Revolution of 1857- Main causes and leaders

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revolution of 1857

Revolution of 1857 (First Indian freedom struggle): The great revolution of 1857 occurred during Lord Canning’s reign as Governor-General. The revolution of 1857 started on May 10, 1857 from Meerut, which gradually spread to places like Kanpur, Bareilly, Jhansi, Delhi, Awadh etc.


This revolution started as a military revolt, but later it changed its form to a mass revolt against British power, which was called India’s first freedom struggle.Education is not a opinion about the nature of this great revolution of 1857 AD.In this regard, scholars have given their different views, which are as follows: ‘Soldier Rebellion’, ‘Freedom Struggle’, ‘Feudalist reaction’, ‘People’s Revolution’, ‘National Rebellion’, ‘Muslim Conspiracy’, ‘Christian A religious war against religion and ‘struggle for civilization and barbarism’ etc.


Political causes of the revolution of 1857


  • Lord Vallejlee Subsidiary Treaty – In the year 1798Lord Vallejali , the then Governor-General of India, entered into a subsidiary treaty with all the states of India, under which:-

  • British troops would be stationed on the territory of all the allied kings, those troops.

  • The king will bear the expenses of maintenance

  • A British resident will be appointed in the king’s court who will send every news to the governor-general

  • the king will neither make any treaty with any ruler nor break the British treaty. All these things were forcibly imposed on the rulers, due to which a wide resentment began to arise in their minds.


  • Lord Dalhousie’s policy of lapsein the year 1848, and the then Governor-General Lord Dalhousie enacted a law under which if an Indian ruler had no successor, then that state would be ruled by the British government in the future. This law came to be known as the law of usurpation. Various rulers began to show their anger on this law, and this anger got more air during 1857.


  • Ban on Jhansi’s successor and Nana Saheb’s pension stopped- When Gangadhar Rao, the King of Jhansi died, Rani Laxmibai desired to inherit an adopted son, but the British government did not allow it and ruled Jhansi This triggered anger among the Jhansi queen and people towards the British government. Nana Saheb was the adopted son of Peshwa Bajirao II. After Peshwa’s death, the Maratha Empire also replaced the British Empire and stopped the pension received by Nana Saheb, due to which the people of Kanpur started opposing the British government.


  • British occupation of Satara and Nagpur- After the death of Satara ruler Shahaji in the year 1848, Satara also took possession of Satara under the Laps Act, due to which Satara’s soldiers became angry with the British government. Soon after, the British government did the same to Nagpur, which was done to Satara. In the minds of soldiers and farmers of both regions, negative thoughts were being generated about the British government.


  • Snatching their land from landlords and peasants- The British government had imposed more and more taxes on different provinces of India and had enacted some important laws. When a farmer and landlord did not meet their conditions, they used to take possession of his land and property. This caused widespread anger in the mind of both the farmer and the zamindar.

Economic reasons for the revolution of 1857

revolution of 1857


  • Withdrawing their livelihood from Indian artisans – Due to the Industrial Revolution in England, machine-made products were sold in India at very cheap prices due to which the means of employment of Indian artisans were being snatched away and above all the British government also imposed more tax on them. Due to this, the feeling of dissatisfaction in the minds of those artisans started taking birth.


  • Business policy of the British- Due to the British trade policy, the trade of all Indians in India was halted. Indian products had to be charged exorbitantly for shipping abroad, which was more likely to result in losses rather than profits, and Indian products were not willing to buy in India as they were priced higher than England products, Indian trade almost came to an end and the anger of the Indian traders started growing.


  • The British Empire’s policy of permanent settlement and exorbitant taxes – The British government made the landowners of India the owner of the land under the policy of permanent settlement. The zamindars used to deposit the tax in the government treasury in a fixed amount and collected the maximum amount from the farmers. The general public had also imposed a huge amount of tax, due to which the general public also started opposing the government.

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Social and religious reasons for the revolution of 1857


  • 1856 of religious disabilities Act, the British government went to individuals who took Christianity under which enacted a law in 1856 was considered to be entitled to their ancestral property and provide them access to promotion, education institutions in jobs. Due to this law, the priests made Hindus and Muslims Christians on a large scale, due to which the Indian religious society became angry on the British.


  • Reforms in Indian Society – The British Empire at that time looked at some of the evils of Indian society and decided to correct them, such as Lord William Bentinck, in the year 1829, with the help of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, abolished the practice of sati and Baal. Marriage was banned. With this, Indian Hindus considered it against their religion and started opposing the British government.


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  • English education- Englishmen started English schools to educate the Indian society, in which they started imparting education to Indians, due to this, people of all religions of India started to think that they want to make Indians Christian. He started English schools.


  • Condemnation of other religions by Christian preachers- Christian preachers started misrepresenting the scriptures and doctrines of other religions in order to make their religion the best in India, due to which there was a huge widespread anger against the British in India.

