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WOI 1857

Causes of
the War
About the
1857 War
of Independence
Effects of the
Main Events
of the War
Causes of
Indians defeat
in the War
Meerut (May 1857 _ August 1858) Allahabad
In 1857 the British faced a serious
challenge to their control of India.
In that year, there were a series of
uprisings of states against the
British rule which are known as
the War of Independence. It is
also given names as Indian
Rebellion, Indian Mutiny and
Indian Revolt!
Political causes:
British victory in the Battle of Plassey 1757 &
Battle of Buxar 1764; gave them control of these
states and brightened their prospects in India;
thus British became more expert warriors.
British annexed different states such as Sindh,
Mysore etc. through their diplomacy as a result
increased their territorial limits and governance.
British Lord Dalhousie introduced the ‘Doctrine of
Lapse’ as a result Indian princes were insecure of
their lands if they didn’t have a male heir and
British confiscated Jhansi, Bihar and Oudh
through the policy; thus these princes revolted.
Indian nobles were controlling large estates and
earning through them; the British government
asked for documentation or else confiscated their
properties; As a result these landlords lost their
income and they were in the front-line when the
war broke out.
Economic causes:
Agrarian policy of the British government raised
the rates of taxes on lands and demanded
documents to prove the land ownership; This
was upsetting for the Zamindars and so they
England’s industrial goods flowed in Indian
markets; these were superior quality and the
local industrialists couldn’t compete with them
resulting in the closure of local cottage
industries; and they fought the war.
British replaced Sanskrit and Persian by English
as the official language and employed only
English men on higher posts jobs; As a result
many educated Indians were now unemployed
too; thus they were agitated and started
Decline of Indian handcrafts during
British period
Religious causes:
 Initially British showed respect for all
religions but later devised ways to
Missionaries came to India to preach at
public places, Bible was made compulsory
in the school syllabus etc. Such attacks on
religion further triggered the already
frustrated Indians and they reacted.
 British also imposed some laws against
Hindus and Muslims; For example;
banning of suttee and pardah etc. These
anti-religious laws offended both the
communities and they attacked British.
Christian missionaries in India
Military causes:
 British banned the Indian army in their
conquered states resulting in many
soldiers’ unemployment. Their own
army consisted of both Hindu and
Muslim soldiers who rebelled when they
had to march to Afghanistan.
 British introduced new gunpowder
cartridges for the Enfield rifle; these
were rumored to be greased with cow
and pig fat and required to be bitten by
teeth; Both the Hindu/Muslim soldiers
refused as cows were sacred for Hindus
and pigs were unclean for Muslims.
Thus it hurt their religious sentiments
and they were ignited to attack on
British immediately.
1857 Indian Mutiny against the British
Events &
Leaders of
the War
Shah Zafar
At Meerut
The main event which became the immediate
cause of the war was the refusal of the
Sepoys to use the grease covered cartridges;
As a result they were court-martialed and
imprisoned for 10 years; but their fellow
soldiers broke into the prison and freed them.
Meerut was sacked and British officers were
killed. Then the mutineers marched to Delhi.
In March 1857 Mangal Pandey, an EIC army
soldier was the first one who attacked the
British officers and was thus executed.
At Delhi
Here the last Mughal Emperor; Bahadur Shah
Zafar was captured and his two sons and a
grandson were shot dead before his eyes
afterwards he was sent to Rangoon in exile.
Nana Sahib & Battle of
Nana sahib was an Indian Peshwa of Maratha
Empire; together he was a fighter and an
aristocrat too. During the war of independence;
he led a revolt in Kanpur. At first General
Havelock captured Kanpur after defeating Nana
Sahib in a ferocious battle; later Nana Sahib, with
the help of Tantia Tope, recaptured Kanpur but
not for a long time and British defeated them
once again in a brutal war from December 1 to 6,
1857 after which he fled to the hills of Bengal.
