India was under British rule for 200 years. The fight for independence was not easy and certainly not won in a day. Many revolts were won & lost that led to the moment of independence for India. One of the major revolts was the Sepoy Mutiny aka the Revolt of 1857. In this blog, you will learn about the revolt of 1857, its causes & failures and how it became the harbinger of other Indian National Movements.
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This Blog Includes:
- Introduction to Revolt of 1857
- What was the Revolt of 1857 also known as?
- Timeline of the Revolt of 1857
- Centers of the Revolt of 1857
- Historical Movements of the Revolt of 1857
- Who Opposed the Revolt of 1857?
- Failure of Revolt of 1857
- Leaders of Revolt of 1857
- List of British Officials
- Aftermath of the Revolt of 1857
- Best Books
- Short Note on Revolt of 1857
- Important Questions
Introduction to Revolt of 1857
Revolt of 1857 was first started on May 10, 1857, by sepoy mutiny in Meerut. The revolt lasted for a year but was unsuccessful. India needed certain peaceful changes and this revolution brought her that. A major highlight of this revolt was that it abolished the East India company’s rule in India. Central and northern parts of India took part in the revolt of 1857 and there were various reasons that bundled up the Indians.
What was the Revolt of 1857 also known as?
The Revolt of 1857, the initial stage of our independence struggle, had a lot of names given by historians worldwide. The Revolt of 1857 was also known as:-
- Indian Mutiny
- Sepoy Mutiny
- Sepoy Rebellion
- Sepoy Revolt
- First War of Independence
Timeline of the Revolt of 1857
|February 1857||Sepoys of the 19th Native Infantry refused to use rifles.|
|March 1857||The Native Infantry disbanded after Mangal Pandey injures 2 British soldiers.|
|April 1857||Mangal Pandey is hanged and troops at Meerut refused to use greased cartridges.|
|May 1857||Unrest in Ambala, troops slaughter Europeans and Christians as they reach Delhi. Bahadur Shah II was proclaimed as the Mughal ruler in Delhi. Jhansi state was captured by rebels and handed over to Rani of Jhansi.|
|June 1857||Mutinies in Lucknow, Bhurtpore and Rohilkhand started.|
|July 1857||Unrest in the entire country. Nana Sahib was defeated in the first battle of Cawnpore. Lord Canning issued his ‘Clemency’ resolution stating that mutineers who aren’t convicted of murder should not be hanged.|
|September 1857||Delhi captured and cleaned of rebel groups.|
|November 1857||Kavanaugh escaped from Lucknow. Children and Women evacuated from Lucknow. British withdraw from Lucknow.|
|December 1857||Tantia Tope was defeated in the third battle of Cawnpore.|
|April 1858||Jhansi was captured by the British.|
|June 1858||Battle of Gwalior and Rani of Jhansi’s death.|
|August 1858||Queen Victoria transferred the authority of India from the East India Company to the Crown.|
|April 1859||Tantia Tope was executed after being found guilty of betrayal.|
|July 1859||Peace declared.|
Causes of the Indian Revolt of 1857
- Political Causes – In the late 1840s, Lord Dalhousie imposed the Doctrine of Lapse. Under this, no ruler was allowed to adopt any child & only the natural heir has the right to rule. The political cause was the extension of British policies like the Doctrine of Lapse. The state would be annexed if the ruler dies without any male heir and was under the East India Company.
- Economic Causes – The peasants & farmers were affected by the various British reforms and were forced to pay heavy taxes. So, the ones that were unable to pay the taxes or loans had to surrender their lands to the Britishers. Constantly Indians have to compete with the British industry machine manufactured goods with Indian handicraft goods.
- Military causes – The Indian sepoys were paid less than European sepoys. Indians were considered menial & European sepoys were given much importance in terms of salary, pension & promotion.
- Social Causes – East India company abolished Sati pratha, child marriage & encouraged widow remarriage, at that time it was considered as a threat to Indian traditions. Britishers wanted Hindus & the Muslim religion to be converted into Christianity.
