How did the government of Great Britain justify the Crimean War and the suppression of the Indian Mutiny?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Crimean War was a response to the Russian occupation of the Danubian principalities (modern-day Romania) in 1853. The Turks declared war against Russia, and the French and British declared war on Russia after the Russians destroyed a Turkish fleet on the Black Sea. The British justification for the war was that they had to protect Turkish sovereignty against the Russians. However, the real motivations of the British were to check Russian power and reduce the Russian imperial interest in the Middle East. In the end, Russia asked for peace terms in 1856, and the Black Sea became neutralized.

The Indian Mutiny, also called the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, began when the Sepoys, soldiers in the Bengali Army, revolted against the use of British cartridges for their rifles because they contained pork and beef fat. The beef fat was offensive to Hindus, while the pork fat offended Muslims, and a large-scale revolt ensued that was brutally crushed by the British. Atrocities were committed on both sides.

The British justified their suppression of the mutiny, which was in part a reaction against British rule in India, by characterizing the Sepoys as hideous animals and by vilifying them. In addition, the British press portrayed both Hindus and Muslims as belonging to violent and demonic religions. The Indian massacres of British civilians were used as evidence of the Indians' demonic and brutal natures. You can read accounts of the British coverage of the revolt—coverage that never questioned the rightness of British imperialism or the supposedly inferior nature of the Indians.