Decline of the Mughal Empire and Uttar Pradesh

  • Aurangzeb followed narrow and short-sighted policies of religious fundamentalism during his reign. This hindered the growth of the Mughal Empire and ultimatel led to its over the collapse. The empire was so shattered that in a mere span of Battle of 50 years, eight Mughal emperors were crowned. The tenure of these later Mughal emperors could not exceed more than a few years in most cases. They were also deprived of the support of the masses which their predecessors enjoyed and relied on for their administration.
  • Such an unpopular and unstable administration culminated into multiple divisions and revolts in the Mughal Empire. The present region of Uttar Pradesh had been divided into five independent states by 1757 AD. These states were as follows:
    • Regions North of Bareilly and Meerut were ruled by SardarNajib Khan.
    • The Meerut and Doab regions known as Ruhelkhand were ruled by the Rohilla ruler Rehmat Khan.
    • The Middle Doab region ruled by the Nawab of Farukhabad.
    • Present day Ayodhya (Faizabad), Lucknow, Sultanpur, Jaunpur, Barabanki and Shravasti district were ruled by the Nawab of Awadh, Shujauddaula.
    • The districts of Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalaun, Chitrakoot, and others in Bundelkhand were ruled by the Marathas.
later mughals

British Control over Uttar Pradesh

  • The regional states were unable to maintain the status quo for long. Their tendency to establish hegemony over the others paved the way for British rule.
  • The Third Battle of Panipat (1761 ) fought between Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdaii and the Marathas exposed the weaknesses of local administration and the military structure.
  • The Awadh Nawab Shujauddaulah, Najib Khan (ruler of Bareilly Meerut), Rehmat Khan ( Ruhelkhand), Saadullah Khan and a few others supported Abdali in this battle.
  • Later on, the defeat of the joint forces of the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, the Nawab of Awadh Shujauddaula and the Nawab of Bengal Mir Qasim against the British East India Company in the Battle of Buxar in 1764 proved to be a decisive turn in Indian history.
  • After suffering a humiliating defeat in the Battle of Buxar, the Mughal Emperor and the Nawab of Awadh became puppets in the hands of the British. Mir Qasim had to live his life in retreat. As a last resort to restore his kingdom and his prestige, the Nawab of Awadh sought help from the Marathas in Bundelkhand. However, the British were able to defeat the joint forces of the Marathas the and Nawab in Jajmau near Kanpur. The British also compelled the King of Benares Chet Singh to accept their supremacy.
  • After Shujauddaula, Asafuddaula became Nawab and then, in 1797, Asafs brother Saadat Ali became Nawab. Saadat Ali handed over the regions of Prayagraj, Gorakhpur, Ruhelkhand, Kanpur, Fatehpur, Etawah, Etah, South Mirzapur and Kumaon to the British in return fora security guarantee by them. Aftersome time, the Nawab of Farukhabad also ceded his territory to the British.
  • The British took control of Aligarh, Meerut, Agra, Jhansi, Banda, Hamirpur, Jalaun and all nearby regions in 1803 after defeating the Marathas. This way the entire area of the present state of Uttar Pradesh came under the control of the British.
  • The entire area of Uttar Pradesh remained under the Bengal Presidency for a long period. It was ruled by the Governor General of Bengal. In 1833, this region got a separate identity by being reorganised as the Agra Presidency. As a result, the region was governed by a new Governor General.

