The immediate cause of the revolt of 1857 was the introduction of the new Enfield Rifle in place of ‘Brown Bess’. The act of introduction of Enfield Rifle outraged the religious sentiments of both Hindu and Muslim communities. In this article, we will discuss the cause of the revolt of 1857 along with the ‘What was the immediate cause of the revolt of 1857‘ at the end of the article with the storyline.
Let’s discuss the Cause of the Revolt of 1857
What Are the Political Causes of the Revolt of 1857?
1. Annexation of Princely States:
The East India Company made several annexations under Subsidiary Alliance under Lord Wellesley and the Doctrine of Lapse under Lord Dalhousie. The Indians feared that the absorption of all states was inevitable. Indians also started to believe that the annexations were not because of the Doctrine of Lapse but because of ‘lapse of morals’ on the part of the East India Company. Thus the expansionist policy followed by the East India Company deeply forced the rulers of the Indian states, to rise in revolt, following the Annexation of Jhansi.
- How Was Jhansi Annexed?
Jhansi was a Maratha-ruled princely state. Jhansi was located in the Bundelkhand region. The Raja of Jhansi, Gangadhar Rao died without leaving a biological male heir in 1853. The same year Dalhousie introduced the infamous ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ and annexed Jhansi, rejecting the claim of Damodar Rao (adopted son of Rani and her late husband Gangadhar Rao) to the throne. Further, in March 1854, Rani was ordered to leave the palace and the fort. Rani Laxmibai then decided to join the great uprising of 1857 against British rule.
- How Was Awadh Annexed?
In 1856, Awadh was annexed on the pretext of misgovernance, by dethroning Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. He was later deported to Calcutta. Lord Dalhousie stated that he wanted to “free the people from the Nawab’s mismanagement and taluqdar’s oppression.” It should be noted that the British had already been draining the Awadh economy since 1765, now they have started draining its administrative structure.
This move of annexation severely hurt the self-respect of the Awadh people, particularly the sepoys of the British army since most of them came from Awadh itself.
2. The rise of Unemployment:
The East India Company dismissed many courts and forts. The dismissal of the court also leads to unemployment for the many courtiers, the artisans and the army men. The taluqdars were also dispossessed of their forts.
3. Land Revenue Settlement in Awadh:
The land revenue settlement was introduced in Awadh just after its annexation, which further amplified the people’s discontent with the cumulative result that nearly 75% of the adult population of Awadh participated in the Revolt of 1857.
4. Multilayered Interference with the Maratha Rulers:
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Nana Sahib: Nana, the adopted son of the last Peshwa Baj Rao II, was refused pension by the British that was being paid to Baji Rao. Nana was also forced to leave Pune with his family and live far away at Kanpur. Thus, when the revolt started in 1857, it was Nana Sahib who raised his revolt at Kanpur.
5. Abolition of Titles
The Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II had grown old and weak. Lord Dalhousie realised that Fakhr-ud-Din Mirza, the eldest son of Bahadur Shah II was not interested in retaining the imperium and thus imposed strict conditions on him. Faqir-ud-Din died in 1856 and Lord Canning (who was the Governor-General during the Revolt of 1857) declared that the prince next in succession would have to renounce the regal title and the ancestral Mughal palaces. This grievously hurt the sentiments of Muslim communities.
Also, it should be noted that East India Company also abolished the regal titles of the Nawabs of Carnatic and Tanjore.
What Are the Administrative Causes of the Revolt of 1857?
What are the Economic Causes of the Revolt of 1857?
What were the Social Causes of the Revolt of 1857?
1. Interference in the Indian society:
The Socio-Religious aspects of the revolt of 1857 were characterised by the racial overtones and a complex superiority of the British administrative attitude towards the native Indian population. The attempts at socio-religious reforms like the abolition of sati, support to widow-marriage & women’s education were considered by a large section of the population as interference in the social & religious domains of Indian society by foreigners. These notions became firm by the government’s decision to tax mosque and temple lands and making laws such as the Religious Disabilities Act, 1856, which modified Hindu customs, for instance, the act stated that a change of religion did not debar a son from inheriting the property of his “heathen’ father.
2. Alienation of the Upper and Middle Class:
3. Racial Discrimination:
Military Causes of the Revolt of 1857
Years after year, several grievances of the sepoys in the British army had got accumulated and outbursts in the revolt. But at first, we should look into the origin and identity of the sepoys in the British army. The sepoys were practically the ‘peasants in uniform’. Owing to the impoverishment caused by the new land revenue settlements, many of them had joined military service in search of alternate employment opportunities. Further, in the Bengal Army, service was hereditary and nearly 60% of the sepoys came from the peasant population of Awadh & the high caste Brahmin & Rajput families of North-West Provinces.
Naturally, these sepoys reflected all the grievances of the civil population of Awadh as well as the grievances of the high caste and royal families. Thus, annexations of princely states were not accepted by these sepoys. Particularly when Awadh was annexed in the name of misgovernance, they understood that the East India Company had used their services to liquidate their own King.
The Invincibility of British Rule Shattered
What Was the Immediate Cause of Revolt of 1857?
Causes of the Revolt of 1857 pdf
Frequently Asked Questions
- Who had ordered the annexation of Jhansi?
- Jhansi was annexed by which Governor General?
- Who was the ruler of Jhansi?
Gangadhar Rao was the ruler of Jhansi. Rani Laxmibai, the wife of Gangadhar Rao became the ruler of Jhansi after his death.
- When was Jjhansi annexed by the British Government?
Jhansi was annexed in 1853
In this article, we have discussed the Cause of Revolt of 1857 for competitive examinations like SSC, UPSC, Railways. Cause of Revolt of 1857 pdf is also provided for the convenience of students.