Indian mutiny

views updated May 18 2018

Indian mutiny. On 10 May 1857, sepoys of the Bengal army shot their British officers and marched on Delhi to restore the aged Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah, to power. The mutiny spread down the Ganges valley—to Agra, Cawnpore, and Lucknow—and into central India. It encouraged a widespread civil revolt against the institutions of British rule. Existing ‘loyalist’ forces were unable to quell the rebellion and reinforcements had to be called from China. It took until December 1857 for Sir Colin Campbell's army to reoccupy the key strategic points along the Ganges valley and the last vestiges of armed resistance were not stamped out before the spring of 1859. The causes of the mutiny (by no means the first in British Indian military history) lay in attempts to impose British-style army discipline onto Indian warrior traditions—the celebrated issue of cartridges greased with animal fat being symptomatic of wider problems. The vehemence of the civil rebellion reflected the anxieties of aristocracies and peasant communities at threats posed to them by aggressive policies of westernization, especially under Lord Dalhousie. The events of 1857 marked a watershed in Indo-British relations. Afterwards, the British came to doubt the possibilities of a rapid social transformation and treated their Indian subjects with increasing suspicion. The army was reorganized to improve British surveillance. State policy became more conservative and politically defensive.

David Anthony Washbrook

Indian Mutiny

views updated Jun 27 2018

Indian Mutiny (1857–58) Large-scale uprising against British rule. It is known in India as the first war of independence. It began (May 10, 1857) at Meerut as a mutiny among 35,000 Indian troops (sepoys) in the Bengal army. The immediate cause was the introduction of cartridges lubricated with the fat of cows and pigs, a practice offensive to Hindus and Muslims. A more general cause was resentment at Westernization. The mutineers captured Delhi and, with the support of local maharajahs and civilians in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the British garrison at Lucknow was besieged. On 14 September 1857, British forces recaptured Delhi and the revolt petered out. The revolt resulted in the British government taking over control of India from the East India Company in 1858.


views updated May 29 2018

Indian1 Indian Mutiny a revolt of Indians against British rule, 1857–8.

Discontent with British administration resulted in widespread mutinies in British garrison towns, with accompanying massacres of white soldiers and inhabitants. After a series of sieges (most notably that of Lucknow) and battles, the revolt was put down; it was followed by the institution of direct rule by the British Crown in place of the East India Company administration.
Indian rope-trick the supposed feat, performed in the Indian subcontinent, of climbing an upright, unsupported length of rope.