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Margaret Fuller
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/20/20

Margaret Fuller
The only known daguerreotype of Margaret Fuller (by John Plumbe, 1846)
Born: Sarah Margaret Fuller, May 23, 1810, Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: July 19, 1850 (aged 40), Off Fire Island, New York, U.S.
Occupation: Teacher; Journalist; Critic
Literary movement: Transcendentalism

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli (May 23, 1810 – July 19, 1850), commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, editor, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States.

Born Sarah Margaret Fuller in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she was given a substantial early education by her father, Timothy Fuller, who died in 1835 due to cholera.[1] She later had more formal schooling and became a teacher before, in 1839, she began overseeing her Conversations series: classes for women meant to compensate for their lack of access to higher education.[2] She became the first editor of the transcendentalist journal The Dial in 1840, which was the year her writing career started to succeed[3], before joining the staff of the New York Tribune under Horace Greeley in 1844. By the time she was in her 30s, Fuller had earned a reputation as the best-read person in New England, male or female, and became the first woman allowed to use the library at Harvard College. Her seminal work, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, was published in 1845. A year later [1846], she was sent to Europe for the Tribune as its first female correspondent. She soon became involved with the revolutions in Italy and allied herself with Giuseppe Mazzini.

The first contact with Theosophy in Italy may be traced to the frequent presence of H. P. BLAVATSKY there, where she undoubtedly met many persons who later became members of the Theosophical Society. She visited Trieste, Venice, Rome, Bologna, Bari, and Naples. She is reported to have been with the Italian patriots Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82) and Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-72); the latter she apparently met in London in the year 1851. She claimed to have participated with volunteers at Garibaldi’s battle of Mentana (in an attempt to capture Rome) in the year 1867 (Cranston and Williams, p. 79).

-- Theosophy in Italy, by Theosopedia

She had a relationship with Giovanni Ossoli, with whom she had a child. All three members of the family died in a shipwreck off Fire Island, New York, as they were traveling to the United States in 1850. Fuller's body was never recovered.

Fuller was an advocate of women's rights and, in particular, women's education and the right to employment. She revolted against Boston-Cambridge’s learned professions because she was barred from entering as a girl.[4] Fuller, along with Coleridge, wanted to stay free of what she called the “strong mental oder” of female teachers.[5] She also encouraged many other reforms in society, including prison reform and the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Many other advocates for women's rights and feminism, including Susan B. Anthony, cite Fuller as a source of inspiration. Many of her contemporaries, however, were not supportive, including her former friend Harriet Martineau. She said that Fuller was a talker rather than an activist. Shortly after Fuller's death, her importance faded; the editors who prepared her letters to be published, believing her fame would be short-lived, censored or altered much of her work before publication.


Early life and family

Birthplace and childhood home of Margaret Fuller

Sarah Margaret Fuller was born on May 23, 1810,[6] in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, the first child of Congressman Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane Fuller. She was named after her paternal grandmother and her mother, but by age nine she dropped "Sarah" and insisted on being called "Margaret."[7] The Margaret Fuller House, in which she was born, is still standing. Her father taught her to read and write at the age of three and a half, shortly after the couple's second daughter, Julia Adelaide, died at 14 months old.[8] He offered her an education as rigorous as any boy's at the time and forbade her to read the typical feminine fare of the time, such as etiquette books and sentimental novels.[9] He incorporated Latin into his teaching shortly after the birth of the couple's son Eugene in May 1815, and soon Margaret was translating simple passages from Virgil.[10] Later in life Margaret blamed her father's exacting love and his valuation of accuracy and precision for her childhood nightmares and sleepwalking.[11] During the day Margaret spent time with her mother, who taught her household chores and sewing.[12] In 1817, her brother William Henry Fuller was born, and her father was elected as a representative in the United States Congress. For the next eight years, he spent four to six months a year in Washington, D.C.[13] At age ten, Fuller wrote a cryptic note which her father saved: "On 23 May 1810, was born one foredoomed to sorrow and pain, and like others to have misfortunes."[14]

Fuller began her formal education at the Port School in Cambridgeport in 1819[11] before attending the Boston Lyceum for Young Ladies from 1821 to 1822.[15] In 1824, she was sent to the School for Young Ladies in Groton, on the advice of aunts and uncles, though she resisted the idea at first.[16] While she was there, Timothy Fuller did not run for re-election, in order to help John Quincy Adams with his presidential campaign in 1824; he hoped Adams would return the favor with a governmental appointment.[17] On June 17, 1825, Fuller attended the ceremony at which the American Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument 50 years after the battle.[18] 15-year-old Fuller introduced herself to Lafayette in a letter which concluded: "Should we both live, and it is possible to a female, to whole the avenues of glory are seldom accessible, I will recal my name to your recollection." Early on, Fuller sensed herself to be a significant person and thinker.[19] Fuller left the Groton school after two years and returned home at 16.[20] At home she studied the classics and trained herself in several modern languages and read world literature.[21] By this time, she realized she did not fit in with other young women her age. She wrote, "I have felt that I was not born to the common womanly lot."[22] Eliza Farrar, wife of Harvard professor John Farrar and author of The Young Lady's Friend (1836), attempted to train her in feminine etiquette until the age of 20,[23] but was never wholly successful.[24]

Early career

Fuller was an avid reader. By the time she was in her 30s, she had earned a reputation as the best-read person, male or female, in New England.[25] She used her knowledge to give private lessons based on the teaching style of Elizabeth Palmer Peabody.[26] Fuller hoped to earn her living through journalism and translation; her first published work, a response to historian George Bancroft, appeared in November 1834 in the North American Review.[27] When she was 23, her father's law practice failed and he moved the family to a farm in Groton.[28] On February 20, 1835, Frederic Henry Hedge and James Freeman Clarke asked her to contribute to each of their periodicals. Clarke helped her publish her first literary review in the Western Messenger in June: criticisms of recent biographies on George Crabbe and Hannah More.[29] In the fall of that year, she suffered a terrible migraine with a fever that lasted nine days. Fuller continued to experience such headaches throughout her life.[30] While she was still recovering, her father died of cholera on October 2, 1835.[31] She was deeply affected by his death: "My father's image follows me constantly", she wrote.[32] She vowed to step in as the head of the family and take care of her widowed mother and younger siblings.[33] Her father had not left a will, and two of her uncles gained control of his property and finances, later assessed at $18,098.15, and the family had to rely on them for support. Humiliated by the way her uncles were treating the family, Fuller wrote that she regretted being "of the softer sex, and never more than now".[34]

The Greene Street School where Fuller taught from 1837 to 1839

Around this time, Fuller was hoping to prepare a biography of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but felt that she could work on it only if she traveled to Europe. Her father's death and her sudden responsibility for her family caused her to abandon this idea.[27] In 1836, Fuller was given a job teaching at Bronson Alcott's Temple School in Boston,[35] where she remained for a year. She then accepted an invitation to teach under Hiram Fuller (no relation) at the Greene Street School in Providence, Rhode Island, in April 1837 with the unusually high salary of $1,000 per year.[36] Her family sold the Groton farm and Fuller moved with them to Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.[37] On November 6, 1839, Fuller held the first of her Conversations,[38] discussions among local women who met in the Boston home of the Peabodys.[39] Fuller intended to compensate for the lack of women's education[40] with discussions and debates focused on subjects including the fine arts, history, mythology, literature, and nature.[41] Serving as the "nucleus of conversation", Fuller also intended to answer the "great questions" facing women and encourage women "to question, to define, to state and examine their opinions".[42] She asked her participants, "What were we born to do? How shall we do it? Which so few ever propose to themselves 'till their best years are gone by".[43] In Conversations, Fuller was finally finding equal intellectual companions among her female contemporaries.[44] A number of significant figures in the women's rights movement attended these gatherings, including Sophia Dana Ripley, Caroline Sturgis,[45] and Maria White Lowell.[38]

The Dial

In October 1839, Ralph Waldo Emerson was seeking an editor for his transcendentalist journal The Dial. After several declined the position, he offered it to Fuller, referring to her as "my vivacious friend."[46] Emerson had met Fuller in Cambridge in 1835; of that meeting, he admitted: "she made me laugh more than I liked." The next summer, Fuller spent two weeks at Emerson's home in Concord.[47] Fuller accepted Emerson's offer to edit The Dial on October 20, 1839, and began work in the first week of 1840.[48] She edited the journal from 1840 to 1842, though her promised annual salary of $200 was never paid.[49] Because of her role, she was soon recognized as one of the most important figures of the transcendental movement and was invited to George Ripley's Brook Farm, a communal experiment.[50] Fuller never officially joined the community but was a frequent visitor, often spending New Year's Eve there.[51] In the summer of 1843, she traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo, New York;[52] while there, she interacted with several Native Americans, including members of the Ottawa and the Chippewa tribes.[53] She reported her experiences in a book called Summer on the Lakes,[52] which she completed writing on her 34th birthday in 1844.[54] The critic Evert Augustus Duyckinck called it "the only genuine book, I can think of, this season."[55] Fuller used the library at Harvard College to do research on the Great Lakes region,[52] and became the first woman allowed to use Harvard's library.[56]

Fuller's "The Great Lawsuit" was written in serial form for The Dial. She originally intended to name the work The Great Lawsuit: Man 'versus' Men, Woman 'versus' Women;[57] when it was expanded and published independently in 1845, it was entitled Woman in the Nineteenth Century. After completing it, she wrote to a friend: "I had put a good deal of my true self in it, as if, I suppose I went away now, the measure of my footprint would be left on earth."[58] The work discussed the role that women played in American democracy and Fuller's opinion on possibilities for improvement. It has since become one of the major documents in American feminism.[59] It is considered the first of its kind in the United States.[58][60] Soon after the American publication of Woman in the Nineteenth Century, it was pirated and published by H.G. Clarke in England.[61][62] Despite never receiving commissions due to a lack of international copyright laws,[62][63] Fuller was "very glad to find it will be read by women" around the world.[64]

New York Tribune

Engraving of Margaret Fuller

Fuller left The Dial in 1844 in part because of ill health but also because of her disappointment with the publication's dwindling subscription list.[65] She moved to New York that autumn and joined Horace Greeley's New York Tribune as a literary critic, becoming the first full-time book reviewer in American journalism[66] and, by 1846, the publication's first female editor.[67] Her first article, a review of a collection of essays by Emerson, appeared in the December 1, 1844, issue.[68] At this time, the Tribune had some 50,000 subscribers and Fuller earned $500 a year for her work.[69] In addition to American books, she reviewed foreign literature, concerts, lectures, and art exhibits.[70] During her four years with the publication, she published more than 250 columns, most signed with a "*" as a byline.[69] In these columns, Fuller discussed topics ranging from art and literature to political and social issues such as the plight of slaves and women's rights.[71] She also published poetry; her poems, styled after the work of Emerson, do not have the same intellectual vigor as her criticism.[72]

Around this time, she was also involved in a scandal involving fellow literary critic Edgar Allan Poe, who had been carrying on a public flirtation with the married poet Frances Sargent Osgood.[73] Another poet, Elizabeth F. Ellet, had become enamored of Poe and jealous of Osgood[74] and suggested the relationship between Poe and Osgood was more than an innocent flirtation.[75] Osgood then sent Fuller and Anne Lynch Botta to Poe's cottage on her behalf to request that he return the personal letters she had sent him. Angered by their interference, Poe called them "Busy-bodies".[76] A public scandal erupted and continued until Osgood's estranged husband Samuel Stillman Osgood stepped in and threatened to sue Ellet.[77]

Assignment in Europe

The house in Rieti, Italy where Margaret Fuller lived and gave birth to her son (the one on the left side of the arch, not where the plaque has been placed).

In 1846 the New York Tribune sent Fuller to Europe, specifically England and Italy, as its first female foreign correspondent.[78] She traveled from Boston to Liverpool in August on the Cambria, a vessel that used both sail and steam to make the journey in ten days and sixteen hours.[79] Over the next four years she provided the Tribune with thirty-seven reports.[80] She interviewed many prominent writers including George Sand and Thomas Carlyle—whom she found disappointing because of his reactionary politics, among other things. George Sand had previously been an idol of hers, but Fuller was disappointed when Sand chose not to run for the French National Assembly, saying that women were not ready to vote or to hold political office.[81] Fuller was also given a letter of introduction to Elizabeth Barrett by Cornelius Mathews, but did not meet her at that time, because Barrett had just eloped with Robert Browning.[82]

In England in the spring of 1846, she met Giuseppe Mazzini, who had been in exile there from Italy since 1837.[83] Fuller also met the Roman patriot Giovanni Angelo Ossoli, a marquis belonging to a noble family not particularly rich (but not poor) who worked as an employee at an uncle's commercial office and at the same time volunteered in the Civic Guard corps (then National Guard).[84] Fuller and Ossoli moved in together in Florence, Italy, likely before they were married, though whether they ever married is uncertain.[21][85][86] Fuller was originally opposed to marrying him, in part because of the difference in their religions; she was Protestant and he was Roman Catholic.[87] Emerson speculated that the couple was "married perhaps in Oct. Nov. or Dec" of 1847, though he did not explain his reasoning.[88] Biographers have speculated that the couple married on April 4, 1848, to celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting[89] but one biographer provided evidence they first met on April 1 during the ceremony called "Lavanda degli Altari" (Altars Lavage).[90] By the time the couple moved to Florence, they were referred to as husband and wife, though it is unclear if any formal ceremony took place.[91] It seems certain that at the time their child was born, they were not married. By New Year's Day 1848, she suspected that she was pregnant but kept it from Ossoli for several weeks.[92] Their child, Angelo Eugene Philip Ossoli, was born in early September 1848[93] and nicknamed Angelino. The couple was very secretive about their relationship but, after Angelino suffered an unnamed illness, they became less so.[94] Fuller informed her mother about Ossoli and Angelino in August 1849 in a letter that explained that she had kept silent so as not to upset her "but it has become necessary, on account of the child, for us to live publicly and permanently together."[94] Her mother's response suggests that she was aware that the couple was not legally married.[95] She was nevertheless happy for her daughter, writing: "I send my first kiss with my fervent blessing to my grandson."[96]

Plaque placed in 2010 on the house in Rieti

The couple supported Giuseppe Mazzini's movement for the establishment of a Roman Republic proclaimed on February 9, 1849 after it had been voted by the Constituent Assembly, elected by male universal suffrage in January 1849. The fundamental decree of the Roman Republic stated: "Art. 1. - The Pope has lapsed in fact and in law from the temporal government of the Roman State. Art. 2. —- The Roman Pontiff will have all the necessary guarantees for independence in the exercise of his spiritual power. Art. 3 - The form of the government of the Roman state will be pure democracy, and will take on the glorious name of Roman Republic. Art. 4. - The Roman Republic will have with the rest of Italy the relations required by the common nationality." The Pope resisted this statement and asked for international intervention to be restored in his temporal power, and France was the first to respond to his appeal and put Rome under siege. Ossoli fought on the ramparts of the Vatican walls while Fuller volunteered at two supporting hospitals.[97] [98] When the patriots they supported met defeat,[99] they believed safer to flee Rome and decided to move to Florence and in 1850 to the United States. [100] In Florence they finally met Elizabeth Barrett Browning.[101] Fuller used her experience in Italy to begin a book about the history of the Roman Republic—a work she may have begun as early as 1847—[102] and hoped to find an American publisher after a British one rejected it.[103] She believed the work would be her most important, referring to it in a March 1849 letter to her brother Richard as, "something good which may survive my troubled existence."[104]


In the beginning of 1850, Fuller wrote to a friend: "It has long seemed that in the year 1850 I should stand on some important plateau in the ascent of life ... I feel however no marked and important change as yet."[105] Also that year, Fuller wrote: "I am absurdly fearful and various omens have combined to give me a dark feeling ... It seems to me that my future upon earth will soon close ... I have a vague expectation of some crisis—I know not what".[106] A few days after writing this, Fuller, Ossoli, and their child began a five-week return voyage to the United States aboard the ship Elizabeth, an American merchant freighter carrying cargo that included mostly marble from Carrara.[107] They set sail on May 17.[108] At sea, the ship's captain, Seth Hasty, died of smallpox.[109] Angelino contracted the disease and recovered.[110]

Possibly because of the inexperienced first mate, now serving as captain, the ship slammed into a sandbar less than 100 yards from Fire Island, New York, on July 19, 1850, around 3:30 a.m.[111] Many of the other passengers and crew members abandoned ship. The first mate, Mr. Bangs, urged Fuller and Ossoli to try to save themselves and their child as he himself jumped overboard,[112] later claiming he believed Fuller had wanted to be left behind to die.[113] On the beach, people arrived with carts hoping to salvage any cargo washed ashore. None made any effort to rescue the crew or passengers of the Elizabeth,[114] though they were only 50 yards from shore.[113] Most of those aboard attempted to swim to shore, leaving Fuller and Ossoli and Angelino some of the last on the ship. Ossoli was thrown overboard by a massive wave and, after the wave had passed, a crewman who witnessed the event said Fuller could not be seen.[115]

Henry David Thoreau traveled to New York, at the urging of Emerson, to search the shore but neither Fuller's body nor that of her husband was ever recovered. Angelino's had washed ashore.[116] Few of their possessions were found other than some of the child's clothes and a few letters.[117] Fuller's manuscript on the rise and fall of the 1849 Roman Republic, which she described as, "what is most valuable to me if I live of any thing",[118] was also lost.[119] A memorial to Fuller was erected on the beach at Fire Island in 1901 through the efforts of Julia Ward Howe.[120] A cenotaph to Fuller and Ossoli, under which Angelino is buried, is in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.[121] The inscription reads, in part:[122]

By birth a child of New England
By adoption a citizen of Rome
By genius belonging to the world

Within a week after her death, Horace Greeley suggested to Emerson that a biography of Fuller, to be called Margaret and Her Friends, be prepared quickly "before the interest excited by her sad decease has passed away".[123] Many of her writings were soon collected together by her brother Arthur as At Home and Abroad (1856) and Life Without and Life Within (1858). He also edited a new version of Woman in the Nineteenth Century in 1855.[124] In February 1852, The Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli was published,[125] edited by Emerson, James Freeman Clarke, and William Henry Channing, though much of the work was censored or reworded. It left out details about her love affair with Ossoli and an earlier relationship with a man named James Nathan.[126] The three editors, believing the public interest in Fuller would be short-lived and that she would not survive as a historical figure, were not concerned about accuracy.[127] For a time, it was the best-selling biography of the decade and went through thirteen editions before the end of the century.[125] The book focused on her personality rather than her work. Detractors of the book ignored her status as a critic and instead criticized her personal life and her "unwomanly" arrogance.[128]

Since her death, the majority of Margaret Fuller’s extant papers are kept at Houghton Library at Harvard and the Boston Public Library.[129] She was also voted sixth in a mass magazine poll to select twenty American women for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at University Heights in New York City in 1902.[130]


Fuller was an early proponent of feminism and especially believed in providing education to women.[131] Once equal educational rights were afforded women, she believed, women could push for equal political rights as well.[132] She advocated that women seek any employment they wish, rather than catering to the stereotypical "feminine" roles of the time, such as teaching. She once said, "If you ask me what office women should fill, I reply—any ... let them be sea captains if you will. I do not doubt that there are women well fitted for such an office".[133] She had great confidence in all women but doubted that a woman would produce a lasting work of art or literature in her time[134] and disliked the popular female poets of her time.[135] Fuller also warned women to be careful about marriage and not to become dependent on their husbands. As she wrote, "I wish woman to live, first for God's sake. Then she will not make an imperfect man for her god and thus sink to idolatry. Then she will not take what is not fit for her from a sense of weakness and poverty".[57] By 1832, she had made a personal commitment to stay single.[136] Fuller also questioned a definitive line between male and female: "There is no wholly masculine man ... no purely feminine" but that both were present in any individual.[71] She suggested also that within a female were two parts: the intellectual side (which she called the Minerva) and the "lyrical" or "Femality" side (the Muse).[137] She admired the work of Emanuel Swedenborg, who believed men and women shared "an angelic ministry", as she wrote, as well as Charles Fourier, who placed "Woman on an entire equality with Man".[60] Unlike several contemporary women writers, including "Mrs. Sigourney" and "Mrs. Stowe", she was familiarly referred to in a less formal manner as "Margaret".[138]

Fuller also advocated reform at all levels of society, including prison. In October 1844, she visited Sing Sing and interviewed the women prisoners, even staying overnight in the facility.[139] Sing Sing was developing a more humane system for its women inmates, many of whom were prostitutes.[140] Fuller was also concerned about the homeless and those living in dire poverty, especially in New York.[141] She also admitted that, though she was raised to believe "that the Indian obstinately refused to be civilized", her travels in the American West made her realize that the white man unfairly treated the Native Americans; she considered Native Americans an important part of American heritage.[142] She also supported the rights of African-Americans, referring to "this cancer of slavery",[143] and suggested that those who were interested in the abolition movement follow the same reasoning when considering the rights of women: "As the friend of the Negro assumes that one man cannot by right hold another in bondage, so should the Friend of Woman assume that Man cannot by right lay even well-meant restrictions on Woman."[144] She suggested that those who spoke against the emancipation of slaves were similar to those who did not support the emancipation of Italy.[145]

Fuller agreed with the transcendental concern for the psychological well-being of the individual,[146] though she was never comfortable being labeled a transcendentalist.[147] Even so, she wrote, if being labeled a transcendentalist means "that I have an active mind frequently busy with large topics I hope it is so".[148] She criticized people such as Emerson, however, for focusing too much on individual improvement and not enough on social reform.[149] Like other members of the so-called Transcendental Club, she rebelled against the past and believed in the possibility of change. However, unlike others in the movement, her rebellion was not based on religion.[150] Though Fuller occasionally attended Unitarian congregations, she did not entirely identify with that religion. As biographer Charles Capper has noted, she "was happy to remain on the Unitarian margins."[151]

Legacy and criticism

Title page of Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)

Margaret Fuller was especially known in her time for her personality and, in particular, for being overly self-confident and having a bad temper.[152] This personality was the inspiration for the character Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, specifically her radical thinking about "the whole race of womanhood".[153] She may also be the basis for the character Zenobia in another of Hawthorne's works, The Blithedale Romance.[51] Hawthorne and his then-fiancée Sophia had first met Fuller in October 1839.[154]

She was also an inspiration to poet Walt Whitman, who believed in her call for the forging of a new national identity and a truly American literature.[155] Elizabeth Barrett Browning was also a strong admirer, but believed that Fuller's unconventional views were unappreciated in the United States and, therefore, she was better off dead.[156] She also said that Fuller's history of the Roman Republic would have been her greatest work: "The work she was preparing upon Italy would probably have been more equal to her faculty than anything previously produced by her pen (her other writings being curiously inferior to the impressions her conversation gave you)".[157] An 1860 essay collection, Historical Pictures Retouched, by Caroline Healey Dall, called Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century "doubtless the most brilliant, complete, and scholarly statement ever made on the subject".[158] Despite his personal issues with Fuller, the typically harsh literary critic Edgar Allan Poe wrote of the work as "a book which few women in the country could have written, and no woman in the country would have published, with the exception of Miss Fuller", noting its "independence" and "unmitigated radicalism".[76] Thoreau also thought highly of the book, suggesting that its strength came in part from Fuller's conversational ability. As he called it, it was "rich extempore writing, talking with pen in hand".[159]

Another admirer of Fuller was Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of women's rights, who wrote that Fuller "possessed more influence on the thought of American women than any woman previous to her time".[160] Fuller's work may have partially inspired the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.[161] Anthony, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage wrote in their History of Woman Suffrage that Fuller "was the precursor of the Women's Rights agitation".[162] Modern scholars have suggested Woman in the Nineteenth Century was the first major women's rights work since Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792),[163] though an early comparison between the two women came from George Eliot in 1855.[164] It is unclear if Fuller was familiar with Wollstonecraft's works; in her childhood, her father prevented her from reading them.[165] In 1995, Fuller was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[166]

Fuller, however, was not without her critics. A one-time friend, the English writer Harriet Martineau was one of her harshest detractors after Fuller's death. Martineau said that Fuller was a talker rather than an activist, that she had "shallow conceits" and often "looked down upon persons who acted instead of talking finely ... and despised those who, like myself, could not adopt her scale of valuation".[167] The influential editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who believed she went against his notion of feminine modesty, referred to Woman in the Nineteenth Century as "an eloquent expression of her discontent at having been created female".[168] New York writer Charles Frederick Briggs said that she was "wasting the time of her readers", especially because she was an unmarried woman and therefore could not "truly represent the female character".[169] English writer and critic Matthew Arnold scoffed at Fuller's conversations as well, saying, "My G–d, [sic] what rot did she and the other female dogs of Boston talk about Greek mythology!"[170] Sophia Hawthorne, who had previously been a supporter of Fuller, was critical of her after Woman of the Nineteenth Century was published:[171]

The impression it left was disagreeable. I did not like the tone of it—& did not agree with her at all about the change in woman's outward circumstances ... Neither do I believe in such a character of man as she gives. It is altogether too ignoble ... I think Margaret speaks of many things that should not be spoken of.

Fuller had angered fellow poet and critic James Russell Lowell when she reviewed his work, calling him "absolutely wanting in the true spirit and tone of poesy ... his verse is stereotyped, his thought sounds no depth; and posterity will not remember him."[172] In response, Lowell took revenge in his satirical A Fable for Critics, first published in October 1848. At first, he considered excluding her entirely but ultimately gave her what was called the "most wholly negative characterization" in the work.[173] Referring to her as Miranda, Lowell wrote that she stole old ideas and presented them as her own, she was genuine only in her spite and "when acting as censor, she privately blows a censer of vanity 'neath her own nose".[174]

Shortly after Fuller's death, her importance faded. Her obituary in the newspaper she had once edited, the Daily Tribune, said that her works had a few great sentiments, "but as a whole they must commend themselves mainly by their vigor of thought and habitual fearlessness rather than freedom of utterance".[175] As biographer Abby Slater wrote, "Margaret had been demoted from a position of importance in her own right to one in which her only importance was in the company she kept".[176] Years later, Hawthorne's son Julian wrote, "The majority of readers will, I think, not be inconsolable that poor Margaret Fuller has at last taken her place with the numberless other dismal frauds who fill the limbo of human pretension and failure."[177] In the twentieth century, American writer Elizabeth Hardwick, former wife of Robert Lowell, wrote an essay called "The Genius of Margaret Fuller" (1986). She compared her own move from Boston to New York to Fuller's, saying that Boston was not a good place for intellectuals, despite the assumption that it was the best place for intellectuals.[178]

In 1995, Fuller was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.[179][180]

On June 21, 2016, a historical marker in honor of Fuller was placed in Polhill Park in Beacon, NY, to commemorate her staying at Van Vliet boarding house. For the dedication ceremony, Fuller's poem, "Truth and Form," was set to music by Debra Kaye and performed by singer, Kelly Ellenwood.[181]

Selected works

• Summer on the Lakes (1844)[54]
• Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)[182]
• Papers on Literature and Art (1846)[183]

Posthumous editions

• Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli (1852)[125]
• At Home and Abroad (1856)[124]
• Life Without and Life Within (1858)[124]

See also

• History of feminism
• Buckminster Fuller, her grandnephew
• George Livermore, a childhood classmate
• Boston Women's Heritage Trail
• Ossoli Circle


1. Fuller, Margaret (2019). The Essential Margaret Fuller. Courier Dover Publications. p. 2.
2. Simmons, Nancy Craig (1994). "Margaret Fuller's Boston Conversations: The 1839-1840 Series". Studies in the American Renaissance: 195–226. JSTOR 30227655.
3. Capper, Charles (2010). Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life. Oxford University Press. pp. X.
4. Capper, Charles (2010). Margaret Fuller:An American Romantic Life. Oxford University Press. pp. Xi.
5. Capper, Charles (2010). Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life. Oxford University Press. pp. Xii.
6. Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 42. ISBN 0-86576-008-X
7. Von Mehren, 10
8. Von Mehren, 11–12.
9. Douglas, 264.
10. Von Mehren, 12.
11. Baker, Anne. "Margaret Fuller" in Writers of the American Renaissance: An A to Z Guide. Denise D. Knight, editor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003: 130. ISBN 0-313-32140-X
12. Blanchard, 19.
13. Von Mehren, 13.
14. Deiss, 277.
15. Powell, John. "Fuller, Margaret" in Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800-1914. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001: 164. ISBN 0-313-30422-X
16. Blanchard, 41.
17. Von Mehren, 29.
18. Von Mehren, 28.
19. Marshall, 39.
20. Blanchard, 46.
21. Kane, Paul. Poetry of the American Renaissance. New York: George Braziller, 1995: 156. ISBN 0-8076-1398-3.
22. Slater, 19.
23. Blanchard, 61–62.
24. Slater, 20.
25. Douglas, 263
26. Von Mehren, 82
27. Dickenson, 91
28. Slater, 22–23
29. Von Mehren, 64–66
30. Blanchard, 92
31. Von Mehren, 71
32. Blanchard, 93
33. Von Mehren, 72
34. Von Mehren, 75
35. Blanchard, 106–107
36. Slater, 30–31
37. Slater, 32
38. Slater, 43
39. Wineapple, Brenda. "Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804–1864: A Brief Biography", A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Larry J. Reynolds, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001: 25. ISBN 0-19-512414-6
40. Cheever, 32
41. Gura, 134
42. Marshall, 134.
43. Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005: 387. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
44. Marshall, 141.
45. Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Mariner Books, 2005: 386–387. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
46. Gura, 128
47. Slater, 47–48
48. Von Mehren, 120
49. Dickenson, 101–102
50. Gura, 156
51. Blanchard, 187
52. Blanchard, 196
53. Slater, 80
54. Slater, 82
55. Von Mehren, 217
56. Slater, 83
57. Von Mehren, 192
58. Slater, 89
59. Von Mehren, 166
60. Gura, 172
61. Fuller, Margaret (1978). Myerson, Joel (ed.). Essays on American Life and Letters. Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. p. 14. ISBN 0-8084-0416-4.
62. Dowling, David (Winter 2014). "Reporting the Revolution: Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, and the Italian Risorgimento". American Journalism. 31.1: 26–48. doi:10.1080/08821127.2014.875346 – via EBSCOhost.
63. Bean, Judith Mattson; Myerson, Joel (2000). "Introduction". Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. xxv. ISBN 0-231-11132-0.
64. Marshall, 272
65. Gura, 225
66. Callow, Philip. From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992: 110. ISBN 0-929587-95-2
67. Cheever, 175
68. Slater, 97
69. Gura, 226
70. Von Mehren, 215
71. Gura, 227
72. Watts, Emily Stipes. The Poetry of American Women from 1632 to 1945. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1978: 182. ISBN 0-292-76450-2
73. Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991: 280. ISBN 0-06-092331-8
74. Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 190. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
75. Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 191. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7
76. Von Mehren, 225
77. Moss, Sidney P. Poe's Literary Battles: The Critic in the Context of His Literary Milieu. Southern Illinois University Press, 1969: 215.
78. Cheever, 176
79. Deiss, 18
80. Gura, 234
81. Von Mehren, 296
82. Von Mehren, 235
83. Gura, 235
84. Bannoni, Mario; Mariotti, Gabriella (2012). Vi scrivo da una Roma barricata (I write to you from a barricaded Rome), p. 52. Rome: Conosci per scegliere. p. 352. ISBN 978-88-903772-7-3.
85. Cheever, 176–177
86. Slater, 204
87. Deiss, 97
88. Von Mehren, 341
89. Von Mehren, 300
90. Bannoni, Mario; Mariotti, Gabriella (2012). Vi scrivo da una Roma barricata (I write to you from a barricaded Rome), p. 52. Rome: Conosci per scegliere. p. 352. ISBN 978-88-903772-7-3.
91. Blanchard, 328
92. Von Mehren, 276–277
93. Gura, 237
94. Deiss, 281
95. Deiss, 282
96. Blanchard, 317
97. Bannoni, Mario; Mariotti, Gabriella (2012). Vi scrivo da una Roma barricata (I write to you from a barricaded Rome), p. 52. Rome: Conosci per scegliere. p. 352. ISBN 978-88-903772-7-3.
98. Von Mehren, 301–302
99. Blanchard, 268–270; Deiss, 186; Dickenson, 186
100. Bannoni, Mario; Mariotti, Gabriella (2012). Vi scrivo da una Roma barricata (I write to you from a barricaded Rome), p. 52. Rome: Conosci per scegliere. p. 352. ISBN 978-88-903772-7-3.
101. Forster, Margaret. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. New York: Doubleday, 1989: 239. ISBN 0-385-24959-4
102. Von Mehren, 252
103. Deiss, 303
104. Dickenson, 194
105. Deiss, 300
106. Slater, 2–3
107. Von Mehren, 330–331
108. Blanchard, 331
109. Deiss, 309–310
110. Slater, 196
111. McFarland, Philip. Hawthorne in Concord. New York: Grove Press, 2004: 170–171. ISBN 0-8021-1776-7
112. Slater, 198
113. Dickenson, 201
114. Blanchard, 335–336
115. Deiss, 313
116. Arvin, Newton. Longfellow: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1963: 171
117. Blanchard, 338
118. Marshall, xv
119. Brooks, 429
120. Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 109. ISBN 0-19-503186-5
121. Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 115. ISBN 0-618-05013-2
122. Slater, 1
123. Von Mehren, 340
124. Von Mehren, 344
125. Von Mehren, 343
126. Blanchard, 339
127. Von Mehren, 342
128. Blanchard, 340
129. Von Mehren, Joan (1996). Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller. United States of America: Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. Acknowledgments.
130. Von Mehren, Joan (1996). Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller. United States of America: Univ of Massachusetts Press. p. 1.
131. Brooks, 245
132. Blanchard, 132
133. Slater, 4
134. Blanchard, 174
135. Dickenson, 172
136. Blanchard, 135
137. Von Mehren, 168
138. Douglas, 261
139. Gura, 229
140. Blanchard, 211
141. Gura, 230
142. Blanchard, 204–205
143. Deiss, 93
144. Slater, 91
145. Deiss, 94
146. Von Mehren, 231
147. Von Mehren, 84
148. Rose, Anne C. Transcendentalism as a Social Movement, 1830–1850. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press: 1981: 181. ISBN 0-300-02587-4
149. Slater, 97–98
150. Blanchard, 125–126
151. Capper, Charles. Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life. Vol. II: The Public Years. Oxford University Press, 2007: 214. ISBN 978-0-19-539632-4
152. Blanchard, 137
153. Wineapple, Brenda. "Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804–1864: A Brief Biography", A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Larry J. Reynolds, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001: 25–26. ISBN 0-19-512414-6
154. Marshall, Megan. The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism. Boston: Mariner Books, 2005: 384. ISBN 978-0-618-71169-7
155. Callow, Philip. From Noon to Starry Night: A Life of Walt Whitman. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1992: 111. ISBN 0-929587-95-2
156. Douglas, 259
157. Dickenson, 44
158. Gura, 284–285
159. Dickenson, 41
160. Von Mehren, 2
161. Dickenson, 113
162. Stanton, Elizabeth Cady; Anthony, Susan B. and Gage, Matilda Joslyn. History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 1. New York: Fowler and Wells, 1881: 177.
163. Slater, 89–90
164. Dickenson, 45–46
165. Dickenson, 133
166. Margaret Fuller, National Women's Hall of Fame. Accessed July 23, 2008
167. Dickenson, 47–48
168. Bayless, Joy. Rufus Wilmot Griswold: Poe's Literary Executor. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1943: 121
169. Von Mehren, 196
170. Dickenson, 47
171. Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1991: 235. ISBN 0-87745-332-2
172. Duberman, Martin. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966: 99.
173. Von Mehren, 294
174. Duberman, Martin. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966: 100.
175. Dickenson, 40
176. Slater, 3
177. James, Laurie. Why Margaret Fuller Ossoli is Forgotten. New York: Golden Heritage Press, 1988: 25. ISBN 0-944382-01-0
178. Wilson, Susan. Literary Trail of Greater Boston. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000: 68–69. ISBN 0-618-05013-2
179. "18 Nominees Chosen for National Women's Hall of Fame". Christian Science Monitor. September 15, 1995. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
180. National Women's Hall of Fame, Margaret Fuller
181. Rooney, Alison (May 17, 2016). "Beacon to Honor Early Feminist". The Highlands Current. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
182. Slater, 96
183. Von Mehren, 226


• Blanchard, Paula. Margaret Fuller: From Transcendentalism to Revolution. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1987. ISBN 0-201-10458-X
• Brooks, Van Wyck. The Flowering of New England. New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1952.
• Cheever, Susan. American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Detroit: Thorndike Press, 2006. ISBN 0-7862-9521-X
• Deiss, Joseph Jay. The Roman Years of Margaret Fuller. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1969. ISBN 978-0-690-01017-6 ISBN 0-690-01017-6
• Douglas, Ann. The Feminization of American Culture. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977. ISBN 0-394-40532-3
• Dickenson, Donna. Margaret Fuller: Writing a Woman's Life. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. ISBN 0-312-09145-1
• Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: A History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007. ISBN 0-8090-3477-8
• Marshall, Megan. Margaret Fuller: A New American Life. New York: Mariner Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-547-19560-5
• Matteson, John. The Lives of Margaret Fuller: A Biography. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012.
• Slater, Abby. In Search of Margaret Fuller. New York: Delacorte Press, 1978. ISBN 0-440-03944-4
• Von Mehren, Joan. Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994. ISBN 1-55849-015-9

Further reading

• Thurman, Judith (April 1, 2013). "An unfinished woman : the desires of Margaret Fuller". The Critics. Books. The New Yorker. 89 (7): 75–81. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
• Steele, Jeffrey, The Essential Margaret Fuller, New Jersey, Rutgers University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8135-1778-8

External links

Biographical information

• Margaret Fuller (Marchesa Ossoli) by Julia Ward Howe in multiple formats at
• Brief biography and links at American Transcendentalism Web
• Brief biography at Unitarian Universalist Historical Society
• Brief biography at PBS
• "Humanity, said Edgar Allan Poe, is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 23, Issue 5 (August 1972) by Joseph Jay Deiss
• "I find no intellect comparable to my own" in American Heritage magazine, Vol. 8, Issue 2 (February 1957) by Perry Miller
• Transcendental Woman essay on Fuller by Christopher Benfey from The New York Review of Books
• "Review of the Memoirs of Margaret Fuller Ossoli", in Friend Of The People, February 21, 1852


• Works by Margaret Fuller at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Margaret Fuller at Internet Archive
• Works by Margaret Fuller at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
• Essays by Margaret Fuller at
• Summer On The Lakes, in 1843 (1844)
• Review of Love-Letters of Margaret Fuller June 27, 1903, The New York Times.
• Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, nonprofit that works to strengthen and empower families through social and educational programs
• Margaret Fuller Bicentennial 2010
• Margaret Fuller Family Papers at Houghton Library, Harvard University
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 2

Friedrich Schleiermacher
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/20/20

Karl Gustav Jung [the grandfather of Carl Gustav Jung] was born in Mannheim in 1794 to a physician, Franz Ignaz Jung, and his wife, Maria Josepha, rumored by later generations to have submitted, like Europa, to a most remarkable infidelity. Little is known about Karl's childhood. The Jungs were Roman Catholics from Mainz and distinguished by their heritage of German physicians and jurists. In a diary Karl kept in his later years, we know that his father had always remained something of a stranger to him and that his mother was inclined toward bouts with depression. (A similar parental constellation is described by Karl's grandson in the early chapters of MDR.) The Jung family cannot be traced prior to its residence in Mainz, for the public archives were burned in 1688 during the French occupation. Franz Ignaz Jung served in a lazaretto during the Napoleonic wars. His brother, Sigismund von Jung, was a high-ranking Bavarian official who was married to the youngest sister of perhaps the most famous religious and nationalist figure in Germany at that time, Friedrich Schleiermacher....

