The Mutiny of 1857: India’s First Rebellion Against the British, Examples

The compilation of these When People Rebel Notes makes students exam preparation simpler and organised.

The Mutiny of 1857

We all know the history of India’s freedom struggle and the way it shaped the countries future. We have heard the stories of the freedom fighters and the leaders. But did you know that India’s first freedom fight actually occurred in 1857? Let us learn about the Mutiny of 1857 and the heroes of this struggle.

The Mutiny of 1857

Just during the turn of the 19th century, the British were establishing their superior control all across India. They had started to limit the powers of the Rajas and were overtaking Mughal empires as well. The British truly believed that the customs and rituals Indians followed were savage, and the Indians could not be trusted to rule themselves.

Peasants and Sepoys
But as the British were overreaching with their power, the people of India were getting more and more agitated. Amongst them, the peasants and the sepoys were the unhappiest with the British policies. The peasants were troubled by the high taxes and the unfair practices of tax collections. The British gave no respite in the taxes under any circumstances. The peasants suffered incredible difficulties and were on the verge of their patience.

The sepoys that were employed with the British army were Indian men who use to be peasants or farmers. Also, the sepoys felt that some of the policies of the British army were against their religious beliefs. One such policy was when the sepoys were to be taken to Burma via the sea route. At that time it was believed that crossing the sea would make a person abandon his religion.

The Mutiny Begins

The Mutiny of 1857

During the year of 1857, in north India, there was a confluence of circumstances. The people were all fed up with the British rule and their complete disregard for the well being of the public. And hence began what some considered one of the biggest armed mutiny against colonialism at that time.

The epicenter of the revolt was Meerut at the start. Sepoys and other people from different walks of life all started mutinies against the British army. And they were all doing some serious damage in their own right.

Then on 29 March 1857, one of the heroes of the revolt Mangal Pandey was hanged by the British army in Delhi for causing a mutiny in his regiment. The soldiers from Meerut and all surrounding regions converged at Delhi, to take up arms against the British. What followed was one of the most gruesome battles of the mutiny, where British soldiers were killed and their headquarters were set on fire.

After this battle, the sepoys wanted to unite India under the rule of Bahadur Shah Zafar, and he gave his blessings to the mutiny. From this point, the revolt spread to all other regions of India. And other sepoys in other regiments got the courage to fight as well.

The British Retaliate
The company left no stone unturned to suppress the revolt. The brought back reinforcements from England and poured in many more arms. They fought back with all their might and were ruthless in their strategy. They made new rules which made it easier to convict and execute sepoys if they revolted. The British even captured Bahadur Shah Zafer and his family and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

They were able to ultimately snuff out the movement. and regain control of the city. But the spark of the freedom struggle had already been lit. The revolt actually paved way for all the future freedom movements of India.


What was the contribution of Rani Laxmibai to the mutiny?
Under the pretense of Doctrine of lapse, the British refused to recognize the adopted son of Rani Laxmibai as the heir to her throne. They intended to annex their kingdom of Jhansi. During the mutiny, Rani Laxmibai along with the sepoys of Jhansi attacked the forts controlled by the British. She even joined Tatia Tope in the attack at Gwalior. Her contribution to this revolt is immortalized.