East India Company functioned as the sovereign power for the British crown over India
  • East India Company used the doctrine of lapse, which was technique used to kick out old Hindu leaders to gain land
  • The Company wanted to westernize India

Role of Europeans

  • The conflict was characteristic of European imperialist efforts; the British made decisions for India, while ignoring or disrupting the cultural values of the society
  • The revolt was initially sparked when several sepoys were imprisoned for refusing to use the Enfield rifle, which they thought was lubricated with pork and beef fat. The sepoys as well as the Indian people saw this as yet another infraction against their cultural values.

Reactions against Colonization

  • The Indian people felt that the British were trying to undermine Indian traditional society
  • Hindus and Muslims alike felt as though the British were trying to slowly convert them to Christianity
  • The rich thought that the British were trying to take away the caste system, which would diminish their social status

Summary

By the year 1857 the British had established complete political control of India. As Western education was introduced and missionaries eroded Hindu society resentment among Indian people grew and it was joined by unease among the old governing class when the British decided to formally abolish the Mughal Empire. The mutiny of the Sepoy (native troops in the British army) began on May 10, 1857, when Indian soldiers who had been placed in irons for refusing to accept new cartridges were rescued by their comrades. The greased cartridges had to be bitten off before use, and the manufacturers had supplied a fat of beef and pork - repulsive to both Hindus and Muslims. The Indian garrison at Delhi joined the mutineers and proclaimed Bahadur Shah, the titular Mughal emperor as their leader.The capture of Delhi turned the mutiny into a wide-spread revolt. But the leaders were not united, because they sought to revive former Hindu and Muslim regimes, which traditionally had been opposed to each other. The British had some advantages. They did receive reinforcements from Britain, and they had a base in Bengal, and in the Punjab the Sikhs were so hostile to the Muslims that they supported the British against the Mughal restoration in Delhi. The British recaptured Delhi in the fall of 1857, further campaigns followed the next year and by the spring of 1858 the British were again in full control of India.

Significance

  • The East India Company’s rule in India was abolished and was replaced by direct rule from Britain
  • The financial crisis caused by the mutiny led to a reorganization of the Indian administration’s finances
  • The Indian army was reorganized
  • The Legislative Council of 1853, which acted as a parliament and was made up only of Europeans, was replaced with a new council in 1861 with an Indian-nominated element
  • British imposed social measures that affected Hindu society came to an end
  • The traditional structure of Indian society began to break down and was eventually replaced with a more westernized class system
  • A strong middle class emerged
  • Heightened sense of Indian nationalism

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