This Day in History – January 1st, 1877

Victoria_Disraeli_cartoonThough the Mughal dynasty ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent from the 16th century onwards, they simply used the title Badishah (Badishah or badshah means “Great King” or King of Kings, somewhat close to the title of emperor) without geographic designation. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the rebel sepoys seized Delhi and proclaimed the Mughal Bahadur Shah II as Badishah-e-Hind, or Emperor of India. He had little or no control over the rebellion. The British crushed the rebellion, captured Bahadur Shah and exiled him to Rangoon, Burma in 1858, whereupon the Mughal dynasty came to an end.

After the Mughal Emperor was deposed by the British East India Company, and after the company itself was dissolved, the title “Empress of India” (or Kaiser-i-Hind, a form coined by the orientalist G.W. Leitner in a deliberate attempt to dissociate British imperial rule from that of preceding dynasties) was taken by Queen Victoria from May 1st, 1876, but it was not until January 1st, 1877 that she was proclaimed Empress of India.

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