Rani of Jhansi/ Lakshmi Bai
Lakhshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi, was the princess of
the princely state Jhansi; she led the
revolutionaries from Jhansi in the War of
Independence. General Sir Huge Rose attacked
Jhansi in March 1858. Lakshmi Bai dressed like a
man, and kept the British General unnerved for
quite some time. But her personal valour couldn’t
match the British resources!
Lakshmi Bai
Causes of
failure of
Indians in the
1857 Revolt
Administrative Reasons
 Lack of unity among the Indians e.g.
Indians sided British in Punjab and
Kashmir; whole India was not united.
 No general plan and co-ordination
among Indians in fighting war;
different leaders, groups fought for
different reasons such as Rani of Jhansi
fought to restore her feudal powers.
 The Indians had no stronger leader
who could lead the fighters effectively;
Rani of Jhansi died fighting while
Bahadur Shah Zafar was old and
Military Reasons
 The Indians had no proper army and no
regular supply of weapons.
 The British had more modern methods of
fighting; the army was well-disciplined,
well-equipped and experienced in
warfare. They had better telegraph and
railways to transport weapons and
troops; which enabled them react faster
against Indians.
Ideological Reasons
 War was only spread in Delhi and surrounding
areas; in many areas there was no knowledge
among the princes and educated people about
the happenings of the war such as Rajputana.
 There was no real sense of national patriotism
among Indians; British knew that most of the
Indian rulers were fighting to restore their own
rights and properties and not to establish India.
 The Indians did not fully understand the
meaning and value of independence; that’s
why some states were neutral e.g. Rajputana,
Bhopal etc. They didn’t know that if they lost
the war they’ll face British rule whereas British
fought with determination.
of the war
of the war
Effects of the
War of
Pains & Gains
from the War
from the war
of the War
 EIC couldn’t handle the pressure and rebellions for a longer time; therefore British
government took control of India considering it a valuable financial and strategic asset
and to avoid further rebellions.
 British introduced a proper, new system of government in India; a Governor General
called Viceroy to administer the policies, a Secretary of State to decide the policies
working with a fifteen men council and Indian Civil Services. The princes were also
assured of their agreements with the British.
 European soldiers in the British India army increased; Locals in the army were reduced
to a minimal! Indians were stripped of military power.
 Proclamation of 1858 was issued that said that the British will not interfere in the
religious beliefs of the people, no further extension of territories, Doctrine of Lapse was
ended and local rulers were guaranteed the right of appointment in public services.
 Provincial governments were established
such as in Bombay; through which British
government could resolve problems before
any other rebellion breaks out.
 Queen Victoria was made the Empress of
India; Mughal dynasty completely ended.
British Raj imposed!
 Muslims were solely blamed for the 1857
uprising; British thought that the Muslims
wanted past glory; So they were deprived of
good jobs and high rank posts thus lowering
their standing in the society; Whereas Hindus
were favored considering them as innocent
in this revolt.
Public hanging of Indians post 1857 revolt
Exam-style Questions
1) Study the source and answer the question which follows.
Source A
The final spark was provided by the ammunition for new Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle. These rifles had a
tighter fit, and used paper cartridges that came pre-greased. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge
open to release the powder. The grease used on these cartridges included tallow, which if derived from pork
would be offensive to Muslims, and if derived from beef would be offensive to Hindus. On 24 April
Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth in Meerut, ordered 90 of his men to parade and perform firing
drills but many Indian sepoys refused to use it.
From the website colonialism-india-china.weebly.com
According to Source A, why did many Indian sepoys refuse to use grease cartridge? [3]
2) What happened at the Battle of Cawnpore. [4]
3) Who was Lakshmi Bai? [4]
4) Explain the reasons for the defeat of the Indians in the War of Independence 1857-58. [7]
5) How successful were the Indians in achieving their objectives through the War of Independence 1857-58?
Explain your answer. [10]
6) ‘The introduction of the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ in 1852 was the most important factor that led to the Indian
rebellion in 1857’. Do you agree? Give reasons to support your opinion. [14]
7) Study the source and answer the question which follows.
Source B
British soldiers after regaining Lucknow
What does Source B tell us about the British soldiers in 1857? [5]