Military causes of the revolution of 1857


revolution of 1857

  • Sending Indian troops to fight on the sea- In the year 1856, a law was passed that could be sent across the sea to fight, but the Hindu soldiers considered crossing the sea against their religion.


  • Indecent behavior with Indian soldiers in the British military parade were misbehaved with the Indian soldiers. He used to make fun of their civilization, culture and religion in front of Indians, due to which the anger of Indian soldiers started increasing against the British government.


  • Discrimination with Indians in salary promotion and deployment- British administration adopted a discriminatory policy with Indian soldiers, they only increased the pay and rank of British soldiers and officers. He also used to deploy the Indians in the troubled areas while the British used to deploy the soldiers in quiet and clean areas.

The immediate causes of the revolution of 1857


  • Fat cartridges The immediate cause of the 1857 revolution was new fat cartridges given to soldiers. These new cartoons had pig fat and cow fat, which was torn from the mouth and put in the guns. Both Hindus and Muslims were included in the British Army and they considered it to be against their religion, but the British Government did not listen to them. The use of these fat cartridges was first opposed by the soldiers of Barrackpore Cantonment. Mangal Pandey, who knew the truth of these cartoons, got angry and killed a British officer.

Revolution of 1857 spread


  • The rebellion spread to Central and Northern India shortly after the capture of Delhi.

  • On 4 June, an uprising began in Lucknow under the leadership of Begum Hazrat Hazamat Mahal in which Henry Lautens was killed.

  • On 5 June, Kanpur was taken under the leadership of Nana Saheb, and Nana Saheb was declared Peshwa.

  • Rani Laxmi Bai led the rebellion in Jhansi.

  • After the fall of Jhansi, Lakshmi Bai led the rebellion in Gwalior with Tatya Tope. Ultimately, Lakshmibai met Virgati while fighting the British General Huroj.

  • On the death of Rani Laxmibai, General Hurose had said, “The woman sleeping here in Indian revolutionaries is a man.”

  • Tatya Tope’s real name was Ramchandra Pandurang. He moved to Nepal after the fall of Gwalior where a landlord was caught due to the betrayal of Mansingh and was hanged on 18 April 1859.


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  • The landowner Kunwar Singh in Jagaripur in Bihar raised the flag of the revolt of 1857.

  • Maulvi Ahmadullah led the 1857 rebellion in Faizabad.

  • Worried about the activities of Ahmadullah, the British had announced a reward of 50 thousand rupees to capture him.

  • Khan Bahadur Khan led the 1857 rebellion in Rohelkhand, which was captured and hanged.

  • Raj Kumar Surendra Shahi and Ujjwal Shahi led the rebellion in Sambalpur in Odisha.

  • Maniram Dutt led the rebellion in Assam.

  • Bengal, Punjab and most parts of South India did not participate in the rebellion.

  • The British regained Delhi in September 1857 after a long and terrible war.

Leading leaders and heroes of the revolution of 1857

Name of rebel leader Date of rebellion Center
Bahadur Shah Zafar, Bakht Khan 11 m, 1857 Delhi
Nana sahib, Tantya Tope 5 June 1857 Kanpur
Begum Hazrat Mahal, Birjis Qadir 4 June 1857 Lucknow
Rani Lakshmi Bai 4 June 1857 Jhansi
Kunwar Singh, Amar Singh June 12, 1857 Jagdishpur
Maulvi Ahmadullah June 1857 Faizabad
Liyakat ali June 1857 Allahabad
Khan bahadur June 1857 Bareilly


Result of 1857 rebellion

  • After the rebellion, the Company rule in India was abolished and the rule of India was placed under the British Crown.

  • The Governor General of India was now called Viceroy.

  • A 15-member Indian Council was established with the Secretary of India.

  • After the revolt of 1857, the ratio of Europeans to Indian soldiers in the army was increased on the report of the Peel Commission, established by the British Government for the re-organization of the army.

  • The government allowed the adoption of kings by abandoning the policy of conquest and merger with the Indian princely states.

Important memorable facts related to the Revolt of 1857:


  • Bahadur Shah was a symbolic leader in Delhi. The real leadership was in the hands of a council of soldiers, headed by Bakht Khan.

  • The Governor General of India was Lord Canning at the time of the Revolt of 1857.

  • This rebellion was devoid of any social option to be implemented after the authority over power.

  • In the rebellion of 1857, the rulers of Punjab, Rajputana, Hyderabad and Madras did not participate at all.

  • There were several reasons for the failure of the rebellion, the main reason being the lack of unity, organization and resources.

  • The Zamindars of Bengal helped the British to crush the rebels.

  • B. D. Savarkar, through his book India’s First Freedom Struggle, gave rise to the notion that the Revolt of 1857 was a planned national freedom struggle.

  • In fact, the Revolt of 1857 was not just a military revolt, but it included every section of the society. About one and a half million people were killed in the rebellion.


Revolution of 1857- Main causes and leaders




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