• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Can the revolt of 1857 be described as a popular revolt against foreign domination?

Extracts from this document...


Ravie Charles B.A.(Hons) History III St. Stephen's College Q. Can the revolt of 1857 be described as a popular revolt against foreign domination? An uprising is termed as popular on the basis of the degree of participation of the general populace and the geographical extent of spread. In addition, the class/caste/section-wise participation and identification of leadership are also taken into account. In case of the revolt of 1857, all these issues have been subject of contentions, and continuing, debates. Yet another issue of debate is about the identification of the target(s) of revolt. While some scholars see the revolt as an anti-British revolt, others consider it a civil war between the collaborators and resisters of colonial rule. Though the scale and intensity of the revolt of 1857 is generally acknowledged to be much greater than previous revolts, this fact by itself does not prove the popular character of the revolt. There was a significant threat to the British rule in India, when a number of Indian soldiers of the British Indian Army rose in revolt in 1857 against their officers and against the colonial regime in general. This revolt of the soldiers struck a sympathetic chord among many people who had their own reasons to be dissatisfied with the British rule. The revolt of 1857 consisted of both rebellion by the sepoys and the reaction from the sections of the general Indian population where peasants were an important segment. ...read more.


Historians such as S B Chaudhuri considered land transfers and loss of landed rights as important motive forces that moved the peasant masses to rebel. According to this theory, moneylenders assisted the colonial state in the process of peasant dispossession. This view was proved erroneous by Eric Strokes, based on his studies of Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar districts in UP. Strokes' study of these areas proved that the revolt was most intense in areas where moneylenders were least successful in taking over landed rights. Strokes also indicated that often the highest revenue rates were borne by cultivating proprietors without complaint, in areas of fertile soil and easily available credit. Often, Strokes writes, subdivision of tenurial rights could be a potent factor leading to a 'natural explosiveness' that manifested itself against the colonial state. Though Thomas R. Metcalf, in his study of northern India in the 19th century, also reiterated the point about the rise in enforced transfer of property under the colonial state, his analysis was more complex. For him, the ability of the taluqdar to adapt to new institutions was equally, if not more, important than the fact of dispossession itself. the point about the complexity of individual motives and the inadequacy of blanket explanations of the revolt was also made by T R Metcalf. For him, those taluqdars who could transform themselves into an 'enterprising magnate element' via enhancement of productivity and/or diversification would be likely to remain loyal to the colonial state. ...read more.


Even those who have termed the mutiny a popular revolution have stopped short of attributing a 'nationalist' motive or 'patriotic' sentiments to it. Rajat Ray, however, approaches these issues from a different perspective. Ray accepts that it is religious rhetoric that predominates in the mutineers' proclamations. However, he makes a case for reading patriotic sentiments in these proclamations, even if disguised the vocabulary of religion. The patriotism felt by those involved in the revolt is negated in secondary historiography precisely because it is expressed as a religious crusade. Ray reads the raw matter of later Indian nationalism in the mutineers' antagonism to the British. The revolt of 1857 cannot be easily compartmentalized either as solely an anti-colonial revolt or solely as a feudal reaction against local, indigenous elite. As has been discussed, the revolt was popular in some parts of the country, but restricted to one certain disaffected sections of the society. Leadership was provided both by landed magnates as well as by members of the lower castes, though the latter seems to be more the exception than the rule. Perhaps it can best be described as a movement against foreign domination that also encompassed local issued and grievances that had little to do with colonial rule. In this sense, the movement was anti-colonial and much more. Classificatory categories, though they made issues easier to comprehend, have often led to an overly simplistic understanding of complex events. An event as complex as the revolt of 1857 can, perhaps, best be understood without the imposition of such classificatory categories as 'popular' and 'anti-colonial'. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1600-1699 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1600-1699 essays

  1. Why was Richelieu's foreign policy so politically divisive from 1624-42?

    From 1622 the valley had been protected by papal troops which Richelieu construed as a direct threat to France. The papacy was certainly more accommodating for a staunchly Catholic Spain than it was for Richelieu and Louis XIII's France. As a consequence of the perceived threat, Richelieu recruited 4000 troops

  2. How, and how effectively, did Charles I raise new sources of revenue in the ...

    from which the idea of exploiting antiquated laws in order to raise revenue originated. In December 1625 Lord Keeper Coventry reminded Charles of the custom of those eligible for knighthood presenting themselves at the coronation , but in the early years of Charles' reign, there seems to have been no

  1. Assess the view that Charles I rather than Archbishop Laud directed ecclesiastical affairs during ...

    confidence which Charles was perfectly willing to withdraw should he disagree with Laud's view. As Charles clearly had the final say on Laud's decisions, the existence of a partnership must therefore be recognised, as it is clear that Laud, whilst exercising considerable influence, was still acting under jurisdiction.

  2. The Importance of the Diary for a Study of Archbishop Laud

    often chosen to reflect their patron's preferment rather than uphold the articles of the church, Laud resolved 'to overthrow the feoffment, dangerous to both Church and State', an irrefutably strong intention given that he ranked it second in the extensive list of 'Things which I have projected to if God bless me in them'7,written at the back of his diary.

  1. Free essay

    Discuss the idea that The turn of the Screw is written in such a ...

    However, it is not simply of the appearance of these figures that she is fearful, it is of the unknown and of what they might do. Her fear seems to focus on the potential corruption of the children, whether it be by ghosts or by Quint and Miss Jessel when they were alive.

  2. Why is Surrealism regarded as the art of the unconscious? Focus your answer on ...

    Dreams and mythology are linked for the Surrealist through their subconscious imagery. This is clearly depicted in Daedalus & Icarus15 a series of twelve small paintings of highly realistic and detailed male nudes placed in colourful surreal landscapes. Gleeson's subconscious allows the paint to dominate the landscapes.

  1. Throughout the history of the United States of America, four American presidents have been ...

    drinking heavily, sometimes drinking as much as a quart of brandy, in an hour16. Now, his thoughts turned from kidnapping to killing the President. Again Booth, wrote a letter on what he was about to do, and in a sealed envelope gave it to John Matthews, one of his fellow

  2. Salem, Spectral Evidence and Recovered Memory Syndrome

    It is through this knowledge, therefore, I approach the subject of repressed/recovered memories with some doubt and hesitation. To begin, it is important to note the difference between repressed memories and those which have been recovered. A repressed memory is one in which the person has made a conscious and

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work