Revolution of 1857 and Uttar Pradesh

  • The Indian people’s first fight for freedom against British rule began around a hundred years after the advent of British supremacy.The revolt began on 10th May 1857 from Meerut. However, the scheme of the revolt was prepared long before in Bithoor, near Kanpur.
    • Some historians claim that the scheme of the 1857 Revolt was prepared by Nana Sahib (Dhondu Pant) along with Azimullah Khan in Bithoor. The date for its commencement was decided on 31st May 1857. However, some circumstances led to its eruption on an earlier date.
  • The 1857 Revolt began with the refusal of Indian sepoys (both Hindus and Muslims) to open cartridges greased with cow or pig fat. These cartridges needed to be torn open by one’s mouth. British repression of the discontent of Indian sepoys by force turned the situation explosive.
  • On 29 March, a sepoy of the 34th native infantry regiment, Mangal Pandey, a native of Balia, fired upon his sergeant major and gave a call to other sepoys to revolt.
    • The British officers executed Mangal Pandey and one other sepoy for defying their orders. Due to the revolt, the 34th regiment had to be disbanded. The Lucknow regiment was also disbanded after a similar revolt.
    • When 85 out of the 90 sepoys of the 3rd cavalry regiment defied orders to open the greased cartridge, they were court-martialled and given long-term jail sentences. The British humiliated the jailed sepoys by stripping them naked. The next day, the remaining sepoys also revolted and freed their jailed colleagues.
  • Rebel sepoys fired on their officers and marched to Delhi. They captured Delhi on 12th May and declared Bahadur Shah Zafar II as the Emperor. Soon, the revolt had spread to Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly, Jhansi,Varanasi and Prayagraj (Allahabad).
  • Nana Sahib along with Tatya Tope challenged the British in Kanpur and Rani Laxmibai took leadership of the revolt in Jhansi. Rebels were led in Lucknow by the Begum of Awadh, Hazrat Mahal. Many native rulers remained neutral, while some helped the British in crushing the revolt.
  • The rebels captured Kanpur on 5th June 1857 and declared Nana Sahib as the Peshwa. The British resident in Lucknow Henry Lawrence was killed by the rebels. Rani Laxmibai was declared as the ruler of Jhansi. Khan Bahadur Khan captured power in Bareilly as Nawab Najim.
  • British prowess was deeply shaken by losing control of Delhi. They captured Delhi again by calling reinforcements from Punjab. Bahadur Shah was arrested and deported to Rangoon. The British officer John Nicholson was killed in this battle. The British recaptured Kanpur on 6 December 1857 and Lucknow in March 1858.
    • Tatya Tope managed to escape from Kanpur and joined Rani Laxmibai in Jhansi.
  • British forces captured Jhansi on 3 April 1858 under the command of Hugh Rose.
    • Rani Laxmibai and he associate Tatya Tope escaped to Gwalior. They were again attacked by the British in Gwalior in June 1858.
    • Rani Laxmibai was martyred on 17 June fighting the British near a wall of the fort.
    • A vassal of the Maharaja of Gwalior (Scindia) captured Tatya Tope and handed him over to the British. Tatya Tope was later executed by hanging.
  • The British were able to recapture Bareilly, Benares and Prayagraj by May-June 1858. After being defeated, Begam Hazrat Mehal, who led the revolt in Lucknow and Shahjahapur, took refuge in Nepal. The revolt was completely suppressed by July 1858.

Prominent Centres and Leaders of the Revolt of 1857 in Uttar Pradesh

CentreIndian LeaderBritish Leader
Begum Hazrat Mehal, Birjis Qadir
Nana Sahib, Tatya Tope
Rani Laxmibai
Maulvi LiaqatAli
Maulvi Ahmadullah
Khan Bahadur Khan
Devi Singh
Tatya Tope
Babu VirKunwar Singh
Gazadhar Singh
Collin Campbell
General Havelock
General Hugh Rose
Colonel Neil
Colonel Neil
Collin Campbell
Colonel Neil
Colonel Neil
General Reynard
William Taylor and
Vincent Arthur