Like his father and grandson, Karl Gustav Jung was a physician. He was trained at Heidelberg, that famous university town, an important center of alchemy and a symbol in Rosicrucian lore. He earned his medical degree in 1816, then moved to Berlin to practice as a surgical assistant to an ophthalmologist. Berlin changed him forever.

Place, landscape, soil -- to understand the imaginal world of Jung it is important to identify these nodal spaces where meaning condenses, the earthen crossroads upon which history rains. Such a place was the home of the Berlin bookseller and publisher Georg Andreas Reimer, an intimate friend of Schleiermacher. Reimer served as the host of the Reading Society, a patriotic club that met in his home. Ernst Moritz Arndt, one of the founding fathers of the nationalist Volkish movement (Volkstumbewegung) in Germany, befriended Schleiermacher here. To avoid prosecution for anti-French activity in the occupied German heartland, Arndt fled to Berlin, the capital of Prussia, and lived in Reimer's home from 1809 to 1810. In 1816 and 1817, so did Karl Gustav Jung.

At Reimer's, Jung found himself in one of the central incubators of German Romanticism and nationalism. He came into contact with a steady flow of ideas from determined men -- some of them political fugitives -- who were convinced of the idea of a Volksgeist, the unique characteristics or genius of the German people as a single nation, determined by language, climate, soil or landscape, certain economic factors, and, of course, race. These ideas found form in the essays of J. G. Herder, Arndt, Jahn, and the sermons of Schleiermacher. Here Jung met the Schlegel brothers -- Friedrich and August Wilhelm -- and Ludwig Tieck, all noted writers and founders of the Romantic movement. Jung underwent a transformation not only of political consciousness, as evidenced by his contributions to the Teutsche Liederbuch anthology of German nationalist poem-songs (Lieder), but of religious consciousness as well. As confirmed in the baptismal certificate signed by Schleiermacher -- another proud possession of the grandson -- Karl Gustav Jung renounced the Roman Catholic faith and became an Evangelical Protestant in the Romantic and nationalist mode.

The aftershocks of the grandfather's renunciation of his ancestral faith can still be felt by those touched by the life and work of the grandson. The sudden conversion of the grandfather, his act of apostasy, his angry rejection of Rome, would arguably prove to be one of the most powerful determinants of the destiny of C. G. Jung. The importance of this familial mark of Cain cannot be overstated.

"Religion of the heart"

Religion mated with German nationalism in the eighteenth century and produced a fever in the people called Pietism. Schleiermacher had been visited by this fever in his youth, and although he forged his own path as a theologian and philosopher, he said his ideas remained closest to this "religion of the heart." To Schleiermacher, the highest form of religion was an "intuition" (Anschauung) of the "Whole," an immediate experience of every particular as part of a whole, of every finite thing as a representation of the infinite. This was the perfect theology for an age of nature-obsessed Romanticism, and at times Schleiermacher's rhetoric, adorned with organic metaphors of the whole derived from nature, shaded into pantheism and mysticism. By 1817, he most certainly infected Karl Jung with it, as he did that entire generation of young patriots through his sermons, his writings, and especially his revisions of the Reformed Protestant liturgy, making it more simple, festive, and Volkish. Additionally, in the decade before he met Jung, he had published translations of Plato and, by his own admission, had become quite influenced by Platonism. This, too, must be remembered when we fantasize about what the older spiritual adviser imparted to the enthusiastic young convert.

German Pietism was loosely related to contemporaneous religious movements, such as Quakerism and enthusiastic Methodism in England and America and Quietism and Jansenism in France. Pietism, however, was to play a key role in developing Volkish self-consciousness and a sense of nation in the politically fragmented German lands. In the spirit of Luther, Pietism was born of disgust with orthodoxies, dogmas, and church hierarchies in the traditional Protestant denominations, making it a form of radical Lutheranism. Pietists dared to question authority and to be suspicious of foreign interpreters of Christianity. They called it a Herzensreligion, a "religion of the heart," a spiritual movement that emphasized feeling, intuition, inwardness, and a personal experience of God. The function of thinking, indeed reason itself, was disparaged and could not be trusted. To experience God, the intellect must be sacrificed. (For example, according to Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, a prominent eighteenth-century Pietist who influenced Schleiermacher and twentieth-century figures Rudolph Otto and Hermann Hesse, only atheists attempted to comprehend God with their mind; the True sought revelation.)

Pietists' mystical enthusiasm is reflected in some of their favorite incendiary metaphors for their ecstatic experiences. It was the fire of the Holy Spirit that must burn within; indeed, it was often said that "the heart must burn." They emphasized the burning experience of "Christ within us" instead of the inanimate, automatic belief in the dogma of a "Christ for us."

Such subtle distinctions had profound implications for German nationalism, for the belief arose in the feeling of group identity bound by common inner experience, a mystical blood-union of necessity, rather than as some thing external existing for an individual. Hence, the Pietist emphasis on service to others as a method of serving God.

Prussia, the most absolutist of the many German political entities, welcomed the Pietists to Berlin. Attracted to Pietism's rejection of the Lutheran clerical hierarchy -- which threatened the overriding legitimacy of the state -- the eighteenth-century rulers of Prussia adopted Pietism's religious philosophy and offered sanctuary to many of its exiled leaders. As populist movements, Pietism and pan-German nationalism were as threatening to the royal rulers of the dozens of German states as to Lutheran clerics, for they challenged the political status quo. Prussia, however, as the strongest of the German states, already presaged its manifest destiny as the unifier of Germany, and so its short-term goals coincided with those of such movements.

Nicholas Boyle, one of Goethe's biographers, described the immense significance of this convergence of affinities for the next two centuries of German religious life and political history:

The particular feature of Pietism which makes it of interest to us is its natural affinity for state absolutism. A religion which concentrates to the point of anxiety, not to say hypochondria, on those inner emotions, whether of dryness or abundance, of despair or of confident love of God, from which the individual may deduce the state of his immortal soul; a religion whose members meet for preference not publicly, but privately in conventicles gathered round a charismatic personality who may well not be an ordained minister; a religion who disregards all earthly (and especially all ecclesiastical) differentiation of rank, and sees its proper role in the visible world in charitable activity as nearly as possible harmonious with the prevailing order ... such a religion was tailor-made for a state system in which all, regardless of rank, were to be equally servants of the one purpose; in which antiquated rights and differentiae were to be abolished; and in which ecclesiastical opposition was particularly unwelcome, whether it came from assertive prelates or from vociferous enthusiasts unable to keep their religious lives to themselves.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, German nationalism had become so intertwined with Pietism that the literature of the time blurs distinctions between inner and outer Fatherlands. The "internalized Kingdom of Heaven" became identical with the spiritual soil of the German ancestors, a Teutonic "Land of the Dead." In these patriotic religious tracts the sacrificial deaths of Teutonic heroes such as Arminius (Hermann the German, who defeated the Romans in the Teutoberg forest) and the mythic Siegfried are compared to the crucifixion of Christ, thus equating pagan and Christian saviors. By the early 1800s, this identity became even more explicit. To Ernst Moritz Arndt, the subjective experience of the "Christ within" was reframed in German Volkish metaphors. In his 1816 pamphlet Zur Befreiung Deutschlands ("On the Liberation of Germany"), Arndt urged Germans, "Enshrine in your hearts the German God and German virtue." They did. By the end of the nineteenth century the German God had reawakened and was moving to reclaim his throne after a thousand-year interregnum.

The primary literature of Pietism consisted of diaries and autobiographies, most driven by the psychological turn inward so valued as the path to reaching the kingdom of God. These confessional texts emphasize the spiritual evolution of the diarist. Each account peaks dramatically with the description of what Schleiermacher called the "secret moment," the tremendous subjective experience that completely changed the life course of an individual and became the central, vivid milestone of his or her faith. This experience was known as the Wiedergeburt, the "rebirth" or "regeneration." Sometimes this experience was preceded or accompanied by visions. Several of the more famous texts, such as the autobiography of Heinrich Jung-Stilling, became part of the canon read by educated nineteenth-century Germans.

Several of these spiritual autobiographies were in the library in C. G. Jung's household when he was growing up, and he cites some of them (such as the work of Jung-Stilling) in MDR and in his seminars. While MDR is highly unlike usual biographies or autobiographies, its story of Jung's spiritual journey is similar in many ways to the Wiedergeburt testimonies of the Pietists. MDR is indeed the story of Jung's rebirth... a remarkable confession of Jung's pagan regeneration.

-- The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung, by Richard Noll

Friedrich Schleiermacher
Born: November 21, 1768, Breslau, Prussian Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia
Died: February 12, 1834 (aged 65), Berlin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia
Alma mater: University of Halle (1787–90)[1]
Era: 18th-/19th-century philosophy
Region: Western philosophy
School: German Idealism[2]; Jena Romanticism[3]; Berlin Romanticism[4]; Romantic hermeneutics[5]; Methodological hermeneutics[6]
Institutions: University of Halle (1804–07); University of Berlin (1810–34)
Main interests: Theology, psychology, New Testament exegesis, ethics (both philosophic and Christian), dogmatic and practical theology, dialectics (logic and metaphysics), politics
Notable ideas: Hermeneutics as a cyclical process[7]
Influences: Immanuel Kant, K. W. F. Schlegel, J. G. Fichte, F. W. J. Schelling, Johann August Ernesti,[8] Friedrich Ast,[9] Friedrich August Wolf,[9] Johann Gottfried Herder,[10] Baruch Spinoza, Plato
Influenced: Wilhelm Dilthey, Karl Barth, August Böckh, Rudolf Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Albrecht Ritschl, Friedrich Ueberweg, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Manfred Frank, Antoine Berman, Heinrich Ritter, Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg,[11] L. Harold DeWolf, Walter Rauschenbusch,[12][13] Daphne Hampson

Luther's Rose

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (German: [ˈfʁiːdʁɪç ˈʃlaɪɐˌmaχɐ]; November 21, 1768 – February 12, 1834) was a German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar known for his attempt to reconcile the criticisms of the Enlightenment with traditional Protestant Christianity. He also became influential in the evolution of higher criticism, and his work forms part of the foundation of the modern field of hermeneutics. Because of his profound effect on subsequent Christian thought, he is often called the "Father of Modern Liberal Theology" and is considered an early leader in liberal Christianity. The neo-orthodoxy movement of the twentieth century, typically (though not without challenge) seen to be spearheaded by Karl Barth, was in many ways an attempt to challenge his influence.


Early life and development

Born in Breslau in the Prussian Silesia as the grandson of Daniel Schleiermacher, a pastor at one time associated with the Zionites,[14]...

The Zionites were a religious sect which flourished in the eighteenth century at Ronsdorf in the Duchy of Berg. The sect sprang from a Philadelphian society founded at Elberfeld in 1726 by Elias Eller and the pastor Daniel Schleiermacher. Eller was the foreman of a factory owned by a rich widow. He read eagerly the writings of ancient and modern visionaries, and then formed an apocalyptic, millenarian system of his own. He made such an impression on the widow, twenty years his senior, that she married him. Thus he obtained the means and influence to draw adherents around himself. The pastor Schleiermacher, grandfather of the celebrated theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, was also influenced by Eller. The prophetess of the society was the daughter of a baker, Anna van Bushel, who had dreams and visions and saw apparitions. After the death of his wife, Eller married her. She called herself mother of Zion, her husband father of Zion, and prophesied that she would bear the saviour of the world. The new order of things was to begin in 1730. Her first child was a daughter, but Eller was able to console the society with Scriptural texts. A son born in 1733, died two years later. Eller made himself the central point of theology. Christian morality was replaced by the craving for coarse and sensual pleasures. In 1737, the sect left Elberfeld and founded Ronsdorf which soon prospered, and, through Eller's influence, was raised by the State in 1745, to the rank of a city. Eller took the most important offices for himself, lived with his wife in great pomp, and generally governed tyrannically. When Eller's wife died suddenly, in 1744, doubts arose in the mind of Schleiermacher, who was pastor at Ronsdorf. He confessed his mistake, and sought to open the eyes of the deceiving leader, but Eller managed to maintain himself until death. The sect was carried on by the pastors who took Schleiermacher's place, by Eller's stepson Bolckhaus, and continued to exist until 1768. The new pastor chosen in this year, and his successors, brought back the inhabitants of Ronsdorf to Protestantism. The after-effects of the movement could be traced into the nineteenth century.

-- Zionites (Germany), by Wikipedia

The Philadelphians, or the Philadelphian Society, were a 17th century English dissenter group. They were organized around John Pordage (1607–1681), an Anglican priest from Bradfield, Berkshire, who had been ejected from his parish in 1655 because of differing views, but then reinstated in 1660 during the English Restoration. Pordage was attracted to the ideas of Jakob Böhme, a Lutheran theosophist and Christian mystic.

A group of followers came to Pordage, including Ann Bathurst and led by Mrs. Jane Leade (1624–1704), who experienced a number of visions and later published them in her book A Fountain of Gardens. The group incorporated as The Philadelphian Society for the Advancement of Piety and Divine Philosophy in 1694 (their name was inspired by the Philadelphians mentioned in the Book of Revelation.) They rejected the idea of being a church, preferring the term society, and none of the members ceased their memberships in existing churches. Together, the group held views that were somewhat similar to Panentheism, regarding the belief in the presence of God in all things, and with a Nondualist component, in that they also believed the presence of the Holy Spirit exists in each and everyone's soul, and that one can become enlightened and illuminated by living a virtuous life and seeking truth through the wisdom of God.

-- Philadelphians, by Wikipedia

[15] and the son of Gottlieb Schleiermacher, a Reformed Church chaplain in the Prussian army, Schleiermacher started his formal education in a Moravian school at Niesky in Upper Lusatia, and at Barby near Magdeburg. However, pietistic Moravian theology failed to satisfy his increasing doubts, and his father reluctantly gave him permission to enter the University of Halle, which had already abandoned pietism and adopted the rationalist spirit of Christian Wolff and Johann Salomo Semler. As a theology student, Schleiermacher pursued an independent course of reading and neglected the study of the Old Testament and of Oriental languages. However, he attended the lectures of Semler and became acquainted with the techniques of historical criticism of the New Testament, and of Johann Augustus Eberhard from whom he acquired a love of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. At the same time, he studied the writings of Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi and began to apply ideas from the Greek philosophers to a reconstruction of Kant's system.

Schleiermacher developed a deep-rooted skepticism as a student and soon rejected orthodox Christianity.[16]

Brian Gerrish, a scholar of the works of Schleiermacher, wrote:

In a letter to his father, Schleiermacher drops the mild hint that his teachers fail to deal with those widespread doubts that trouble so many young people of the present day. His father misses the hint. He has himself read some of the skeptical literature, he says, and can assure Schleiermacher that it is not worth wasting time on. For six whole months there is no further word from his son. Then comes the bombshell. In a moving letter of 21 January 1787, Schleiermacher admits that the doubts alluded to are his own. His father has said that faith is the "regalia of the Godhead," that is, God's royal due.[17]

Schleiermacher confessed: "Faith is the regalia of the Godhead, you say. Alas! dearest father, if you believe that without this faith no one can attain to salvation in the next world, nor to tranquility in this—and such, I know, is your belief—oh! then pray to God to grant it to me, for to me it is now lost. I cannot believe that he who called himself the Son of Man was the true, eternal God; I cannot believe that his death was a vicarious atonement."[17]

Tutoring, chaplaincy and first works

An engraving of Schleiermacher from his early adulthood.

At the completion of his course at Halle, Schleiermacher became the private tutor to the family of Friedrich Alexander Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlobitten (1741–1810), developing in a cultivated and aristocratic household his deep love of family and social life. Two years later, in 1796, he became chaplain to the Charité Hospital in Berlin. Lacking scope for the development of his preaching skills, he sought mental and spiritual satisfaction in the city's cultivated society and in intensive philosophical studies, beginning to construct the framework of his philosophical and religious system. Here Schleiermacher became acquainted with art, literature, science and general culture. He was strongly influenced by German Romanticism, as represented by his friend Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel. That interest is borne out by his Confidential Letters on Schlegel's Lucinde as well as by his seven-year relationship (1798–1805) with Eleonore Christiane Grunow (née Krüger) (1769/1770–1837), the wife of Berlin clergyman August Christian Wilhelm Grunow (1764–1831).

Though his ultimate principles remained unchanged, he placed more emphasis on human emotion and the imagination. Meanwhile, he studied Spinoza and Plato, both of whom were important influences. He became more indebted to Kant though they differed on fundamental points. He sympathised with some of Jacobi's positions, and took some ideas from Fichte...

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (/ˈfɪxtə/;[28] German: [ˈjoːhan ˈɡɔtliːp ˈfɪçtə];[29][30][31] 19 May 1762 – 29 January 1814) was a German philosopher who became a founding figure of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, which developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant. ... Fichte was also the originator of thesis–antithesis–synthesis,[9] an idea that is often erroneously attributed to Hegel.[32] Like Descartes and Kant before him, Fichte was motivated by the problem of subjectivity and consciousness. Fichte also wrote works of political philosophy; he has a reputation as one of the fathers of German nationalism....

Between December 1807 and March 1808, Fichte gave a series of lectures concerning the "German nation" and its culture and language, projecting the kind of national education he hoped would raise it from the humiliation of its defeat at the hands of the French...

The aim of the German nation, according to Fichte, was to "found an empire of spirit and reason, and to annihilate completely the crude physical force that rules of the world." Like Herder's German nationalism, Fichte's was wholly cultural, and grounded in the aesthetic, literary, and moral.

The nationalism propounded by Fichte in the Addresses would be appealed to over a century later by the Nazi Party in Germany, which sought in Fichte a forerunner to its own nationalist ideology. Like Nietzsche, the association of Fichte with the Nazi regime came to colour readings of Fichte's German nationalism in the post-war period. This reading of Fichte was often bolstered through reference to an unpublished letter from 1793, Contributions to the Correction of the Public's Judgment concerning the French Revolution, wherein Fichte expressed anti-semitic sentiments, such as arguing against extending civil rights to Jews and calling them a "state within a state" that could "undermine" the German nation.

However, attached to the letter is a footnote in which Fichte provides an impassioned plea for permitting Jews to practice their religion without hindrance. Furthermore, the final act of Fichte's academic career was to resign as rector of the University of Berlin in protest when his colleagues refused to punish the harassment of Jewish students.
While recent scholarship has sought to dissociate Fichte's writings on nationalism with his adoption by the Nazi Party, the association continues to blight his legacy, although Fichte, as if to exclude all ground of doubt, clearly and distinctly prohibits, in his reworked version of The Science of Ethics as Based on the Science of Knowledge (see § Final period in Berlin)&nbsp, genocide and other crimes against humanity:

If you say that it is your conscience's command to exterminate peoples for their sins, […] we can confidently tell you that you are wrong; for such things can never be commanded against the free and moral force.

-- Johann Gottlieb Fichte, by Wikipedia

and Schelling. The literary product of that period of rapid development was his influential book, Reden über die Religion (On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers), and his "new year's gift" to the new century, the Monologen (Soliloquies).

In the first book, Schleiermacher gave religion an unchanging place among the divine mysteries of human nature, distinguished it from what he regarded as current caricatures of religion and described the perennial forms of its manifestation. That established the programme of his subsequent theological system. In the Monologen, he revealed his ethical manifesto in which he proclaimed his ideas on the freedom and independence of the spirit and on the relationship of the mind to the sensual world, and he sketched his ideal of the future of the individual and of society.


From 1802 to 1804, Schleiermacher served as a pastor in the Pomeranian town of Stolp. He relieved Friedrich Schlegel entirely of his nominal responsibility for the translation of Plato, which they had together undertaken (vols. 1–5, 1804–1810; vol. 6, Repub. 1828). Another work, Grundlinien einer Kritik der bisherigen Sittenlehre [Outlines of a Critique of the Doctrines of Morality to date] (1803), the first of his strictly critical and philosophical productions, occupied him; it is a criticism of all previous moral systems, including those of Kant and Fichte: Plato's and Spinoza's find most favour. It contends that the tests of the soundness of a moral system are the completeness of its view of the laws and ends of human life as a whole and the harmonious arrangement of its subject-matter under one fundamental principle. Although it is almost exclusively critical and negative, the book announces Schleiermacher's later view of moral science, attaching prime importance to a Güterlehre, or doctrine of the ends to be obtained by moral action. The obscurity of the book's style and its negative tone prevented immediate success.


In 1804, Schleiermacher moved as university preacher and professor of theology to the University of Halle, where he remained until 1807. He quickly obtained a reputation as professor and preacher and exercised a powerful influence in spite of contradictory charges, which accused him of atheism, Spinozism and pietism. In this period, he began his lectures on hermeneutics (1805–1833) ...

Hermeneutics (/ˌhɜːrməˈnjuːtɪks/)[1] is the theory and methodology of interpretation,[2][3] especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts.[4][5]

-- Hermeneutics, by Wikipedia

and he also wrote his dialogue the Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas Eve: Dialogue on the Incarnation, 1806), which represents a midway point between his Speeches and his great dogmatic work, Der christliche Glaube (The Christian Faith); the speeches represent phases of his growing appreciation of Christianity as well as the conflicting elements of the theology of the period. After the Battle of Jena, he returned to Berlin (1807), was soon appointed pastor of the Trinity Church and, on May 18, 1809, married Henriette von Willich (née von Mühlenfels) (1788–1840), the widow of his friend Johann Ehrenfried Theodor von Willich (1777–1807).

At the foundation of the University of Berlin (1810), in which he took a prominent part, Schleiermacher obtained a theological chair and soon became secretary to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. He took a prominent part in the reorganization of the Prussian church and became the most powerful advocate of the union of the Lutheran and Reformed divisions of German Protestantism, paving the way for the Prussian Union of Churches (1817). The 24 years of his professional career in Berlin began with his short outline of theological study (Kurze Darstellung des theologischen Studiums, 1811) in which he sought to do for theology what he had done for religion in his Speeches.

While he preached every Sunday, Schleiermacher also gradually took up in his lectures in the university almost every branch of theology and philosophy: New Testament exegesis, introduction to and interpretation of the New Testament, ethics (both philosophic and Christian), dogmatic and practical theology, church history, history of philosophy, psychology, dialectics (logic and metaphysics), politics, pedagogy, translation and aesthetics.

In politics, Schleiermacher supported liberty and progress, and in the period of reaction that followed the overthrow of Napoleon, he was charged by the Prussian government with "demagogic agitation" in conjunction with the patriot Ernst Moritz Arndt.

Ernst Moritz Arndt (26 December 1769 – 29 January 1860) was a German nationalist historian, writer and poet. Early in his life, he fought for the abolition of serfdom, later against Napoleonic dominance over Germany. Arndt had to flee to Sweden for some time due to his anti-French positions. He is one of the main founders of German nationalism and the 19th century movement for German unification. After the Carlsbad Decrees, the forces of the restoration counted him as a demagogue.

Arndt played an important role for the early national and liberal Burschenschaft movement and for the unification movement, and his song "Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?" acted as an unofficial German national anthem....

Like Fichte and Jahn, Arndt began to envision the German nation as a society of ethnic homogeneity, drawing on the history of the German people, especially in the Middle Ages. His writings lack a specific political program, but instead cite external enemies. While "freedom" is often mentioned, the freedom Arndt envisioned was not that of a pluralistic society, but rather of a romanticized national community. The French are denigrated as weakened, womanish and morally depraved, while supposed German virtues are extolled.

"The Germans have not been bastardized by foreign peoples, have not become half-breeds, they more than many other peoples have remained in their native state of purity."[3]

These ideas led Arndt to generate anti-French propaganda during the Napoleonic conquest of the German states:

"When I say I hate the French carelessness, I despise the French daintiness, I disapprove of the French loquacity and flightiness, I may pronounce a flaw, but it is a flaw that I share with all my people. I could likewise say I hate the English presumption, the English prudery, the English seclusiveness. These hated, despised, dispraised characteristics are not yet vices as such, from the peoples that they represent they may come with great virtues which I and my people are lacking. Therefore ... let us hate our Frenchmen, the infamizers and destroyers of our power and virginity, even more, now that we feel how they weaken and enervate our virtue and strength."[4]

Arndt also was prejudiced against Poles and other Slavs, and published an anti-Polish pamphlet in 1831 in which he castigated Polish "barbarity and wildness". During the liberal Revolution of 1848, when the issue of reviving the Polish state was raised in Frankfurt, Arndt declared that "tribes" of Slavs and Wends "have never done or been able to do anything lasting with respect to state, science, or art," and concluded: "At the outset I assert with world history that pronounces judgment [that] the Poles and the whole Slavonic tribe are inferior to Germans."

He also warned of close contact with Judaism. He warned of the "thousands [of Jews] which by the Russian tyranny will now come upon us even more abounding from Poland" – "the impure flood from the East". Moreover, he warned of a Jewish intellectual conspiracy, claiming that Jews had "usurped" half of literature.

Arndt paired his antisemitism with his anti-French views, calling the French "the Jewish people" ("das Judenvolk"), or "refined bad Jews" ("verfeinerte schlechte Juden"). In 1815 he wrote of the French: "Jews... I call them again, not only for their Jewish lists and their penny-pinching avarice, but even more because of their Jew-like sticking together."

-- Ernst Moritz Arndt, by Wikipedia

At the same time, Schleiermacher prepared his chief theological work, Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche (1821–1822; 2nd ed., greatly altered, 1830–1831; 6th ed., 1884; The Christian faith according to the principles of the evangelical church). Its fundamental principle is that the source and the basis of dogmatic theology are the religious feeling, the sense of absolute dependence on God as communicated by Jesus through the church, not the creeds or the letter of Scripture or the rationalistic understanding. The work is therefore simply a description of the facts of religious feeling, or of the inner life of the soul in its relations to God, and the inward facts are looked at in the various stages of their development and presented in their systematic connection. The aim of the work was to reform Protestant theology, to put an end to the unreason and superficiality of both supernaturalism and rationalism, and to deliver religion and theology from dependence on perpetually changing systems of philosophy.

Though the work added to the reputation of its author, it aroused the increased opposition of the theological schools it was intended to overthrow, and at the same time, Schleiermacher's defence of the right of the church to frame its own liturgy in opposition to the arbitrary dictation of the monarch or his ministers brought him fresh troubles. He felt isolated although his church and his lecture-room continued to be crowded.

Schleiermacher continued with his translation of Plato and prepared a new and greatly-altered edition of his Christlicher Glaube, anticipating the latter in two letters to his friend Gottfried Lücke (in the Studien und Kritiken, 1829) in which he defended his theological position generally and his book in particular against opponents on both the right and the left.

The same year, Schleiermacher lost his only son, Nathaniel (1820–1829), a blow that he said "drove the nails into his own coffin", but he continued to defend his theological position against Hengstenberg's party ...

[H]e began to direct his attention to a study of the Bible, which led him to a conviction, not only of the divine character of evangelical religion, but also of the unapproachable adequacy of its expression in the Augsburg Confession. In 1824 he joined the philosophical faculty of the University of Berlin as a privatdozent, and in 1825 he became a licentiate in theology, his theses being remarkable for their evangelical fervour and for their emphatic protest against every form of "rationalism", especially in questions of Old Testament criticism.

-- Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg, by Wikipedia

and the rationalists Daniel Georg Konrad von Cölln (1788–1833) and David Schulz (1779–1854), protesting against both subscription to the ancient creeds and the imposition of a new rationalistic formulary.


A statue of Schleiermacher at Palais Universitaire in Strasbourg

Schleiermacher died at 65 of pneumonia on February 12, 1834.


Doctrine of knowledge

Schleiermacher's psychology takes as its basis the phenomenal dualism of the ego and the non-ego, and regards the life of man as the interaction of these elements with their interpenetration as its infinite destination. The dualism is therefore not absolute, and, though present in man's own constitution as composed of body and soul, is relative only even there. The ego is itself both body and soul — the conjunction of both constitutes it. Our "organization" or sense nature has its intellectual element, and our "intellect" its organic element, and there is no such thing as "pure mind" or "pure body." The one general function of the ego, thought, becomes in relation to the non-ego either receptive or spontaneous action, and in both forms of action its organic, or sense, and its intellectual energies co-operate; and in relation to man, nature and the universe the ego gradually finds its true individuality by becoming a part of them, "every extension of consciousness being higher life."

The specific functions of the ego, as determined by the relative predominance of sense or intellect, are either functions of the senses (or organism) or functions of the intellect. The former fall into the two classes of feelings (subjective) and perceptions (objective); the latter, according as the receptive or the spontaneous element predominates, into cognition and volition. In cognition, thought is ontologically oriented to the object; and in volition it is the teleological purpose of thought. In the first case we receive (in our fashion) the object of thought into ourselves. In the latter we plant it out into the world. Both cognition and volition are functions of thought as well as forms of moral action.

It is in those two functions that the real life of the ego is manifested, but behind them is self-consciousness permanently present, which is always both subjective and objective — consciousness of ourselves and of the non-ego. This self-consciousness is the third special form or function of thought — which is also called feeling and immediate knowledge. In it we cognize our own inner life as affected by the non-ego. As the non-ego helps or hinders, enlarges or limits, our inner life, we feel pleasure or pain. Aesthetic, moral and religious feelings are respectively produced by the reception into consciousness of large ideas — nature, mankind and the world; those feelings are the sense of being one with these vast objects. Religious feeling therefore is the highest form of thought and of life; in it we are conscious of our unity with the world and God; it is thus the sense of absolute dependence.

Schleiermacher's doctrine of knowledge accepts the fundamental principle of Kant that knowledge is bounded by experience, but it seeks to remove Kant's scepticism as to knowledge of the ding an sich (the noumenon) or Sein, as Schleiermacher's term is. The idea of knowledge or scientific thought as distinguished from the passive form of thought — of aesthetics and religion — is thought which is produced by all thinkers in the same form and which corresponds to being. All knowledge takes the form of the concept (Begriff) or the judgment (Urteil), the former conceiving the variety of being as a definite unity and plurality, and the latter simply connecting the concept with certain individual objects.

In the concept, therefore, the intellectual and in the judgment the organic or sense element predominates. The universal uniformity of the production of judgments presupposes the uniformity of our relations to the outward world, and the uniformity of concepts rests similarly on the likeness of our inward nature. This uniformity is not based on the sameness of either the intellectual or the organic functions alone, but on the correspondence of the forms of thought and sensation with the forms of being. The essential nature of the concept is that it combines the general and the special, and the same combination recurs in being; in being the system of substantial or permanent forms answers to the system of concepts and the relation of cause and effect to the system of judgments, the higher concept answering to "force" and the lower to the phenomena of force, and the judgment to the contingent interaction of things.

The sum of being consists of the two systems of substantial forms and interactional relations, and it reappears in the form of concept and judgment, the concept representing being and the judgment being in action. Knowledge has under both forms the same object, the relative difference of the two being that when the conceptual form predominates we have speculative science and when the form of judgment prevails we have empirical or historical science. Throughout the domain of knowledge the two forms are found in constant mutual relations, another proof of the fundamental unity of thought and being or of the objectivity of knowledge. Plato, Spinoza and Kant had contributed characteristic elements of their thought to this system, and directly or indirectly it was largely indebted to Schelling for fundamental conceptions.


Schleiermacher's work has had a profound impact upon the philosophical field of hermeneutics. In fact, Schleiermacher is often referred to as "the father of modern hermeneutics as a general study."[18] While Schleiermacher did not publish extensively on hermeneutics during his lifetime, he lectured widely on the field. His published and unpublished writings on hermeneutics were collected together after his death, albeit with some disagreement over ordering and placement of individual texts and lecture notes. As James O. Duke notes, "it was not until Heinz Kimmerle's edition, based on a careful transcription of the original handwritten manuscripts, that an assured and comprehensive overview of Schleiermacher's theory of hermeneutics became possible."[19] Duke concludes that the Kimmerle edition "reproduces the full, incontestably genuine corpus of Schleiermacher literature on hermeneutics."[20]

Schleiermacher’s desire to approach hermeneutics in a more general sense was an attempt to shift away from more specific methods of interpretation, such as ways of interpreting biblical or classical texts, to a focus on the way in which people understand texts in general. Though he was certainly interested in interpreting Scripture, he thought one could only do so properly once one had established a system of interpretation that was applicable to all texts. This process was not a systematic or strictly philological approach, but what he called "the art of understanding."[21] Schleiermacher understood that reading a text was a discourse between the interpreter and the text itself; however, he considered the text as the means by which the author is communicating thoughts previous to the creation of the text.[22] These thoughts are what ultimately cause the author to produce the text, thus the place where these "inner thoughts" become "outer expression" in language is at the moment of text creation. This is where the meaning of a text ultimately resides for Schleiermacher.

In order to interpret a text, then, the interpreter must consider both the inner thoughts of the author and the language that s/he used in writing the text. This artistic approach to interpreting texts contained within it an ebb-and-flow between what Schleiermacher called the "grammatical interpretation" and the "psychological (or technical) interpretation." The former deals with the language of the text, the latter with the thoughts and aims of the author.[23]

The ultimate goal of hermeneutics for Schleiermacher is "understanding in the highest sense."[24] In this way, the object to be understood stems from a thought of an author, and then is expressed through language. The relationship of the author to language is cyclical, since the author is limited by his/her language and historical context, but s/he also contributes to language as a whole through new ideas and the appropriation of language.[25] The interpreter must understand how its original audience understood this language.[26]

Since the language used by an author "is what mediates sensuously and externally between utterer and listener"[27] the art of understanding becomes just as much the art of avoiding misunderstanding. Schleiermacher divides misunderstanding into two forms: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative misunderstanding is not understanding the content, or "the confusion of the meaning of a word for another."[28] Quantitative is misunderstanding the nuance in the author’s own "sphere." As a result of these possible misunderstandings, the need for the grammatical side of interpretation is glaring.

The grammatical interpretation leads to the technical interpretation as the reader attempts to understand why the author selected the language s/he did to convey his/her inner thoughts. Part of the task of hermeneutics is to fully understand these thoughts through the author’s discourse, even better than the author him/herself.[29] This can be done by discovering unity within the author, first in knowing why a particular work was produced, secondly in other works produced in a similar genre by others, and finally by other works by the same author in any genre.[30] The interpreter can then evaluate what the effect of the work was on the author’s context. If a reader can understand the psyche of the author, s/he can understand the work, but only in balance with the grammatical side of interpretation, which attempts to understand the work to understand the inner thoughts of the author. "Understanding" for Schleiermacher is the art of experiencing the same process of thought that the author experienced. Understanding is made possible by the fact that author and reader, since both are human, share the reasoning ability. Therefore, the process of understanding is not only a historical process, learning about the context in which the author wrote, but also a psychological process, drawing upon the connection between interpreter and the author. Thus, hermeneutics is a cyclical task, but for Schleiermacher it is not viciously circular because of the role of intuition.[31] As humans, therefore, interpreters approach a text with some shared understanding with the author that creates the possibility of understanding.

Despite Schleiermacher’s claim to the potential understanding of the author’s thoughts better than the author, he grants that "good interpretation can only be approximated" and that hermeneutics is not a "perfect art."[32] The art puts the interpreter in the best position by "putting oneself in possession of all the conditions of understanding."[33] However, the extent of an interpreter’s understanding of a text is mostly limited by his or her own potential to misunderstand a text.

The impact of Schleiermacher's work on hermeneutics is significant. The claim of Schleiermacher as the father of hermeneutics seems to be justified by the fact that his work marks the beginning of hermeneutics as a general field of inquiry, separate from the specific disciplines (e.g. law or theology).[34] His focus on hermeneutics as a theory of interpretation for any textual expression would be expanded even further to the theory of interpretation of lived experiences in the twentieth century by those like Heidegger, Gadamer, and Ricoeur.
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His grave in Berlin

Next to religion and theology, Schleiermacher devoted himself to the moral world, of which the phenomena of religion and theology were, in his systems, only constituent elements. In his earlier essays he endeavoured to point out the defects of ancient and modern ethical thinkers, particularly of Kant and Fichte, with only Plato and Spinoza finding favour in his eyes. He failed to discover in previous moral systems any necessary basis in thought, any completeness as regards the phenomena of moral action, any systematic arrangement of its parts and any clear and distinct treatment of specific moral acts and relations.