Immediate Cause for Revolt of 1857
With all the causes the immediate cause that infuriated soldiers was when the ‘Enfield’ rifle was introduced. Before this soldiers had to carry gun powder & bullets along with their rifles. The process of using a gun was time-consuming, Britishers introduced the Enfield rifle gun & cartridge. The cartridge was in a cylindrical shape with a knot on top & filled with the perfect amount of gunpowder & bullet in the end. Soldiers just had to tear the cartridge & then be ready to use a rifle, this saved a lot of time. There was a rumour that aroused that the cartridge was greased with pig & cow fat. The pig is taboo in Muslims & the cow is sacred in the Hindu religion. Indian soldiers refused to use the cartridge & soldiers were also sentenced.
What Were the Effects of the Revolt of 1857 on India?
The revolt of 1857 was not a success but created a huge impact on India. The major impact was the abolishment of the East India Company, India was under the direct control of British authority, The Indian administration was directly controlled by queen victoria. The second impact that the revolt of 1857 created was to develop unity & patriotism among the nation. Press was restricted since the Revolt of 1857 involved the Peasants as well. The press played an important role in the freedom struggle. It helped to educate Indians, influence them & aware of government policies.
Centers of the Revolt of 1857
The revolt spread over the entire area from the neighbourhood of Patna to the borders of Rajasthan. The main centres of revolt, commonly known as the sepoy mutiny in these regions namely Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Jhansi, Gwalior, and Arrah in Bihar.
- Lucknow – It was the capital of Awadh. Begum Hazrat Mahal, one of the begums of the ex-king of Awadh, took up the leadership of the revolt.
- Kanpur – The revolt was led by Nana Saheb, the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II.
- Jhansi – The twenty-year-old Rani Lakshmi Bai led the rebels when the British refused to accept the claim of her adopted son to the throne of Jhansi.
- Bihar – The revolt was led by Kunwar Singh who belonged to the royal house of Jagdispur, Bihar.
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Historical Movements of the Revolt of 1857
There were many historical movements during the Revolt of 1857 which are still the centres of conversations when we talk about our Independence struggle.
- Mangal Pandey– Mangal Pandey did not just refuse to use cartridges greased with cow or pig fat, he created an uproar within his Infantry which led to injuring the British generals. His bravery is unmatched to date though he was hanged by the East India Company.
- Cawnpore Massacre– Cawnpore or Kanpur was the highlight of the Revolt of 1857. When Cawnpore was sieged by the sepoys, they allowed the British rescue party to travel to Allahabad through Cawnpore. But the British soldiers and civilians (including 120 women and children) were killed by the sepoys. This enraged the East India company who tortured, looted the Indian civilians and executed a large number of sepoys in Cawpore and recaptured the city.
- Rani of Jhansi’s historic win– Rani Laxmibai refused the East India Company to annex Jhansi. The British forces then slowly marched towards Jhansi. It was in the darkness of the night that the rebels attacked the fort where the British leaders and their servants were resting and killed all of them.
Who Opposed the Revolt of 1857?
You will be surprised to know that a lot of the Indian communities didn’t support the Revolt of 1857. While more than a quarter of the native soldiers were Muslims, the Ulemas of the community did not support or believe that military violence is required against the East India Company.
A lot of important Sikhs and Pathan leaders in the Punjab province sided and conspired with the East India Company as they feared that if the Revolt drove out the British, the Mughals would come to power.
Gwalior was one of the centres of rebellion by the sepoys and civilians yet the state’s ruler, Jayaji Rao Scindia supported the British.
Failure of Revolt of 1857
The revolt was an extraordinary event in Indian history, the result of the revolt was unsuccessful due to some major drawbacks. Here are all the reasons for the failure of the revolt of 1857:
- One of the reasons for the failure of sepoy mutiny that there was no leader. The need of that moment was a leader that could lead & execute the plan.
- At some places, only sepoys were revolting & there was no support from the commoners. There was a lack of support from people in the revolt of 1857.
- Rulers of Indian states did not support the Indians & suppressed the revolt.
- There was no unity, the northern region was active in the revolt of 1857 while the southern states didn’t take any part.
- At that time the Indians involved in the revolt had limited resources in terms of financial aid, equipment & guns. On the other hand, Britishers didn’t face any issue like this.
