Sepoy Rebellion

Also known as the Indian Mutiny or the Sepoy Revolt

Revolt Started by a Rifle

Enfield rifles were issued to many Indian soldiers, also called sepoys. The Enfield, like most rifles at the time, required gun powder to fire, which was kept in a paper cartridge.This cartridge was sealed with a layer of pig and cow lard that one had to bite into. This was an insult to both majority religions. It is forbidden for Muslims to eat pig and, in Hinduism, the cow is sacred. Those who refused to use these rifles were imprisoned for long periods of time.

Other Causes

There were other causes the spurred this revolt as well. Even if they were born into a high caste, Indian soldiers couldn't be promoted past a certain rank. Also, when the British East India Company took over India, they outlawed many Hindu traditions, such as widow burning, and tried to get Indians to convert to Christianity. Only Christian converts were allowed to inherit property. These changes and moderisations were viewed as an attack on Indian traditions. In addition, all Indian soldier were required to serve abroad for months, away from their home and families. More often than not, they were forced to fight their fellow Indians and the British East India Company instigated high taxes on the native people. In addition, Britsih people, including Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, and Charles Dickens, author of Oliver and A Christmas Carol, held shockingly racist views upon the Indian people. The entire national attitude towards them, for the most part, considered them a lower people.

Did You Know?

  • During the seige of Delhi, the combined British and Indian casualties were over 3,000.
A map showing the allegences of various Indian States during the Sepoy Revolt

During the Rebellion

On May 10, 1857, the European officers in charge of many imprisoned Indian soldiers were shot. The soldiers were freed and they all marched to Delhi, where there were no European troops. The restored the former emperor, Bahadar Shah II, back to power, and started gaining land back from the British with help from the local troops. There were no strong military leaders (as even those capable were kept at a low rank) and eventual involvement from the British lead to a bloody, six-month-long struggle, ending when the rebellion leaders were tied to canons and executed.

Did You Know?

  • After this rebellion, the Indian subcontinent became an official colony of England as opposed to the East India Company.
A painting showing one of the battles of the Sepoy Rebellion.


"Sepoy Revolt." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2013. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Elde, Maria. "The Sepoy Rebellion of India." EB Chron: The Web Chronology Project. N.p., 12 Sept. 2003. Web. 24 Apr. 2013 <>.

Patel, Nilesh. "Sepoy Mutiny of 1857." Postcolonial Studies at Emory. Emory University, Spring 1998. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. Last edited in June 2012. <>.

Gandhi, Rajmohan. A Tale of Two Revolts. London: Haus, 2011. Print.