Schleiermacher's own moral system is an attempt to supply these deficiencies. It connects the moral world by a deductive process with the fundamental idea of knowledge and being; it offers a view of the entire world of human action which at all events aims at being exhaustive; it presents an arrangement of the matter of the science which tabulates its constituents after the model of the physical sciences; and it supplies a sharply defined treatment of specific moral phenomena in their relation to the fundamental idea of human life as a whole. Schleiermacher defines ethics as the theory of the nature of the reason, or as the scientific treatment of the effects produced by human reason in the world of nature and man.

As a theoretical or speculative science it is purely descriptive and not practical, being correlated on the one hand to physical science and on the other to history. Its method is the same as that of physical science, being distinguished from the latter only by its matter. The ontological basis of ethics is the unity of the real and the ideal, and the psychological and actual basis of the ethical process is the tendency of reason and nature to unite in the form of the complete organization of the latter by the former. The end of the ethical process is that nature (i.e. all that is not mind, the human body as well as external nature) may become the perfect symbol and organ of mind.

Conscience, as the subjective expression of the presupposed identity of reason and nature in their bases, guarantees the practicability of our moral vocation. Nature is preordained or constituted to become the symbol and organ of mind, just as mind is endowed with the impulse to realize this end. But the moral law must not be conceived under the form of an "imperative" or a "Sollen"; it differs from a law of nature only as being descriptive of the fact that it ranks the mind as conscious will, or Zweckdenken, above nature. Strictly speaking, the antitheses of good and bad and of free and necessary have no place in an ethical system, but simply in history, which is obliged to compare the actual with the ideal, but as far as the terms "good" and "bad" are used in morals they express the rule or the contrary of reason, or the harmony or the contrary of the particular and the general. The idea of free as opposed to necessary expresses simply the fact that the mind can propose to itself ends, though a man cannot alter his own nature.

In contrast to Kant and Fichte and modern moral philosophers, Schleiermacher reintroduced and assigned pre-eminent importance to the doctrine of the summum bonum, or highest good. It represents in his system the ideal and aim of the entire life of man, supplying the ethical view of the conduct of individuals in relation to society and the universe, and therewith constituting a philosophy of history at the same time. Starting with the idea of the highest good and of its constituent elements (Güter), or the chief forms of the union of mind and nature, Schleiermacher's system divides itself into the doctrine of moral ends, the doctrine of virtue and the doctrine of duties; in other words, as a development of the idea of the subjection of nature to reason it becomes a description of the actual forms of the triumphs of reason, of the moral power manifested therein and of the specific methods employed. Every moral good or product has a fourfold character: it is individual and' universal; it is an organ and symbol of the reason, that is, it is the product of the individual with relation to the community, and represents or manifests as well as classifies and rules nature.

The first two characteristics provide for the functions and rights of the individual as well as those of the community or race. Though a moral action may have these four characteristics at various degrees of strength, it ceases to be moral if one of them is quite absent. All moral products may be classified according to the predominance of one or the other of these characteristics. Universal organizing action produces the forms of intercourse, and universal symbolizing action produces the various forms of science; individual organizing action yields the forms of property and individual symbolizing action the various representations of feeling, all these constituting the relations, the productive spheres, or the social conditions of moral action. Moral functions cannot be performed by the individual in isolation but only in his relation to the family, the state, the school, the church, and society — all forms of human life which ethical science finds to its hand and leaves to the science of natural history to account for. The moral process is accomplished by the various sections of humanity in their individual spheres, and the doctrine of virtue deals with the reason as the moral power in each individual by which the totality of moral products is obtained.

Schleiermacher classifies the virtues under the two forms of Gesinnung ("disposition, attitude") and Fertigkeit ("dexterity, proficiency"), the first consisting of the pure ideal element in action and the second the form it assumes in relation to circumstances, each of the two classes falling respectively into the two divisions of wisdom and love and of intelligence and application. In his system the doctrine of duty is the description of the method of the attainment of ethical ends, the conception of duty as an imperative, or obligation, being excluded, as we have seen. No action fulfills the conditions of duty except as it combines the three following antitheses: reference to the moral idea in its whole extent and likewise to a definite moral sphere; connection with existing conditions and at the same time absolute personal production; the fulfillment of the entire moral vocation every moment though it can only be done in a definite sphere. Duties are divided with reference to the principle that every man make his own the entire moral problem and act at the same time in an existing moral society. This condition gives four general classes of duty: duties of general association or duties with reference to the community (Rechtspflicht), and duties of vocation (Berufspflicht) — both with a universal reference, duties of the conscience (in which the individual is sole judge), and duties of love or of personal association.

It was only the first of the three sections of the science of ethics — the doctrine of moral ends — that Schleiermacher handled with approximate completeness; the other two sections were treated very summarily. In his Christian Ethics he dealt with the subject from the basis of the Christian consciousness instead of from that of reason generally; the ethical phenomena dealt with are the same in both systems, and they throw light on each other, while the Christian system treats more at length and less aphoristically the principal ethical realities — church, state, family, art, science and society. Rothe, amongst other moral philosophers, bases his system substantially, with important departures, on Schleiermacher's. In Beneke's moral system his fundamental idea was worked out in its psychological relations.

Schleiermacher held that an eternal hell was not compatible with the love of God. Divine punishment was rehabilitative, not penal, and designed to reform the person.[35] He was one of the first major theologians of modern times to teach Christian Universalism.

Writings concerning society

On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers is a book written by Schleiermacher dealing with the gap he saw as emerging between the cultural elite and general society. Schleiermacher was writing when the Enlightenment was in full swing and when the first major transition into modernity was simultaneously occurring. With the fall of the late Middle Ages and a vigorous discourse taking hold of Western European intellectuals, the fields of art and natural philosophy were flourishing. However, the discourse of theologians, arguably the primary and only discourse of intellectuals for centuries, had taken to its own now minor corner in the universities. On Religion is divided into five major sections: the Defense (Apologie), the Nature of Religion (Über das Wesen der Religion), the Cultivation of Religion (Über die Bildung zur Religion), Association in Religion (Über das Gesellige in der Religion, oder über Kirche und Priesterthum), and the Religions (Über die Religionen). Schleiermacher initiates his speeches on religion in its opening chapter by asserting that the contemporary critique of religion is often over-simplified by the assumption that there are two supposed "hinges" upon which all critiques of religion(s) are based. These two over-simplifications are given by Schleiermacher as first, that their conscience shall be put into judgement, and second, the "general idea turns on the fear of an eternal being, or, broadly, respect for his influence on the occurrences of this life called by you providence, or expectation of a future life after this one, called by you immortality."[36]

Religious thought

From Leibniz, Lessing, Fichte, Jacobi and the Romantic school, Schleiermacher had imbibed a profound and mystical view of the inner depths of the human personality. His religious thought found its expression most notably in The Christian Faith, one of the most influential works of Christian theology of its time.

Schleiermacher saw the ego, the person, as an individualization of universal reason; and the primary act of self-consciousness as the first conjunction of universal and individual life, the immediate union or marriage of the universe with incarnated reason. Thus every person becomes a specific and original representation of the universe and a compendium of humanity, a microcosmos in which the world is immediately reflected. While therefore we cannot, as we have seen, attain the idea of the supreme unity of thought and being by either cognition or volition, we can find it in our own personality, in immediate self-consciousness or (which is the same in Schleiermacher's terminology) feeling.
Feeling in this higher sense (as distinguished from "organic" sensibility, Empfindung), which is the minimum of distinct antithetic consciousness, the cessation of the antithesis of subject and object, constitutes likewise the unity of our being, in which the opposite functions of cognition and volition have their fundamental and permanent background of personality and their transitional link. Having its seat in this central point of our being, or indeed consisting in the essential fact of self-consciousness, religion lies at the basis of all thought, feeling and action.

At various periods of his life Schleiermacher used different terms to represent the character and relation of religious feeling. In his earlier days he called it a feeling or intuition of the universe, consciousness of the unity of reason and nature, of the infinite and the eternal within the finite and the temporal. In later life he described it as the feeling of absolute dependence, or, as meaning the same thing, the consciousness of being in relation to God. In his Addresses on Religion (1799), he wrote:[37]

Religion is the outcome neither of the fear of death, nor of the fear of God. It answers a deep need in man. It is neither a metaphysic, nor a morality, but above all and essentially an intuition and a feeling. ... Dogmas are not, properly speaking, part of religion: rather it is that they are derived from it. Religion is the miracle of direct relationship with the infinite; and dogmas are the reflection of this miracle. Similarly belief in God, and in personal immortality, are not necessarily a part of religion; one can conceive of a religion without God, and it would be pure contemplation of the universe; the desire for personal immortality seems rather to show a lack of religion, since religion assumes a desire to lose oneself in the infinite, rather than to preserve one's own finite self.

Schleiermacher's concept of church has been contrasted with J.S. Semler's.[38]


The Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck, deeply concerned with the problem of objectivism and subjectivism in the doctrine of revelation, employs Schleiermacher’s doctrine of revelation in his own way and regards the Bible as the objective standard for his theological work. Bavinck also stresses the importance of the church, which forms the Christian consciousness and experience. In so doing, he attempts to overcome the latent weakness of Schleiermacher’s doctrine of revelation through his emphasis on the ecclesiological doctrine of revelation.[39]


Asteroid 12694 Schleiermacher is named for this German theologian—the name was chosen by German astronomer Freimut Börngen.


Under the title Gesamtausgabe der Werke Schleiermachers in drei Abteilungen, Schleiermacher's works were first published in three sections:

1. Theological (11 vols.)
2. Sermons (10 vols., 1873–1874, 5 vols)
3. Philosophical and Miscellaneous (9 vols., 1835–1864).

See also Sämmtliche Werke (Berlin, 1834ff.), and Werke: mit einem Bildnis Schleiermachers (Leipzig, 1910) in four volumes.

Other works include:

• Pädagogische Schriften (3rd ed., 1902).
• Aus Schleiermachers Leben in Briefen (Berlin, 1858–1863, in 4 vols., correspondence).
• Leben Schleiermachers. Vol. 1. Ed. Wilhelm Dilthey. Berlin: Reimer, 1870. (Correspondence from 1768–1804).
o The Life of Schleiermacher as Unfolded in His Autobiography and Letters. Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Tr. F. Rowan. London: 1860.
• Friedrich Schleiermacher, ein Lebens- und Charakterbild. D. Schenkel, 1868 (based on selection of letters).

Modern editions:

• Brief Outline for the Study of Theology (Kurze Darstellung des theologischen Studiums zum Behuf einleitender Vorlesungen, 1830).
o 1850 text tr. by William Farrer, Edinburgh.
o 1966 text tr. by Terrence Tice, Richmond, VA.
• The Christian Faith in Outline (2nd ed. of Der Christliche Glaube, 1830–1).
o 1911 condensed presentation tr. and ed. by George Cross, The Theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1911.
o 1922 outline tr. by D. M. (Donald Macpherson) Baillie, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
o 1999 text tr. by H. R. MacKintosh, ed. J. S. Stewart. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. Paperback: ISBN 0-567-08709-3.
• Christmas Eve: A Dialogue on the Incarnation (Die Weihnachtsfeier: Ein Gespräch, 1826).
o 1890 text tr. by W. Hastie, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.
o 1967 text tr. by Terrence Tice, Richmond, VA: Scholars Press.
• Dialectic, or, The Art of Doing Philosophy: A Study Edition of the 1811 Notes (Schleiermachers Dialektik, 1903). Tr. Terrence Tice. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 2000. Paperback: ISBN 0-7885-0293-X
• Fifteen Sermons of Friedrich Schleiermacher Delivered to Celebrate the Beginning of a New Year (Monologues, 1800), tr. Edwina G. Lawler, Edwin Mellen Press, 2003. hardcover: ISBN 0-7734-6628-2
• Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher. Tr. Mary F. Wilson. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1890.
• Schleiermacher's Introductions to the Dialogues of Plato, trans. William Dobson. 1836; reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1973; reprint, Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2009. Paperback: ISBN 1-116-55546-8.
• Lectures on Philosophical Ethics (Grundriss der philosophischen Ethik, 1841). Tr. Louise Adey Huish. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Paperback: ISBN 0-521-00767-4
• The Life of Jesus, tr. S. Maclean Gilmour. Sigler Press 1997. Paperback: ISBN 1-888961-04-X
• A Critical Essay on the Gospel of Luke (Űber die Schriften des Lukas: ein kritischer Versuch, 1817). London: Taylor, 1825.
• Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Writings (Hermeneutik und Kritik mit besonderer Beziehung auf das Neue Testament, 1838). Tr. Andrew Bowie. Cambridge University Press, 1998 Paperback: ISBN 0-521-59848-6
• Hermeneutics: The Handwritten Manuscripts, Ed. Heinz Kimmerle. Tr. James O. Duke and Jack Forstman. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1977 Paperback ISBN 0-89130-186-0
• On Creeds, Confessions And Church Union: "That They May Be One", tr. Iain G. Nicol. Edwin Mellen Press 2004. hardcover: ISBN 0-7734-6464-6
• On Freedom, trans. A. L. Blackwell. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1992.
• On the Glaubenslehre: Two Letters to Dr. Lucke (Schleiermachers Sendschreiben über seine Glaubenslehre an Lücke). Tr. James O. Duke and Francis Fiorenza. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1981.
• On the Highest Good, trans. H. V. Froese. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1992.
• On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (Über die Religion: Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern, three editions: 1799, 1806, 1831)
o 1799 text tr. Richard Crouter, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Paperback: ISBN 0-521-47975-4
o 1893 text tr. by John Oman, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994. Paperback: ISBN 0-664-25556-6
• On the Worth of Life (Űber den Wert des Lebens), trans. E. Lawlor, T. N. Tice. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 1995.
• Soliloquies, trans. Horace L. Friess. Chicago, 1957.
• Toward a Theory of Sociable Conduct and Essays in Its Intellectual-Cultural Context, tr. Ruth Drucilla Richardson. Edwin Mellen Press, 1996 hardcover: ISBN 0-7734-8938-X
• Selected Sermons of Schleiermacher, tr. Mary F. Wilson. Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004. Paperback: ISBN 1-59244-602-7

See also

• First Alcibiades
• Fidelity and transparency
• Allegorical interpretations of Plato, for Schleiermacher's influential Plato interpretation
• Plato's unwritten doctrines, for the reaction against Schleiermacher's Plato interpretation
• Hermeneutic circle


1. Biografie, Friedrich Schleiermacher
2. Kristin Gjesdal, Gadamer and the Legacy of German Idealism, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 156.
3. Paola Mayer, Jena Romanticism and Its Appropriation of Jakob Böhme, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1999, p. 101.
4. Helmut Thielicke, Modern Faith and Thought, William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1990, p. 174.
5. Kurt Mueller-Vollmer (ed.), The Hermeneutics Reader, Continuum, 1988, p. 72.
6. Edward Joseph Echeverria, Criticism and Commitment: Major Themes in Contemporary "Post-Critical" Philosophy, Rodopi, 1981, p. 221.
7. Friedrich Schleiermacher, Hermeneutics: The Handwritten Manuscripts, ed. by Heinz Kimmerle, trans. by James Duke and Jack Forstman (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1977), p. 196: "just as the whole is understood from the parts, so the parts can be understood from the whole. This principle is of such consequence for hermeneutics and so incontestable that one cannot even begin to interpret without using it."
8. Anthony C. Thiselton, New Horizons in Hermeneutics: The Theory and Practice of Transforming Biblical Reading, Harper Collins, 1997, p. 214.
9. Friedrich Schleiermacher, "Ueber den Begriff der Hermeneutik mit Bezug auf F. A. Wolfs Andeutungen und Asts Lehrbuch", lecture delivered on August 13, 1829; published in Friedrich Schleiermachers sämtliche Werke III/3, 1838 (Schleiermacher makes reference to Ast's Grundlinien der Grammatik, Hermeneutik und Kritik (1808) and Wolf's Vorlesungen über die Enzyklopädie der Altertumswissenschaft (1831)); Richard E. Palmer, Hermeneutics, Northwestern University Press, 1969, ch. 6.
10. Michael N. Forster, After Herder: Philosophy of Language in the German Tradition, Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 9.
11. Frederick C. Beiser, Late German Idealism: Trendelenburg and Lotze, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 20.
12. Hinson-Hasty, Elizabeth (2013). "'In Each the Work of All, and in All the Work of Each': Sin and Salvation in Schleiermacher and Rauschenbusch". In Wilcox, Jeffrey A.; Tice, Terrence N.; Kelsey, Catherine L. (eds.). Schleiermacher's Influences on American Thought and Religious Life (1835–1920). 1. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. pp. 371–372. ISBN 978-1-60608-005-4.
13. Schwarz, Hans (2005). Theology in a Global Context: The Last Two Hundred Years. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-0-8028-2986-3.
14. Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology: Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834)
15. Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Zionites". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
16. Michael A. G. Haykin, Liberal Protestantism, p. 3
17. B. A. Gerrish, A Prince of the Church: Schleiermacher and the Beginnings of Modern Theology (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984), p. 25.
18. Palmer, Richard E. Hermeneutics. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 1969.
19. Duke, James O. "Translators' Introduction" Hermeneutics: The Handwritten Manuscripts. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1977, 1.
20. Duke, James O. "Translators' Introduction" Hermeneutics: The Handwritten Manuscripts. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1977, 2.
21. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol.10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 1.
22. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol.10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 2-3.
23. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. ed. Andrew Bowie. Hermeneutics and Criticism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 229.
24. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. ed. Andrew Bowie. Hermeneutics and Criticism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 228
25. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 5;10.
26. Friedrich D. E. Schleiermacher, "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 6.
27. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. ed. Andrew Bowie. Hermeneutics and Criticism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 232.
28. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 9.
29. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 9.
30. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. ed. Andrew Bowie. Hermeneutics and Criticism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 256.
31. Palmer, Richard (1969). Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. pp. 87–88. ISBN 9780810104594.
32. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. "The Hermeneutics: Outline of the 1819 Lectures," New Literary History, Vol. 10, No. 1, Literary Hermeneutics (Autumn, 1978), 14.
33. Schleiermacher, Friedrich D. E. ed. Andrew Bowie. Hermeneutics and Criticism. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 227.
34. Palmer, Richard (1969). Hermeneutics. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. pp. 96–97. ISBN 9780810104594.
35. Gunton, Colin E. The Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine. p. 240.
36. F. Scheiermacher, On Religion, Ch.1, pp12-13.
37. Quoted in Kedourie, Elie. Nationalism, p. 26. Praeger University Series. 1961. ISBN 0-09-053444-1
38. Rendtorff, Trutz. Church and Theology: The Systematic Function of the Church Concept in Modern Theology, Westminster Press, 1971, ISBN 978-0-664-20908-7.
39. Woo, B. Hoon (2015). "Bavinck and Barth on Schleiermacher's Doctrine of Revelation". Korea Reformed Theology. 48: 38–71.


• Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
• Heinrich Fink: Begründung der Funktion der Praktischen Theologie bei Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher: Eine Untersuchung anhand seiner praktisch-theologischen Vorlesungen. Berlin 1966 (Berlin, Humboldt-U., Theol. F., Diss. v. 25. Jan. 1966) [master's thesis]
• Wilhelm Dilthey: Leben Schleiermachers, ed. M. Redeker, Berlin 1966
• Falk Wagner: Schleiermachers Dialektik. Eine kritische Interpretation, Gütersloh 1974
• Brian A. Gerrish: A Prince of the Church. Schleiermacher and the Beginnings of Modern Theology, London / Philadelphia 1984
• Kurt-Victor Selge (ed.): Internationaler Schleiermacher-Kongreß Berlin 1984 (Zwei Teilbände), Berlin / New York 1985
• Günter Meckenstock: Deterministische Ethik und kritische Theologie. Die Auseinandersetzung des frühen Schleiermacher mit Kant und Spinoza 1789–1794, Berlin / New York 1988
• Hans-Joachim Birkner: Schleiermacher-Studien. (Schleiermacher-Archiv. Band 16), Berlin / New York 1996
• Julia A. Lamm: The Living God: Schleiermacher's Theological Appropriation of Spinoza, University Park, Pennsylvania 1996
• Ulrich Barth / Claus-Dieter Osthövener (Hg.), 200 Jahre "Reden über die Religion". Akten des 1. Internationalen Kongresses der Schleiermacher-Gesellschaft Halle, 14.–17. March 1999 (Schleiermacher Archiv 19), Berlin / New York 2000
• Kurt Nowak: Schleiermacher. Leben, Werk und Wirkung. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2001.
• Matthias Wolfes: Öffentlichkeit und Bürgergesellschaft. Friedrich Schleiermachers politische Wirksamkeit, Berlin / New York 2004
• Lundberg, Phillip (2005). Tallyho – The Hunt for Virtue: Beauty, Truth and Goodness – Nine Dialogues by Plato. AuthorHouse. ISBN 1-4184-4976-8.
• Christof Ellsiepen: Anschauung des Universums und Scientia Intuitiva. Die spinozistischen Grundlagen von Schleiermachers früher Religionstheorie, Berlin / New York 2006
• Walter Wyman, Jr.: "The Role of the Protestant Confessions in Schleiermacher’s The Christian Faith". The Journal of Religion 87:355–385, July 2007
• Christentum – Staat – Kultur. Akten des Kongresses der Internationalen Schleiermacher-Gesellschaft in Berlin, March 2006. Hrsg. von Andreas Arndt, Ulrich Barth and Wilhelm Gräb (Schleiermacher-Archiv 22), De Gruyter: Berlin / New York 2008


In English

• Barth, Karl. The Theology of Schleiermacher. trans. Geoffrey Bromiley. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1982.
• Barth, Karl. "Schleiermacher," in Protestant Theology from Rousseau to Ritschl. New York: Harper, 1959. Ch. VIII, pp. 306–354.
• Brandt, R. B. The Philosophy of Schleiermacher: The Development of his Theory of Scientific and Religious Knowledge. Westport, CT: 1968.
• Crouter, Richard. Friedrich Schleiermacher: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 2008.
• Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method, 2nd revised ed. tr. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald . Marshall. New York: Continuum, 1994.
• Kenklies, K. (2012). "Educational theory as topological rhetoric. The concepts of pedagogy of Johann Friedrich Herbart and Friedrich Schleiermacher". Studies in Philosophy and Education. 31: 265–273. doi:10.1007/s11217-012-9287-6.
• Kenklies, Karsten. "Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst". In Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy. Edited by D.C. Phillips. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2014, pp. 733–735.
• Kirn, O. "Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst." The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Vol. X. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1911. pp. 240–246.
• Mariña, Jacqueline, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Schleiermacher. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
• Munro, Robert. Schleiermacher: Personal and Speculative. Paisley: A. Gardner, 1903.
• Niehbuhr, Richard R. Schleiermacher on Christ and Religion: A New Introduction. New York: Scribners, 1964.
• Park, Jae-Eun. "Schleiermacher's Perspective on Redemption: A Fulfillment of the coincidentia oppositorum between the Finite and the Infinite in Participation with Christ." Journal of Reformed Theology 9/3 (2015): 270-294.
• Selbie, W. E. Schleiermacher: A Critical and Historical Study. New York: Dutton, 1913.
• Kerber, Hannes. "Strauss and Schleiermacher. An Introduction to 'Exoteric Teaching". In Reorientation: Leo Strauss in the 1930s. Edited by Martin D. Yaffe and Richard S. Ruderman. New York: Palgrave, 2014, pp. 203–214.
In French
• Berman, Antoine. L'épreuve de l'étranger. Culture et traduction dans l'Allemagne romantique: Herder, Goethe, Schlegel, Novalis, Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Hölderlin, Paris, Gallimard, Essais, 1984. ISBN 978-2-07-070076-9

External links

• Media related to Friedrich Schleiermacher at Wikimedia Commons
• Quotations related to Friedrich Schleiermacher at Wikiquote
• Works by or about Friedrich Schleiermacher at Internet Archive
• Works by Friedrich Schleiermacher at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
• Works by or about Friedrich Schleiermacher in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
• Infography about Friedrich Schleiermacher
• Böhme, Traugott (1920). "Schleiermacher, Friedrich Ernst Daniel" . Encyclopedia Americana.
• Literature by and about Friedrich Schleiermacher in the German National Library catalogue
• Wilhelm Dilthey (1890), "Schleiermacher, Friedrich", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 31, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 422–457
• Works by and about Friedrich Schleiermacher in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library)
• Ulrich Schwab (1995). "Schleiermacher, Friedrich Daniel Ernst". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 9. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 253–270. ISBN 3-88309-058-1.
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Liber Divinorum Operum, or the Universal Man of St. Hildegard of Bingen, 1185 (13th-century copy)

Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies (religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness), together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them.[web 1] It may also refer to the attainment of insight in ultimate or hidden truths, and to human transformation supported by various practices and experiences.[web 2]

The term "mysticism" has Ancient Greek origins with various historically determined meanings.[web 1][web 2] Derived from the Greek word μύω múō, meaning "to close" or "to conceal",[web 2] mysticism referred to the biblical, liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.[1] During the early modern period, the definition of mysticism grew to include a broad range of beliefs and ideologies related to "extraordinary experiences and states of mind."[2]

In modern times, "mysticism" has acquired a limited definition, with broad applications, as meaning the aim at the "union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God".[web 1] This limited definition has been applied to a wide range of religious traditions and practices,[web 1] valuing "mystical experience" as a key element of mysticism.

Broadly defined, mysticism can be found in all religious traditions, from indigenous religions and folk religions like shamanism, to organised religions like the Abrahamic faiths and Indian religions, and modern spirituality, New Age and New Religious Movements.

Since the 1960s scholars have debated the merits of perennial and constructionist approaches in the scientific research of "mystical experiences".[3][4][5] The perennial position is now "largely dismissed by scholars",[6] most scholars using a contextualist approach, which takes the cultural and historical context into consideration.[7]


See also: Christian contemplation and Henosis

"Mysticism" is derived from the Greek μυω, meaning "I conceal",[web 2] and its derivative μυστικός, mystikos, meaning 'an initiate'. The verb μυώ has received a quite different meaning in the Greek language, where it is still in use. The primary meanings it has are "induct" and "initiate". Secondary meanings include "introduce", "make someone aware of something", "train", "familiarize", "give first experience of something".[web 3]

The related form of the verb μυέω (mueó or myéō) appears in the New Testament. As explained in Strong's Concordance, it properly means shutting the eyes and mouth to experience mystery. Its figurative meaning is to be initiated into the "mystery revelation". The meaning derives from the initiatory rites of the pagan mysteries.[web 4] Also appearing in the New Testament is the related noun μυστήριον (mustérion or mystḗrion), the root word of the English term "mystery". The term means "anything hidden", a mystery or secret, of which initiation is necessary. In the New Testament it reportedly takes the meaning of the counsels of God, once hidden but now revealed in the Gospel or some fact thereof, the Christian revelation generally, and/or particular truths or details of the Christian revelation.[web 5]

According to Thayer's Greek Lexicon, the term μυστήριον in classical Greek meant "a hidden thing", "secret". A particular meaning it took in Classical antiquity was a religious secret or religious secrets, confided only to the initiated and not to be communicated by them to ordinary mortals. In the Septuagint and the New Testament the meaning it took was that of a hidden purpose or counsel, a secret will. It is sometimes used for the hidden wills of humans, but is more often used for the hidden will of God. Elsewhere in the Bible it takes the meaning of the mystic or hidden sense of things. It is used for the secrets behind sayings, names, or behind images seen in visions and dreams. The Vulgate often translates the Greek term to the Latin sacramentum (sacrament).[web 5]

The related noun μύστης (mustis or mystis, singular) means the initiate, the person initiated to the mysteries.[web 5] According to Ana Jiménez San Cristobal in her study of Greco-Roman mysteries and Orphism, the singular form μύστης and the plural form μύσται are used in ancient Greek texts to mean the person or persons initiated to religious mysteries. These followers of mystery religions belonged to a select group, where access was only gained through an initiation. She finds that the terms were associated with the term βάκχος (Bacchus), which was used for a special class of initiates of the Orphic mysteries. The terms are first found connected in the writings of Heraclitus. Such initiates are identified in texts with the persons who have been purified and have performed certain rites. A passage of the Cretans by Euripides seems to explain that the μύστης (initiate) who devotes himself to an ascetic life, renounces sexual activities, and avoids contact with the dead becomes known as βάκχος. Such initiates were believers in the god Dionysus Bacchus who took on the name of their god and sought an identification with their deity.[8]

Until the sixth century the practice of what is now called mysticism was referred to by the term contemplatio, c.q. theoria.[9] According to Johnson, "oth contemplation and mysticism speak of the eye of love which is looking at, gazing at, aware of divine realities."[9]


According to Peter Moore, the term "mysticism" is "problematic but indispensable."[10] It is a generic term which joins together into one concept separate practices and ideas which developed separately,[10] According to Dupré, "mysticism" has been defined in many ways,[11] and Merkur notes that the definition, or meaning, of the term "mysticism" has changed through the ages.[web 1] Moore further notes that the term "mysticism" has become a popular label for "anything nebulous, esoteric, occult, or supernatural."[10]

Parsons warns that "what might at times seem to be a straightforward phenomenon exhibiting an unambiguous commonality has become, at least within the academic study of religion, opaque and controversial on multiple levels".[12] Because of its Christian overtones, and the lack of similar terms in other cultures, some scholars regard the term "mysticism" to be inadequate as a useful descriptive term.[10] Other scholars regard the term to be an inauthentic fabrication,[10][web 1] the "product of post-Enlightenment universalism."[10]

Union with the Divine or Absolute and mystical experience

See also: Hesychasm, Contemplative prayer, and Apophatic theology

Deriving from Neo-Platonism and Henosis, mysticism is popularly known as union with God or the Absolute.[13][14] In the 13th century the term unio mystica came to be used to refer to the "spiritual marriage," the ecstasy, or rapture, that was experienced when prayer was used "to contemplate both God’s omnipresence in the world and God in his essence."[web 1] In the 19th century, under the influence of Romanticism, this "union" was interpreted as a "religious experience," which provides certainty about God or a transcendental reality.[web 1][note 1]

An influential proponent of this understanding was William James (1842–1910), who stated that "in mystic states we both become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness."[16] William James popularized this use of the term "religious experience"[note 2] in his The Varieties of Religious Experience,[18][19][web 2] contributing to the interpretation of mysticism as a distinctive experience, comparable to sensory experiences.[20][web 2] Religious experiences belonged to the "personal religion,"[21] which he considered to be "more fundamental than either theology or ecclesiasticism".[21] He gave a Perennialist interpretation to religious experience, stating that this kind of experience is ultimately uniform in various traditions.[note 3]

McGinn notes that the term unio mystica, although it has Christian origins, is primarily a modern expression.[22] McGinn argues that "presence" is more accurate than "union", since not all mystics spoke of union with God, and since many visions and miracles were not necessarily related to union. He also argues that we should speak of "consciousness" of God's presence, rather than of "experience", since mystical activity is not simply about the sensation of God as an external object, but more broadly about "new ways of knowing and loving based on states of awareness in which God becomes present in our inner acts."[23]

However, the idea of "union" does not work in all contexts. For example, in Advaita Vedanta, there is only one reality (Brahman) and therefore nothing other than reality to unite with it—Brahman in each person (atman) has always in fact been identical to Brahman all along. Dan Merkur also notes that union with God or the Absolute is a too limited definition, since there are also traditions which aim not at a sense of unity, but of nothingness, such as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Meister Eckhart.[web 1] According to Merkur, Kabbala and Buddhism also emphasize nothingness.[web 1] Blakemore and Jennett note that "definitions of mysticism [...] are often imprecise." They further note that this kind of interpretation and definition is a recent development which has become the standard definition and understanding.[web 6][note 4]

According to Gelman, "A unitive experience involves a phenomenological de-emphasis, blurring, or eradication of multiplicity, where the cognitive significance of the experience is deemed to lie precisely in that phenomenological feature".[web 2][note 5]

Religious ecstasies and interpretative context

Main articles: Religious ecstasy, Altered state of consciousness, Cognitive science of religion, Neurotheology, and Attribution (psychology)

Mysticism involves an explanatory context, which provides meaning for mystical and visionary experiences, and related experiences like trances. According to Dan Merkur, mysticism may relate to any kind of ecstasy or altered state of consciousness, and the ideas and explanations related to them.[web 1][note 6] Parsons stresses the importance of distinguishing between temporary experiences and mysticism as a process, which is embodied within a "religious matrix" of texts and practices.[26][note 7] Richard Jones does the same.[27] Peter Moore notes that mystical experience may also happen in a spontaneous and natural way, to people who are not committed to any religious tradition. These experiences are not necessarily interpreted in a religious framework.[28] Ann Taves asks by which processes experiences are set apart and deemed religious or mystical.[29]

Intuitive insight and enlightenment

Main articles: Enlightenment (spiritual), Divine illumination, and Subitism

Some authors emphasize that mystical experience involves intuitive understanding of the meaning of existence and of hidden truths, and the resolution of life problems. According to Larson, "mystical experience is an intuitive understanding and realization of the meaning of existence."[30][note 8] According to McClenon, mysticism is "the doctrine that special mental states or events allow an understanding of ultimate truths."[web 7][note 9] According to James R. Horne, mystical illumination is "a central visionary experience [...] that results in the resolution of a personal or religious problem.[3][note 10]

According to Evelyn Underhill, illumination is a generic English term for the phenomenon of mysticism. The term illumination is derived from the Latin illuminatio, applied to Christian prayer in the 15th century.[31] Comparable Asian terms are bodhi, kensho and satori in Buddhism, commonly translated as "enlightenment", and vipassana, which all point to cognitive processes of intuition and comprehension. According to Wright, the use of the western word enlightenment is based on the supposed resemblance of bodhi with Aufklärung, the independent use of reason to gain insight into the true nature of our world, and there are more resemblances with Romanticism than with the Enlightenment: the emphasis on feeling, on intuitive insight, on a true essence beyond the world of appearances.[32]

Spiritual life and re-formation

Main articles: Spirituality, Spiritual development, Self-realization, and Ego death

Other authors point out that mysticism involves more than "mystical experience." According to Gellmann, the ultimate goal of mysticism is human transformation, not just experiencing mystical or visionary states.[web 2][note 13][note 14] According to McGinn, personal transformation is the essential criterion to determine the authenticity of Christian mysticism.[23][note 15]

History of the term

Hellenistic world

In the Hellenistic world, 'mystical' referred to "secret" religious rituals like the Eleusinian Mysteries.[web 2] The use of the word lacked any direct references to the transcendental.[12] A "mystikos" was an initiate of a mystery religion.

Early Christianity

Main articles: Greco-Roman mysteries, Early Christianity, and Esoteric Christianity

In early Christianity the term "mystikos" referred to three dimensions, which soon became intertwined, namely the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative.[1] The biblical dimension refers to "hidden" or allegorical interpretations of Scriptures.[web 2][1] The liturgical dimension refers to the liturgical mystery of the Eucharist, the presence of Christ at the Eucharist.[web 2][1] The third dimension is the contemplative or experiential knowledge of God.[1]

Until the sixth century, the Greek term theoria, meaning "contemplation" in Latin, was used for the mystical interpretation of the Bible.[9] The link between mysticism and the vision of the Divine was introduced by the early Church Fathers, who used the term as an adjective, as in mystical theology and mystical contemplation.[12] Under the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite the mystical theology came to denote the investigation of the allegorical truth of the Bible,[1] and "the spiritual awareness of the ineffable Absolute beyond the theology of divine names."[36] Pseudo-Dionysius' Apophatic theology, or "negative theology", exerted a great influence on medieval monastic religiosity.[37] It was influenced by Neo-Platonism, and very influential in Eastern Orthodox Christian theology. In western Christianity it was a counter-current to the prevailing Cataphatic theology or "positive theology".

Theoria enabled the Fathers to perceive depths of meaning in the biblical writings that escape a purely scientific or empirical approach to interpretation.[38] The Antiochene Fathers, in particular, saw in every passage of Scripture a double meaning, both literal and spiritual.[39]

Later, theoria or contemplation came to be distinguished from intellectual life, leading to the identification of θεωρία or contemplatio with a form of prayer[40] distinguished from discursive meditation in both East[41] and West.[42]

Medieval meaning

See also: Middle Ages

This threefold meaning of "mystical" continued in the Middle Ages.[1] According to Dan Merkur, the term unio mystica came into use in the 13th century as a synonym for the "spiritual marriage," the ecstasy, or rapture, that was experienced when prayer was used "to contemplate both God’s omnipresence in the world and God in his essence."[web 1] Under the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite the mystical theology came to denote the investigation of the allegorical truth of the Bible,[1] and "the spiritual awareness of the ineffable Absolute beyond the theology of divine names."[36] Pseudo-Dionysius' Apophatic theology, or "negative theology", exerted a great influence on medieval monastic religiosity, although it was mostly a male religiosity, since women were not allowed to study.[37] It was influenced by Neo-Platonism, and very influential in Eastern Orthodox Christian theology. In western Christianity it was a counter-current to the prevailing Cataphatic theology or "positive theology". It is best known nowadays in the western world from Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross.

