What was the demand of Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi that was refused by the British?
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi wanted the Company to recognise her adopted son as the heir to the kingdom after the death of her husband. This demand was refused by the British.
What did the British do to protect the interests of those who converted to Christianity?
The British passed a law which allowed an Indian who had converted to Christianity to inherit the property of his ancestors.
What objections did the Sepoys have to the new cartridges that they were asked to use?
The introduction of Greased cartridges in 1856 sparked the fire. The government decided to replace the old-fashioned musket, `Brown Begs` by the `Enfield rifle,. The loading process of the Enfield rifle involved bringing the cartridge to the mouth and biting of the top paper. There was a rumour among the Sepoys in January 1857 that the greased cartridge contained the fat of cow and pig, the former sacred to Hindus and latter forbidden to Muslims. The Sepoys were now convinced that the introduction of greased cartridges was a deliberate attempt to defile Hindu and Muslim religion. This sparked off the Mutiny on 29th March 1857.
How did the last Mughal emperor live the last years of his life?
The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried in court and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sons were shot dead before his eyes. He and his wife Begum Zinat Mahal were sent to prison in Rangoon in October 1858. Bahadur Shah Zafar died in the Rangoon jail in November 1862.
What could be the reasons for the confidence of the British rulers about their position in India before May 1857?
- There were several riots, rebellion and revolts which occurred before May, 1857. But all these were localized and were suppressed by the British then and there.
- In the mid 18th century, the powers of Nawabs, rajas, zamindars etc. were eroded. The freedom of the Indian rulers was reduced, their armed forces were disbanded, and their revenue and territories were taken by stages.
- The Mughal Emperor had lost its control over the provinces. The traditional rulers fought among themselves and could not present a united front against a powerful foreign rule.
- Residents had been stationed in many courts by the British as their representatives. These residents kept informing the governors about the important developments in every kingdom.
- Indian princes and chiefs whom the British had allowed to continue used to side with the British during revolts before May, 1857.
What impact did Bahadur Shah Zafar's support to the rebellion have on the people and the ruling families?
Bahadur Shah Zafar's decision to support the rebellion changed the entire situation.
Regiment after regiment rebelled against the British. The people of the towns and villages also rose up in rebellion and rallied around local leaders, zamindars and chiefs, who were prepared to establish their authority and fight the British.
Nana Saheb was the adopted son of the late Peshwa Baji Rao of the Maratha Kingdom. He gathered armed forces and expelled the British garrison from the city. He proclaimed himself the Peshwa and declared that he was a governor under Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Birjis Qadr was the son of the deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. His mother Begum Hazrat Mahal took an active part in organising the uprising against the British. He became the Nawab of Awadh during the Mutiny and acknowledged the authority of Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jansi joined the rebelling Sepoys and fought the British along with Tantia Tope, the general of Nana Saheb.
The new class of leaders during the rebellion were Ahmadullah Shah, Bakht Khan and Kunwar Singh.
The British were greatly outnumbered by the rebel forces. They were defeated in a number of battles. More and more states joined in the rebellion. This shook the confidence of the British, consequently many new Indian leaders came to power.
How did the British succeed in securing the submission of the rebel landowners of Awadh?
The British East India Company brought in military reinforcements from England. It passed new laws so that the rebels could be convicted with ease. In September 1857, Delhi was recaptured from the rebel forces.
The last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried in court and sentenced to life imprisonment. His sons were shot dead before his eyes. In November 1862, Bahadur Shah Zafar died in the Rangoon jail.
In spite of the British recapturing Delhi the rebellion did not die down. It took the British two years to quell the rebellion.
In March 1858, Lucknow was captured. In June 1858, Rani Lakshmi Bai was defeated and killed. In April 1859, Tantia Tope was captured, tried and killed.
The successive defeat of the rebel forces encouraged many Indians to join the British. The British also tried their best to win back the loyalty of the local people.
Rebels were assured of safety and were promised land, if they surrendered to the British. Rewards were announced for those who were loyal to the company. Loyal landlords were allowed to enjoy their traditional rights over their lands.
In what ways did the British change their policies as a result of the rebellion of 1857
By the end of 1859 the British had regained control of the country. The rebellion made the British enforce new laws and reforms.
1. The British Parliament passed a new Act in 1858 and transferred the powers of the East India Company to the British Crown in order to ensure a more responsible management of Indian affairs.
2. Indian nawabs, rajas and chiefs were assured that their territory would not be annexed in future.
3. Indian soldiers in the army would be reduced and the number of European soldiers would be increased.
4. The land and property of Muslims was confiscated on a large scale.
5. The British decided to respect the customary religious and social practices of the people in India.
6. Policies were made to protect landlords and zamindars and give them security of rights over their lands.
- A member of the British Cabinet was appointed Secretary of State for India.
- He was responsible for all matters related to the governance of India.
- He was given a council to advise him, called the India Council.
- The Governor-General of India was now given the title of 'Viceroy'.
- He was the personal representative of the Crown.
- British government was now directly responsibility for ruling India
Indian rulers were allowed to pass on their kingdoms to their heirs, including adopted sons.
They had to accept the British Queen as their Sovereign Paramount.
The Indian rulers were to hold their kingdoms as subordinates of the British Crown.
The soldiers would be recruited from among the Ghurkhas, Sikhs and Pathans and not from Awadh, Bihar, Central India and South India.
The Muslims were treated with suspicion and hostility, for the British believed that they were responsible for the rebellion in a big way.