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Leaders of Revolt of 1857
Many leaders took part in the revolt of 1857, here are all the leaders.
|Place||Leaders of the Revolt of 1857|
|Lucknow||Begum Hazrat Mahal, Birjis Qadir, Ahmadullah|
|Delhi||Bahadur Shah II, General Bakht Khan|
|Bihar||Kunwar Singh, Amar Singh|
|Allahabad & Banaras||Maulvi Liyakat Ali|
|Farrukhabad||Tufzal Hasan Khan|
|Muradabad||Abdul Ali Khan|
|Rajasthan||Jaidayal Singh and Hardayal Singh|
|Kullu||Raja Pratap Singh|
|Assam||Kandapareshwar Singh, Manorama Datta|
|Orissa||Surendra Shahi, Ujjwal Shahi|
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List of British Officials
- General John Nicholson
- Major Hudson
- Sir Hugh Wheeler
- General Neil
- Sir Colin Campbell
- Henry Lawrence
- Major General Havelock
- William Taylor and Eye
- Hugh Rose
- Colonel Oncell
Aftermath of the Revolt of 1857
- End of Company Rule: The revolt marked the end of the East India Company’s rule in India
- The direct rule of the British Crown: India came under the direct rule of the British Crown. This was announced by Lord Canning at a Durbar in Allahabad in a proclamation issued on November 1, 1858, in the name of the queen.
- Religious Tolerance: The British Crown promised religious tolerance and customs and traditions of India were given more attention.
- Administrative Change: The governor general’s office was replaced by that of the Viceroy.
- Military Reorganisation: The ratio of British officers to Indian soldiers increased but the armory remained in the hands of the English to end the dominance of the Bengal army.
Here are some books you can dig into for more details on the Revolt of 1857.
- Religion and Ideology of the Rebels of 1857 by Iqbal Hussain
- Rebellion, 1857: A Symposium by Puran Chand Joshi
- Great Mutiny by Christopher Hibbert
- Facets of the Great Revolt 1857
- The Indian War of Independence by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
- Awadh in Revolt, 1857-1858 by Rudrangshu Mukherjee
- The Indian Mutiny: 1857 by Saul David
Short Note on Revolt of 1857
Revolt of 1857 was first started on May 10, 1857, by sepoy mutiny in Meerut. The revolt lasted for a year and was unsuccessful yet it brought the changes that India needed for years. A major highlight of this revolt was that it abolished the East India company in India. Central & northern parts of India took part in the revolt of 1857. There were various reasons that bundled up the Indians. It was also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Indian Mutiny and the Great Rebellion. The main outcome of the revolt in 1857 was the end of company rule in India and the establishment of direct rule of the British Crown.
The revolt of 1857 was an unprecedented event in the history of British rule in India. It united, though in a limited way, many sections of Indian society for a common cause. Though the revolt failed to achieve the desired goal, it sowed the seeds of Indian nationalism.
Why were the powers of the East India company transferred to the British Crown?
Post the sepoy mutiny, the powers of East India Company were transferred because the company rule was ended in India after the revolt.
How did the position of governor-general change after the revolt of 1857?
The governor-general was given the title of a viceroy who became a personal representative of the crown.
How was the revolt suppressed by the British?
The company decided to regain control over its lost territories and suppressed the revolt in complete retaliation.
What was the role of Mangal Panday in the revolt of 1857?
Mangal Panday was the young soldier station in the British army at Barrackpore refused to use the rifle and attacked his British officers.
There was a change in rifle, Sepoys had to tear the cartridges with their mouths & it was greased with cow & pig fat. The sepoys were also sentenced when they rejected the rifles & cartridges.
The revolt of 1857 lasted for a year.
Yes, Mangal Pandey was among the leaders of the revolt of 1857.
Yes, Rani Laxmi bai adopted a son & after the doctrine of lapse only the true & natural male heir was allowed to rule.
There were political, social, religious & military causes that resulted in the revolt of 1857.
Yes, the revolt of 1857 is considered the first war of independence.
This was all about the Revolt of 1857, We hope this blog has helped you to understand the topic better. The Revolt of 1857 is one of the topics covered in government exams & UPSC as well. If you are planning to study abroad, you can now get a free trial session with our experts & counsellors at Leverage Edu. You are just one call away to enter your dream college.