Why the events of 1857-8 in India are significant

Topics: Indian Rebellion of 1857, British Raj, East India Company Pages: 2 (609 words) Published: November 2, 2013
In May 1857 there was a rebellion in India that lasted for months. Indian soldiers shot their British officers. They had refused, for religious reasons, to bite or even handle the cartridges before loading them in to the, then new, Enfield Rifle, as they were said to be smeared in pig-animals that are considered unclean to Muslims- and cow –animals sacred to Hindus-grease. The Indians had become tired of the East India Company ruling and wanted power in India once more. However it wasn’t just this single event that caused the rebellion in 1857 but underlying social, political, economic and religious reasons. The events of 1857 give us an insight into British rule in India beforehand, from the East India Company. The British had forced European customs onto the Indians. There were many factors involved that all built up to the great mutiny. For example, as part of their westernisation process, the British had banned many Indian rituals and customs that were key parts of their tradition such as the suppression of Sati and the Doctrine of Lapse. Sati was a Hindu custom in which, and Hindu widow would throw herself on to the burning funeral pyre of her husband to be burnt alive. This custom was outlawed in 1829 and 19 years later, in 1848 the Doctrine of Lapse was established by Lord Dalhousie. The Doctrine of Lapse allowed the company to take over the land of any ruler who died without natural heirs. An example of the consequences of this action can be seen through Rani Laksmibai’s response when it applied to her situation. Rani Laksmibai had given birth to a son however he died at four months old. Rani Laksmibai and her husband, the ruler of Jhansi (or the Raja), then adopted a son who they regarded as the Raja’s heir. When the Raja died the adopted son attempted to claim his position as ruler but these were not accepted by the British. Rani Laksmibai then protested but she was ordered to leave the state of Jhansi and their land was seized by the...
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