Early modern meaning

See also: Early modern period

The Appearance of the Holy Spirit before Saint Teresa of Ávila, Peter Paul Rubens

In the sixteenth and seventeenth century mysticism came to be used as a substantive.[12] This shift was linked to a new discourse,[12] in which science and religion were separated.[43]

Luther dismissed the allegorical interpretation of the bible, and condemned Mystical theology, which he saw as more Platonic than Christian.[44] "The mystical", as the search for the hidden meaning of texts, became secularised, and also associated with literature, as opposed to science and prose.[45]

Science was also distinguished from religion. By the middle of the 17th century, "the mystical" is increasingly applied exclusively to the religious realm, separating religion and "natural philosophy" as two distinct approaches to the discovery of the hidden meaning of the universe.[46] The traditional hagiographies and writings of the saints became designated as "mystical", shifting from the virtues and miracles to extraordinary experiences and states of mind, thereby creating a newly coined "mystical tradition".[2] A new understanding developed of the Divine as residing within human, an essence beyond the varieties of religious expressions.[12]

Contemporary meaning

See also: Western esotericism, Theosophy (Blavatskian), Syncretism, Spirituality, and New Age

The 19th century saw a growing emphasis on individual experience, as a defense against the growing rationalism of western society.[19][web 1] The meaning of mysticism was considerably narrowed:[web 1]

The competition between the perspectives of theology and science resulted in a compromise in which most varieties of what had traditionally been called mysticism were dismissed as merely psychological phenomena and only one variety, which aimed at union with the Absolute, the Infinite, or God—and thereby the perception of its essential unity or oneness—was claimed to be genuinely mystical. The historical evidence, however, does not support such a narrow conception of mysticism.[web 1]

Under the influence of Perennialism, which was popularised in both the west and the east by Unitarianism, Transcendentalists and Theosophy, mysticism has been applied to a broad spectrum of religious traditions, in which all sorts of esotericism and religious traditions and practices are joined together.[47][48][19] The term mysticism was extended to comparable phenomena in non-Christian religions,[web 1] where it influenced Hindu and Buddhist responses to colonialism, resulting in Neo-Vedanta and Buddhist modernism.[48][49]

In the contemporary usage "mysticism" has become an umbrella term for all sorts of non-rational world views,[50] parapsychology and pseudoscience.[51][52][53][54] William Harmless even states that mysticism has become "a catch-all for religious weirdness".[55] Within the academic study of religion the apparent "unambiguous commonality" has become "opaque and controversial".[12] The term "mysticism" is being used in different ways in different traditions.[12] Some call to attention the conflation of mysticism and linked terms, such as spirituality and esotericism, and point at the differences between various traditions.[56]

Variations of mysticism

Based on various definitions of mysticism, namely mysticism as an experience of union or nothingness, mysticism as any kind of an altered state of consciousness which is attributed in a religious way, mysticism as "enlightenment" or insight, and mysticism as a way of transformation, "mysticism" can be found in many cultures and religious traditions, both in folk religion and organized religion. These traditions include practices to induce religious or mystical experiences, but also ethical standards and practices to enhance self-control and integrate the mystical experience into daily life.

Dan Merkur notes, though, that mystical practices are often separated from daily religious practices, and restricted to "religious specialists like monastics, priests, and other renunciates.[web 1]

Western mysticism

Mystery religions

Main article: Greco-Roman mysteries

The Eleusinian Mysteries, (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were annual initiation ceremonies in the cults of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone, held in secret at Eleusis (near Athens) in ancient Greece.[57] The mysteries began in about 1600 B.C. in the Mycenean period and continued for two thousand years, becoming a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spreading to Rome.[58] Numerous scholars have proposed that the power of the Eleusinian Mysteries came from the kykeon's functioning as an entheogen.[59]

Christian mysticism

Main articles: Christian contemplation, Christian mysticism, Mystical theology, Apophatic theology, and German mysticism

Early Christianity

The apophatic theology, or "negative theology", of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (6th c.) exerted a great influence on medieval monastic religiosity, both in the East and (by Latin translation) in the West.[37] Pseudo-Dionysius applied Neoplatonic thought, particularly that of Proclus, to Christian theology.

Orthodox Christianity

The Orthodox Church has a long tradition of theoria (intimate experience) and hesychia (inner stillness), in which contemplative prayer silences the mind to progress along the path of theosis (deification).

Theosis, practical unity with and conformity to God, is obtained by engaging in contemplative prayer, the first stage of theoria,[60][note 16] which results from the cultivation of watchfulness (nepsis). In theoria, one comes to behold the "divisibly indivisible" divine operations (energeia) of God as the "uncreated light" of transfiguration, a grace which is eternal and proceeds naturally from the blinding darkness of the incomprehensible divine essence.[note 17][note 18] It is the main aim of hesychasm, which was developed in the thought St. Symeon the New Theologian, embraced by the monastic communities on Mount Athos, and most notably defended by St. Gregory Palamas against the Greek humanist philosopher Barlaam of Calabria. According to Roman Catholic critics, hesychastic practice has its roots to the introduction of a systematic practical approach to quietism by Symeon the New Theologian.[note 19]

Symeon believed that direct experience gave monks the authority to preach and give absolution of sins, without the need for formal ordination. While Church authorities also taught from a speculative and philosophical perspective, Symeon taught from his own direct mystical experience,[63] and met with strong resistance for his charismatic approach, and his support of individual direct experience of God's grace.[63]

Western Europe

Life of Francis of Assisi by José Benlliure y Gil

The High Middle Ages saw a flourishing of mystical practice and theorization in western Roman Catholicism, corresponding to the flourishing of new monastic orders, with such figures as Guigo II, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, the Victorines, all coming from different orders, as well as the first real flowering of popular piety among the laypeople.

The Late Middle Ages saw the clash between the Dominican and Franciscan schools of thought, which was also a conflict between two different mystical theologies: on the one hand that of Dominic de Guzmán and on the other that of Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Bonaventure, and Angela of Foligno. This period also saw such individuals as John of Ruysbroeck, Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa, the Devotio Moderna, and such books as the Theologia Germanica, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Imitation of Christ.

Moreover, there was the growth of groups of mystics centered around geographic regions: the Beguines, such as Mechthild of Magdeburg and Hadewijch (among others); the Rhineland mystics Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso; and the English mystics Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich. The Spanish mystics included Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Ignatius Loyola.

The later post-reformation period also saw the writings of lay visionaries such as Emanuel Swedenborg and William Blake, and the foundation of mystical movements such as the Quakers. Catholic mysticism continued into the modern period with such figures as Padre Pio and Thomas Merton.

The philokalia, an ancient method of Eastern Orthodox mysticism, was promoted by the twentieth century Traditionalist School. The allegedly inspired or "channeled" work A Course in Miracles represents a blending of non-denominational Christian and New Age ideas.

Western esotericism and modern spirituality

Main articles: Western esotericism, Spirituality, and New Age

Many western esoteric traditions and elements of modern spirituality have been regarded as "mysticism," such as Gnosticism, Transcendentalism, Theosophy, the Fourth Way,[64] and Neo-Paganism. Modern western spiritually and transpersonal psychology combine western psycho-therapeutic practices with religious practices like meditation to attain a lasting transformation. Nature mysticism is an intense experience of unification with nature or the cosmic totality, which was popular with Romantic writers.[65]

Jewish mysticism

Main articles: Jewish mysticism and Kabbalah

Portrait of Abraham Abulafia, Medieval Jewish mystic and founder of Prophetic Kabbalah.

In the common era, Judaism has had two main kinds of mysticism: Merkabah mysticism and Kabbalah. The former predated the latter, and was focused on visions, particularly those mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel. It gets its name from the Hebrew word meaning "chariot", a reference to Ezekiel's vision of a fiery chariot composed of heavenly beings.

Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (his creation). Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation.

Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought. Kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are thus held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature, their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.[66]

Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th to 13th century Southern France and Spain, becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine. It was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century forward. 20th-century interest in Kabbalah has inspired cross-denominational Jewish renewal and contributed to wider non-Jewish contemporary spirituality, as well as engaging its flourishing emergence and historical re-emphasis through newly established academic investigation.

Islamic mysticism

Main article: Sufism

Sufism is said to be Islam's inner and mystical dimension.[67][68][69] Classical Sufi scholars have defined Sufism as

[A] science whose objective is the reparation of the heart and turning it away from all else but God.[70]

A practitioner of this tradition is nowadays known as a ṣūfī (صُوفِيّ), or, in earlier usage, a dervish. The origin of the word "Sufi" is ambiguous. One understanding is that Sufi means wool-wearer; wool wearers during early Islam were pious ascetics who withdrew from urban life. Another explanation of the word "Sufi" is that it means 'purity'.[71]

Sufis generally belong to a khalqa, a circle or group, led by a Sheikh or Murshid. Sufi circles usually belong to a Tariqa which is the Sufi order and each has a Silsila, which is the spiritual lineage, which traces its succession back to notable Sufis of the past, and often ultimately to the last prophet Muhammed or one of his close associates. The turuq (plural of tariqa) are not enclosed like Christian monastic orders; rather the members retain an outside life. Membership of a Sufi group often passes down family lines. Meetings may or may not be segregated according to the prevailing custom of the wider society. An existing Muslim faith is not always a requirement for entry, particularly in Western countries.

Mawlānā Rumi's tomb, Konya, Turkey

Sufi practice includes

• Dhikr, or remembrance (of God), which often takes the form of rhythmic chanting and breathing exercises.
• Sama, which takes the form of music and dance — the whirling dance of the Mevlevi dervishes is a form well known in the West.
• Muraqaba or meditation.
• Visiting holy places, particularly the tombs of Sufi saints, in order to remember death and the greatness of those who have passed.

The aims of Sufism include: the experience of ecstatic states (hal), purification of the heart (qalb), overcoming the lower self (nafs), extinction of the individual personality (fana), communion with God (haqiqa), and higher knowledge (marifat). Some sufic beliefs and practices have been found unorthodox by other Muslims; for instance Mansur al-Hallaj was put to death for blasphemy after uttering the phrase Ana'l Haqq, "I am the Truth" (i.e. God) in a trance.

Notable classical Sufis include Jalaluddin Rumi, Fariduddin Attar, Sultan Bahoo, Sayyed Sadique Ali Husaini, Saadi Shirazi and Hafez, all major poets in the Persian language. Omar Khayyam, Al-Ghazzali and Ibn Arabi were renowned scholars. Abdul Qadir Jilani, Moinuddin Chishti, and Bahauddin Naqshband founded major orders, as did Rumi. Rabia Basri was the most prominent female Sufi.

Sufism first came into contact with the Judeo-Christian world during the Moorish occupation of Spain. An interest in Sufism revived in non-Muslim countries during the modern era, led by such figures as Inayat Khan and Idries Shah (both in the UK), Rene Guenon (France) and Ivan Aguéli (Sweden). Sufism has also long been present in Asian countries that do not have a Muslim majority, such as India and China.[72]

Indian religions


Main article: Hinduism

In Hinduism, various sadhanas aim at overcoming ignorance (avidhya) and transcending the limited identification with body, mind and ego to attain moksha. Hinduism has a number of interlinked ascetic traditions and philosophical schools which aim at moksha[73] and the acquisition of higher powers.[74] With the onset of the British colonisation of India, those traditions came to be interpreted in western terms such as "mysticism", drawing equivalents with western terms and practices.[75]

Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which aim to attain a state of permanent peace.[76] Various traditions of yoga are found in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.[77][78][79][78] The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali defines yoga as "the stilling of the changing states of the mind,"[80] which is attained in samadhi.

Classical Vedanta gives philosophical interpretations and commentaries of the Upanishads, a vast collection of ancient hymns. At least ten schools of Vedanta are known,[81] of which Advaita Vedanta, Vishishtadvaita, and Dvaita are the best known.[82] Advaita Vedanta, as expounded by Adi Shankara, states that there is no difference between Atman and Brahman. The best-known subschool is Kevala Vedanta or mayavada as expounded by Adi Shankara. Advaita Vedanta has acquired a broad acceptance in Indian culture and beyond as the paradigmatic example of Hindu spirituality.[83] In contrast Bhedabheda-Vedanta emphasizes that Atman and Brahman are both the same and not the same,[84] while Dvaita Vedanta states that Atman and God are fundamentally different.[84] In modern times, the Upanishads have been interpreted by Neo-Vedanta as being "mystical".[75]

Various Shaivist traditions are strongly nondualistic, such as Kashmir Shaivism and Shaiva Siddhanta.


Main article: Tantra

Tantra is the name given by scholars to a style of meditation and ritual which arose in India no later than the fifth century AD.[85] Tantra has influenced the Hindu, Bön, Buddhist, and Jain traditions and spread with Buddhism to East and Southeast Asia.[86] Tantric ritual seeks to access the supra-mundane through the mundane, identifying the microcosm with the macrocosm.[87] The Tantric aim is to sublimate (rather than negate) reality.[88] The Tantric practitioner seeks to use prana (energy flowing through the universe, including one's body) to attain goals which may be spiritual, material or both.[89] Tantric practice includes visualisation of deities, mantras and mandalas. It can also include sexual and other (antinomian) practices.[citation needed]

Sant-tradition and Sikhism

Main articles: Sant (religion), Nirguna Brahman, and Sikhism

Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana

Mysticism in the Sikh dharm began with its founder, Guru Nanak, who as a child had profound mystical experiences.[90] Guru Nanak stressed that God must be seen with 'the inward eye', or the 'heart', of a human being.[91] Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru, added religious mystics belonging to other religions into the holy scriptures that would eventually become the Guru Granth Sahib.

The goal of Sikhism is to be one with God.[92] Sikhs meditate as a means to progress towards enlightenment; it is devoted meditation simran that enables a sort of communication between the Infinite and finite human consciousness.[93] There is no concentration on the breath but chiefly the remembrance of God through the recitation of the name of God[94] and surrender themselves to God's presence often metaphorized as surrendering themselves to the Lord's feet.[95]


See also: Presectarian Buddhism, Buddhist meditation, and Subitism

According to Oliver, Buddhism is mystical in the sense that it aims at the identification of the true nature of our self, and live according to it.[96] Buddhism originated in India, sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, but is now mostly practiced in other countries, where it developed into a number of traditions, the main ones being Therevada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

Buddhism aims at liberation from the cycle of rebirth by self-control through meditation and morally just behaviour. Some Buddhist paths aim at a gradual development and transformation of the personality toward Nirvana, like the Theravada stages of enlightenment. Others, like the Japanese Rinzai Zen tradition, emphasize sudden insight, but nevertheless also prescribe intensive training, including meditation and self-restraint.

Although Theravada does not acknowledge the existence of a theistic Absolute, it does postulate Nirvana as a transcendent reality which may be attained.[97][98] It further stresses transformation of the personality through meditative practice, self-restraint, and morally just behaviour.[97] According to Richard H. Jones, Theravada is a form of mindful extrovertive and introvertive mysticism, in which the conceptual structuring of experiences is weakened, and the ordinary sense of self is weakened.[99] It is best known in the west from the Vipassana movement, a number of branches of modern Theravāda Buddhism from Burma, Laos, Thailand and Sri Lanka, and includes contemporary American Buddhist teachers such as Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield.

The Yogacara school of Mahayana investigates the workings of the mind, stating that only the mind[100] (citta-mātra) or the representations we cognize (vijñapti-mātra),[101][note 20] really exist.[100][102][101] In later Buddhist Mahayana thought, which took an idealistic turn,[note 21] the unmodified mind came to be seen as a pure consciousness, from which everything arises.[note 22] Vijñapti-mātra, coupled with Buddha-nature or tathagatagarba, has been an influential concept in the subsequent development of Mahayana Buddhism, not only in India, but also in China and Tibet, most notable in the Chán (Zen) and Dzogchen traditions.

Chinese and Japanese Zen is grounded on the Chinese understanding of the Buddha-nature as one true's essence, and the Two truths doctrine as a polarity between relative and Absolute reality.[105][106] Zen aims at insight one's true nature, or Buddha-nature, thereby manifesting Absolute reality in the relative reality.[107] In Soto, this Buddha-nature is regarded to be ever-present, and shikan-taza, sitting meditation, is the expression of the already existing Buddhahood.[106] Rinzai-zen emphasises the need for a break-through insight in this Buddha-nature,[106] but also stresses that further practice is needed to deepen the insight and to express it in daily life,[108][109][110][111] as expressed in the Three mysterious Gates, the Four Ways of Knowing of Hakuin,[112] and the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures.[113] The Japanese Zen-scholar D.T. Suzuki noted similarities between Zen-Buddhism and Christian mysticism, especially meister Eckhart.[114]

The Tibetan Vajrayana tradition is based on Madhyamaka philosophy and Tantra.[115] In deity yoga, visualizations of deities are eventually dissolved, to realize the inherent emptiness of every-'thing' that exists.[116] Dzogchen, which is being taught in both the Tibetan buddhist Nyingma school and the Bön tradition,[117][118] focuses on direct insight into our real nature. It holds that "mind-nature" is manifested when one is enlightened,[119] being nonconceptually aware (rigpa, "open presence") of one's nature,[117] "a recognition of one's beginningless nature."[120] Mahamudra has similarities with Dzogchen, emphasizing the meditational approach to insight and liberation.


Main article: Taoism

Taoist philosophy is centered on the Tao, usually translated "Way", an ineffable cosmic principle. The contrasting yet interdependent concepts of yin and yang also symbolise harmony, with Taoist scriptures often emphasing the Yin virtues of femininity, passivity and yieldingness.[121] Taoist practice includes exercises and rituals aimed at manipulating the life force Qi, and obtaining health and longevity.[note 23] These have been elaborated into practices such as Tai chi, which are well known in the west.

The Secularization of Mysticism

See also: New Age

Today there is also occurring in the West what Richard Jones calls "the secularization of mysticism".[122] That is the separation of meditation and other mystical practices from their traditional use in religious ways of life to only secular ends of purported psychological and physiological benefits.

Scholarly approaches of mysticism and mystical experience

Main article: Scholarly approaches of mysticism

Types of mysticism

R. C. Zaehner distinguishes three fundamental types of mysticism, namely theistic, monistic and panenhenic ("all-in-one") or natural mysticism.[4] The theistic category includes most forms of Jewish, Christian and Islamic mysticism and occasional Hindu examples such as Ramanuja and the Bhagavad Gita.[4] The monistic type, which according to Zaehner is based upon an experience of the unity of one's soul,[4][note 24] includes Buddhism and Hindu schools such as Samkhya and Advaita vedanta.[4] Nature mysticism seems to refer to examples that do not fit into one of these two categories.[4]

Walter Terence Stace, in his book Mysticism and Philosophy (1960), distinguished two types of mystical experience, namely extrovertive and introvertive mysticism.[123][4][124] Extrovertive mysticism is an experience of the unity of the external world, whereas introvertive mysticism is "an experience of unity devoid of perceptual objects; it is literally an experience of 'no-thing-ness'."[124] The unity in extrovertive mysticism is with the totality of objects of perception. While perception stays continuous, “unity shines through the same world”; the unity in introvertive mysticism is with a pure consciousness, devoid of objects of perception,[125] “pure unitary consciousness, wherein awareness of the world and of multiplicity is completely obliterated.”[126] According to Stace such experiences are nonsensous and nonintellectual, under a total “suppression of the whole empirical content.”[127]

Stace argues that doctrinal differences between religious traditions are inappropriate criteria when making cross-cultural comparisons of mystical experiences.[4] Stace argues that mysticism is part of the process of perception, not interpretation, that is to say that the unity of mystical experiences is perceived, and only afterwards interpreted according to the perceiver's background. This may result in different accounts of the same phenomenon. While an atheist describes the unity as “freed from empirical filling”, a religious person might describe it as “God” or “the Divine”.[128]

Mystical experiences

Since the 19th century, mystical experience has evolved as a distinctive concept. It is closely related to "mysticism" but lays sole emphasis on the experiential aspect, be it spontaneous or induced by human behavior, whereas mysticism encompasses a broad range of practices aiming at a transformation of the person, not just inducing mystical experiences.

William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience is the classic study on religious or mystical experience, which influenced deeply both the academic and popular understanding of "religious experience".[18][19][20][web 2] He popularized the use of the term "religious experience"[note 25] in his "Varieties",[18][19][web 2] and influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge of the transcendental:[20][web 2]

Under the influence of William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience, heavily centered on people's conversion experiences, most philosophers' interest in mysticism has been in distinctive, allegedly knowledge-granting "mystical experiences.""[web 2]

Yet, Gelman notes that so-called mystical experience is not a transitional event, as William James claimed, but an "abiding consciousness, accompanying a person throughout the day, or parts of it. For that reason, it might be better to speak of mystical consciousness, which can be either fleeting or abiding."[web 2]

Most mystical traditions warn against an attachment to mystical experiences, and offer a "protective and hermeneutic framework" to accommodate these experiences.[129] These same traditions offer the means to induce mystical experiences,[129] which may have several origins:

• Spontaneous; either apparently without any cause, or by persistent existential concerns, or by neurophysiological origins;
• Religious practices, such as contemplation, meditation, and mantra-repetition;
• Entheogens (psychedelic drugs)
• Neurophysiological origins, such as temporal lobe epilepsy.

The theoretical study of mystical experience has shifted from an experiential, privatized and perennialist approach to a contextual and empirical approach.[129] The experientalist approach sees mystical experience as a private expression of perennial truths, separate from its historical and cultural context. The contextual approach, which also includes constructionism and attribution theory, takes into account the historical and cultural context.[129][29][web 2] Neurological research takes an empirical approach, relating mystical experiences to neurological processes.

Perennialism versus constructionism

The term "mystical experience" evolved as a distinctive concept since the 19th century, laying sole emphasis on the experiential aspect, be it spontaneous or induced by human behavior. Perennialists regard those various experience traditions as pointing to one universal transcendental reality, for which those experiences offer the proof. In this approach, mystical experiences are privatised, separated from the context in which they emerge.[129] Well-known representatives are William James, R.C. Zaehner, William Stace and Robert Forman.[7] The perennial position is "largely dismissed by scholars",[6] but "has lost none of its popularity."[130]

In contrast, for the past decades most scholars have favored a constructionist approach, which states that mystical experiences are fully constructed by the ideas, symbols and practices that mystics are familiar with.[7] Critics of the term "religious experience" note that the notion of "religious experience" or "mystical experience" as marking insight into religious truth is a modern development,[131] and contemporary researchers of mysticism note that mystical experiences are shaped by the concepts "which the mystic brings to, and which shape, his experience".[132] What is being experienced is being determined by the expectations and the conceptual background of the mystic.[133]

Richard Jones draws a distinction between "anticonstructivism" and "perennialism": constructivism can be rejected with respect to a certain class of mystical experiences without ascribing to a perennialist philosophy on the relation of mystical doctrines.[134] One can reject constructivism without claiming that mystical experiences reveal a cross-cultural "perennial truth". For example, a Christian can reject both constructivism and perennialism in arguing that there is a union with God free of cultural construction. Constructivism versus anticonstructivism is a matter of the nature of mystical experiences while perennialism is a matter of mystical traditions and the doctrines they espouse.

Contextualism and attribution theory

Main articles: Attribution (psychology) and Neurotheology

The perennial position is now "largely dismissed by scholars",[6] and the contextual approach has become the common approach.[129] Contextualism takes into account the historical and cultural context of mystical experiences.[129] The attribution approach views "mystical experience" as non-ordinary states of consciousness which are explained in a religious framework.[29] According to Proudfoot, mystics unconsciously merely attribute a doctrinal content to ordinary experiences. That is, mystics project cognitive content onto otherwise ordinary experiences having a strong emotional impact.[135][29] This approach has been further elaborated by Ann Taves, in her Religious Experience Reconsidered. She incorporates both neurological and cultural approaches in the study of mystical experience.
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Neurological research

See also: Neurotheology

Neurological research takes an empirical approach, relating mystical experiences to neurological processes.[136][137] This leads to a central philosophical issue: does the identification of neural triggers or neural correlates of mystical experiences prove that mystical experiences are no more than brain events or does it merely identify the brain activity occurring during a genuine cognitive event? The most common positions are that neurology reduces mystical experiences or that neurology is neutral to the issue of mystical cognitivity.[138]

Interest in mystical experiences and psychedelic drugs has also recently seen a resurgence.[139]

The temporal lobe seems to be involved in mystical experiences,[web 9][140] and in the change in personality that may result from such experiences.[web 9] It generates the feeling of "I," and gives a feeling of familiarity or strangeness to the perceptions of the senses.[web 9] There is a long-standing notion that epilepsy and religion are linked,[141] and some religious figures may have had temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).[web 9][142][143][141]

The anterior insula may be involved in ineffability, a strong feeling of certainty which cannot be expressed in words, which is a common quality in mystical experiences. According to Picard, this feeling of certainty may be caused by a dysfunction of the anterior insula, a part of the brain which is involved in interoception, self-reflection, and in avoiding uncertainty about the internal representations of the world by "anticipation of resolution of uncertainty or risk".[144][note 26]

Mysticism and morality

A philosophical issue in the study of mysticism is the relation of mysticism to morality. Albert Schweitzer presented the classic account of mysticism and morality being incompatible.[145] Arthur Danto also argued that morality is at least incompatible with Indian mystical beliefs.[146] Walter Stace, on the other hand, argued not only are mysticism and morality compatible, but that mysticism is the source and justification of morality.[147] Others studying multiple mystical traditions have concluded that the relation of mysticism and morality is not as simple as that.[148][149]

Richard King also points to disjunction between "mystical experience" and social justice:[150]

The privatisation of mysticism – that is, the increasing tendency to locate the mystical in the psychological realm of personal experiences – serves to exclude it from political issues as social justice. Mysticism thus becomes seen as a personal matter of cultivating inner states of tranquility and equanimity, which, rather than seeking to transform the world, serve to accommodate the individual to the status quo through the alleviation of anxiety and stress.[150]

See also

• Michael Eigen
• Henology
• List of Christian mystics
• List of female mystics
• Ludus amoris
• Numinous
• Philosophy of the Unconscious by Eduard von Hartmann
• Spirit


1. Note that Parmenides' "way of truth" may also be translated as "way of conviction." Parmenides (fl. late sixth or early fifth century BC), in his poem On Nature, gives an account of a revelation on two ways of inquiry. "The way of conviction" explores Being, true reality ("what-is"), which is "What is ungenerated and deathless,/whole and uniform, and still and perfect."[15] "The way of opinion" is the world of appearances, in which one's sensory faculties lead to conceptions which are false and deceitful. Cook's translation "way of conviction" is rendered by other translators as "way of truth."
2. The term "mystical experience" has become synonymous with the terms "religious experience", spiritual experience and sacred experience.[17]
3. William James: "This is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed. In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about mystical utterances an eternal unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which bring it about that the mystical classics have, as been said, neither birthday nor native land."[16]
4. Blakemore and Jennett: "Mysticism is frequently defined as an experience of direct communion with God, or union with the Absolute, but definitions of mysticism (a relatively modern term) are often imprecise and usually rely on the presuppositions of the modern study of mysticism — namely, that mystical experiences involve a set of intense and usually individual and private psychological states [...] Furthermore, mysticism is a phenomenon said to be found in all major religious traditions.[web 6]Blakemore and Jennett add: "[T]he common assumption that all mystical experiences, whatever their context, are the same cannot, of course, be demonstrated." They also state: "Some have placed a particular emphasis on certain altered states, such as visions, trances, levitations, locutions, raptures, and ecstasies, many of which are altered bodily states. Margery Kempe's tears and Teresa of Avila's ecstasies are famous examples of such mystical phenomena. But many mystics have insisted that while these experiences may be a part of the mystical state, they are not the essence of mystical experience, and some, such as Origen, Meister Eckhart, and John of the Cross, have been hostile to such psycho-physical phenomena. Rather, the essence of the mystical experience is the encounter between God and the human being, the Creator and creature; this is a union which leads the human being to an ‘absorption’ or loss of individual personality. It is a movement of the heart, as the individual seeks to surrender itself to ultimate Reality; it is thus about being rather than knowing. For some mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, phenomena such as visions, locutions, raptures, and so forth are by-products of, or accessories to, the full mystical experience, which the soul may not yet be strong enough to receive. Hence these altered states are seen to occur in those at an early stage in their spiritual lives, although ultimately only those who are called to achieve full union with God will do so."[web 6]
5. Gelman: "Examples are experiences of the oneness of all of nature, “union” with God, as in Christian mysticism, (see section 2.2.1), the Hindu experience that Atman is Brahman (that the self/soul is identical with the eternal, absolute being), the Buddhist unconstructed experience, and “monistic” experiences, devoid of all multiplicity."[web 2]

Compare Plotinus, who argued that The One is radically simple, and does not even have self-knowledge, since self-knowledge would imply multiplicity.[24] Nevertheless, Plotinus does urge for a search for the Absolute, turning inward and becoming aware of the "presence of the intellect in the human soul," initiating an ascent of the soul by abstraction or "taking away," culminating in a sudden appearance of the One.[25]
6. Merkur: "Mysticism is the practice of religious ecstasies (religious experiences during alternate states of consciousness), together with whatever ideologies, ethics, rites, myths, legends, and magic may be related to them."[web 1]
7. Parsons: "...episodic experience and mysticism as a process that, though surely punctuated by moments of visionary, unitive, and transformative encounters, is ultimately inseparable from its embodied relation to a total religious matrix: liturgy, scripture, worship, virtues, theology, rituals, practice and the arts.[26]
8. Larson: "A mystical experience is an intuitive understanding and realization of the meaning of existence – an intuitive understanding and realization which is intense, integrating, self-authenticating, liberating – i.e., providing a sense of release from ordinary self-awareness – and subsequently determinative – i.e., a primary criterion – for interpreting all other experience whether cognitive, conative, or affective."[30]
9. McClenon: "The doctrine that special mental states or events allow an understanding of ultimate truths. Although it is difficult to differentiate which forms of experience allow such understandings, mental episodes supporting belief in "other kinds of reality" are often labeled mystical [...] Mysticism tends to refer to experiences supporting belief in a cosmic unity rather than the advocation of a particular religious ideology."[web 7]
10. Horne: "[M]ystical illumination is interpreted as a central visionary experience in a psychological and behavioural process that results in the resolution of a personal or religious problem. This factual, minimal interpretation depicts mysticism as an extreme and intense form of the insight seeking process that goes in activities such as solving theoretical problems or developing new inventions.[3]
11. Original quote in "Evelyn Underhill (1930), Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness.[33]
12. Underhill: "One of the most abused words in the English language, it has been used in different and often mutually exclusive senses by religion, poetry, and philosophy: has been claimed as an excuse for every kind of occultism, for dilute transcendentalism, vapid symbolism, religious or aesthetic sentimentality, and bad metaphysics. on the other hand, it has been freely employed as a term of contempt by those who have criticized these things. It is much to be hoped that it may be restored sooner or later to its old meaning, as the science or art of the spiritual life."[33]
13. Gellman: "Typically, mystics, theistic or not, see their mystical experience as part of a larger undertaking aimed at human transformation (See, for example, Teresa of Avila, Life, Chapter 19) and not as the terminus of their efforts. Thus, in general, ‘mysticism’ would best be thought of as a constellation of distinctive practices, discourses, texts, institutions, traditions, and experiences aimed at human transformation, variously defined in different traditions."[web 2] According to Evelyn Underhill, mysticism is "the science or art of the spiritual life."[33][note 11][note 12]
14. According to Waaijman, the traditional meaning of spirituality is a process of re-formation which "aims to recover the original shape of man, the image of God. To accomplish this, the re-formation is oriented at a mold, which represents the original shape: in Judaism the Torah, in Christianity Christ, in Buddhism Buddha, in the Islam Muhammad."[34] Waaijman uses the word "omvorming",[34] "to change the form". Different translations are possible: transformation, re-formation, trans-mutation. Waaijman points out that "spirituality" is only one term of a range of words which denote the praxis of spirituality.[35] Some other terms are "Hasidism, contemplation, kabbala, asceticism, mysticism, perfection, devotion and piety".[35]
15. McGinn: "This is why the only test that Christianity has known for determining the authenticity of a mystic and her or his message has been that of personal transformation, both on the mystic's part and—especially—on the part of those whom the mystic has affected.[23]
16. Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos: "Noetic prayer is the first stage of theoria."[60]
17. Theophan the Recluse: "The contemplative mind sees God, in so far as this is possible for man."[61]
18. Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos: "This is what Saint Symeon the New Theologian teaches. In his poems, proclaims over and over that, while beholding the uncreated Light, the deified man acquires the Revelation of God the Trinity. Being in "theoria" (vision of God), the saints do not confuse the hypostatic attributes. The fact that the Latin tradition came to the point of confusing these hypostatic attributes and teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son also, shows the non-existence of empirical theology for them. Latin tradition speaks also of created grace, a fact which suggests that there is no experience of the grace of God. For, when man obtains the experience of God, then he comes to understand well that this grace is uncreated. Without this experience there can be no genuine "therapeutic tradition.""[60]
19. Catholic Encyclopedia: "But it was Simeon, "the new theologian" (c. 1025-c. 1092; see Krumbacher, op. cit., 152–154), a monk of Studion, the "greatest mystic of the Greek Church" (loc. cit.), who evolved the quietist theory so elaborately that he may be called the father of Hesychasm. For the union with God in contemplation (which is the highest object of our life) he required a regular system of spiritual education beginning with baptism and passing through regulated exercises of penance and asceticism under the guidance of a director. But he had not conceived the grossly magic practices of the later Hesychasts; his ideal is still enormously more philosophical than theirs."[62]
20. "Representation-only"[101] or "mere representation."[web 8]
21. Oxford reference: "Some later forms of Yogācāra lend themselves to an idealistic interpretation of this theory but such a view is absent from the works of the early Yogācārins such as Asaṇga and Vasubandhu."[web 8]
22. Yogacara postulates an advaya (nonduality) of grahaka ("grasping," cognition)[102] and gradya (the "grasped," cognitum).[102]In Yogacara-thought, cognition is a modification of the base-consciousness, alaya-vijnana.[103] According to the Lankavatara Sutra and the schools of Chan/Zen Buddhism, this unmodified mind is identical with the tathagata-garbha, the "womb of Buddhahood," or Buddha-nature, the nucleus of Buddhahood inherent in everyone. Both denoye the potentiality of attaining Buddhahood.[104] In the Lankavatara-interpretation, tathagata-garbha as a potentiality turned into a metaphysical Absolute reality which had to be realised.
23. Extending to physical immortality: the Taoist pantheon includes Xian, or immortals.
24. Compare the work of C.G. Jung.
25. The term "mystical experience" has become synonymous with the terms "religious experience", spiritual experience and sacred experience.[17]
26. See also Francesca Sacco (2013-09-19), Can Epilepsy Unlock The Secret To Happiness?, Le Temps


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• Barnard, William G.; Kripal, Jeffrey J., eds. (2002), Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism, Seven Bridges Press
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Web sources

1. "Mysticism". Encyclopedia Britannica.
2. "Gellman, Jerome, "Mysticism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)". Retrieved 2013-11-06.
3. "μυώ". WordReference English-Greek Dictionary. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
4. "3453. mueó". Strong's Concordance. Bible Hub. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
5. "3466. mustérion". Strong's Concordance. Bible Hub. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
6. "Mysticism |".
7. "Content Pages of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Social Science".
8. "Vijñapti-mātra - Oxford Reference". doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803115838613 (inactive 2019-12-12).
9. Peter Fenwick (1980). "The Neurophysiology of the Brain: Its Relationship to Altered States of Consciousness (With emphasis on the Mystical Experience)". Wrekin Trust. Archived from the original on 14 February 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2015.

Further reading

Religious and spiritual traditions

• Idel, Moshe; McGinn, Bernard, eds. (2016), Mystical Union in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: An Ecumenical Dialogue, Bloomsbury Academic
• McGinn, Bernard (1994), The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism. Volume 1–5, Crossroad
• Poor, Sara S.; Smith, Nigel (2015), Mysticism and Reform, 1400–1750, University of Notre Dame Press
• Magee, Glenn Alexander (2016), The Cambridge Handbook of Western Mysticism and Esotericism, Cambridge University Press
• Shipley, Morgan (2015), Psychedelic Mysticism: Transforming Consciousness, Religious Experiences, and Voluntary Peasants in Postwar America, Lexington Books
• Komarovski, Yaroslav (2015), Tibetan Buddhism and Mystical Experience, Oxford University Press
Constructionism versus perennialism[edit]
• Katz, Steven T. (1978), Mysticism and philosophical analysis, OUP USA
• Forman, Robert K., ed. (1997), The Problem of Pure Consciousness: Mysticism and Philosophy, Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195355116

Contextual approach

• Merkur, Dan (1999), Mystical Moments and Unitive Thinking, SUNY
• Taves, Ann (2009), Religious Experience Reconsidered, Princeton: Princeton University Press
Philosophical issues[edit]
• Jones, Richard H. (2016), Philosophy of Mysticism: Raids on the Ineffable, SUNY Press


• James, William (1982) [1902], The Varieties of Religious Experience, Penguin classics
• Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness. 1911
• Stace, Walter Trence (1960), Mysticism and Philosophy
• Zaehner, RC (1961), Mysticism sacred and profane: an inquiry into some varieties of praeternatural experience, Oxford University Press

External links


• Dan Merkur, Mysticism, Encyclopædia Britannica
• Jerome Gellmann, Mysticism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
• James McClenon, Mysticism, Encyclopedia of Religion and Society
•, Mysticism


• Resources – Medieval Jewish History – Jewish Mysticism The Jewish History Resource Center, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
• Shaku soens influence on western notions of mysticism
• "Self-transcendence enhanced by removal of portions of the parietal-occipital cortex" Article from the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Giuseppe Mazzini
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/20/20

Giuseppe Mazzini, Triumvir of the Roman Republic
In office: 5 February 1849 – 3 July 1849
Serving with:Aurelio Saffi, Carlo Armellini
Preceded by: Aurelio Saliceti
Succeeded by: Aurelio Saliceti
Personal details
Born: 22 June 1805, Genoa, Gênes, French Empire
Died: 10 March 1872 (aged 66), Pisa, Italy
Political party: Young Italy (1831–48); Action Party (1848–67)
Alma mater: University of Genoa
Profession: Lawyer Journalist Writer Philosophy career
Era: 19th-century
School: Romanticism; Providentialism
Main interests: History, theology, politics
Notable ideas: Pan-Europeanism, irridentism, popular democracy, class collaboration
Influences: Plato Ugo Foscolo[1] Marquis de Condorcet[1] Jean de Sismondi[1] Lord Byron[1] François-René de Chateaubriand Joseph de Maistre Saint-Simon[1] De Lamennais Jean-Jacques Rousseau Carlo Cattaneo
Influenced: Italian republicans Giuseppe Garibaldi Giovanni Gentile Frederic Harrison[2] George Holyoake[3] Benito Mussolini Pietro Nenni Carlo Rosselli Woodrow Wilson Sun Yat-sen

Giuseppe Mazzini (UK: /mætˈsiːni/,[4] US: /mɑːtˈ-, mɑːdˈziːni/,[5][6] Italian: [dʒuˈzɛppe matˈtsiːni]; 22 June 1805 – 10 March 1872) was an Italian politician, journalist, activist for the unification of Italy, and spearhead of the Italian revolutionary movement. His efforts helped bring about the independent and unified Italy[7] in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century. He also helped define the modern European movement for popular democracy in a republican state.[8]

Mazzini's thoughts had a very considerable influence on the Italian and European republican movements, in the Constitution of Italy, about Europeanism, and, more nuanced, on many politicians of a later period: among them, men like U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, but also post-colonial leaders such as Gandhi, Savarkar, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion, Kwame Nkrumah, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sun Yat-sen.[9]


Mazzini's house in Genoa, now seat of the Museum of Risorgimento and of the Mazzinian Institute.