Outcome of Revolt of 1857

  • The Revolt of 1857 brought significant changes in British policies, local administrative structure and British attitude towards India. After the revolt, the British Crown took over administrative control from the East India Company.
  • A grand Durbar was held in Allahabad on 1 November 1858. Here, Lord Canning read the proclamation of the British monarch Victoria that now onwards India will be administered through a Secretary of State and a 15-member council.
  • A member of the British cabinet will be appointed as the Secretary of State who will be responsible to the British cabinet. The Delhi division was removed from the North-western Province and the capital was shifted to Allahabad from Agra.
  • Under the Act of 1858, the post of Governor General was abolished in India and the post of Viceroy was created. The Last Governor General Lord Canning was made the first Viceroy of India. The British gave up the policy of territorial expansion and promised the native rulers to protect their rights and prestige. The British also recognised native princes’ right of adoption in the absence of any natural heir.
  • Taluqdars of Awadh were reinstated and their lands were given back to them. The British had understood that they needed local kings and Zamindars to act as pillars of the British Empire.
  • The proportion of British soldiers was increased in the British Indian Army and they were provided better weapons. Indians were divided into martial and non-martial races based on religious, regional and racial lines with the Sikh regiment, Jat regiment, Gorkha regiment, and so on, created.
  • It was emphasised that British officers would occupy all the top posts in the administration. The venue of Indian Civil Services( ICS) was kept in London. The pattern of the ICS examination was made such that Indians would not be able to join in large numbers. As a result, the proportion of Indians in the ICS remained quite low until 1920 AD.

Revolts after the 1857 Revolt

Peasant revolts

  • The Revolt of 1857 was completely suppressed by the British. But it became the foundation and inspiration to future revolts. Many revolts occurred post-1857 in different parts of the country. Among these revolts, peasant revolts of Uttar Pradesh are important.
  • Uttar Pradesh Kisan Sabha was formed in February 1918 to address the issues of the peasants. The UP Kisan Sabha got support from Madan Mohan Malviya, Gaurishankar Mishra and lndra Narayan Dwivedi. It aimed to organise peasants and create awareness among them.
  • Pratapgarh, Jaunpur and Allahabad were the centres of this movement. More than 400 branches of the Kisan Sabha were established. After Jhinguri Pal Singh and Durgapal, Baba Ramchandra took the task of its expansion.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru also supported the UP Kisan Sabha. When the Congress started the Non-cooperation Movement (1920-1922 AD), some differences arose among the peasants about the working of the Kisan Sabha. Baba Ramchandra created a new organisation named the Awadh Kisan Sabha.
  • On the other hand, peasants of Sitapur, Hardoi and Behraich started the Eka Movement under the leadership of Madari Pasi and Sehdav. The movement got support from some Zamindarsas well. This movement also ended with the end of Non-cooperation Movement.

Aligarh Movement

  • This was led by Sayyad Ahmed Khan, a supporter of British rule. He helped the British during the 1857 Revolt while working in judicial services. Sayyad Ahmed started the ‘Aligarh Mohammedan Anglo Oriental Schoolin 1857 to provide modern education to Muslims. It was converted into the ‘Aligarh Muslim University’ in 1920.
  • Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan tried to get rid of evils in Muslim society. He opposed practices of slavery and Piri-Muridi (becoming a devotee of Pir by considering him Guru ). He founded the scientific society in 1865 and got many English books translated into Urdu.
  • He published magazines named Rajbhakt Musaiman and Tehjib-uI-Akhlaq. His other associates in the Aligarh movement were: Maulana Shibli Nomani, Altaf Hussain, NazirAhmed and Chirag Ali.

Deoband Movement

  • This movement was started in 1886-1887 to bring cultural awareness, morality and prosperity among Muslims.
  • Its main centre was Deoband in Saharanpur district. Its founders Muhammad Qasim Nanautvi and Rashid Ahmed Gangohi started Islamic education centres known as Madarasas.
  • English education and Western culture were prohibited and Islamic education based on Quran and Hadis was provided in these Madrasas.
  • The Deoband gave a call of Jihad against foreign rule in India.They also opposed the Aligarh movement, started by Sayyad Ahmad.
  • Shibli Nomani, a staunch supporter of the Deoband, started ‘Darul Ulum’ and ‘Navdatalma’ in 1884-1885 in Lucknow.

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