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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

History of invasions and uprisings - did Great Britain ruled globe always !!

Almost the entire History read in School curriculum was British rulers and partly Mughals prior to them .. .. other glorious kingdoms did not get their meritorious due !  .. .. – the British East India Company that came to India as traders, slowly took over parcels of kingdom, becoming the rulers, and later transferring power to British Empire.  We read, and were forced to believe that United Kingdom was the most powerful and ruled over the entire globe unscathed and unchallenged.  It was portrayal that Britain as an island may be small and isolated, but one that is supremely tough. It had the power and had invaded, conquered other large countries !!

First let us realise, what was wrongly described as Sepoy Mutiny was not  the first or the only major uprising against the British invaders – there had been many, not all of them  well recognised by those tainted historians.   Here are some of them listed below :

The First Carnatic War (1746–1748) was the Indian theatre of the War of the Austrian Succession and the first of a series of Carnatic Wars in which the British and French East India Companies vied with each other on land for control of their respective trading posts at Madras, Pondicherry, and Cuddalore, while naval forces of France and Britain engaged each other off the coast. The war set the stage for the rapid growth of French hegemony in southern India under the command of French Governor-General Joseph François Dupleix in the Second Carnatic War.

Of the many rebellions, was the ‘Paika Rebellion’,  an armed rebellion against Company rule in India in 1817. The Paikas rose in rebellion under their leader BakshiJagabandhu and projecting Lord Jagannath as the symbol of Odia unity, the rebellion quickly spread across most of Odisha before being put down by the Company's forces.

The Barrackpore mutiny was a rising of native Indian sepoys against their British officers in Barrackpore in Nov 1824. The conflict arose when the British East India Company was fighting the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) under the leadership of the Governor-General of Bengal, William Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst. The mutiny had its roots in British insensitivity towards Indian cultural sentiments, combined with negligence and poor supply arrangements, which caused growing resentment amongst the sepoys of several regiments of the Bengal Native Infantry after a long march from Mathura to Barrackpore.

The Anglo-Manipur War was an armed conflict between the British Empire and the Kingdom of Manipur that occurred in 1891.

In 1942, Andaman & Nicobar islands were occupied by the Japanese.  Until 1938 the British government used them as a penal colony for Indian and African political prisoners, who were mainly put in the notorious Cellular Jail in Port Blair. 

Just to cite a few examples where Indian fought the British but could not succeed due to various extraneous reasons.

Normandy,  is a geographical and cultural region in Northwestern Europe, roughly coextensive with the historical Duchy of Normandy.Normandy comprises mainland Normandy (a part of France) and the Channel Islands.  Normandy's name comes from the settlement of the territory by Vikings (Northmen) starting in the 9th century, and confirmed by treaty in the 10th century between King Charles III of France and the Viking jarl Rollo. England was conquered and for  150 years following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Normandy and England were linked by having the same person reign as both Duke of Normandy and King of England.

The Norman Conquest was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Norman, Breton, Flemish, and French troops, all led by the Duke of Normandy, later styled William the Conqueror.

William's claim to the English throne derived from his familial relationship with the childless Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor, who may have encouraged William's hopes for the throne. Edward died in 1066 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson. The Norwegian king HaraldHardrada invaded northern England in Sept 1066 and was victorious at the Battle of Fulford on 20 September, but Godwinson's army defeated and killed Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September. Three days later on 28 September, William's invasion force of thousands of men and hundreds of ships landed at Pevensey in Sussex in southern England. 

Although William's main rivals were gone, he still faced rebellions over the following years and was not secure on the English throne until after 1072. The lands of the resisting English elite were confiscated; some of the elite fled into exile. To control his new kingdom, William granted lands to his followers and built castles commanding military strongpoints throughout the land. Following the conquest, many Anglo-Saxons, including groups of nobles, fled the country for Scotland, Ireland, or Scandinavia.Members of King Harold Godwinson's family sought refuge in Ireland and used their bases in that country for unsuccessful invasions of England. The largest single exodus occurred in the 1070s, when a group of Anglo-Saxons in a fleet of 235 ships sailed for the Byzantine Empire.The empire became a popular destination for many English nobles and soldiers, as the Byzantines were in need of mercenaries.The English became the predominant element in the elite Varangian Guard, until then a largely Scandinavian unit, from which the emperor's bodyguard was drawn.

William I (1028 - 1087), usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes William the Bastard, was the first Norman king of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.  In 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, William invaded England, leading an army of Normans to victory over the Anglo-Saxon forces of Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings, and suppressed subsequent English revolts in what has become known as the Norman Conquest. William was the son of the unmarried Duke Robert I of Normandy and his mistress Herleva. His illegitimate status and his youth caused some difficulties for him after he succeeded his father, as did the anarchy which plagued the first years of his rule. During his childhood and adolescence, members of the Norman aristocracy battled each other, both for control of the child duke, and for their own ends. In 1047, William was able to quash a rebellion and begin to establish his authority over the duchy, a process that was not complete until about 1060. His marriage in the 1050s to Matilda of Flanders provided him with a powerful ally in the neighbouring county of Flanders.

The so called fortress of Great Britain was invaded and attacked   at least 70 times. This according to some historians, does not include the hundreds of small invasions on the south west coast, or Wales, that plagued many a small town.  Enemies arriving from Africa, America and - perhaps unsurprisingly - France have all landed on Britain's shores and attempted to invade, with varying degrees of success.Everyone knows about the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and Germany's occupation of Guernsey during World War II.

History is always interesting and teaches many a lessons.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
28th Sept. 2022.

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