Early years

Mazzini was born in Genoa, then part of the Ligurian Republic, under the rule of the French Empire. His father, Giacomo Mazzini, originally from Chiavari, was a university professor who had adhered to Jacobin ideology;...

A Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that was the most famous political club during the French Revolution (1789–99). The club was so called because of the Dominican convent in Paris in the Rue Saint-Jacques (Latin: Jacobus) where they originally met.

The Society of the Friends of the Constitution (French: Société des amis de la Constitution), after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality commonly known as the Jacobin Club (Club des Jacobins) or simply the Jacobins became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789. The period of their political ascendancy includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.

Initially founded in 1789 by anti-royalist deputies from Brittany, the club grew into a nationwide republican movement, with a membership estimated at a half million or more.The Jacobin Club was heterogeneous and included both prominent parliamentary factions of the early 1790s, the Mountain and the Girondins.

The Mountain was a political group during the French Revolution. Its members, called the Montagnards, sat on the highest benches in the National Assembly.

They were the most radical group and opposed the Girondins
. The term, first used during a session of the Legislative Assembly, came into general use in 1793. By the summer of 1793, that pair of opposed minority groups divided the National Convention. That year, led by Maximilien Robespierre, the Montagnards unleashed the Reign of Terror.

The Mountain was composed mainly of members of the middle class, but represented the constituencies of Paris. As such, the Mountain was sensitive to the motivations of the city and responded strongly to demands from the working class sans-culottes. The Montagnards had little understanding of the daily life and needs of the people in the cities and towns beyond Paris. Although they attempted some rural land reform, most of it was never enacted and they generally focused on the needs of the urban poor over that of rural France. The Mountain operated on the belief that what was best for Paris would be best for all of France.

The Girondins were a moderate political faction created during the Legislative Assembly period. They were the political opponents of the more radical representatives within the Mountain. The Girondins had wanted to avoid the execution of Louis XVI and supported a constitution which would have allowed a popular vote to overturn legislation. The Mountain accused the Girondins of plotting against Paris because this caveat within the proposed constitution would have allowed rural areas of France to vote against legislation that benefits Paris, the main constituency of the Mountain. However, the real discord in the Convention occurred not between the Mountain and the Gironde, but between the aggressive antics of the minority of the Mountain and the rest of the Convention.

The Mountain was not unified as a party and relied on leaders like Maximilien Robespierre, Georges Danton and Jacques Hébert, who themselves came to represent different factions.
Hébert, a journalist, gained a following as a radical patriot Montagnard (members who identified with him became known as the Hébertists) while Danton led a more moderate faction of the Mountain (followers came to be known as Dantonists). Regardless of the divisions, the nightly sessions of the Jacobin club, which met in the rue Saint-Honoré, can be considered to be a type of caucus for the Mountain. In June 1793, the Mountain successfully ousted most of the moderate Gironde members of the Convention with the assistance of radical sans-culottes.

[[[[The sans-culottes [literally "without breeches") were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime. The word sans-culotte, which is opposed to that of the aristocrat, seems to have been used for the first time on 28 February 1791 by officer Gauthier in a derogatory sense, speaking about a "sans-culottes army". The word came in vogue during the demonstration of 20 June 1792.

The name sans-culottes refers to their clothing, and through that to their lower-class status: culottes were the fashionable silk knee-breeches of the 18th-century nobility and bourgeoisie, and the working class sans-culottes wore pantaloons, or trousers, instead. The sans-culottes, most of them urban labourers, served as the driving popular force behind the revolution. They were judged by the other revolutionaries as "radicals" because they advocated a direct democracy, that is to say, without intermediaries such as members of parliament. Though ill-clad people and ill-equipped, with little or no support from the upper class, they made up the bulk of the Revolutionary army and were responsible for many executions during the early years of the French Revolutionary Wars.

-- Sans-culottes, by Wikipedia]]]]

Following their coup, the Mountain, led by Hérault de Séchelles, quickly began construction on a new constitution which was completed eight days later. The Committee of Public Safety reported the constitution to the Convention on 10 June and a final draft was adopted on 24 June. The process occurred quickly because as Robespierre, a prominent member of the Mountain, announced on 10 June the "good citizens demanded a constitution" and the "Constitution will be the reply of patriotic deputies, for it is the work of the Mountain". However, this constitution was never actually enacted. The Constitution of 1793 was abandoned when Robespierre later granted himself and the Committee of Public Safety dictatorial powers in order to "defend the Revolution".

-- The Mountain, by Wikipedia

The Girondins, or Girondists, were members of a loosely knit political faction during the French Revolution.

From 1791 to 1793, the Girondins were active in the Legislative Assembly and the National Convention. Together with the Montagnards, they initially were part of the Jacobin movement. They campaigned for the end of the monarchy, but then resisted the spiraling momentum of the Revolution, which caused a conflict with the more radical Montagnards. They dominated the movement until their fall in the insurrection of 31 May – 2 June 1793, which resulted in the domination of the Montagnards and the purge and mass execution of the Girondins. This event is considered to mark the beginning of the Reign of Terror.

The Girondins were a group of loosely affiliated individuals rather than an organized political party and the name was at first informally applied because the most prominent exponents of their point of view were deputies to the Legislative Assembly from the département of Gironde in southwest France. Girondin leader Jacques Pierre Brissot proposed an ambitious military plan to spread the Revolution internationally, therefore the Girondins were the war party in 1792–1793.
Other prominent Girondins included Jean Marie Roland and his wife Madame Roland. They also had an ally in the English-born American activist Thomas Paine.

Brissot and Madame Roland were executed and Jean Roland (who had gone into hiding) committed suicide when he learned about the execution. Paine was imprisoned, but he narrowly escaped execution.
The famous painting The Death of Marat depicts the killing of the fiery radical journalist and denouncer of the Girondins Jean-Paul Marat by the Girondin sympathizer Charlotte Corday, who was executed. Although the Revolution abolished the three estates voting (the Aristocracy, the Church, and the Commons), factions made impossible any republican countrywide representation.

-- Girondins, by Wikipedia

In 1792–1793 the Girondins were more prominent in leading France, the period when France declared war on Austria and on Prussia, overthrew the monarchy and set up the Republic. In May 1793 the leaders of the Mountain faction led by Maximilien Robespierre succeeded in sidelining the Girondin faction and controlled the government until July 1794. Their time in government featured high levels of political violence, and for this reason the period of the Jacobin/Mountain government is identified as the Reign of Terror. In October 1793, 21 prominent Girondins were guillotined. The Mountain-dominated government executed 17,000 opponents nationwide, purportedly to suppress the Vendée insurrection and the Federalist revolts and to prevent any other insurrections. In July 1794 the National Convention pushed the administration of Robespierre and his allies out of power and had Robespierre and 21 associates executed. In November 1794 the Jacobin Club closed.

Today, the terms "Jacobin" and "Jacobinism" are used in a variety of senses. In Britain, where the term "Jacobin" has been linked primarily to the Mountain, it is sometimes used as a pejorative for radical left-wing revolutionary politics, especially when it exhibits dogmatism and violent repression. In France, "Jacobin" now generally indicates a supporter of a centralized republican state and of strong central government powers and/or supporters of extensive government intervention to transform society. It is also used in other related senses, indicating proponents of a state education system which strongly promotes and inculcates civic values and proponents of a strong nation-state capable of resisting any undesirable foreign interference.

-- Jacobin, by Wikipedia

Today, the terms Jacobin and Jacobinism are used in a variety of senses. In France, Jacobin now generally indicates a supporter of a centralized republican state and strong central government powers and/or supporters of extensive government intervention to transform society. Jacobin is sometimes used in Britain as a pejorative for radical, left-wing revolutionary politics.

-- Jacobin (politics), by Wikipedia

his mother, Maria Drago, was renowned for her beauty and religious (Jansenist) fervour.

Jansenism was a theological movement, primarily in France, that emphasized original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace and predestination. The movement originated from the posthumously published work of the Dutch theologian Cornelius Jansen, who died in 1638. It was first popularized by Jansen's friend Abbot Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, of Saint-Cyran-en-Brenne Abbey, and, after du Vergier's death in 1643, was led by Antoine Arnauld. Through the 17th and into the 18th centuries, Jansenism was a distinct movement away from the Catholic Church. The theological centre of the movement was the convent of Port-Royal-des-Champs Abbey, which was a haven for writers including du Vergier, Arnauld, Pierre Nicole, Blaise Pascal and Jean Racine.

Jansenism was opposed by many in the Catholic hierarchy, especially the Jesuits. Although the Jansenists identified themselves only as rigorous followers of Augustine of Hippo's teachings, Jesuits coined the term Jansenism to identify them as having Calvinist affinities. The apostolic constitution, Cum occasione promulgated by Pope Innocent X in 1653, condemned five cardinal doctrines of Jansenism as heresy—especially the relationship between human free will and efficacious grace, wherein the teachings of Augustine, as presented by the Jansenists, contradicted the teachings of the Jesuit School. Jansenist leaders endeavored to accommodate the pope's pronouncements while retaining their uniqueness, and enjoyed a measure of peace in the late 17th century under Pope Clement IX. However, further controversy led to the apostolic constitution Unigenitus Dei Filius, promulgated by Pope Clement XI in 1713.

-- Jansenism, by Wikipedia

From a very early age, Mazzini showed good learning qualities (as well as a precocious interest in politics and literature). He was admitted to university at 14, graduating in law in 1826, and initially practiced as a "poor man's lawyer". Mazzini also hoped to become a historical novelist or a dramatist, and in the same year wrote his first essay, Dell'amor patrio di Dante ("On Dante's Patriotic Love"), published in 1827.

Whoever contemplates the good of the state contemplates the end of Right....If, therefore, the Romans had in view the good of the state, the assertion is true that they had in view the end of Right.

That in subduing the world the Roman people had in view the aforesaid good, their deeds declare. We behold them as a nation holy, pious, and full of glory, putting aside all avarice, which is ever adverse to the general welfare, cherishing universal peace and liberty, and disregarding private profit to guard the public weal of humanity. Rightly was it written, then, that "The Roman Empire takes its rise in the fountain of pity."

Concerning corporate assemblies, in which individuals seem in a measure bound to the state, the solitary authority of Cicero in the second book of Moral Duties is sufficient. "So long," he says, "as the dominion of the Republic was upheld by benefits, not by injuries, war was waged in behalf either of allies or dominion, for a conclusion either beneficent or necessary, the Senate was a harbor of refuge for kings, peoples, and nations. Our magistrates and generals strove for praise in defending with equity and fidelity the provinces and the allies; so this government might rather have been called a defense than a dominion of the whole world."

Of individual persons I shall speak briefly. Can we say they were not intent on the common weal who in sweat, in poverty, in exile, in deprivation of children, in loss of limbs, and even in the sacrifice of their lives, strove to augment the public good?

Did not the renowned Cincinnatus leave to us a sacred example, when he freely chose the time to lay aside that dignity which, as Livy says, took him from the plough to make him dictator? After his victory, after his triumph, he gave back to the consuls the imperial sceptre, and voluntarily returned to toil at the plough handle behind his oxen. Cicero, disputing with Epicurus in his volume of the Chief Good, remembered and lauded this excellent action, saying, "And thus our ancestors took great Cincinnatus from the plough that he might become dictator."

And did not Brutus first teach that the love of sons and of all others should be subordinated to the love of national liberty? When he was consul, Livy says, he delivered up to death his own sons for conspiring with the enemy. In the sixth book our Poet revives the glory of this hero: "In behalf of beauteous liberty shall the father doom to death his own sons instigating new wars."

That people, then, which was victorious over all the contestants for Empire gained its victory by the decree of God.
For as it is of deeper concern to God to adjust a universal contention than a particular one, and as even in particular contentions the decree of God is sought by the contestants, according to the familiar proverb, "To him whom God grants aught, let Peter give his blessing," therefore undoubtedly among the contestants for the Empire of the world, victory ensued from a decree of God. That among the rivals for world-Empire the Roman people came off victor will be clear if we consider the contestants and the prize or goal toward which they strove. This prize or goal was sovereign power over all mortals, or what we mean by Empire. This was attained by none save by the Roman people, not only the first but the sole contestant to reach the goal contended for.

The kingdom is apportioned by the sword, and the fortune of the mighty nation that is master over sea, over land, and over all the globe, suffers not two in command. Wars engaged in for the crown of Empire should be waged without bitterness.

If to contradict the truth thus manifested, the usual objection be raised concerning the inequality of men's strength, it may be refuted by the instance of David's victory over Goliath. And if the Gentiles seek another instance, they may refute it by the victory of Hercules over Antaeus.

Now let presumptuous jurists behold how far they stand beneath that watch-tower of reason whence the human mind looks out upon these principles, and let them be silent, content to give counsel and judgment according to the import of the law.

Thus far the argument has progressed through reason based chiefly on rational principles, but from now on it shall be re-demonstrated through the principles of Christian faith.

Now Christ willed to be born of a Virgin Mother under an edict of Roman authority, according to the testimony of Luke, his scribe, in order that the Son of Man, made man, might be numbered as a man in that unique census. This fulfilled the edict. It were perhaps more reverent to believe that the Divine Will caused the edict to go forth through Caesar, in order that God might number Himself among the society of mortals who had so many ages awaited His coming. So Christ in His action established as just the edict of Augustus, exerciser of Roman authority. Since to decree justly presupposes jurisdictional power, whoever confirms the justice of an edict confirms also the jurisdictional power whence it issued.

By the sin of Adam we are all sinners, according to the Apostle: "As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.'" If satisfaction had not been given for this sin through the death of Christ, we, owing to our depraved nature, should still be children of wrath.

For greater clearness, let it be understood that punishment is not simply penalty visited upon the doer of wrong, but penalty visited upon the doer of wrong by one having penal jurisdiction. Wherefore unless punishment is inflicted by a lawful judge, it is no punishment; rather must it be called a wrong. If therefore Christ did not suffer under a lawful judge, his penalty was not punishment. Lawful judge meant in that case one having jurisdiction over the entire human race, since all humanity was punished in the flesh of Christ, who, as the Prophet says, "hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." And Tiberius Caesar, whose vicar was Pilate, would not have possessed jurisdiction over the entire human race had not the Roman Empire existed by Right. Wherefore let those who pretend they are sons of the Church cease to defame the Roman Empire, to which Christ the Bridegroom gave His sanction both at the beginning and at the close of His warfare.

It must be understood that man alone of all beings holds the middle place between corruptibility and incorruptibility, and is therefore rightly compared by philosophers to the horizon which lies between the two hemispheres. Man may be considered with regard to either of his essential parts, body or soul. If considered in regard to the body alone, he is perishable; if in regard to the soul alone, he is imperishable.

If man holds a middle place between the perishable and imperishable, then, inasmuch as every mean shares the nature of the extremes, man must share both natures. And inasmuch as every nature is ordained for a certain ultimate end, it follows that there exists for man a twofold end, in order that as he alone of all beings partakes of the perishable and the imperishable, so he alone of all beings should be ordained for two ultimate ends.

Ineffable Providence has thus designed two ends to be contemplated of man: first, the happiness of this life, which consists in the activity of his natural powers, and is prefigured by the terrestrial Paradise; and then the blessedness of life everlasting, which consists in the enjoyment of the countenance of God, to which man's natural powers may not attain unless aided by divine light, and which may be symbolized by the celestial Paradise.

To these states of blessedness, just as to diverse conclusions, man must come by diverse means. To the former we come by the teachings of philosophy, obeying them by acting in conformity with the moral and intellectual virtues; to the latter through spiritual teachings which transcend human reason, and which we obey by acting in conformity with the theological virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. Now the former end and means are made known to us by human reason, which the philosophers have wholly explained to us; and the latter by the Holy Spirit, which has revealed to us supernatural but essential truth through the Prophets and Sacred Writers, through Jesus Christ, the coeternal Son of God, and through His disciples. Nevertheless, human passion would cast all these behind, were not men, like horses astray in their brutishness, held to the road by bit and rein.

Wherefore a twofold directive agent was necessary to man, in accordance with the twofold end; the Supreme Pontiff to lead the human race to life eternal by means of revelation, and the Emperor to guide it to temporal felicity by means of philosophic instruction. And since none or few -- and these with exceeding difficulty -- could attain this port, were not the waves of seductive desire calmed, and mankind made free to rest in the tranquillity of peace, therefore this is the goal which he whom we call the guardian of the earth and Roman Prince should most urgently seek; then would it be possible for life on this mortal threshing-floor to pass in freedom and peace.

-- De Monarchia of Dante Alighieri

In 1828–29 he collaborated with a Genoese newspaper, L'Indicatore Genovese, which was however soon closed by the Piedmontese authorities. He then became one of the leading authors of L'Indicatore Livornese, published at Livorno by F. D. Guerrazzi, until this paper was closed down by the authorities, too.

In 1827 Mazzini travelled to Tuscany, where he became a member of the Carbonari, a secret association with political purposes.

The Carbonari (Italian for "charcoal makers") was an informal network of secret revolutionary societies active in Italy from about 1800 to 1831. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal basis, they lacked a clear immediate political agenda. They were a focus for those unhappy with the repressive political situation in Italy following 1815, especially in the south of the Italian Peninsula. Members of the Carbonari, and those influenced by them, took part in important events in the process of Italian unification (called the Risorgimento), especially the failed Revolution of 1820, and in the further development of Italian nationalism. The chief purpose was to defeat tyranny and to establish constitutional government. In the north of Italy other groups, such as the Adelfia and the Filadelfia, were associate organizations.

The Carbonari were a secret society divided into small covert cells scattered across Italy. Although agendas varied, evidence suggests that despite regional variations, most of them agreed upon the creation of a liberal, unified Italy. The Carbonari were anti-clerical in both their philosophy and programme. The Papal constitution Ecclesiam a Jesu Christo and the encyclical Qui pluribus were directed against them. The controversial document Alta Vendita, which called for a liberal or modernist takeover of the Catholic Church, was attributed to the Sicilian Carbonari....

VII. Felice's letter, written by Ancona on 11 June 1829 after the publication of the Encyclical of Pius VIII on 24 May 1829. The High Sale in reading it was believed to be betrayed.

We are not used to hearing the Pope express himself with this resolution. This language is not in the style of the apostolic palaces: if it was used in this solemn circumstance, it must be said that Pius VIII obtained some proof of our conspiracy. It is up to those in Rome to watch over everyone's safety more than ever; but in the presence of such an explicit declaration of war, I would like it to be deemed appropriate to lay down arms for a moment.

The multitude has always had a great propensity for counter truths. Ingannatela; she loves to be deceived; but, mind you, no precipitation, and above all no recourse to arms. Our friend of Osimo who has tested the ground says that we must go bravely to make our Easter and thus to sleep the vigilance of the authority.

"Assuming that the Court of Rome has not entered into any suspicion of our trade, do you believe that the attitude of these frenzied carbonari cannot, at any moment, put it on our trail? We are playing with fire and we must not end up burning ourselves. If, by dint of assassinations and liberal strikes, the Carbonari throw a new enterprise on the arms of Italy, do we not fear being compromised? To give our project the full extent it must have, we have to work slowly, quietly, gradually gain ground and never lose a hand. The lightning flashed from the top of the Vatican Loggia may presage a hurricane. Are we in case we can avoid it? And will this storm not delay the harvest of our harvest? The carbonari are stirred with a thousand sterile vows; every day they are prophesying a universal turmoil. This will be our undoing; for then the parties will be more severely separated, and it will be necessary to opt for one or the other. From this choice a crisis will inevitably arise, and from this crisis an update or an unexpected disaster".


X. Letter from Nubius to Beppo, dated April 7, 1836.

Mazzini is a demigod for the foolish, before whom he tries to be proclaimed the pontiff of the fraternity, of which he will be the Italian god. In the sphere in which he acts, this poor Joseph is ridiculous; for him to be a complete ferocious beast, he will always miss his claws.

"He is the bourgeois gentleman of the secret societies that my dear Molière did not have the ability to glimpse. Let him take him to the taverns of Lake Geneva, or hide his importance and his real emptiness in the brothels of London. Let him perish or write, at ease with the old insurrection leftovers, or with his general Ramorino of the young Italy, the young Allemagne, the young Francie, the young Polonia, the young Swiss, etc. If this can serve as food for his insatiable pride, we do not object; but make him understand, even if using the terms that will seem more convenient to you, that the association of which he speaks no longer exists, even that it never existed; that you do not know it, and that although you must declare to it that if it existed, it would certainly have taken the least appropriate way to enter it. Granted the case of its existence, this Sale is evidently above all the others; it is the S. Giovanni in Laterano, caput et mater omnium ecclesiarum [Google translate: St. John Lateran, the head and the mother of all churches]. The elect are called to him, who alone are recognized as worthy of being introduced to him. Up to this day, Mazzini would have been excluded: does he not think that by putting himself in the middle, by force or by cunning, in a secret that does not belong to him, does he perhaps expose himself to dangers that he has already incurred more than once?

"Accostinate this last thought in your way; but send it to the high priest of the dagger, and I, who know his consummate prudence, make a pledge that this thought will produce its effect on the infringing".


XI. Letter of Vindice, written by Castellamare, to Nubius, on August 9, 1838. He carries out the theory of high sale.

What does it matter to the world about an unknown corpse, lying on the public road, by the revenge of the secret societies? What does it matter to the people that the blood of a worker, an artist, a gentleman, or even a prince was shed by virtue of a sentence from Mazzini, or any of his assassins who is seriously enjoying Sainte-Vehme? The world does not even have time to look after the victim's last moans: he passes and forgets. We, dear Nubio, we alone are the ones who can suspend his march. Catholicism, even less than the Monarchy, does not fear the tip of a style; but these two bases of social order can fall under the weight of corruption. So let us never tire of corrupting. Tertullian rightly said that the blood of martyrs was the seed of Christians. Now it is decided in our councils that we no longer want Christians: therefore we do not make martyrs; but we popularize vice in multitudes. Let them breathe it with the five senses, drink it, saturate it; and this land, where Aretino sowed, is always willing to receive obscene and lecherous teachings. Make vicious hearts, and you will no longer have Catholics. Remove the priest from work, from the altar, and from virtue: rightly try to occupy his thoughts and his time elsewhere. Make him idle, gluttonous, and patriotic, he will become ambitious, intriguing and perverse. In this way, you will have fulfilled your task much better than if you had broken the point of your dagger in the bones of some poor poor man. I do not want, as for me, and I believe that you too, O Nubio, do not want to become a vulgar conspirator, and thus spend your life in the old way of conspiracies.

"We have undertaken corruption on a large scale, the corruption of the people by means of the clergy, and of the clergy by our means, the corruption that must lead us to the burial of the Church. One of our friends, days ago, was laughing philosophically at our plans and saying: "To break down Catholicism, we must first suppress the woman." This phrase is true in one sense, but since we cannot suppress the woman, let's bribe her together with the Church. Corruptio optimi pessima [Google translate: The corruption of the best is the worst]. The purpose is very nice to tempt men like us; let's depart to run after some miserable satisfaction of personal revenge. The best dagger to assassinate the Church and hit her in the heart, is corruption. So work to the end!"


XII. Idea sottomessa all'Alta Vendita da tre suoi membri il 23 febbraio 1839.

To renounce our plans against the Roman See, since the slightest indiscretion can reveal everything. An assassination that will not go unnoticed like many others will put our meetings on track. It is therefore necessary to take effective measures, and to promptly stop certain acts that compromise us.

"What the Christian Society allows itself for its defense, and what Carbonarism, through some of its leaders, regards as lawful and political, must not frighten us more than Society and Carbonarism. The death penalty is applied by the courts. The Sainte-Vehme of young Switzerland and young Italy the same right arrogates; why wouldn't we do the same? Its four or five members who recruit their dagger mercenaries and point them to the victim to be hit in the shadows, are supposed to be superior to all laws. They challenge them now in Switzerland, now in England, now in America. The hospitality accorded by these states is a guarantee of impunity for international killers. They can thus, and with all their comfort, agitate Europe, threaten princes and individuals, and make us lose the fruit of our long vigils. Justice that really has an eye patch sees nothing, guesses nothing, and above all it could do nothing, because between the dagger and the victim's this is his business. Ours will be much less complicated, since we must hope that we will not have vain scruples.

"Now, therefore, certain dissidents who today are not very dangerous, but who may become later, even for their proud incapacity and for their disordered infatuation, put the High Sale in danger at any moment. They begin their experiments with the assassination of princes, or dark individuals. Soon, by the force of things, they will reach us; and, after compromising us with a thousand useless crimes, they will mysteriously make us disappear as obstacles. It is simply a matter of preventing them, and turning the dagger against them that they point against us.

"Would it be very difficult for High Sale to put into practice a project that one of its members presented to the Prince of Metternich [1st State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire]? Here is the plan in all its simplicity: "You cannot" -- he said confidentially to the Chancellor -- "hit the heads of secret societies, who, in neutral or protective territory, challenge your justice and despise your laws. The decrees of your criminal courts are powerless before the coast of England; they spring up on the hospitable rocks of Switzerland, then, month after month, you find yourself weaker and weaker, more and more disarmed in the face of daring provocations. The justice of your courts is condemned to sterility. You could not find yourself in the arsenal of your state needs, in the Salus populi suprema lexa [The health of the populace is the supreme law] remedy for the evils that all honest hearts deplore? Occult associations judge and enforce their decrees with the right that they arrogate themselves. Constituted governments, having a double interest in defending themselves, since in defending themselves they safeguard the whole Company, would they not have the same right that Sales usurp? Would it therefore be impossible to combine any means which, bringing disorder within the social enemy, reassured the good, and promptly ended up frightening the wicked? These means are also indicated by the latter. They strike second or third hand; hit like them. Have discreet agents, or better yet, erratic carbonari who want to redeem their old sins by attacking the secret police, that they are tacitly helped to take precautions to escape the first investigations who ignore the plot of which the instruments [they] will be. That the government does not rage either to starboard or left, that it does not miss a beat; but that you aim right, and after making two or three men disappear, you will restore order in society. Those who do the job of killing will be surprised at first, then they will be afraid to find terrible executioners no less than they. Ignoring whence the blow starts, they will inevitably attribute it to their rivals. They will be afraid of their accomplices, and will soon put the sword back in their sheath, since fear is soon communicated in the darkness. Death occurs. Who ignore the plot of which the instruments will be? Close your eyes, and since the righteousness of men cannot affect our modern Old Men of the Mountain in their caves, let the justice of God penetrate you in the form of a friend, a servant, or an accomplice who will have a perfect passport in Rule".

"This plan which the incurable carelessness of the Court and State Chancellor rejected for reasons which the Empires may repent of later, procured for our brother and friend the full confidence of the government; but the means of health that the heads crowned disdain for themselves will therefore be forbidden to use them for our preservation? If in one way or another the High Sale was discovered, it would not be possible to make us responsible for attacks by other salespeople? We do not go forward with the insurrection or with the assassination: but since we could not divulge our anti-Catholic projects, it would follow that the High Sale would be accused of all these ignominious pitfalls. The expedient that remains for us to escape such a disgraceful fact, one has to discreetly arm some good will brave enough to punish, but limited enough not to understand too much.

"The dissidents voluntarily put themselves out of the law of nations, they put themselves out of the law of secret societies; why wouldn't we apply the code they invented to them? The governments, brutalized in their lethargy, back away from the axiom: Patere legem quam fecisti [Google translate: That you obey the law]; wouldn't it be appropriate to take it? We have a combination that is as simple as it is infallible to get rid of the fake brothers and sisters who allow themselves to harm us by decreeing the murder. This combination, well used, inevitably brings upset and distrust in insubordinate sales. By judging in turn and chastening those who judge and punish others so summarily, we separate the good wheat from the tares, and restore the social balance with a method of which some wretched provide us with the recipe. The combination is applicable; we can strike without arousing suspicion, thus paralyze and dissolve the opposite Sales where the murder is taught: and we will be authorized, if necessary.


XIII. Letter from Gaetano to Nubius dated January 23, 1844.

After contributing, as far as he was concerned, to the perversion of the people, the reflections came, and he gives advice which is an early renunciation, or an end to opposition.

There are insatiable passions that I did not imagine, unknown appetites, wild hatreds that ferment around and below us. Passions, appetites and hatreds, all this can one day devour us, and if there were time to remedy this gangrene, it would be a real benefit for us. It was very easy to pervert, will it be equally easy to always turn the mouths of perverts? Here is the serious question for me. Often I have tried to deal with you; you have avoided the explanation. Nowadays it is no longer possible to update it, since time is pressing, and in Switzerland, as in Austria, in Prussia, as in Italy, our sectarians who will tomorrow be our masters (and what masters, or Nubius!) waiting for a signal to break the old model. Switzerland intends to give this signal; but those Swiss radicals full of the ideas of their Mazzini, their Communists, their alliance of saints and the Proletariat-Thief are not capable of leading the secret societies to the assault of Europe. France must stamp its footprint on this universal orgy: be convinced that Paris will not fail in its mission. Given and received the impulse, where will this poor Europe go? I am worried, since I get old, I have lost my illusions, and I would not, poor and naked of everything, assist like a theater figure to the triumph of a principle that I would have hatched and that would repudiate me, confiscating my possessions or taking my head.

To update this moment? Do you believe that your measurements were taken well enough to dominate the motion that we have impressed? In Vienna, when the bell of the revolutionary flock rings, we will be swallowed up by the crowd, and the precarious leader who will come out is perhaps at this hour in the bathroom, or in some place of bad business. In our Italy, where a double game is played, you must be troubled by the same fears. Have we not stirred the same mud? This slime mounts to the surface, and I fear I will die suffocated by it.

"Whatever the future reserved for the ideas that the secret societies propagated, we will be defeated and find masters. This was not our dream of 1825, nor our hopes of 1831! Our strength is ephemeral, and passes on to others. God knows where this progress towards the brutalization will stop. I would not retreat from my works if we could always direct them, explain them, or apply them. But don't you feel the fear that I feel in Vienna yourself? You don't confess like me that if there is still time to stop in the temple before making it above the ruins? This stop is still possible, and you alone, or Nubio, can decide it. And while doing this with skill, you could not play the part of Penelope and break the plot that would occur in the warp night?]

"The world has launched itself on the slope of Democracy; and, for my own part, for some time, democracy has always meant demagoguery. Our twenty years of conspiracies run the risk of being wiped out in front of some braggart who will flatter the people and pull to the legs of the nobility after strafing the clergy. I am a gentleman, and I sincerely confess that it would cost me to walk with the plebs, and wait for his daily bread, and the light that shines from his approval. With a revolution like what is being prepared for us we can lose everything, and I want to keep it. You too, dear friend, must be of my opinion, because you own and will no longer love me to hear the word of confiscation and proscription of the Egloghe repeat in your ears,the fatal cry of the stripper:

Haec mea sunt; veteres, migrated settlers [Google translate: This is mine; The ancient migrated settlers.]

"I own, I want to possess, and the Revolution can strip us of everything fraternally. Other ideas still worry me, and I am sure that they worry many of our friends at the same time. I still do not feel remorse; but I am agitated by fears, and in your place, in the situation in which I see the spirits in Europe, I would not want to assume on my head a responsibility that can lead Giuseppe Mazzini to the Capitol. Mazzini to the Capitol! Nubius to the Tarpea cliff or to oblivion! Here is the dream that pursues me if if your vows were fulfilled. Does this dream smile to you, O Nubio?"
The Tarpeian Rock (/tɑːrˈpiːən/; Latin: Rupes Tarpeia or Saxum Tarpeium; Italian: Rupe Tarpea) is a steep cliff of the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill, overlooking the Roman Forum in Ancient Rome. It was used during the Roman Republic as an execution site. Murderers, traitors, perjurors, and larcenous slaves, if convicted by the quaestores parricidii, were flung from the cliff to their deaths. The cliff was about 25 meters (80 ft) high.

-- Tarpeian Rock, by Wikipedia

-- Documents Regarding Alta Vendita [The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita], from L'Eglise romaine et la Révolution, by Crétineau-Joly

Although a plethora of theories have been advanced as to the origins of the Carbonari, the organization most likely emerged as an offshoot of Freemasonry, as part of the spread of liberal ideas from the French Revolution. They first became influential in the Kingdom of Naples (under the control of Joachim Murat) and in the Papal States, the most resistant opposition to the Risorgimento.

-- Carbonari, by Wikipedia

On 31 October of that year he was arrested at Genoa and interned at Savona. In early 1831, he was released from prison, but confined to a small hamlet. He chose exile instead, moving to Geneva in Switzerland.

Failed insurrections

Giuseppe Mazzini.

In 1831 Mazzini went to Marseille, where he became a popular figure among the Italian exiles. He was a frequent visitor to the apartment of Giuditta Bellerio Sidoli, a beautiful Modenese widow who became his lover.[10]


Giuditta Bellerio Sidoli (1804 - 28 March 1871) was an Italian patriot and revolutionary protagonist in multiple efforts for Italian unification. She was also the lover of Giuseppe Mazzini for a period and operated a salon in Turin for Italian expatriates.

Giuditta Bellerio was born in 1804 in Milan, the daughter of a magistrate of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. She married Giovanni Sidoli, a member of the Carbonari, at the age of sixteen. Following a revolution in 1820-1821, Giovanni Sidoli was forced to flee to Switzerland, and was later joined by Giuditta after she gave birth to a daughter. Giovanni died in 1828 of a lung ailment. Afterwards, she left for Giovanni's hometown Reggio Emilia to live with her in-laws and four children. During another wave of revolutionary activity in 1830-1831 she joined Ciro Menotti in revolutionary plots against the Duchy of Modena. She fled to Switzerland again as the Austrians put down the revolution.

In 1832, Giuditta settled with her brother in Marseille, running her apartment as a haven for Italian revolutionary exiles. There she met Giuseppe Mazzini and became his lover. Mazzini once told her "Smile at me always! It is the only smile that comes to me from life." Giuditta Sidoli would run the finances for Mazzini's new Young Italy society. Giuditta gave birth to a son named Joseph Aristide while in Marseilles, almost certainly fathered by Mazzini. Sidoli would continue to follow Mazzini and nurse him in his bad health as he moved to Geneva.

Sidoli attempted to return to Italy under an assumed name in 1833 in order to see her children, whom she had left behind when she left for Marseilles, but was prevented from entering. She did little else until 1852 when she operated a salon for Italian revolutionaries. By this time her love affair with Mazzini was effectively over, and they rarely saw each other again.

Giuditta Sidoli died of pneumonia on 28 March 1871. She refused last rites saying, she did, "not believe in the God of the Catholic Church—only in the God of exiles and the downtrodden."

-- Giuditta Bellerio Sidoli, by Wikipedia

In August 1832 Giuditta Sidoli gave birth to a boy, almost certainly Mazzini's son, whom she named Joseph Démosthène Adolpe Aristide after members of the family of Démosthène Ollivier, with whom Mazzini was staying. The Olliviers took care of the child in June 1833 when Giuditta and Mazzini left for Switzerland. The child died in February 1835.

Mazzini organized a new political society called Young Italy. Young Italy was a secret society formed to promote Italian unification: "One, free, independent, republican nation."[12]

Young Italy (Italian: La Giovine Italia) was a political movement for Italian youth (under age 40) founded in 1831 by Giuseppe Mazzini. After a few months of leaving Italy, in June 1831, Mazzini wrote a letter to King Charles Albert of Sardinia, in which he asked him to unite Italy and lead the nation. A month later, convinced that his demands did not reach the king, he founded the movement in Marseille. It would then spread out to other nations across Europe. The movement's goal was to create a united Italian republic through promoting a general insurrection in the Italian reactionary states and in the lands occupied by the Austrian Empire. Mazzini's belief was that a popular uprising would create a unified Italy. The slogan that defined the movement's aim was "Union, Strength, and Liberty". The phrase could be found in the tricolor Italian flag, which represented the country's unity.

-- Young Italy (historical), by Wikipedia

Mazzini believed that a popular uprising would create a unified Italy, and would touch off a European-wide revolutionary movement.[10] The group's motto was God and the People,[13] and its basic principle was the unification of the several states and kingdoms of the peninsula into a single republic as the only true foundation of Italian liberty. The new nation had to be: "One, Independent, Free Republic".

Mazzini's political activism met some success in Tuscany, Abruzzi, Sicily, Piedmont, and his native Liguria, especially among several military officers. Young Italy counted about 60,000 adherents in 1833, with branches in Genoa and other cities. In that year Mazzini first attempted insurrection, which would spread from Chambéry (then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia), Alessandria, Turin, and Genoa. However, the Savoy government discovered the plot before it could begin and many revolutionaries (including Vincenzo Gioberti) were arrested. The repression was ruthless: 12 participants were executed, while Mazzini's best friend and director of the Genoese section of the Giovine Italia, Jacopo Ruffini, killed himself. Mazzini was tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Despite this setback (whose victims later created numerous doubts and psychological strife in Mazzini), he organized another uprising for the following year. A group of Italian exiles were to enter Piedmont from Switzerland and spread the revolution there, while Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had recently joined Young Italy, was to do the same from Genoa.

Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi (4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882) was an Italian general, patriot, and republican. He contributed to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. He is considered to be one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland", along with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Giuseppe Mazzini. Garibaldi is also known as the "Hero of the Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in South America and Europe.

Garibaldi was a follower of the Italian nationalist Mazzini, and embraced the republican nationalism of the Young Italy movement. He became a supporter of Italian unification under a democratic Republican government. After participating in an uprising in Piedmont, he was sentenced to death, but escaped by sailing to South America; he spent 14 years in exile, taking part in several wars and learning the art of guerrilla warfare. In 1835, in Brazil, he took up the cause of the Riograndense Republic in its attempt to proclaim another republic within Santa Catarina, joining the rebels known as the Farrapos. Garibaldi also became involved in the Uruguayan Civil War, raising an Italian force known as Redshirts, and is still celebrated as an important contributor to Uruguayan independence.

In 1848, Garibaldi returned to Italy and commanded and fought in military campaigns that eventually led to Italian unification. The provisional government of Milan made him a general, and in 1849, the Minister of War promoted him to General of the Roman Republic. When the war of independence broke out in April 1859, he led his Hunters of the Alps in the capture of Varese and Como and reached the frontier of South Tyrol; the war ended with the acquisition of Lombardy. The following year, he led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf of and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II. The expedition was a success and concluded with the annexation of Sicily, Southern Italy, Marche and Umbria to the Kingdom of Sardinia, before the creation of a unified Kingdom of Italy on 17 March 1861. His last military campaign took place during the Franco-Prussian War, as commander of the Army of the Vosges.

Garibaldi became an international figurehead for national independence and republican ideals. He was showered with admiration and praises by many intellectuals and political figures, such as Abraham Lincoln, William Brown, Francesco de Sanctis, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, George Sand, Charles Dickens, Friedrich Engels, and Che Guevara. Historian A. J. P. Taylor called him "the only wholly admirable figure in modern history". In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts that his volunteers, the Garibaldini, wore in lieu of a uniform.

-- Giuseppe Garibaldi, by Wikipedia

However, the Piedmontese troops easily crushed the new attempt.

In the spring of 1834, while at Bern, Mazzini and a dozen refugees from Italy, Poland, and Germany founded a new association with the grandiose name of Young Europe. Its basic, and equally grandiose idea, was that, as the French Revolution of 1789 had enlarged the concept of individual liberty, another revolution would now be needed for national liberty; and his vision went further because he hoped that in the no doubt distant future free nations might combine to form a loosely federal Europe with some kind of federal assembly to regulate their common interests. [...] His intention was nothing less than to overturn the European settlement agreed in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, which had reestablished an oppressive hegemony of a few great powers and blocked the emergence of smaller nations. [...] Mazzini hoped, but without much confidence, that his vision of a league or society of independent nations would be realized in his own lifetime. In practice Young Europe lacked the money and popular support for more than a short-term existence. Nevertheless he always remained faithful to the ideal of a united continent for which the creation of individual nations would be an indispensable preliminary.[14]

On 28 May 1834 Mazzini was arrested at Solothurn, and exiled from Switzerland. He moved to Paris, where he was again imprisoned on 5 July. He was released only after promising he would move to England. Mazzini, together with a few Italian friends, moved in January 1837 to live in London in very poor economic conditions.
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Exile in London

Photograph of Mazzini by Domenico Lama

On 30 April 1840 Mazzini reformed the Giovine Italia in London, and on 10 November of the same year he began issuing the Apostolato popolare ("Apostleship of the People").

A succession of failed attempts at promoting further uprisings in Sicily, Abruzzi, Tuscany, and Lombardy-Venetia discouraged Mazzini for a long period, which dragged on until 1840. He was also abandoned by Sidoli, who had returned to Italy to rejoin her children. The help of his mother pushed Mazzini to create several organizations aimed at the unification or liberation of other nations, in the wake of Giovine Italia:[15] "Young Germany", "Young Poland", and "Young Switzerland", which were under the aegis of "Young Europe" (Giovine Europa). He also created an Italian school for poor people active from 10 November 1841 at 5 Greville Street, London.[16] From London he also wrote an endless series of letters to his agents in Europe and South America, and made friends with Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane.

Thomas Carlyle...with British intelligence pedigree....

Carlyle, like James Mill, John Stuart Mill, John Ruskin, and other celebrated British literary figures of the Victorian age, was part of the ideological and cultural control apparatus of the empire....

John Stuart Mill was the son of James Mill, who also claimed to be an economist. James Mill (1773-1836), a direct disciple of the satanic Jeremy Bentham, served for 18 years as the Examiner of Correspondence for the East India Company. This is another way of saying that he was one of the top bosses of British intelligence at that time. The elder Mill's job was to develop an intelligence picture based on the reports he received, and to promote policies to maximize profits and power, often with horrendous consequences for the people of India. The East India Company was much concerned with the manipulation of religious institutions, and systematically promoted the most backward and self-destructive tendencies in Hinduism and Islam, creating distortions which continue down to the present day. Others working for the British East India Company included the monetarist economist David Ricardo and the ideologue of genocide Thomas Malthus.

After working for the British East India Company for 34 years, John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) took over the post of Examiner of Correspondence. The younger Mill directed a vast program of British cultural warfare, with special attention for the United States, which was seen along with Russia as a threat to the British Empire. He sponsored the career of the Scottish feudalist, neo-pagan, and proto-fascist Thomas Carlyle, who in turn became the main guru for Ralph Waldo Emerson of Harvard, the luminary of the Transcendentalist school. Emerson was famous for his concept of "self-reliance," which later morphed into the "rugged individualism" of Herbert Hoover, and the "you're on your own" doctrine of the current Republican Party.

The reactionary essayist Thomas Carlyle represented a younger generation of the British intelligence establishment following in the footsteps of Jeremy Bentham and Thomas Malthus. Carlyle was so reactionary that he opposed the very timid British Reform Bill of 1867. Reacting to Lincoln's victory in the US Civil War, which had captured the imagination of British workers, it finally allowed urban industrial workers the right to vote. Like Dickens, Carlyle was a great hater of the United States...

Carlyle was heavily involved in many important British strategic operations of the mid-19th century. One of the principal British political assets of this era was the Italian revolutionary nationalist firebrand Giuseppe Mazzini, who generally used Great Britain as his base of operations. Mazzini's assignment was to destabilize the Austrian, Russian, and Ottoman empires, while making sure that no powerful independent states could ever emerge from their wreckage. Carlyle worked so closely with the Italian provocateur and wrecker that his wife, Jane Welsh Carlyle, became a mistress of Mazzini. Another of Carlyle's important projects was the American transcendentalist movement, and especially its leading light, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Carlyle must count as one of the largest single influences on the Bostonian Emerson. Carlyle presented himself as an expert in German philosophy, which was considered chic by the British upper classes, who of course could read no German. Carlyle thus became the authoritative interpreter of German thought and literature (especially Goethe) in the British Isles. Carlyle is thus a leading example of epistemological warfare and subversive political operations in the Victorian era....

Carlyle was deeply hostile to the United States and to the system of representative government in general. As a reactionary romanticist, he wanted institutions to evolve "organically," meaning that positive change would be either impossible or excruciatingly slow....

Carlyle harped on the notion that democratic institutions were necessarily slow and inefficient, and not adept at getting things done. He would have applauded Mussolini crushing unions and stripping Italians of their political rights, while famously making the trains run on time. He would have endorsed Mayor Giuliani of New York when he decided to conceal the problems of homelessness and poverty by ordering the police to drive panhandlers off the streets. Carlyle hated the notion of a democratic republic because it was not sufficiently aristocratic, although he had to camouflage his aristocratic prejudices behind a meritocratic facade. He also tried to show that democratic elections generally failed to select the most capable leaders for purposes of governing.

-- Just Too Weird: Bishop Romney and the Mormon Takeover of America: Polygamy, Theocracy, and Subversion, by Webster Griffin Tarpley, Ph.D.

The "Young Europe" movement also inspired a group of young Turkish army cadets and students who, later in history, named themselves the "Young Turks".

Young Turks was a political reform movement in the early 20th century that favored the replacement of the Ottoman Empire's absolute monarchy with a constitutional government. They led a rebellion against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II in the 1908 Young Turk Revolution. With this revolution, the Young Turks helped to establish the Second Constitutional Era in 1908, ushering in an era of multi-party democracy for the first time in the country's history.

Despite working with Young Ottomans to promulgate a constitution, Abdul Hamid II had dissolved the parliament by 1878 and returned to an absolutist regime, marked by extensive use of secret police to silence dissent, and by massacres committed against minorities. Constitutionalist opponents of his regime, most prominently Prince Sabahaddin and Ahmet Rıza, among other intellectuals, came to be known as Young Turks. Despite the name, Young Turks included many Arabs, Albanians, Jews, and initially, Armenians and Greeks. To organize the opposition, progressive medical students Ibrahim Temo, Abdullah Cevdet and others formed a secret organization named the Committee of Ottoman Union (later Committee of Union and Progress - CUP), which grew in size and included exiles, civil servants, and army officers. Finally, in 1908, pro-CUP officers marched the army to Istanbul, forcing Abdul Hamid to restore the constitution, and later deposing him.

Young Turks were a heterodox group of liberal intellectuals and revolutionaries, united by their opposition to the absolutist regime of Abdul Hamid and desire to reinstate the constitution. After the sultan's overthrow, Young Turks began to splinter and two main factions formed: more liberal and pro-decentralization Young Turks (including CUP's original founders) formed the Freedom and Accord Party (also known as the Liberal Union or Liberal Entente), and the Turkish nationalist, pro-centralization and radical wing among the Young Turks remained in the Party of Union and Progress. The groups' power struggle continued until 1913, when CUP seized power from Freedom and Accord with a coup. The new CUP leadership (Three Pashas) then exercised absolute control over the Ottoman Empire, overseeing the empire's entry into World War I on the side of the Central Powers during the war. Following the war, the struggle between the two groups of Young Turks revived, with the Freedom and Accord Party regaining control of the Ottoman government and Three Pashas fleeing into exile. Freedom and Accord rule was short lived, however, and the empire soon collapsed.

The term "Young Turk" is now used to signify "a progressive, revolutionary, or rebellious member of an organization, political party, etc, especially one agitating for radical reform" and various groups in different countries have been named Young Turks because of their rebellious or revolutionary nature.

-- Young Turks, by Wikipedia

In 1843 he organized another riot in Bologna, which attracted the attention of two young officers of the Austrian Navy, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera. With Mazzini's support, they landed near Cosenza (Kingdom of Naples), but were arrested and executed. Mazzini accused the British government of having passed information about the expeditions to the Neapolitans, and question was raised in the British Parliament. When it was admitted[17] that his private letters had indeed been opened, and its contents revealed by the Foreign Office[18] to the Austrian[19] and Neapolitan governments, Mazzini gained popularity and support among the British liberals, who were outraged by such a blatant intrusion of the government into his private correspondence.[16]

In 1847 he moved again to London, where he wrote a long "open letter" to Pope Pius IX, whose apparently liberal reforms had gained him a momentary status as possible paladin of the unification of Italy. The Pope, however, did not reply. He also founded the People's International League. By 8 March 1848 Mazzini was in Paris, where he launched a new political association, the Associazione Nazionale Italiana.

The 1848–49 revolts

Citizens shot for reading Mazzini Journals

On 7 April 1848 Mazzini reached Milan, whose population had rebelled against the Austrian garrison and established a provisional government. The First Italian War of Independence, started by the Piedmontese king Charles Albert to exploit the favourable circumstances in Milan, turned into a total failure. Mazzini, who had never been popular in the city because he wanted Lombardy to become a republic instead of joining Piedmont, abandoned Milan. He joined Garibaldi's irregular force at Bergamo, moving to Switzerland with him.

On 9 February 1849 a republic was declared in Rome, with Pius IX already having been forced to flee to Gaeta the preceding November. On the same day the Republic was declared, Mazzini reached the city. He was appointed, together with Carlo Armellini and Aurelio Saffi, as a member of the "triumvirate" of the new republic on 29 March, becoming soon the true leader of the government and showing good administrative capabilities in social reforms. However, when the French troops called by the Pope made clear that the resistance of the Republican troops, led by Garibaldi, was in vain, on 12 July 1849, Mazzini set out for Marseille, from where he moved again to Switzerland.

Late activities

Last page of a letter from Mazzini to Carl Schurz when both were in London in 1851.

Giuseppe Mazzini late in his career.

Mazzini spent all of 1850 hiding from the Swiss police. In July he founded the association Amici di Italia (Friends of Italy) in London, to attract consensus towards the Italian liberation cause. Two failed riots in Mantua (1852) and Milan (1853) were a crippling blow for the Mazzinian organization, whose prestige never recovered. He later opposed the alliance signed by Savoy with Austria for the Crimean War. Also in vain was the expedition of Felice Orsini in Carrara of 1853–54.

In 1856 he returned to Genoa to organize a series of uprisings: the only serious attempt was that of Carlo Pisacane in Calabria, which again met a dismaying end.

Carlo Pisacane, Duke of San Giovanni (22 August 1818 – 2 July 1857) was an Italian patriot and one of the first Italian socialist thinkers. He argued that violence was necessary not only to draw attention to, or generate publicity for, a cause, but also to inform, educate, and ultimately rally the masses behind the revolution. These ideas are called propaganda of the deed and have exerted compelling influence on rebels and terrorist alike ever since.

-- Carlo Pisacane, by Wikipedia

Mazzini managed to escape the police, but was condemned to death by default. From this moment on, Mazzini was more of a spectator than a protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento, whose reins were now strongly in the hands of the Savoyard monarch Victor Emmanuel II and his skilled prime minister, Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour. The latter defined him as "Chief of the assassins".

Victor Emmanuel II (Italian: Vittorio Emanuele II; full name: Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso di Savoia; 14 March 1820 – 9 January 1878) was King of Sardinia from 1849 until 17 March 1861, when he assumed the title of King of Italy and became the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century, a title he held until his death in 1878. Borrowing from the old Latin title Pater Patriae of the Roman emperors, the Italians gave him the epithet of Father of the Fatherland (Italian: Padre della Patria).

Born in Turin as the eldest son of Charles Albert, Prince of Carignano, and Maria Theresa of Austria, he fought in the First Italian War of Independence (1848-49) before being made King of Piedmont-Sardinia following his father's abdication. He appointed Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, as his Prime Minister, and he consolidated his position by suppressing the republican left. In 1855, he sent an expeditionary corps to side with French and British forces during the Crimean War; the deployment of Italian troops to the Crimea, and the gallantry shown by them in the Battle of the Chernaya (16 August 1855) and in the siege of Sevastopol led the Kingdom of Sardinia to be among the participants at the peace conference at the end of the war, where it could address the issue of the Italian unification to other European powers. This allowed Victor Emmanuel to ally himself with Napoleon III, Emperor of France. France had supported Sardinia in the Second Italian War of Independence, resulting in liberating Lombardy from Austrian rule.

Victor Emmanuel supported the Expedition of the Thousand (1860–1861) led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, which resulted in the rapid fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in southern Italy. However, Victor Emmanuel halted Garibaldi when he appeared ready to attack Rome, still under the Papal States, as it was under French protection. In 1860, Tuscany, Modena, Parma and Romagna decided to side with Sardinia-Piedmont, and Victor Emmanuel then marched victoriously in the Marche and Umbria after the victorious battle of Castelfidardo over the Papal forces. He subsequently met Garibaldi at Teano, receiving from him the control of southern Italy and becoming the first King of Italy on 17 March 1861.

In 1866, the Third Italian War of Independence allowed Italy to annex Veneto. In 1870, Victor Emmanuel also took advantage of the Prussian victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War to taking over the Papal States after the French withdrew. He entered Rome on 20 September 1870 and set up the new capital there on 2 July 1871. He died in Rome in 1878, and was buried in the Pantheon.

-- Victor Emmanuel II of Italy, by Wikipedia

In 1858 he founded another journal in London, Pensiero e azione ("Thought and Action"). Also there, on 21 February 1859, together with 151 republicans he signed a manifesto against the alliance between Piedmont and the Emperor of France which resulted in the Second War of Italian Independence and the conquest of Lombardy. On 2 May 1860 he tried to reach Garibaldi, who was going to launch his famous Expedition of the Thousand[20] in southern Italy. In the same year he released Doveri dell'uomo ("Duties of Man"), a synthesis of his moral, political and social thoughts. In mid-September he was in Naples, then under Garibaldi's dictatorship, but was invited by the local vice-dictator Giorgio Pallavicino to move away.

The new Kingdom of Italy was created in 1861 under the Savoy monarchy. In 1862, Mazzini joined Garibaldi in his failed attempt to free Rome. In 1866, Italy joined the Austro-Prussian War and gained Venetia. At this time Mazzini frequently spoke out against how the unification of his country was being achieved, and in 1867 he refused a seat in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In 1870, he tried to start a rebellion in Sicily, and was arrested and imprisoned in Gaeta. He was freed in October, in the amnesty declared after the Kingdom finally took Rome, and returned to London in mid-December.

Mausoleum of Mazzini in the Staglieno cemetery of Genoa

Giuseppe Mazzini died of pleurisy at the house known now as Domus Mazziniana in Pisa in 1872, at the age of 66. His body was embalmed by Paolo Gorini. His funeral was held in Genoa, with 100,000 people taking part in it.


Mazzini, an Italian nationalist, was a fervent advocate of republicanism and envisioned a united, free and independent Italy. Unlike his contemporary Garibaldi, who was also a republican, Mazzini refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the House of Savoy until after the capture of Rome.

Mazzini was vigorously opposed to Marxism and Communism, and in 1871 he condemned the socialist revolt in France that led to the creation of the short-lived Paris Commune.[21] This later caused Karl Marx to refer to Mazzini as a "reactionary" and an "old ass".[22][23] Mazzini rejected the Marxist doctrines of class struggle and materialism, and stressed the need for class collaboration[21][24]

The Paris Commune was a radical socialist and revolutionary government that ruled Paris from 18 March to 28 May 1871. The Franco-Prussian War had led to the capture of Emperor Napoleon III in September 1870, the collapse of the Second French Empire, and the beginning of the Third Republic. Because Paris was under siege for four months, the Third Republic moved its capital to Tours. A hotbed of working-class radicalism, Paris was primarily defended during this time by the often politicised and radical troops of the National Guard rather than regular Army troops. Paris surrendered to the Prussians on 28 January 1871, and in February Adolphe Thiers, the new chief executive of the French national government, signed an armistice with Prussia that disarmed the Army but not the National Guard.

On 18 March, soldiers of the Commune's National Guard killed two French army generals, and the Commune refused to accept the authority of the French government. The Commune governed Paris for two months, until it was suppressed by the regular French Army during "La semaine sanglante" ("The Bloody Week") beginning on 21 May 1871.

Debates over the policies and outcome of the Commune had significant influence on the ideas of Karl Marx, who described it as an example of the "dictatorship of the proletariat".

-- Paris Commune, by Wikipedia

Mazzini also rejected the classical liberal principles of the Enlightenment based on the doctrine of individualism, which he criticized as "presupposing either metaphysical materialism or political atheism."[25]

Influenced by his Jansenist upbringing, Mazzini's thought is characterized by a strong religious fervor and deep sense of spirituality. Mazzini described himself as a Christian and emphasized the necessity of faith and a relationship with God, while vehemently denouncing rationalism and atheism. His motto was Dio e Popolo ("God and People"). He regarded patriotism as a duty, and love for the Fatherland as a divine mission, saying that the Fatherland was "the home wherein God has placed us, among brothers and sisters linked to us by the family ties of a common religion, history, and language."[26]

In his 1835 publication Fede e avvenire ("Faith and the Future"), he wrote: "We must rise again as a religious party. The religious element is universal and immortal ... The initiators of a new world, we are bound to lay the foundations of a moral unity, a Humanitarian Catholicism."[27]
However, Mazzini's relationship with the Catholic Church and the Papacy was not always a kind one. While he initially supported Pope Pius IX upon his election, writing an open letter to him in 1847, he later published a scathing attack against the pope in his Sull'Enciclica di Papa Pio IX ("On the Encyclical of Pope Pius IX") in 1849.

Although some of his religious views were at odds with the Catholic Church and the Papacy, and his writings often were tinged with anti-clericalism, at the same time Mazzini criticized Protestantism, stating that it is "divided and subdivided into a thousand sects, all founded on the rights of individual conscience, all eager to make war on one another, and perpetuating that anarchy of beliefs which is the sole true cause of the social and political disturbances that torment the peoples of Europe."[28]

Mazzini formulated a concept known as thought and action, in which thought and action must be joined together, and every thought must be followed by action, therefore rejecting intellectualism and the notion of divorcing theory from practice.[29] He likewise rejected the concept of the "rights of man" which had developed during the Age of Enlightenment, arguing instead that individual rights were a duty to be won through hard work, sacrifice and virtue, rather than "rights" which were intrinsically owed to man.
He outlined his thought in his Doveri dell'uomo ("Duties of Man"), published in 1860.

Women's rights

In Doveri dell'uomo ("Duties of Man", 1860) Mazzini called for recognition of women's rights. After his many encounters with political philosophers in England, France and across Europe, he had decided that the principle of equality between men and women was fundamental to building a truly democratic Italian nation. He called for the end of women's social and judicial subordination to men. His vigorous position heightened attention to gender among European thinkers who were already considering democracy and nationalism. Mazzini helped intellectuals see women's rights not merely a peripheral topic but as a fundamental goal necessary for the regeneration of old nations and the rebirth of new ones.[30] Mazzini admired Jessie White Mario who was described by Giuseppe Garibaldi as the "Bravest Woman of Modern Time". Jessie joined Garibaldi's Redshirts (Italy) for the 1859, 1860 campaign. As a correspondent for the Daily News she witnessed almost every fight that had brought on the unification of Italy.[31]

Jessie White Mario (9 May 1832 in Hampshire, England – 5 March 1906 in Florence, Italy) was an English (and naturalized Italian) writer and philanthropist. She is sometimes referred to as "Hurricane Jessie" in the Italian press.

She was a nurse to General Giuseppe Garibaldi's soldiers in four wars
; she researched living conditions in subterranean Naples and working conditions in Sicily's sulphur mines. She wrote copiously (in English and Italian) as both a journalist and a biographer.

Her most famous biography was about Giuseppe Garibaldi....

She became a propagandist for the Italian cause working with Giuseppe Mazzini, then in exile in London, who noted approvingly that "she is very absolute in her opinions". She wrote newspaper articles explaining the issues in Italy, gave lectures and raised funds for the Italian cause in northern England and Scotland.

When, in 1857, Mazzini went to Genoa, Jessie followed him. Her arrival was announced in the Italia del Popolo newspaper, which had been publishing accounts of her speaking tours. She was treated as a celebrity, toured the area and successfully deflected attention away from Mazzini, who was working on a clandestine expedition to break patriots out of a Bourbon prison near Naples. The operation failed badly, Mazzini escaped the police round-up and returned to London. Jessie was captured and sent to prison in Genoa for four months, where she met the man who would become her husband, Alberto Mario. [Alberto Mario (Lendinara, 4 June 1825 – 2 June 1883) was an Italian politician, journalist and supporter of Garibaldi.] They married in December 1857 at her family's home in England.

Jessie continued her speaking tours in England and Scotland, to much acclaim. In the Fall of 1858 Jessie and Alberto went to New York City to continue lecturing and fund-raising; she to English speaking audiences and he to Italian speakers.

Spring 1860 found them in Lugano, Switzerland, from where they rushed to Genoa to be part of the second wave of volunteers going to Sicily to join Garibaldi in his lightning-fast conquest of the Bourbon-controlled southern half of Italy. Alberto was on Garibaldi's staff and Jessie was nurse to the wounded, doing whatever was needed. This included tightly holding a boy while his arm was amputated without anaesthesia. Skills learned and refined during this war were used again in 1866 in the war against the Austrians west of Venice; in 1867 at Monterotondo and Mentana, north of Rome; and in the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War when Garibaldi led an army against the Germans in eastern France.

-- Jessie White Mario, by Wikipedia

Mazzini and Marx

Karl Marx, in an interview by R. Landor from 1871, said that Mazzini's ideas represented "nothing better than the old idea of a middle-class republic." Marx believed, especially after the Revolutions of 1848, that Mazzini's point of view had become reactionary, and the proletariat had nothing to do with it.[22] In another interview, Marx described Mazzini as "that everlasting old ass".[23]

Mazzini, in turn, described Marx as "a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind" and declared that "Despite the communist egalitarianism which [Marx] preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party, admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition."[32]


Blue plaque, 183 North Gower Street, London

Mazzini's socio-political thought has been referred to as Mazzinianism, and his worldview as the Mazzinian Conception, terms which were later utilized by Benito Mussolini and Fascists such as Giovanni Gentile to describe their political ideology and spiritual conception of life.[25][29][33][34]

Metternich described Mazzini as "the most influential revolutionary in Europe."[35]

Carl Schurz, in Volume I of his 'Reminiscences' (New York: McClure's Publ. Co., 1907, see Chapters XIII and XIV), gives a biographical sketch of Mazzini and recalls two meetings he had had with him when they were both in London in 1851.

While the book 10,000 Famous Freemasons by William R. Denslow lists Mazzini as a Mason, and even a Past Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy, articles on the Grand Orient of Italy's own website question whether he was ever a regular Mason and do not list him as a Past Grand Master.[36]

Bust of Mazzini by Giovanni Turini in Central Park, New York City

Often viewed in the Italy of the time as a god-like figure, Mazzini was nonetheless denounced by many of his compatriots as a traitor. Contemporary historians tended to believe that he ceased to contribute anything productive or useful after 1849, but modern ones take a more favorable opinion of him. The antifascist Mazzini Society, founded in the United States in 1939 by Italian political refugees, took his name; they, like him, served Italy from exile.

In London, Mazzini resided at 155 North Gower Street, near Euston Square, which is now marked with a commemorative blue plaque.[37] (155 is next door to 157 North Gower Street, which doubles as 221b Baker Street in the BBC adaptation of Sherlock.). A plaque on Laystall Street in Clerkenwell, London's Little Italy during the 1850s, also pays tribute Giuseppe Mazzini.[38]

A bust of Mazzini is in New York's Central Park between 67th and 68th streets just west of the West Drive.

The 1973–1974 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honor.

See also

• Roman Republic (19th century)
• History of Italy
• Italian nationalism
• Italian unification
• Revolutions of 1848 in the Italian states
• Jessie White Mario
• Mazzini's influence on Savarkar- ... r-savarkar


• Warfare against the Man (1825)
• On Nationality (1852)
• The Duties of Man and Other Essays (1860). J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1907 ISBN 1596052198
• A Cosmopolitanism of Nations: Giuseppe Mazzini's Writings on Democracy, Nation Building, and International Relations Recchia, Stefano, and Urbinati, Nadia, editors. Princeton University Press, 2009.


• "Is it Revolt or a Revolution?" in Tait's Edinburgh Magazine, June 1840, pp. 385–390


1. Romani, Roberto (2018). Sensibilities of the Risorgimento: Reason and Passions in Political Thought. BRILL. pp. 147–157.
2. Finn, Margot C. (2003). After Chartism: Class and Nation in English Radical Politics 1848-1874. Cambridge University Press. p. 200.
3. Finn, Margot C. (2003). After Chartism: Class and Nation in English Radical Politics 1848-1874. Cambridge University Press. pp. 170–176.
4. "Mazzini, Giuseppe". Lexico UK Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
5. "Mazzini". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
6. "Mazzini". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
7. The Italian Unification
8. (2013) Delphi Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne
9. Giuseppe Mazzini's International Political Thought
10. Hunt, Lynn; Martin, Thomas R.; and Rosenwein, Barbara H. Peoples and Cultures, Volume C ("Since 1740"): The Making of the West. Boston: Bedford/Saint Martin's, 2008.
11. Sarti, Roland (1 January 1997). Mazzini: A Life for the Religion of Politics. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-275-95080-4. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
12. "The Oath of Young Italy". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
13. Though an adherent of the group, Mazzini was not Christian.
14. Mack Smith, Denis (1994). Mazzini. Yale University Press. pp. 11–12.
15. Which was also reformed in 1840 in Paris, thank to the help of Giuseppe Lamberti.
16. Verdecchia, Enrico. Londra dei cospiratori. L'esilio londinese dei padri del Risorgimento, Marco Tropea Editore, 2010
17. By the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, 2nd Baronet.
18. Directly in the person of the Foreign Secretary, George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen.
19. In the person of Baron Philipp von Neumann.
20. Which, apparently, was to follow a plan previously devised by Mazzini himself.
21. Stefano Recchia, Nadia Urbinati (2009) A Cosmopolitanism of Nations; Princeton University Press.; p. 6
22. Interview with Karl Marx, head of L'Internationale by R. Landor, New York World, 18 July 1871, reprinted Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, 12 August 1871 – World History Archives: The retrospective history of the world's working class
23. Pearce R, Stiles A: The Unification of Italy, Third Edition, Hodder Murray, 2006.
24. Joan Campbell (1992, 1998) European Labor Unions; Greenwood Press; p. 253
25. M. E. Moss (2004) Mussolini's Fascist Philosopher: Giovanni Gentile Reconsidered; New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.; p. 59-60
26. E. A. V., Joseph Mazzini (1875) A Memoir by E. A. V. With Two Essays by Mazzini; Henry S. King & Co.; p. 2
27. G. Mazzini, Fede e avvenire, Cambridge University Press, 1921 p.51
28. Mazzini, Joseph. The Duties of Man. London; Chapman & Hall, 193, Piccadilly. Pp. 52.
29. Paul Schumaker (2010) The Political Theory Reader; Wiley-Blackwell; p. 58
30. Federica Falchi, "Democrazia e questione femminile nel pensiero di Giuseppe Mazzini" ['Democracy and the rights of women in the thinking of Giuseppe Mazzini'] Modern Italy (2012) 17#1 pp 15–30.
31. Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, 13 Apr 1906, Fri, Page 13 ... es_jessie/
32. as quoted in Fritz J. Raddatz (1975, 1978) Marx: A Political Biography; Boston: Little, Brown; p. 66
33. Maurizio Viroli (2012) As If God Existed: Religion and Liberty in the History of Italy; p. 177-178
34. Origins and Doctrine of FascismGiovanni Gentile (1932) Origins and Doctrine of Fascism; p. 5-6
35. David Gress (1998) From Plato to NATO: The Idea of the West and Its Opponents; Free Press
36. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
37. "Giuseppe Mazzini – London Remembers". Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
38. "In search of London's Little Italy – Londonist". Retrieved 12 October 2018.

Further reading

• Bayly, C. A., and Eugenio F. Biagini, eds. "Giuseppe Mazzini and the Globalisation of Democratic Nationalism 1830–1920 (2009)
• Claeys, Gregory. "Mazzini, Kossuth, and British Radicalism, 1848–1854," Journal of British Studies, vol. 28, o. 3 (July 1989), pp. 225–261. In JSTOR.
• Dal Lago, Enrico. ""We Cherished the Same Hostility to Every Form of Tyranny": Transatlantic Parallels and Contacts between William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini, 1846–1872." American Nineteenth Century History 13.3 (2012): 293–319.
o Dal Lago, Enrico. William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini: Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform. (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).
• Falchi, Federica. "Democracy and the rights of women in the thinking of Giuseppe Mazzini." Modern Italy 17#1 (2012): 15–30.
• Finelli, Michele. "Mazzini in Italian historical memory." Journal of Modern Italian Studies (2008) 13#4 pp 486–491.
• Mack Smith, Denis (1996). Mazzini. Yale University Press., a standard scholarly biography.
• Ridolfi, Maurizio. "Visions of republicanism in the writings of Giuseppe Mazzini," Journal of Modern Italian Studies (2008) 13#4 pp 468–479.
• Sarti, Roland. "Giuseppe Mazzini and his opponents" in John A. Davis, ed. Italy in the Nineteenth Century: 1796–1900 (2000) pp 74–107 online
• Sarti, Roland. Mazzini: A Life for the Religion of Politics (1997) 249pp
• Urbinati, Nadia. "Mazzini and the making of the republican ideology." Journal of Modern Italian Studies 17.2 (2012): 183–204.
• Wight, Martin; Wight, Gabriele, and Porter, Brian (Eds.) Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005

Primary sources

• Mazzini, Giuseppe. A cosmopolitanism of nations: Giuseppe Mazzini's writings on democracy, nation building, and international relations (Princeton University Press, 2009).

Other languages

• Chabod, Federico (1967). L'idea di nazione. Bari: Laterza.
• Omodeo, Adolfo (1955). L'età del Risorgimento italiano. Naples: ESI.
• Omodeo, Adolfo (1934). "Introduzione a G. Mazzini". Scritti scelti. Milan: Mondadori.
• Giuseppe Leone e Roberto Zambonini, "Mozart e Mazzini – Paesaggi poetico-musicali tra flauti magici e voci "segrete", Malgrate, Palazzo Agudio, 25 agosto 2007, ore 21.

Partial text of this article

• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Mazzini, Giuseppe". New International Encyclopedia. XIII (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. pp. 225–226.

External links

• "JOSEPH MAZZINI (Obituary Notice, Tuesday, March 12, 1872)". Eminent Persons: Biographies reprinted from The Times. I (1870-1875). London: Macmillan and Co. 1892. pp. 83–91. Retrieved 26 February 2019 – via HathiTrust Digital Library.
• Media related to Giuseppe Mazzini at Wikimedia Commons
• Quotations related to Giuseppe Mazzini at Wikiquote
• Works by Giuseppe Mazzini at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Giuseppe Mazzini at Internet Archive
• Biography at (in Italian)
• "Mazzini, Giuseppe" . Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 22, 2020 6:40 am

Permanent Settlement
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/21/20

The Permanent Settlement, also known as the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, was an agreement between the East India Company and Bengali landlords to fix revenues to be raised from land that had far-reaching consequences for both agricultural methods and productivity in the entire British Empire and the political realities of the Indian countryside. It was concluded in 1793 by the Company administration headed by Charles, Earl Cornwallis.[1] It formed one part of a larger body of legislation, known as the Cornwallis Code. The Cornwallis Code of 1793 divided the East India Company's service personnel into three branches: revenue, judicial, and commercial. Revenues were collected by zamindars, native Indians who were treated as landowners. This division created an Indian landed class that supported British authority.[1]

The Permanent Settlement was introduced first in Bengal and Bihar and later in the south district of Madras and Varanasi. The system eventually spread all over northern India by a series of regulations dated 1 May 1793. These regulations remained in place until the Charter Act of 1833.[1] The other two systems prevalent in India were the Ryotwari System and the Mahalwari System.

The Ryotwari system was a land revenue system in British India, introduced by Thomas Munro in 1820 based on system administered by Captain Alexander Read in the Baramahal district. It allowed the government to deal directly with the cultivator ('ryot') for revenue collection, and gave the peasant freedom to give up or acquire new land for cultivation. The peasant was assessed for only the lands he was cultivating.

This system was in operation for nearly 5 years and had many features of revenue system of the Mughals. It was instituted in some parts of British India, one of the three main systems used to collect revenues from the cultivators of agricultural land. These taxes included undifferentiated land revenue and rents, collected simultaneously. Where the land revenue was imposed directly on the ryots (the individual cultivators who actually worked the land) the system of assessment was known as ryotwari. Where the land revenue was imposed indirectly—through agreements made with Zamindars -- the system of assessment was known as zamindari. In Bombay, Madras, Assam and Burma the Zamindar usually did not have a position as a middleman between the government and the farmer.

An official report by John Stuart Mill, who was working for the British East India Company in 1857, explained the Ryotwari land tenure system as follows:
Under the Ryotwari System every registered holder of land is recognised as its proprietor, and pays direct to Government. He is at liberty to sublet his property, or to transfer it by gift, sale, or mortgage. He cannot be ejected by Government so long as he pays the fixed assessment, and has the option annually of increasing or diminishing his holding, or of entirely abandoning it. In unfavourable seasons remissions of assessment are granted for entire or partial loss of produce. The assessment is fixed in money, and does not vary from year to year, in those cases where water is drawn from a Government source of irrigation to convert dry land into wet, or into two-crop land, when an extra rent is paid to Government for the water so appropriated; nor is any addition made to the assessment for improvements effected at the Ryot's own expense. The Ryot under this system is virtually a Proprietor on a simple and perfect title, and has all the benefits of a perpetual lease without its responsibilities, in as much as he can at any time throw up his lands, but cannot be ejected so long as he pays his dues; he receives assistance in difficult seasons, and is irresponsible for the payment of his neighbours... The Annual Settlements under Ryotwari are often misunderstood, and it is necessary to explain that they are rendered necessary by the right accorded to the Ryot of diminishing or extending his cultivation from year to year. Their object is to determine how much of the assessment due on his holding the Ryot shall pay, and not to reassess the land. In these cases where no change occurs in the Ryots holding a fresh Patta or lease is not issued, and such parties are in no way affected by the Annual Settlement, which they are not required to attend.

-- Ryotwari, by Wikipedia

The Mahalwari system was introduced by Holt Mackenzie in 1822. The other two systems were the Permanent Settlement of Bengal in 1793 and the Ryotwari system in 1820. It covered the States of Punjab,Awadh and Agra, parts of Orissa and Madhya Pradesh. During the 1800s, the British tried to establish their control over the administrative machinery of India. The System of Land Revenue acted as a chief source of income of the British. Land was one of the most important source of income for the British. Thus, they used land to control the entire Revenue system, strengthening their economic condition in India.

The word "Mahalwari" is derived from the Hindi word Mahal, which means house, district, neighbourhood or quarter. This system consisted of landlords or lambardars claiming to represent entire villages or even groups of villages. Along with the village communities, the landlords were jointly responsible for the payment of the revenues. But, there was individual responsibility. The land included under this system consisted of all land of the villages, even the forestland, pastures etc.

