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The Sepoy Mutiny: Too little, Too late

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The Sepoy Mutiny: Too little, Too late

To help it administer the regions under its control, The East India Company relied on Sepoys, Indians who worked for the Brits, mostly as soldiers. By the mid-1800s, the Sepoys were becoming increas­ingly alarmed with the company's insatiable appetite for eating up larger and larger chunks of the subcontinent. What's more, the company wasn't very good about respecting the local customs of the Sepoys, and respected neither Muslim nor Hindu religious customs. When, in 1857, the Sepoys learned that their bullet cartridges (which had to be bitten off in order to load into the rifle) were greased with pork and beef fat, thus violating both Muslim and Hindu dietary laws, the Sepoys re­belled. The fighting continued for nearly two years, but the rebellion failed miserably. The consequences were huge. In 1858, the British parliament stepped in, took control of India away from the East India Company, and made all of India a crown colony. The last of the Mughal rulers, Bahadur Shah II, was sent into exile, thereby ending the Mughal Empire for good. Nearly 300 mil­lion Indians were suddenly British subjects (that's as many people as currently living in the United States). By 1877, Queen Victoria was recognized as Empress of India.

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