1. What are the causes of the Revolt of the 1857?
The Revolt of 1857 can be considered as the culmination of the early resistance movements by various sections of the Indian community.
(i) Political causes:- The Colonial occupation of the country directly affected the rights and privileges of the Indian princes and chieftains. The treaties between the British and the native princes were usually violated by the British. Because of the subsidiary alliance the native princes lost their army and they had to maintain a British army bearing huge expenditure. Stopping of the customary pension to Nana Saheb infuriated the Marathas. The Rani of of Jhansi lost her kingdom by the enforcement of the Doctrine of Lapse.
(ii) Economic causes: - The peasants and Artisans had their own grievances. The merchant community suffered much on account of British commerce. The new land revenue settlements pushed the peasants into utter poverty. By the British concept of land ownership, land became a commodity to be bought and sold which was unknown to Indian peasants. The ruin of the peasantry and the Zamindars was shocking even to the British common people. The peasants were reduced to the position of wage earning agricultural labourers. The impoverished peasantry joined the Indian army. The destruction of village industries and handicrafts left many artisans to poverty. The artisans also had to join the army to earn their bread.
(iii) Social and religious causes: -The orthodox section doubted the British intentions of converting Hindus and Muslims into Christianity. The social legislations like the abolition of sati and female infanticide, the encouragement of widow remarriage and western education created doubts of conversion.
(v) Military causes :- The grievance of the soldiers was the immediate cause of the revolt. The Indian soldiers who formed 6/7 parts of the British army were commanded by British men. They were not paid well or they did not get any recognition. They were asked to serve outside India crossing the seas. This was against the religious belief of the Hindus. The new Enfield rifle had a type of cartridge which had to be bitten for firing. The rumour that the cartridge was greased with the fat of cow and pig became objectionable to both the Hindus and Muslims.
2. What are the causes of failure of the Revolt in 1857 ?
3. Results of the Revolt in 1857
4. What was the demand of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi that was refused by the British?
Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi wanted the company to recognize her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the death of her husband. But the British refused to accept her adopted son as the ruler of Jhansi. By ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ introduced by Lord Dalhousie, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir, his kingdom would ‘lapse’ and such kingdom would be annexed by the British Empire.
5. What did the British do to protect the interests of those who converted to Christianity?
The British believed that the Indian society had to be reformed, so they planned and implemented new laws which prohibited practices of sati and promoted widow remarriage. To protect the interests of the Christianity they took the following steps :
(i) After 1830 the East India company allowed Christian missionaries to function freely in its domain and property.
(ii) New laws were passed to make conversion to Christianity easier which allowed an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of his ancestors.
6. What objections did the Sepoys have to the new cartridges that they were asked to use?
The new cartridges were covered with the wrapper made with the fat of cows and pigs. Before loading these cartridges in the rifles a sepoy had to bite open the wrapper. This affected the religious sentiments of the Hindus and the Muslims as the Hindus treated cows as Holy and the Muslims considered the pigs as dirty animals. So, the sepoys refused to use these new cartridges.
7. How did the last Mughal emperor live the last years of his life?
Bahadur Shah Zafar was the last Emperor of the Mughal dynasty. Although after Aurangzeb, there was no powerful Mughal ruler ,the Mughal Emperors continued to be symbolically important. In fact, when a massive rebellion against the British broke out in 1857, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the Mughal Emperor at that time, was persuaded and declared as the leader by the rebels. He played an important role in the revolt of 1857 against the British. Once the revolt was suppressed Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried in court, blinded and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sons were shot dead in cold blood before him. At last he and his wife were sent to prison in Rangoon in October, 1858. Bahadur Shah Zafar died in Rangoon jail in November, 1862.
8. What could be the reasons for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India before May 1857?
The British were very confident that their position in India was very strong and no one could challenge them in any way, before May, 1857. The revolt was a great shock to them as they thought the disturbance caused by the issue of the cartridges would also die down and they never expected that this could take the shape of such a massive rebellion.The reasons for the confidence were:-
9. What impact did Bahadur Shah Zafar's support to the rebellion have on the people and the ruling families?
There was a widespread impact on the people of the whole country and its ruling families after Bahadur Shah Zafar accepted leadership and extended his support to the rebellion. He wrote letters to all the chiefs and rulers of the country to come forward and organize a confederacy of Indian states to fight the British. This single step taken by Bahadur Shah had great implications. All small and big kingdoms, kings, Nawabs, Rajas, princes, zamindars, chiefs and even many Hindu and Muslim religious leaders welcomed this initial step taken by the Emperor and joined hands to rebel against the British. Regiment after regiment mutinied and started to join other troops at nodal points like- Delhi, Kanpur and Lucknow. The people of towns and villages also joined the rebellion in mass and rallied around the local leaders, zamindars and rulers who were prepared to regain their lost authority and fight against the British. The British had not expected this to happen. They thought that like many other revolts which occurred in the past, this revolt would also die down. But Bahadur Shah Zafar’s decision to bless the rebellion changed the situation dramatically. This filled the people with inspiration, enthusiasm, courage, hope and confidence to rise up to the situation and act against the British.
10. How did the British succeed in securing the submission of the rebel landowners of Awadh?
The British succeeded in securing the submission of the rebel landowners of Awadh . They announced rewards for loyal landlords that they would be allowed to continue the traditional rights over their lands. Those who had rebelled were told that, if they submitted to the British and if they had not killed any white people, they would remain safe and their rights and claims to land would not be denied. In this way the revolt of Awadh was suppressed