This system was prevalent in the parts of Uttar Pradesh, the North Western province, parts of Central India and Punjab.

-- Mahalwari, by Wikipedia

Many argue that the settlement and its outcome had several shortcomings when compared with its initial goals of increasing tax revenue, creating a Western-European style land market in Bengal, and encouraging investment in land and agriculture, thereby creating the conditions for long-term economic growth for both the company and region's inhabitants. Firstly, the policy of fixing the rate of expected tax revenue for the foreseeable future meant that the income of the Company from taxation actually decreased in the long-term because revenues remained fixed while expenses increased over time. Meanwhile, the condition of the Bengali peasantry became increasingly pitiable, with famines becoming a regular occurrence as landlords (who risked immediate loss of their land if they failed to deliver the expected amount from taxation) sought to guarantee revenue by coercing the local agriculturalists to cultivate cash crops such as cotton, indigo, and jute, while long-term private investment by the zamindars in agricultural infrastructure failed to materialise.


Earlier zamindars in Bengal, Bihar and Odisha had been functionaries who held the right to collect revenue on behalf of the Mughal emperor and his representative, the diwan, in Bengal. The diwan supervised the zamindars to ensure they were neither lax nor overly stringent. When the East India Company was awarded the diwani or overlordship of Bengal by the empire following the Battle of Buxar in 1764, it found itself short of trained administrators, especially those familiar with local custom and law. As a result, landholders were unsupervised or reported to corrupt and indolent officials.The result was that revenues were extracted without regard for future income or local welfare.

Following the devastating famine of 1770, which was partially caused by this shortsightedness, Company officials in Calcutta better understood the importance of oversight of revenue officials. Warren Hastings, then governor-general, introduced a system of five-yearly inspections and temporary tax farmers. They did not want to take direct control of local administration in villages for several reasons, including that Company did not want to annoy those people who had traditionally enjoyed power and prestige in rural Bengal.

The Company failed to consider the question of incentivisation. Many appointed tax farmers absconded with as much revenue as they could during the time period between inspections. The British Parliament took note of the disastrous consequences of the system, and in 1784, British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger directed the Calcutta administration to alter it immediately. In 1786 Charles Cornwallis was sent out to India to reform the company's practices.

In 1786, the East India Company Court of Directors first proposed a permanent settlement for Bengal, changing the policy then being followed by Calcutta, which was attempting to increase taxation of zamindars. Between 1786 and 1790, the new Governor-General Lord Cornwallis and Sir John Shore (later Governor-General) entered a heated debate over whether or not to introduce a permanent settlement with the zamindars. Shore argued that the native zamindars would not trust the permanent settlement to be permanent and that it would take time before they realised it was genuine.

The main aim of the Permanent Settlement was to resolve the problem of agrarian crisis and distress that had resulted in lower agricultural output. The British officials thought that investment in agriculture, trade, and the resources of the revenue of the State could be increased by agriculture. For this, permanently fixing the revenue and securing the rights of property was done -- a system came to be known as the 'Permanent Settlement'. The British thought that once the revenue demands of the State were permanently set, there would be a regular flow of tax income. Furthermore, landholders would invest in their agricultural land as the producer can keep surpluses in excess of the fixed tax. The British officials thought that such a process would lead to the emergence of yeomen class of farmers and rich landowners who would invest their capital to generate further surpluses. This new emergent class would be loyal to the British, who were still gaining a foothold in the Indian subcontinent. While the policy was well-intentioned, it failed to identify individuals who were willing to contract to pay fixed revenue perpetually and to invest in the improvement of agriculture. After much discussion and disagreement between the officials, the Permanent Settlement was made with the existing Rajas and Taluqdars of Bengal who were now classified as Zamindars. They had to pay fixed revenue in perpetuity. Thus, zamindars were not the landowners but rather revenue collector agents of the State. Cornwallis believed that they would immediately accept it and so begin investing in improving their land. In 1790, the Court of Directors issued a ten-year (decennial) settlement to the zamindars, which was made permanent in 1793.

By the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793, their power of keeping the armed forces were taken back. They remained just the tax collectors of the land. There were considerably weakened as they were now banned from holding any court, as it was brought under the supervision of collector appointed by the company. British officials believed that investing in the land would improve the economy.

The system failed in the long run due to operational difficulty as well as because the Permanent Settlement did not take account of the seasonal and precarious nature of Bengali agriculture. The Company also did not understand the structural issues as well as the society.


The question of incentivisation now being understood to be central, the security of tenure of landlords was guaranteed. In short, the former landholders and revenue intermediaries were granted proprietorial rights (effective ownership) to the land they held. Smallholders were no longer permitted to sell their land, but they could not be expropriated by their new landlords.

Incentivisation of zamindars was intended to encourage improvements of the land, such as drainage, irrigation and the construction of roads and bridges; such infrastructure had been insufficient through much of Bengal. With a fixed land tax, zamindars could securely invest in increasing their income without any fear of having the increase taxed away by the Company. Cornwallis made the motivation quite clear by declaring that "when the demand of government is fixed, an opportunity is afforded to the landholder of increasing his profits, by the improvement of his lands". The British had in mind "improving landlords" in their own country, such as [Thomas William] Coke of Norfolk.

The Court of Directors also hoped to guarantee the company's income, which was constantly plagued by defaulting zamindars who fell into arrears, making it impossible for them to budget their spending accurately.

The immediate consequence of the Permanent Settlement was both very sudden and dramatic, one that nobody had apparently foreseen. By ensuring that zamindars' lands were held in perpetuity and with a fixed tax burden, they became desirable commodities. In addition, the government tax demand was inflexible, and the British East India Company's collectors refused to make allowances for times of drought, flood or other natural disaster. The tax demand was higher than that in England at the time. As a result, many zamindars immediately fell into arrears.

The Company's policy of auction of any zamindari lands deemed to be in arrears created a market for land that previously did not exist. Many of the new purchasers of this land were Indian officials within the East India Company's government. The bureaucrats were ideally placed to purchase lands which they knew to be underassessed and therefore profitable. In addition, their position as officials gave them opportunity to acquire the wealth necessary to purchase land. They could also manipulate the system to bring to sale land that they specifically wanted.

Historian Bernard S. Cohn and others have argued that the Permanent Settlement led to a commercialisation of land that previously did not exist in Bengal and, as a consequence, it led to a change in the social background of the ruling class from "lineages and local chiefs" to "under civil servants and their descendants, and to merchants and bankers". The new landlords were different in their outlook; "often they were absentee landlords who managed their land through managers and who had little attachment to their land".[3]


The Company hoped that the Zamindar class would not only be a revenue-generating instrument but also serve as intermediaries for the more political aspects of their rule, preserving local custom and protecting rural life from the possibly rapacious influences of its own representatives. However, it worked both ways, as zamindars became a naturally conservative interest group. Once British policy in the mid-19th century changed to one of reform and intervention in custom, the zamindars were vocal in their opposition. The Permanent Settlement had the features that state demand was fixed at 89% of the rent and 11% was to be retained by the zamindar. The state demand could not be increased but payment should be made on the due date, before sunset, so it was also known as the 'Sunset Law'. Failure to pay led to the sale of land to the highest bidder.

While the worst of the tax-farming excesses were countered by the introduction of the Settlement, the use of land was not part of the agreement. There was a tendency of Company officials and Indian landlords to force their tenants into plantation-style farming of cash crops like indigo and cotton rather than rice and wheat. That was a cause of many of the worst famines of the nineteenth century.

Once the salient features of the Permanent Settlement were reproduced all over India, and indeed elsewhere in the Empire, including Kenya, the political structure was altered forever. The landlord class held much greater power than they had under the Mughals, who subjected them to oversight by a trained bureaucracy with the power to attenuate their tenure. The power of the landlord caste/class over smallholders was not diluted in India until the first efforts towards land reform in the 1950s, still incomplete everywhere except West Bengal.

In Pakistan, where land reform was never carried out, elections in rural areas still suffer from a tendency towards oligarchy, reflecting the concentration of influence in the hands of zamindar families. This is because once Pakistan became separated from India, and the two began to fight over Kashmir, the goal of the government was revenue extraction to fund the military. As a result, the central leadership skewed the relationship between the elected and non-elected institutions of the state.[4]


1. "Cornwallis Code". Encyclopedia Britannica. 4 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
3. Cohn, Bernard S. (August 1960). "The Initial British Impact on India: A case study of the Benares region". The Journal of Asian Studies. Association for Asian Studies. 19 (4): 418–431. doi:10.2307/2943581. JSTOR 2943581.
4. Bose, Sugata; Jalal, Ayesha (2004). Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy (2nd ed.). Routledge. p. 176–177. ISBN 0-415-30786-4. Factors worked to undermine the role of parties and politicians and enhance that of the civil bureaucracy and the military ... it was the outbreak of war with India over the north Indian princely state of Kashmir within months of Pakistan's emergence which created the conditions for the dominance of the bureaucracy and the army ... setting their sights on [Kashmir], the central leadership inadvertently assisted in skewing the relationship between the elected and non-elected institutions of the state. In dire financial straits, the Pakistan central government had to dig more deeply into provincial resources to pay for a defence ... With revenue extraction as the primary objective, those at the centre devoted most of their energies to administrative consolidation and expansion rather than building a party-based political system.

Further reading

• Agrawal, Pramod Kumar (1993). Land Reforms in India: Constitutional and Legal Approach. New Delhi: M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 8185880093
• Guha, Ranajit (1996). A rule of property for Bengal: an essay on the idea of permanent settlement. Durham: Duke U Press. ISBN 0-8223-1771-0.
• Spear, T.G.Percival (1990). The History of India. 2. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-013836-6.
• Washbrook, D. A. (1981). "Law, State and Agrarian Society in Colonial India". Modern Asian Studies. 15 (3): 649–721. doi:10.1017/s0026749x00008714. JSTOR 312295.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Fri May 22, 2020 9:31 am

Part 1 of 3

Indian Rebellion of 1857
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 5/22/20

Indian Rebellion of 1857
A 1912 map showing the centres of the rebellion
Date:10 May 1857 – 1 November 1858 (1 year and 6 months)
Location: India
Result: British victory; Suppression of revolt; Formal end of the Mughal Empire; End of Company rule in India; Transfer of rule to the British Crown
Territorial changes: British Raj created out of former East India Company territory (some land returned to native rulers, other land confiscated by the British crown)
Belligerents: Sepoy Mutineers; Mughal Empire; Oudh; Jagdishpur; Gwalior factions; Forces of Rani Lakshmibai, the deposed ruler of Jhansi; Forces of Nana Sahib Peshwa; Forces of Rao Tula Ram, Raja of Rewari; Nawab of Banda; Various Rajas, Nawabs, Zamindars, Thakurs, Taluqdars, Sardars, and chieftains; East India Company; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; Kingdom of Nepal; 5 Princely States: Kapurthala; Nabha; Patiala; Rampur; Jodhpur
Commanders and leaders: Bahadur Shah Zafar; Nahar Singh; Bakht Khan †; Nana Sahib; Kunwar Singh; Tatya Tope (Executed); Rao Tula Ram; Ali Bahadur II Nawab of Banda; Umrao Singh Bhati; Rani Lakshmibai †; Begum Hazrat Mahal; Birjis Qadr; Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo (Executed); Pandey Ganpat Rai (Executed); Tikait Umrao Singh (Executed); Sheikh Bhikhari (Executed); Lord Canning; George Anson (d. May 1857); Patrick Grant; Colin Campbell (from August 1857); John Nicholson †; Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana[1]; Dhir Shamsher Kunwar Rana[2]; Randhir Singh
Casualties and losses: 6,000 Europeans killed[3]; As many as 800,000 Indians and possibly more, both in the rebellion and in famines and epidemics of disease in its wake, by comparison of 1857 population estimates with Indian Census of 1871.[3]

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India in 1857–58 against the rule of the British East India Company, which functioned as a sovereign power on behalf of the British Crown.[4][5] The rebellion began on 10 May 1857 in the form of a mutiny of sepoys of the Company's army in the garrison town of Meerut, 40 mi (64 km) northeast of Delhi (now Old Delhi). It then erupted into other mutinies and civilian rebellions chiefly in the upper Gangetic plain and central India,[a][6][ b][7] though incidents of revolt also occurred farther north and east.[c][8] The rebellion posed a considerable threat to British power in that region,[d][9] and was contained only with the rebels' defeat in Gwalior on 20 June 1858.[10] On 1 November 1858, the British granted amnesty to all rebels not involved in murder, though they did not declare the hostilities to have formally ended until 8 July 1859. Its name is contested, and it is variously described as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurrection, and the First War of Independence.[e][11]

The Indian rebellion was fed by resentments born of diverse perceptions, including invasive British-style social reforms, harsh land taxes, summary treatment of some rich landowners and princes,[12][13] as well as scepticism about the improvements brought about by British rule.[f][14] Many Indians rose against the British; however, many also fought for the British, and the majority remained seemingly compliant to British rule.[g][14] Violence, which sometimes betrayed exceptional cruelty, was inflicted on both sides, on British officers, and civilians, including women and children, by the rebels, and on the rebels, and their supporters, including sometimes entire villages, by British reprisals; the cities of Delhi and Lucknow were laid waste in the fighting and the British retaliation.[h][14]

After the outbreak of the mutiny in Meerut, the rebels quickly reached Delhi, whose 81-year-old Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was declared the Emperor of Hindustan. Soon, the rebels had captured large tracts of the North-Western Provinces and Awadh (Oudh). The East India Company's response came rapidly as well. With help from reinforcements, Kanpur was retaken by mid-July 1857, and Delhi by the end of September.[10] However, it then took the remainder of 1857 and the better part of 1858 for the rebellion to be suppressed in Jhansi, Lucknow, and especially the Awadh countryside.[10] Other regions of Company controlled India—Bengal province, the Bombay Presidency, and the Madras Presidency—remained largely calm.[ i][7][10] In the Punjab, the Sikh princes crucially helped the British by providing both soldiers and support.[j][7][10] The large princely states, Hyderabad, Mysore, Travancore, and Kashmir, as well as the smaller ones of Rajputana, did not join the rebellion, serving the British, in the Governor-General Lord Canning's words, as "breakwaters in a storm."[15]

In some regions, most notably in Awadh, the rebellion took on the attributes of a patriotic revolt against European oppression.[16] However, the rebel leaders proclaimed no articles of faith that presaged a new political system.[k][17] Even so, the rebellion proved to be an important watershed in Indian- and British Empire history.[l][11][18] It led to the dissolution of the East India Company, and forced the British to reorganize the army, the financial system, and the administration in India, through passage of the Government of India Act 1858.[19] India was thereafter administered directly by the British government in the new British Raj.[15] On 1 November 1858, Queen Victoria issued a proclamation to Indians, which while lacking the authority of a constitutional provision,[m][20] promised rights similar to those of other British subjects.[n][o][21] In the following decades, when admission to these rights was not always forthcoming, Indians were to pointedly refer to the Queen's proclamation in growing avowals of a new nationalism.[p][22][q][23]

East India Company's expansion in India

Main article: Company rule in India

India in 1765 and 1805, showing East India Company-governed territories in pink

India in 1837 and 1857, showing East India Company-governed territories in pink

Although the British East India Company had established a presence in India as far back as 1612,[24] and earlier administered the factory areas established for trading purposes, its victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 marked the beginning of its firm foothold in eastern India. The victory was consolidated in 1764 at the Battle of Buxar, when the East India Company army defeated Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. After his defeat, the emperor granted the Company the right to the "collection of Revenue" in the provinces of Bengal (modern day Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha), known as "Diwani" to the Company.[25] The Company soon expanded its territories around its bases in Bombay and Madras; later, the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766–1799) and the Anglo-Maratha Wars (1772–1818) led to control of even more of India.[26]

In 1806, the Vellore Mutiny was sparked by new uniform regulations that created resentment amongst both Hindu and Muslim sepoys.[27]

After the turn of the 19th century, Governor-General Wellesley began what became two decades of accelerated expansion of Company territories.[28] This was achieved either by subsidiary alliances between the Company and local rulers or by direct military annexation. The subsidiary alliances created the princely states of the Hindu maharajas and the Muslim nawabs. Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir were annexed after the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1849; however, Kashmir was immediately sold under the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar to the Dogra Dynasty of Jammu and thereby became a princely state. The border dispute between Nepal and British India, which sharpened after 1801, had caused the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16 and brought the defeated Gurkhas under British influence. In 1854, Berar was annexed, and the state of Oudh was added two years later. For practical purposes, the Company was the government of much of India.[29]

Causes of the rebellion

Main article: Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 occurred as the result of an accumulation of factors over time, rather than any single event.

The sepoys were Indian soldiers who were recruited into the Company's army. Just before the rebellion, there were over 300,000 sepoys in the army, compared to about 50,000 British. The forces were divided into three presidency armies: Bombay, Madras, and Bengal. The Bengal Army recruited higher castes, such as Rajputs and Bhumihar, mostly from the Awadh and Bihar regions, and even restricted the enlistment of lower castes in 1855. In contrast, the Madras Army and Bombay Army were "more localized, caste-neutral armies" that "did not prefer high-caste men".[30] The domination of higher castes in the Bengal Army has been blamed in part for initial mutinies that led to the rebellion.

Two sepoy officers; a private sepoy, 1820s

In 1772, when Warren Hastings was appointed India's first Governor-General, one of his first undertakings was the rapid expansion of the Company's army. Since the sepoys from Bengal – many of whom had fought against the Company in the Battles of Plassey and Buxar – were now suspect in British eyes, Hastings recruited farther west from the high-caste rural Rajputs and Bhumihar of Awadh and Bihar, a practice that continued for the next 75 years. However, in order to forestall any social friction, the Company also took action to adapt its military practices to the requirements of their religious rituals. Consequently, these soldiers dined in separate facilities; in addition, overseas service, considered polluting to their caste, was not required of them, and the army soon came officially to recognise Hindu festivals. "This encouragement of high caste ritual status, however, left the government vulnerable to protest, even mutiny, whenever the sepoys detected infringement of their prerogatives."[31] Stokes argues that "The British scrupulously avoided interference with the social structure of the village community which remained largely intact."[32]

After the annexation of Oudh (Awadh) by the East India Company in 1856, many sepoys were disquieted both from losing their perquisites, as landed gentry, in the Oudh courts, and from the anticipation of any increased land-revenue payments that the annexation might bring about.[33] Other historians have stressed that by 1857, some Indian soldiers, interpreting the presence of missionaries as a sign of official intent, were convinced that the Company was masterminding mass conversions of Hindus and Muslims to Christianity.[34] Although earlier in the 1830s, evangelicals such as William Carey and William Wilberforce had successfully clamoured for the passage of social reform, such as the abolition of sati and allowing the remarriage of Hindu widows, there is little evidence that the sepoys' allegiance was affected by this.[33]

However, changes in the terms of their professional service may have created resentment. As the extent of the East India Company's jurisdiction expanded with victories in wars or annexation, the soldiers were now expected not only to serve in less familiar regions, such as in Burma, but also to make do without the "foreign service" remuneration that had previously been their due.[35]

A major cause of resentment that arose ten months prior to the outbreak of the rebellion was the General Service Enlistment Act of 25 July 1856. As noted above, men of the Bengal Army had been exempted from overseas service. Specifically, they were enlisted only for service in territories to which they could march. Governor-General Lord Dalhousie saw this as an anomaly, since all sepoys of the Madras and Bombay Armies and the six "General Service" battalions of the Bengal Army had accepted an obligation to serve overseas if required. As a result, the burden of providing contingents for active service in Burma, readily accessible only by sea, and China had fallen disproportionately on the two smaller Presidency Armies. As signed into effect by Lord Canning, Dalhousie's successor as Governor-General, the act required only new recruits to the Bengal Army to accept a commitment for general service. However, serving high-caste sepoys were fearful that it would be eventually extended to them, as well as preventing sons following fathers into an army with a strong tradition of family service.[36]

There were also grievances over the issue of promotions, based on seniority. This, as well as the increasing number of European officers in the battalions,[37] made promotion slow, and many Indian officers did not reach commissioned rank until they were too old to be effective.[38]

The Enfield rifle

The final spark was provided by the ammunition for the new Enfield Pattern 1853 rifled musket.[39] These rifles, which fired Minié balls, had a tighter fit than the earlier muskets, and used paper cartridges that came pre-greased. To load the rifle, sepoys had to bite the cartridge open to release the powder.[40] The grease used on these cartridges was rumoured to include tallow derived from beef, which would be offensive to Hindus,[41] and lard derived from pork, which would be offensive to Muslims. At least one Company official pointed out the difficulties this may cause:

unless it be proven that the grease employed in these cartridges is not of a nature to offend or interfere with the prejudices of religion, it will be expedient not to issue them for test to Native corps.[42]

However, in August 1856, greased cartridge production was initiated at Fort William, Calcutta, following a British design. The grease used included tallow supplied by the Indian firm of Gangadarh Banerji & Co.[43] By January, rumours were abroad that the Enfield cartridges were greased with animal fat.

Company officers became aware of the rumours through reports of an altercation between a high-caste sepoy and a low-caste labourer at Dum Dum.[44] The labourer had taunted the sepoy that by biting the cartridge, he had himself lost caste, although at this time such cartridges had been issued only at Meerut and not at Dum Dum.[45] There had been rumours that the British sought to destroy the religions of the Indian people, and forcing the native soldiers to break their sacred code would have certainly added to this rumour, as it apparently did. The Company was quick to reverse the effects of this policy in hopes that the unrest would be quelled.[46][47]

On 27 January, Colonel Richard Birch, the Military Secretary, ordered that all cartridges issued from depots were to be free from grease, and that sepoys could grease them themselves using whatever mixture "they may prefer".[48] A modification was also made to the drill for loading so that the cartridge was torn with the hands and not bitten. This however, merely caused many sepoys to be convinced that the rumours were true and that their fears were justified. Additional rumours started that the paper in the new cartridges, which was glazed and stiffer than the previously used paper, was impregnated with grease.[49] In February, a court of inquiry was held at Barrackpore to get to the bottom of these rumours. Native soldiers called as witnesses complained of the paper "being stiff and like cloth in the mode of tearing", said that when the paper was burned it smelled of grease, and announced that the suspicion that the paper itself contained grease could not be removed from their minds.[50]

Civilian disquiet

The civilian rebellion was more multifarious. The rebels consisted of three groups: the feudal nobility, rural landlords called taluqdars, and the peasants. The nobility, many of whom had lost titles and domains under the Doctrine of Lapse, which refused to recognise the adopted children of princes as legal heirs, felt that the Company had interfered with a traditional system of inheritance. Rebel leaders such as Nana Sahib and the Rani of Jhansi belonged to this group; the latter, for example, was prepared to accept East India Company supremacy if her adopted son was recognised as her late husband's heir.[51] In other areas of central India, such as Indore and Saugar, where such loss of privilege had not occurred, the princes remained loyal to the Company, even in areas where the sepoys had rebelled.[52] The second group, the taluqdars, had lost half their landed estates to peasant farmers as a result of the land reforms that came in the wake of annexation of Oudh. As the rebellion gained ground, the taluqdars quickly reoccupied the lands they had lost, and paradoxically, in part because of ties of kinship and feudal loyalty, did not experience significant opposition from the peasant farmers, many of whom joined the rebellion, to the great dismay of the British.[53] It has also been suggested that heavy land-revenue assessment in some areas by the British resulted in many landowning families either losing their land or going into great debt to money lenders, and providing ultimately a reason to rebel; money lenders, in addition to the Company, were particular objects of the rebels' animosity.[54] The civilian rebellion was also highly uneven in its geographic distribution, even in areas of north-central India that were no longer under British control. For example, the relatively prosperous Muzaffarnagar district, a beneficiary of a Company irrigation scheme, and next door to Meerut, where the upheaval began, stayed relatively calm throughout.[55]

Charles Canning, the Governor-General of India during the rebellion.

Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856, who devised the Doctrine of Lapse.

Lakshmibai, the Rani of Maratha-ruled Jhansi, one of the principal leaders of the rebellion who earlier had lost her kingdom as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse.

Bahadur Shah Zafar the last Mughal Emperor, crowned Emperor of India, by the Indian troops, he was deposed by the British, and died in exile in Burma

"Utilitarian and evangelical-inspired social reform",[56] including the abolition of sati[57][58] and the legalisation of widow remarriage were considered by many—especially the British themselves[59]—to have caused suspicion that Indian religious traditions were being "interfered with", with the ultimate aim of conversion.[59][60] Recent historians, including Chris Bayly, have preferred to frame this as a "clash of knowledges", with proclamations from religious authorities before the revolt and testimony after it including on such issues as the "insults to women", the rise of "low persons under British tutelage", the "pollution" caused by Western medicine and the persecuting and ignoring of traditional astrological authorities.[61] European-run schools were also a problem: according to recorded testimonies, anger had spread because of stories that mathematics was replacing religious instruction, stories were chosen that would "bring contempt" upon Indian religions, and because girl children were exposed to "moral danger" by education.[61]

The justice system was considered to be inherently unfair to the Indians. The official Blue Books, East India (Torture) 1855–1857, laid before the House of Commons during the sessions of 1856 and 1857, revealed that Company officers were allowed an extended series of appeals if convicted or accused of brutality or crimes against Indians.

The economic policies of the East India Company were also resented by many Indians.[62]

The Bengal Army

A scene from the 1857 Indian Rebellion (Bengal Army).

Each of the three "Presidencies" into which the East India Company divided India for administrative purposes maintained their own armies. Of these, the Army of the Bengal Presidency was the largest. Unlike the other two, it recruited heavily from among high-caste Hindus and comparatively wealthy Muslims. The Muslims formed a larger percentage of the 18 irregular cavalry units[63] within the Bengal Army, whilst Hindus were mainly to be found in the 84 regular infantry and cavalry regiments. The sepoys were therefore affected to a large degree by the concerns of the landholding and traditional members of Indian society. In the early years of Company rule, it tolerated and even encouraged the caste privileges and customs within the Bengal Army, which recruited its regular soldiers almost exclusively amongst the landowning Brahmins and Rajputs of the Bihar and Awadh regions. These soldiers were known as Purbiyas. By the time these customs and privileges came to be threatened by modernising regimes in Calcutta from the 1840s onwards, the sepoys had become accustomed to very high ritual status and were extremely sensitive to suggestions that their caste might be polluted.[64]

The sepoys also gradually became dissatisfied with various other aspects of army life. Their pay was relatively low and after Awadh and the Punjab were annexed, the soldiers no longer received extra pay (batta or bhatta) for service there, because they were no longer considered "foreign missions". The junior European officers became increasingly estranged from their soldiers, in many cases treating them as their racial inferiors. In 1856, a new Enlistment Act was introduced by the Company, which in theory made every unit in the Bengal Army liable to service overseas. Although it was intended to apply only to new recruits, the serving sepoys feared that the Act might be applied retroactively to them as well.[65] A high-caste Hindu who travelled in the cramped conditions of a wooden troop ship could not cook his own food on his own fire, and accordingly risked losing caste through ritual pollution.[66]

Onset of the Rebellion

Indian mutiny map showing position of troops on 1 May 1857

Several months of increasing tensions coupled with various incidents preceded the actual rebellion. On 26 February 1857 the 19th Bengal Native Infantry (BNI) regiment became concerned that new cartridges they had been issued were wrapped in paper greased with cow and pig fat, which had to be opened by mouth thus affecting their religious sensibilities. Their Colonel confronted them supported by artillery and cavalry on the parade ground, but after some negotiation withdrew the artillery, and cancelled the next morning's parade.[67]

Mangal Pandey

Main article: Mangal Pandey

On 29 March 1857 at the Barrackpore parade ground, near Calcutta, 29-year-old Mangal Pandey of the 34th BNI, angered by the recent actions of the East India Company, declared that he would rebel against his commanders. Informed about Pandey's behaviour Sergeant-Major James Hewson went to investigate, only to have Pandey shoot at him. Hewson raised the alarm.[68] When his adjutant Lt. Henry Baugh came out to investigate the unrest, Pandey opened fire but hit Baugh's horse instead.[69]

General John Hearsey came out to the parade ground to investigate, and claimed later that Mangal Pandey was in some kind of "religious frenzy". He ordered the Indian commander of the quarter guard Jemadar Ishwari Prasad to arrest Mangal Pandey, but the Jemadar refused. The quarter guard and other sepoys present, with the single exception of a soldier called Shaikh Paltu, drew back from restraining or arresting Mangal Pandey. Shaikh Paltu restrained Pandey from continuing his attack.[69][70]

After failing to incite his comrades into an open and active rebellion, Mangal Pandey tried to take his own life, by placing his musket to his chest and pulling the trigger with his toe. He managed only to wound himself. He was court-martialled on 6 April, and hanged two days later.

The Jemadar Ishwari Prasad was sentenced to death and hanged on 22 April. The regiment was disbanded and stripped of its uniforms because it was felt that it harboured ill-feelings towards its superiors, particularly after this incident. Shaikh Paltu was promoted to the rank of havildar in the Bengal Army, but was murdered shortly before the 34th BNI dispersed.[71]

Sepoys in other regiments thought these punishments were harsh. The demonstration of disgrace during the formal disbanding helped foment the rebellion in view of some historians. Disgruntled ex-sepoys returned home to Awadh with a desire for revenge.

Unrest during April 1857

During April, there was unrest and fires at Agra, Allahabad and Ambala. At Ambala in particular, which was a large military cantonment where several units had been collected for their annual musketry practice, it was clear to General Anson, Commander-in-Chief of the Bengal Army, that some sort of rebellion over the cartridges was imminent. Despite the objections of the civilian Governor-General's staff, he agreed to postpone the musketry practice and allow a new drill by which the soldiers tore the cartridges with their fingers rather than their teeth. However, he issued no general orders making this standard practice throughout the Bengal Army and, rather than remain at Ambala to defuse or overawe potential trouble, he then proceeded to Simla, the cool "hill station" where many high officials spent the summer.

Although there was no open revolt at Ambala, there was widespread arson during late April. Barrack buildings (especially those belonging to soldiers who had used the Enfield cartridges) and European officers' bungalows were set on fire.[72]


"The Sepoy revolt at Meerut," from the Illustrated London News, 1857

An 1858 photograph by Felice Beato of a mosque in Meerut where some of the rebel soldiers may have prayed

At Meerut, a large military cantonment, 2,357 Indian sepoys and 2,038 British soldiers were stationed along with 12 British-manned guns. The station held one of the largest concentrations of British troops in India and this was later to be cited as evidence that the original rising was a spontaneous outbreak rather than a pre-planned plot.[73]

Although the state of unrest within the Bengal Army was well known, on 24 April Lieutenant Colonel George Carmichael-Smyth, the unsympathetic commanding officer of the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry, ordered 90 of his men to parade and perform firing drills. All except five of the men on parade refused to accept their cartridges. On 9 May, the remaining 85 men were court martialled, and most were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with hard labour. Eleven comparatively young soldiers were given five years' imprisonment. The entire garrison was paraded and watched as the condemned men were stripped of their uniforms and placed in shackles. As they were marched off to jail, the condemned soldiers berated their comrades for failing to support them.

The next day was Sunday. Some Indian soldiers warned off-duty junior European officers that plans were afoot to release the imprisoned soldiers by force, but the senior officers to whom this was reported took no action. There was also unrest in the city of Meerut itself, with angry protests in the bazaar and some buildings being set on fire. In the evening, most European officers were preparing to attend church, while many of the European soldiers were off duty and had gone into canteens or into the bazaar in Meerut. The Indian troops, led by the 3rd Cavalry, broke into revolt. European junior officers who attempted to quell the first outbreaks were killed by the rebels. European officers' and civilians' quarters were attacked, and four civilian men, eight women and eight children were killed. Crowds in the bazaar attacked off-duty soldiers there. About 50 Indian civilians, some of them officers' servants who tried to defend or conceal their employers, were killed by the sepoys.[74] While the action of the sepoys in freeing their 85 imprisoned comrades appears to have been spontaneous, some civilian rioting in the city was reportedly encouraged by kotwal (local police commander) Dhan Singh Gurjar.[75]

Some sepoys (especially from the 11th Bengal Native Infantry) escorted trusted British officers and women and children to safety before joining the revolt.[76] Some officers and their families escaped to Rampur, where they found refuge with the Nawab.

The British historian Philip Mason notes that it was inevitable that most of the sepoys and sowars from Meerut should have made for Delhi on the night of 10 May. It was a strong walled city located only forty miles away, it was the ancient capital and present seat of the nominal Mughal Emperor and finally there were no British troops in garrison there in contrast to Meerut.[73] No effort was made to pursue them.


Massacre of officers by insurgent cavalry at Delhi

Early on 11 May, the first parties of the 3rd Cavalry reached Delhi. From beneath the windows of the King's apartments in the palace, they called on him to acknowledge and lead them. Bahadur Shah did nothing at this point, apparently treating the sepoys as ordinary petitioners, but others in the palace were quick to join the revolt. During the day, the revolt spread. European officials and dependents, Indian Christians and shop keepers within the city were killed, some by sepoys and others by crowds of rioters.[77]

The Flagstaff Tower, Delhi, where the European survivors of the rebellion gathered on 11 May 1857; photographed by Felice Beato

There were three battalion-sized regiments of Bengal Native Infantry stationed in or near the city. Some detachments quickly joined the rebellion, while others held back but also refused to obey orders to take action against the rebels. In the afternoon, a violent explosion in the city was heard for several miles. Fearing that the arsenal, which contained large stocks of arms and ammunition, would fall intact into rebel hands, the nine British Ordnance officers there had opened fire on the sepoys, including the men of their own guard. When resistance appeared hopeless, they blew up the arsenal. Six of the nine officers survived, but the blast killed many in the streets and nearby houses and other buildings.[78] The news of these events finally tipped the sepoys stationed around Delhi into open rebellion. The sepoys were later able to salvage at least some arms from the arsenal, and a magazine two miles (3 km) outside Delhi, containing up to 3,000 barrels of gunpowder, was captured without resistance.

Many fugitive European officers and civilians had congregated at the Flagstaff Tower on the ridge north of Delhi, where telegraph operators were sending news of the events to other British stations. When it became clear that the help expected from Meerut was not coming, they made their way in carriages to Karnal. Those who became separated from the main body or who could not reach the Flagstaff Tower also set out for Karnal on foot. Some were helped by villagers on the way; others were killed.

The next day, Bahadur Shah held his first formal court for many years. It was attended by many excited sepoys. The King was alarmed by the turn events had taken, but eventually accepted the sepoys' allegiance and agreed to give his countenance to the rebellion. On 16 May, up to 50 Europeans who had been held prisoner in the palace or had been discovered hiding in the city were killed by some of the King's servants under a peepul tree in a courtyard outside the palace.[79][80]

Supporters and opposition

States during the rebellion

The news of the events at Meerut and Delhi spread rapidly, provoking uprisings among sepoys and disturbances in many districts. In many cases, it was the behaviour of British military and civilian authorities themselves which precipitated disorder. Learning of the fall of Delhi, many Company administrators hastened to remove themselves, their families and servants to places of safety. At Agra, 160 miles (260 km) from Delhi, no less than 6,000 assorted non-combatants converged on the Fort.[81]

The military authorities also reacted in disjointed manner. Some officers trusted their sepoys, but others tried to disarm them to forestall potential uprisings. At Benares and Allahabad, the disarmings were bungled, also leading to local revolts.[82]

Troops of the Native Allies by George Francklin Atkinson, 1859.

Most Muslims did not share the rebels' dislike of the British administration[83] and their ulema could not agree on whether to declare a jihad.[84] There were Islamic scholars such as Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi and Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi who took up arms against the colonial rule.[85] But a large number of Muslims, among them ulema from both the Sunni and Shia sects, sided with the British.[86] Various Ahl-i-Hadith scholars and colleagues of Nanautavi rejected the jihad.[87] The most influential member of Ahl-i-Hadith ulema in Delhi, Maulana Sayyid Nazir Husain Dehlvi, resisted pressure from the mutineers to call for a jihad and instead declared in favour of British rule, viewing the Muslim-British relationship as a legal contract which could not be broken unless their religious rights were breached.[88]

Although most of the mutinous sepoys in Delhi were Hindus, a significant proportion of the insurgents were Muslims. The proportion of ghazis grew to be about a quarter of the local fighting force by the end of the siege and included a regiment of suicide ghazis from Gwalior who had vowed never to eat again and to fight until they met certain death at the hands of British troops.[89]

The Sikhs and Pathans of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province supported the British and helped in the recapture of Delhi.[90][91] Historian John Harris has asserted that the Sikhs wanted to avenge the annexation of the Sikh Empire eight years earlier by the Company with the help of Purbiyas ('Easterners'), Biharis and those from the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh who had formed part of the East India Company's armies in the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars. He has also suggested that Sikhs felt insulted by the attitude of sepoys who, in their view, had beaten the Khalsa only with British help; they resented and despised them far more than they did the British.[92]

Sikh Troops Dividing the Spoil Taken from Mutineers, circa 1860

The Sikhs feared reinstatement of Mughal rule in northern India[93] because they had been persecuted heavily in the past by the Mughal dynasty.

Sikh support for the British resulted from grievances surrounding sepoys' perceived conduct during and after the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Firstly, many Sikhs resented that Hindustanis/Purbiyas in service of the Sikh state had been foremost in urging the wars, which lost them their independence. Sikh soldiers also recalled that the bloodiest battles of the war, Chillianwala and Ferozeshah, were won by British troops, and they believed that the Hindustani sepoys had refused to meet them in battle. These feelings were compounded when Hindustani sepoys were assigned a very visible role as garrison troops in Punjab and awarded profit-making civil posts in Punjab.[93]

In 1857, the Bengal Army had 86,000 men, of which 12,000 were European, 16,000 Sikh and 1,500 Gurkha. There were 311,000 native soldiers in India altogether, 40,160 European soldiers and 5,362 officers.[94] Fifty-four of the Bengal Army's 74 regular Native Infantry Regiments mutinied, but some were immediately destroyed or broke up, with their sepoys drifting away to their homes. A number of the remaining 20 regiments were disarmed or disbanded to prevent or forestall mutiny. In total, only twelve of the original Bengal Native Infantry regiments survived to pass into the new Indian Army.[95] All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments mutinied.

The Bengal Army also contained 29 irregular cavalry and 42 irregular infantry regiments. Of these, a substantial contingent from the recently annexed state of Awadh mutinied en masse. Another large contingent from Gwalior also mutinied, even though that state's ruler supported the British. The remainder of the irregular units were raised from a wide variety of sources and were less affected by the concerns of mainstream Indian society. Some irregular units actively supported the Company: three Gurkha and five of six Sikh infantry units, and the six infantry and six cavalry units of the recently raised Punjab Irregular Force.[96][97]

On 1 April 1858, the number of Indian soldiers in the Bengal army loyal to the Company was 80,053.[98][99] However large numbers were hastily raised in the Punjab and North-West Frontier after the outbreak of the Rebellion. The Bombay army had three mutinies in its 29 regiments, whilst the Madras army had none at all, although elements of one of its 52 regiments refused to volunteer for service in Bengal.[100] Nonetheless, most of southern India remained passive, with only intermittent outbreaks of violence. Many parts of the region were ruled by the Nizams or the Mysore royalty, and were thus not directly under British rule.

The varied groups in the support and opposing of the uprising is seen as a major cause of its failure.

The Revolt

Initial stages

Fugitive British officers and their families attacked by mutineers.

An etching of Nynee Tal (today Nainital) and accompanying story in the Illustrated London News, August 15, 1857, describing how the resort town in the Himalayas served as a refuge for British families escaping from the rebellion of 1857 in Delhi and Meerut.

Bahadur Shah Zafar was proclaimed the Emperor of the whole of India. Most contemporary and modern accounts suggest that he was coerced by the sepoys and his courtiers to sign the proclamation against his will.[101] In spite of the significant loss of power that the Mughal dynasty had suffered in the preceding centuries, their name still carried great prestige across northern India.[102] Civilians, nobility and other dignitaries took an oath of allegiance. The emperor issued coins in his name, one of the oldest ways of asserting imperial status. The adhesion of the Mughal emperor, however, turned the Sikhs of the Punjab away from the rebellion, as they did not want to return to Islamic rule, having fought many wars against the Mughal rulers. The province of Bengal was largely quiet throughout the entire period. The British, who had long ceased to take the authority of the Mughal Emperor seriously, were astonished at how the ordinary people responded to Zafar's call for war.[102]

Initially, the Indian rebels were able to push back Company forces, and captured several important towns in Haryana, Bihar, the Central Provinces and the United Provinces. When European troops were reinforced and began to counterattack, the mutineers were especially handicapped by their lack of centralized command and control. Although the rebels produced some natural leaders such as Bakht Khan, whom the Emperor later nominated as commander-in-chief after his son Mirza Mughal proved ineffectual, for the most part they were forced to look for leadership to rajahs and princes. Some of these were to prove dedicated leaders, but others were self-interested or inept.

Attack of the mutineers on the Redan Battery at Lucknow, 30 July 1857

In the countryside around Meerut, a general Gurjar uprising posed the largest threat to the British. In Parikshitgarh near Meerut, Gurjars declared Choudhari Kadam Singh (Kuddum Singh) their leader, and expelled Company police. Kadam Singh Gurjar led a large force, estimates varying from 2,000 to 10,000.[103] Bulandshahr and Bijnor also came under the control of Gurjars under Walidad Khan and Maho Singh respectively. Contemporary sources report that nearly all the Gurjar villages between Meerut and Delhi participated in the revolt, in some cases with support from Jullundur, and it was not until late July that, with the help of local Jats, and the princely states so the British managed to regain control of the area.[103]

The Imperial Gazetteer of India states that throughout the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Gurjars and Ranghars (Muslim rajputs) proved the "most irreconcilable enemies" of the British in the Bulandshahr area.[104]

Mufti Nizamuddin, a renowned scholar of Lahore, issued a Fatwa against the British forces and called upon the local population to support the forces of Rao Tula Ram. Casualties were high at the subsequent engagement at Narnaul (Nasibpur). After the defeat of Rao Tula Ram on 16 November 1857, Mufti Nizamuddin was arrested, and his brother Mufti Yaqinuddin and brother-in-law Abdur Rahman (alias Nabi Baksh) were arrested in Tijara. They were taken to Delhi and hanged.[105] Having lost the fight at Nasibpur, Rao Tula Ram and Pran Sukh Yadav requested arms from Russia, which had just been engaged against Britain in the Crimean War.


Main article: Siege of Delhi

Assault of Delhi and capture of the Cashmere Gate, 14 September 1857

The British were slow to strike back at first. It took time for troops stationed in Britain to make their way to India by sea, although some regiments moved overland through Persia from the Crimean War, and some regiments already en route for China were diverted to India.
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Part 2 of 3

Capture of Delhi 1857.

It took time to organise the European troops already in India into field forces, but eventually two columns left Meerut and Simla. They proceeded slowly towards Delhi and fought, killed, and hanged numerous Indians along the way. Two months after the first outbreak of rebellion at Meerut, the two forces met near Karnal. The combined force including two Gurkha units serving in the Bengal Army under contract from the Kingdom of Nepal, fought the main army of the rebels at Badli-ke-Serai and drove them back to Delhi.

The Company established a base on the Delhi ridge to the north of the city and the Siege of Delhi began. The siege lasted roughly from 1 July to 21 September. However, the encirclement was hardly complete, and for much of the siege the Company forces were outnumbered and it often seemed that it was the Company forces and not Delhi that were under siege, as the rebels could easily receive resources and reinforcements. For several weeks, it seemed likely that disease, exhaustion and continuous sorties by rebels from Delhi would force the Company forces to withdraw, but the outbreaks of rebellion in the Punjab were forestalled or suppressed, allowing the Punjab Movable Column of British, Sikh and Pakhtun soldiers under John Nicholson to reinforce the besiegers on the Ridge on 14 August.[106][107] On 30 August the rebels offered terms, which were refused.[108]

The Jantar Mantar observatory in Delhi in 1858, damaged in the fighting

Mortar damage to Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, 1858

Hindu Rao's house in Delhi, now a hospital, was extensively damaged in the fighting

Bank of Delhi was attacked by mortar and gunfire

An eagerly awaited heavy siege train joined the besieging force, and from 7 September, the siege guns battered breaches in the walls and silenced the rebels' artillery.[109]:478 An attempt to storm the city through the breaches and the Kashmiri Gate was launched on 14 September.[109]:480 The attackers gained a foothold within the city but suffered heavy casualties, including John Nicholson. The British commander wished to withdraw, but was persuaded to hold on by his junior officers. After a week of street fighting, the British reached the Red Fort. Bahadur Shah Zafar had already fled to Humayun's tomb. The British had retaken the city.

Capture of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his sons by William Hodson at Humayun's tomb on 20 September 1857

The troops of the besieging force proceeded to loot and pillage the city. A large number of the citizens were killed in retaliation for the Europeans and Indian civilians that had been slaughtered by the rebels. During the street fighting, artillery was set up in the city's main mosque. Neighbourhoods within range were bombarded; the homes of the Muslim nobility that contained innumerable cultural, artistic, literary and monetary riches were destroyed.

The British soon arrested Bahadur Shah, and the next day the British agent William Hodson had his sons Mirza Mughal, Mirza Khazir Sultan, and grandson Mirza Abu Bakr shot under his own authority at the Khooni Darwaza (the bloody gate) near Delhi Gate. On hearing the news Zafar reacted with shocked silence while his wife Zinat Mahal was content as she believed her son was now Zafar's heir.[110] Shortly after the fall of Delhi, the victorious attackers organised a column that relieved another besieged Company force in Agra, and then pressed on to Cawnpore, which had also recently been retaken. This gave the Company forces a continuous, although still tenuous, line of communication from the east to west of India.

Cawnpore (Kanpur)

Main article: Siege of Cawnpore

Tatya Tope's Soldiery

A memorial erected (circa 1860) by the British after the Mutiny at the Bibighar Well. After India's Independence the statue was moved to the All Souls Memorial Church, Cawnpore. Albumen silver print by Samuel Bourne, 1860

In June, sepoys under General Wheeler in Cawnpore (now Kanpur) rebelled and besieged the European entrenchment. Wheeler was not only a veteran and respected soldier but also married to a high-caste Indian woman. He had relied on his own prestige, and his cordial relations with the Nana Sahib to thwart rebellion, and took comparatively few measures to prepare fortifications and lay in supplies and ammunition.

The besieged endured three weeks of the Siege of Cawnpore with little water or food, suffering continuous casualties to men, women and children. On 25 June Nana Sahib made an offer of safe passage to Allahabad. With barely three days' food rations remaining, the British agreed provided they could keep their small arms and that the evacuation should take place in daylight on the morning of the 27th (the Nana Sahib wanted the evacuation to take place on the night of the 26th). Early in the morning of 27 June, the European party left their entrenchment and made their way to the river where boats provided by the Nana Sahib were waiting to take them to Allahabad.[111] Several sepoys who had stayed loyal to the Company were removed by the mutineers and killed, either because of their loyalty or because "they had become Christian". A few injured British officers trailing the column were also apparently hacked to death by angry sepoys. After the European party had largely arrived at the dock, which was surrounded by sepoys positioned on both banks of the Ganges,[112] with clear lines of fire, firing broke out and the boats were abandoned by their crew, and caught or were set[113] on fire using pieces of red hot charcoal.[114] The British party tried to push the boats off but all except three remained stuck. One boat with over a dozen wounded men initially escaped, but later grounded, was caught by mutineers and pushed back down the river towards the carnage at Cawnpore. Towards the end rebel cavalry rode into the water to finish off any survivors.[114] After the firing ceased the survivors were rounded up and the men shot.[114] By the time the massacre was over, most of the male members of the party were dead while the surviving women and children were removed and held hostage to be later killed in the Bibighar massacre.[115] Only four men eventually escaped alive from Cawnpore on one of the boats: two private soldiers, a lieutenant, and Captain Mowbray Thomson, who wrote a first-hand account of his experiences entitled The Story of Cawnpore (London, 1859).

During his trial, Tatya Tope denied the existence of any such plan and described the incident in the following terms: the Europeans had already boarded the boats and Tatya Tope raised his right hand to signal their departure. That very moment someone from the crowd blew a loud bugle, which created disorder and in the ongoing bewilderment, the boatmen jumped off the boats. The rebels started shooting indiscriminately. Nana Sahib, who was staying in Savada Kothi (Bungalow) nearby, was informed about what was happening and immediately came to stop it.[116] Some British histories allow that it might well have been the result of accident or error; someone accidentally or maliciously fired a shot, the panic-stricken British opened fire, and it became impossible to stop the massacre.[117]

The surviving women and children were taken to the Nana Sahib and then confined first to the Savada Kothi and then to the home of the local magistrate's clerk (the Bibighar)[118] where they were joined by refugees from Fatehgarh. Overall five men and two hundred and six women and children were confined in The Bibigarh for about two weeks. In one week 25 were brought out dead, from dysentery and cholera.[113] Meanwhile, a Company relief force that had advanced from Allahabad defeated the Indians and by 15 July it was clear that the Nana Sahib would not be able to hold Cawnpore and a decision was made by the Nana Sahib and other leading rebels that the hostages must be killed. After the sepoys refused to carry out this order, two Muslim butchers, two Hindu peasants and one of Nana's bodyguards went into The Bibigarh. Armed with knives and hatchets they murdered the women and children.[119] After the massacre the walls were covered in bloody hand prints, and the floor littered with fragments of human limbs.[120] The dead and the dying were thrown down a nearby well. When the 50-foot (15 m) deep well was filled with remains to within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the top,[121] the remainder were thrown into the Ganges.[122]

Historians have given many reasons for this act of cruelty. With Company forces approaching Cawnpore and some believing that they would not advance if there were no hostages to save, their murders were ordered. Or perhaps it was to ensure that no information was leaked after the fall of Cawnpore. Other historians have suggested that the killings were an attempt to undermine Nana Sahib's relationship with the British.[123] Perhaps it was due to fear, the fear of being recognised by some of the prisoners for having taken part in the earlier firings.[115]

Photograph entitled, "The Hospital in General Wheeler's entrenchment, Cawnpore". (1858) The hospital was the site of the first major loss of European lives in Cawnpore

1858 picture of Sati Chaura Ghat on the banks of the Ganges River, where on 27 June 1857 many British men lost their lives and the surviving women and children were taken prisoner by the rebels.

Bibigarh house where European women and children were killed and the well where their bodies were found, 1858.

The Bibighar Well site where a memorial had been built. Samuel Bourne, 1860.

A contemporary image of the massacre at the Satichaura Ghat

The killing of the women and children hardened British attitudes against the sepoys. The British public was aghast and the anti-Imperial and pro-Indian proponents lost all their support. Cawnpore became a war cry for the British and their allies for the rest of the conflict. Nana Sahib disappeared near the end of the Rebellion and it is not known what happened to him.

Other British accounts[124][125][126] state that indiscriminate punitive measures were taken in early June, two weeks before the murders at the Bibighar (but after those at both Meerut and Delhi), specifically by Lieutenant Colonel James George Smith Neill of the Madras Fusiliers, commanding at Allahabad while moving towards Cawnpore. At the nearby town of Fatehpur, a mob had attacked and murdered the local European population. On this pretext, Neill ordered all villages beside the Grand Trunk Road to be burned and their inhabitants to be killed by hanging. Neill's methods were "ruthless and horrible"[127] and far from intimidating the population, may well have induced previously undecided sepoys and communities to revolt.

Neill was killed in action at Lucknow on 26 September and was never called to account for his punitive measures, though contemporary British sources lionised him and his "gallant blue caps".[128] When the British retook Cawnpore, the soldiers took their sepoy prisoners to the Bibighar and forced them to lick the bloodstains from the walls and floor.[129] They then hanged or "blew from the cannon", the traditional Mughal punishment for mutiny, the majority of the sepoy prisoners. Although some claimed the sepoys took no actual part in the killings themselves, they did not act to stop it and this was acknowledged by Captain Thompson after the British departed Cawnpore for a second time.


Main article: Siege of Lucknow

The interior of the Secundra Bagh, several months after its storming during the second relief of Lucknow. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato, 1858

Very soon after the events at Meerut, rebellion erupted in the state of Awadh (also known as Oudh, in modern-day Uttar Pradesh), which had been annexed barely a year before. The British Commissioner resident at Lucknow, Sir Henry Lawrence, had enough time to fortify his position inside the Residency compound. The defenders, including loyal sepoys, numbered some 1700 men. The rebels' assaults were unsuccessful, so they began a barrage of artillery and musket fire into the compound. Lawrence was one of the first casualties. He was succeeded by John Eardley Inglis. The rebels tried to breach the walls with explosives and bypass them via tunnels that led to underground close combat.[109]:486 After 90 days of siege, the defenders were reduced to 300 loyal sepoys, 350 British soldiers and 550 non-combatants.

On 25 September, a relief column under the command of Sir Henry Havelock and accompanied by Sir James Outram (who in theory was his superior) fought its way from Cawnpore to Lucknow in a brief campaign, in which the numerically small column defeated rebel forces in a series of increasingly large battles. This became known as 'The First Relief of Lucknow', as this force was not strong enough to break the siege or extricate themselves, and so was forced to join the garrison. In October, another larger army under the new Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell, was finally able to relieve the garrison and on 18 November, they evacuated the defended enclave within the city, the women and children leaving first. They then conducted an orderly withdrawal, firstly to Alambagh 4 miles (6.4 km) north where a force of 4,000 were left to construct a fort, then to Cawnpore, where they defeated an attempt by Tantia Tope to recapture the city in the Second Battle of Cawnpore.

In March 1858, Campbell once again advanced on Lucknow with a large army, meeting up with the force at Alambagh, this time seeking to suppress the rebellion in Awadh. He was aided by a large Nepalese contingent advancing from the north under Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana.[130] General Dhir Shamsher Kunwar Rana, the youngest brother of Jung Bahadur, also led the Nepalese forces in various parts of India including Lucknow, Benares and Patna.[2][131] Campbell's advance was slow and methodical, with a force under General Outram crossing the river on cask bridges on 4 March to enable them to fire artillery in flank. Campbell drove the large but disorganised rebel army from Lucknow with the final fighting taking place on 21 March.[109]:491 There were few casualties to Campbell's own troops, but his cautious movements allowed large numbers of the rebels to disperse into Awadh. Campbell was forced to spend the summer and autumn dealing with scattered pockets of resistance while losing men to heat, disease and guerrilla actions.


Main article: Central India Campaign (1858)

Jhansi Fort, which was taken over by rebel forces, and subsequently defended against British recapture by the Rani of Jhansi

Jhansi State was a Maratha-ruled princely state in Bundelkhand. When the Raja of Jhansi died without a biological male heir in 1853, it was annexed to the British Raj by the Governor-General of India under the doctrine of lapse. His widow Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, protested against the denial of rights of their adopted son. When war broke out, Jhansi quickly became a centre of the rebellion. A small group of Company officials and their families took refuge in Jhansi Fort, and the Rani negotiated their evacuation. However, when they left the fort they were massacred by the rebels over whom the Rani had no control; the Europeans suspected the Rani of complicity, despite her repeated denials.

By the end of June 1857, the Company had lost control of much of Bundelkhand and eastern Rajasthan. The Bengal Army units in the area, having rebelled, marched to take part in the battles for Delhi and Cawnpore. The many princely states that made up this area began warring amongst themselves. In September and October 1857, the Rani led the successful defence of Jhansi against the invading armies of the neighbouring rajas of Datia and Orchha.

On 3 February, Sir Hugh Rose broke the 3-month siege of Saugor. Thousands of local villagers welcomed him as a liberator, freeing them from rebel occupation.[132]

In March 1858, the Central India Field Force, led by Sir Hugh Rose, advanced on and laid siege to Jhansi. The Company forces captured the city, but the Rani fled in disguise.

After being driven from Jhansi and Kalpi, on 1 June 1858 Rani Lakshmi Bai and a group of Maratha rebels captured the fortress city of Gwalior from the Scindia rulers, who were British allies. This might have reinvigorated the rebellion but the Central India Field Force very quickly advanced against the city. The Rani died on 17 June, the second day of the Battle of Gwalior, probably killed by a carbine shot from the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars according to the account of three independent Indian representatives. The Company forces recaptured Gwalior within the next three days. In descriptions of the scene of her last battle, she was compared to Joan of Arc by some commentators.[133]


Colonel Henry Marion Durand, the then-Company resident at Indore, had brushed away any possibility of uprising in Indore.[134] However, on 1 July, sepoys in Holkar's army revolted and opened fire on the cavalry pickets of the Bhopal Contingent (a locally raised force with British officers). When Colonel Travers rode forward to charge, the Bhopal Cavalry refused to follow. The Bhopal Infantry also refused orders and instead levelled their guns at European sergeants and officers. Since all possibility of mounting an effective deterrent was lost, Durand decided to gather up all the European residents and escape, although 39 European residents of Indore were killed.[135]


See also: Siege of Arrah

The rebellion in Bihar was mainly concentrated in the Western regions of the state; however, there were also some outbreaks of plundering and looting in Gaya district.[136] One of the central figures was Kunwar Singh, the 80-year-old Rajput Zamindar of Jagdispur, whose estate was in the process of being sequestrated by the Revenue Board, instigated and assumed the leadership of revolt in Bihar.[137] His efforts were supported by his brother Babu Amar Singh and his commander-in-chief Hare Krishna Singh.[138]

On 25 July, mutiny erupted in the garrisons of Danapur. Mutinying sepoys from the 7th, 8th and 40th regiments of Bengal Native Infantry quickly moved towards the city of Arrah and were joined by Kunwar Singh and his men.[139] Mr. Boyle, a British railway engineer in Arrah, had already prepared an outbuilding on his property for defence against such attacks.[140] As the rebels approached Arrah, all European residents took refuge at Mr. Boyle's house.[141] A siege soon ensued – eighteen civilians and 50 loyal sepoys from the Bengal Military Police Battalion under the command of Herwald Wake, the local magistrate, defended the house against artillery and musketry fire from an estimated 2000 to 3000 mutineers and rebels.[142]

On 29 July, 400 men were sent out from Danapur to relieve Arrah, but this force was ambushed by the rebels around a mile away from the siege house, severely defeated, and driven back. On 30 July, Major Vincent Eyre, who was going up the river with his troops and guns, reached Buxar and heard about the siege. He immediately disembarked his guns and troops (the 5th Fusiliers) and started marching towards Arrah, disregarding direct orders not to do so.[143] On 2 August, some 6 miles (9.7 km) short of Arrah, the Major was ambushed by the mutineers and rebels. After an intense fight, the 5th Fusiliers charged and stormed the rebel positions successfully.[142] On 3 August, Major Eyre and his men reached the siege house and successfully ended the siege.[144][145]

After receiving reinforcements, Major Eyre pursued Kunwar Singh to his palace in Jagdispur; however, Singh had left by the time Eyre's forces arrived. Eyre then proceeded to destroy the palace and the homes of Singh's brothers.[142]

In addition to Kunwar Singh's efforts, there were also rebellions carried out by Hussain Baksh Khan, Ghulam Ali Khan and Fateh Singh among others in Gaya, Nawada and Jehanabad districts.[146]

In Lohardaga district of South Bihar (now in Jharkhand), a major rebellion was led by Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo who was part of the Nagavanshi dynasty.[147] He was motivated by disputes he had with the Christian Kol tribals who had been grabbing his land and were implicitly supported by the British authorities. The rebels in South Bihar asked him to lead them and he readily accepted this offer. He organised a Mukti Vahini (people's army) with the assistance of nearby zamindars including Pandey Ganpat Rai and Nadir Ali Khan.[147]

Other regions


Execution of mutineers at Peshawar

What was then referred to by the British as the Punjab was a very large administrative division, centred on Lahore. It included not only the present-day Indian and Pakistani Punjabi regions but also the North West Frontier districts bordering Afghanistan.

Much of the region had been the Sikh Empire, ruled by Ranjit Singh until his death in 1839. The kingdom had then fallen into disorder, with court factions and the Khalsa (the Sikh army) contending for power at the Lahore Durbar (court). After two Anglo-Sikh Wars, the entire region was annexed by the East India Company in 1849. In 1857, the region still contained the highest numbers of both European and Indian troops.

The inhabitants of the Punjab were not as sympathetic to the sepoys as they were elsewhere in India, which limited many of the outbreaks in the Punjab to disjointed uprisings by regiments of sepoys isolated from each other. In some garrisons, notably Ferozepore, indecision on the part of the senior European officers allowed the sepoys to rebel, but the sepoys then left the area, mostly heading for Delhi.[148] At the most important garrison, that of Peshawar close to the Afghan frontier, many comparatively junior officers ignored their nominal commander, General Reed, and took decisive action. They intercepted the sepoys' mail, thus preventing their coordinating an uprising, and formed a force known as the "Punjab Movable Column" to move rapidly to suppress any revolts as they occurred. When it became clear from the intercepted correspondence that some of the sepoys at Peshawar were on the point of open revolt, the four most disaffected Bengal Native regiments were disarmed by the two British infantry regiments in the cantonment, backed by artillery, on 22 May. This decisive act induced many local chieftains to side with the British.[149]

Marble Lectern in memory of 35 British soldiers in Jhelum

Jhelum in Punjab saw a mutiny of native troops against the British. Here 35 British soldiers of Her Majesty's 24th Regiment of Foot (South Wales Borderers) were killed by mutineers on 7 July 1857. Among the dead was Captain Francis Spring, the eldest son of Colonel William Spring. To commemorate this event St. John's Church Jhelum was built and the names of those 35 British soldiers are carved on a marble lectern present in that church.

The final large-scale military uprising in the Punjab took place on 9 July, when most of a brigade of sepoys at Sialkot rebelled and began to move to Delhi.[150] They were intercepted by John Nicholson with an equal British force as they tried to cross the Ravi River. After fighting steadily but unsuccessfully for several hours, the sepoys tried to fall back across the river but became trapped on an island. Three days later, Nicholson annihilated the 1,100 trapped sepoys in the Battle of Trimmu Ghat.[151]

The British had been recruiting irregular units from Sikh and Pakhtun communities even before the first unrest among the Bengal units, and the numbers of these were greatly increased during the Rebellion, 34,000 fresh levies eventually being raised.[152]

Lieutenant William Alexander Kerr, 24th Bombay Native Infantry, near Kolapore, July 1857

At one stage, faced with the need to send troops to reinforce the besiegers of Delhi, the Commissioner of the Punjab (Sir John Lawrence) suggested handing the coveted prize of Peshawar to Dost Mohammed Khan of Afghanistan in return for a pledge of friendship. The British Agents in Peshawar and the adjacent districts were horrified. Referring to the massacre of a retreating British army in 1842, Herbert Edwardes wrote, "Dost Mahomed would not be a mortal Afghan ... if he did not assume our day to be gone in India and follow after us as an enemy. Europeans cannot retreat – Kabul would come again."[153] In the event Lord Canning insisted on Peshawar being held, and Dost Mohammed, whose relations with Britain had been equivocal for over 20 years, remained neutral.

In September 1858 Rai Ahmad Khan Kharal, head of the Khurrul tribe, led an insurrection in the Neeli Bar district, between the Sutlej, Ravi and Chenab rivers. The rebels held the jungles of Gogaira and had some initial successes against the British forces in the area, besieging Major Crawford Chamberlain at Chichawatni. A squadron of Punjabi cavalry sent by Sir John Lawrence raised the siege. Ahmed Khan was killed but the insurgents found a new leader in Mahr Bahawal Fatyana, who maintained the uprising for three months until Government forces penetrated the jungle and scattered the rebel tribesmen.[154]

Bengal and Tripura

In September 1857, sepoys took control of the treasury in Chittagong.[155] The treasury remained under rebel control for several days. Further mutinies on 18 November saw the 2nd, 3rd and 4th companies of the 34th Bengal Infantry Regiment storming the Chittagong Jail and releasing all prisoners. The mutineers were eventually suppressed by the Gurkha regiments.[156] The mutiny also spread to Kolkata and later Dacca, the former Mughal capital of Bengal. Residents in the city's Lalbagh area were kept awake at night by the rebellion.[157] Sepoys joined hands with the common populace in Jalpaiguri to take control of the city's cantonment.[155] In January 1858, many sepoys received shelter from the royal family of the princely state of Hill Tippera.[155]

The interior areas of Bengal proper were already experiencing growing resistance to Company rule due to the Muslim Faraizi movement.[155]


In central and north Gujarat, the rebellion was sustained by land owner Jagirdars, Talukdars and Thakors with the support of armed communities of Bhil, Koli, Pathans and Arabs, unlike the mutiny by sepoys in north India. Their main opposition of British was due to Inam commission. The Bet Dwarka island, along with Okhamandal region of Kathiawar peninsula which was under Gaekwad of Baroda State, saw a revolt by the Vaghers in January 1858 who, by July 1859, controlled that region. In October 1859, a joint offensive by British, Gaekwad and other princely states troops ousted the rebels and recaptured the region.[158][159][160]

British Empire

The authorities in British colonies with an Indian population, sepoy or civilian, took measures to secure themselves against copycat uprisings. In the Straits Settlements and Trinidad the annual Hosay processions were banned,[161] riots broke out in penal settlements in Burma and the Settlements, in Penang the loss of a musket provoked a near riot,[162] and security was boosted especially in locations with an Indian convict population.[163]


Death toll and atrocities

"The Relief of Lucknow" by Thomas Jones Barker

Both sides committed atrocities against civilians.[r][14]

In Oudh alone, some estimates put the toll at 150,000 Indians were killed during the war, with 100,000 of them being civilians. The capture of Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow by British forces were followed by general massacres.[164]

Another notable atrocity was carried out by General Neill who massacred thousands of Indian mutineers and Indian civilians suspected of supporting the rebellion.[165]

The rebels' murder of British women, children and wounded soldiers (including sepoys who sided with the British) at Cawnpore, and the subsequent printing of the events in the British papers, left many British soldiers outraged and seeking revenge. As well as hanging mutineers, the British had some "blown from cannon," (an old Mughal punishment adopted many years before in India), in which sentenced rebels were tied over the mouths of cannons and blown to pieces when the cannons were fired.[166][167] A particular act of cruelty on behalf of the British troops at Cawnpore included forcing many Muslim or Hindu rebels to eat pork or beef, as well as licking buildings freshly stained with blood of the dead before subsequent public hangings.[168]

Practices of torture included "searing with hot irons...dipping in wells and rivers till the victim is half suffocated...sequencing the testicles...putting pepper and red chillies in the eyes or introducing them into the private parts of men and women...prevention of sleep...nipping the flesh with pinners...suspension from the branches of a tree...imprisonment in a room used for storing lime..."[169]

British soldiers also committed sexual violence against Indian women as a form of retaliation against the rebellion.[170][171] As towns and cities were captured from the sepoys, the British soldiers took their revenge on Indian civilians by committing atrocities and rapes against Indian women.[172][173] As one account reads,

The [British] victors retaliated against the civilians [at Fatehpur) by sacking villages, raping women, killing children and hanging hundreds of men. When the people of Cawnpore [Kanpur] heard this, they feared similar retaliation..... At Fatehgarh, for example, when the English defeated the enemy, their officers ordered a mass scale killing [of] the rebels and the citizens on the spot. General Neill had also ordered Hanging parties.... No evidence was sought and none given before executing the victim.... When the [78th] Highlanders moved to another village, they caught about 140 men, women and children. They selected sixty men from the group, forced them to build the gallows of wooden logs taken from the burning homes. They then chose ten men of the group [and] hanged them without any evidence or trial. For others, they had reserved flogging and beating to teach them a lesson..... At one of the villages, about two thousand villagers armed only with their lathis [wooden canes] turned out in protest. They stood up to face the [78th] Highlanders. The British troops surrounded them and set their village on fire.... The villagers trying to escape were shot to death. One soldier describes the incident thus: 'We took eighteen of them prisoners; they were all tied together, and we fired a volley at them and shot them on the spot' .... Stringing and shooting the men in front of their family was a sport the troops enjoyed. Watching women stooping and begging for the lives of their men seemed to thrill the young soldiers and their officers. The prisoners were made to stand under the hot summer sun for hours till they fainted. It was easy to flog them when they were half-conscious, otherwise, they would squirm and make it hard to strike. Flogging invariably ended in killing of the victims. The English wanted to break the faith of their Hindu and Muslim prisoners.[174][175][176]

Most of the British press, outraged by the stories of alleged rape committed by the rebels against British women, as well as the killings of British civilians and wounded British soldiers, did not advocate clemency of any kind towards the Indian population.[177] Governor General Canning ordered moderation in dealing with native sensibilities and earned the scornful sobriquet "Clemency Canning" from the press[178] and later parts of the British public.

In terms of sheer numbers, the casualties were much higher on the Indian side. A letter published after the fall of Delhi in the Bombay Telegraph and reproduced in the British press testified to the scale of the Indian casualties:

.... All the city's people found within the walls of the city of Delhi when our troops entered were bayoneted on the spot, and the number was considerable, as you may suppose, when I tell you that in some houses forty and fifty people were hiding. These were not mutineers but residents of the city, who trusted to our well-known mild rule for pardon. I am glad to say they were disappointed.[179]

British soldiers looting Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow, after its recapture (steel engraving, late 1850s)

From the end of 1857, the British had begun to gain ground again. Lucknow was retaken in March 1858. On 8 July 1858, a peace treaty was signed and the rebellion ended. The last rebels were defeated in Gwalior on 20 June 1858. By 1859, rebel leaders Bakht Khan and Nana Sahib had either been slain or had fled.

Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old officer whose parents, younger brothers, and two of his sisters had died in the Cawnpore massacre,[180] recorded his experience:

The orders went out to shoot every soul.... It was literally murder... I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered, were most painful... Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that man's heart I think who can look on with indifference ...[181]

Execution of mutineers by blowing from a gun by the British, 8 September 1857.

Some British troops adopted a policy of "no prisoners". One officer, Thomas Lowe, remembered how on one occasion his unit had taken 76 prisoners – they were just too tired to carry on killing and needed a rest, he recalled. Later, after a quick trial, the prisoners were lined up with a British soldier standing a couple of yards in front of them. On the order "fire", they were all simultaneously shot, "swept... from their earthly existence".

The aftermath of the rebellion has been the focus of new work using Indian sources and population studies. In The Last Mughal, historian William Dalrymple examines the effects on the Muslim population of Delhi after the city was retaken by the British and finds that intellectual and economic control of the city shifted from Muslim to Hindu hands because the British, at that time, saw an Islamic hand behind the mutiny.[182]

Approximately 6,000 of the 40,000 Europeans living in India were killed.[3]

Reaction in Britain

Justice, a print by Sir John Tenniel in a September 1857 issue of Punch

The scale of the punishments handed out by the British "Army of Retribution" were considered largely appropriate and justified in a Britain shocked by embellished reports of atrocities carried out against British and European civilians by the rebels.[183] Accounts of the time frequently reach the "hyperbolic register", according to Christopher Herbert, especially in the often-repeated claim that the "Red Year" of 1857 marked "a terrible break" in British experience.[179] Such was the atmosphere – a national "mood of retribution and despair" that led to "almost universal approval" of the measures taken to pacify the revolt.[184]

Incidents of rape allegedly committed by Indian rebels against European women and girls appalled the British public. These atrocities were often used to justify the British reaction to the rebellion. British newspapers printed various eyewitness accounts of the rape of English women and girls. One such account was published by The Times, regarding an incident where 48 English girls as young as 10 had been raped by Indian rebels in Delhi. Karl Marx criticized this story as false propaganda, and pointed out that the story was written by a clergyman in Bangalore, far from the events of the rebellion, with no evidence to support his allegation.[185] Individual incidents captured the public's interest and were heavily reported by the press. One such incident was that of General Wheeler's daughter Margaret being forced to live as her captor's concubine, though this was reported to the Victorian public as Margaret killing her rapist then herself.[186] Another version of the story suggested that Margaret had been killed after her abductor had argued with his wife over her.[187]

During the aftermath of the rebellion, a series of exhaustive investigations were carried out by British police and intelligence officials into reports that British women prisoners had been "dishonored" at the Bibighar and elsewhere. One such detailed enquiry was at the direction of Lord Canning. The consensus was that there was no convincing evidence of such crimes having been committed, although numbers of European women and children had been killed outright.[188]

The term 'Sepoy' or 'Sepoyism' became a derogatory term for nationalists, especially in Ireland.[189]


Bahadur Shah Zafar (the last Mughal emperor) in Delhi, awaiting trial by the British for his role in the Uprising. Photograph by Robert Tytler and Charles Shepherd, May 1858

The proclamation to the "Princes, Chiefs, and People of India," issued by Queen Victoria on November 1, 1858. "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligation of duty which bind us to all our other subjects." (p. 2)

Bahadur Shah was arrested at Humanyun's tomb and tried for treason by a military commission assembled at Delhi, and exiled to Rangoon where he died in 1862, bringing the Mughal dynasty to an end. In 1877 Queen Victoria took the title of Empress of India on the advice of Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli.

The rebellion saw the end of the East India Company's rule in India. In August, by the Government of India Act 1858, the company was formally dissolved and its ruling powers over India were transferred to the British Crown.[190] A new British government department, the India Office, was created to handle the governance of India, and its head, the Secretary of State for India, was entrusted with formulating Indian policy. The Governor-General of India gained a new title, Viceroy of India, and implemented the policies devised by the India Office. Some former East India Company territories, such as the Straits Settlements, became colonies in their own right. The British colonial administration embarked on a program of reform, trying to integrate Indian higher castes and rulers into the government and abolishing attempts at Westernization. The Viceroy stopped land grabs, decreed religious tolerance and admitted Indians into civil service, albeit mainly as subordinates.

Essentially the old East India Company bureaucracy remained, though there was a major shift in attitudes. In looking for the causes of the Rebellion the authorities alighted on two things: religion and the economy. On religion it was felt that there had been too much interference with indigenous traditions, both Hindu and Muslim. On the economy it was now believed that the previous attempts by the Company to introduce free market competition had undermined traditional power structures and bonds of loyalty placing the peasantry at the mercy of merchants and money-lenders. In consequence the new British Raj was constructed in part around a conservative agenda, based on a preservation of tradition and hierarchy.

On a political level it was also felt that the previous lack of consultation between rulers and ruled had been another significant factor in contributing to the uprising. In consequence, Indians were drawn into government at a local level. Though this was on a limited scale a crucial precedent had been set, with the creation of a new 'white collar' Indian elite, further stimulated by the opening of universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, a result of the Indian Universities Act. So, alongside the values of traditional and ancient India, a new professional middle class was starting to arise, in no way bound by the values of the past. Their ambition can only have been stimulated by Queen Victoria's Proclamation of November 1858, in which it is expressly stated, "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to our other is our further will that... our subjects of whatever race or creed, be freely and impartially admitted to offices in our service, the duties of which they may be qualified by their education, ability and integrity, duly to discharge."

Acting on these sentiments, Lord Ripon, viceroy from 1880 to 1885, extended the powers of local self-government and sought to remove racial practices in the law courts by the Ilbert Bill. But a policy at once liberal and progressive at one turn was reactionary and backward at the next, creating new elites and confirming old attitudes. The Ilbert Bill had the effect only of causing a white mutiny and the end of the prospect of perfect equality before the law. In 1886 measures were adopted to restrict Indian entry into the civil service.

Military reorganisation

Captain C Scott of the Gen. Sir. Hope Grant's Column, Madras Regiment, who fell on the attack of Fort of Kohlee, 1858. Memorial at the St. Mary's Church, Madras

Memorial inside the York Minster

The Bengal army dominated the Indian army before 1857 and a direct result after the rebellion was the scaling back of the size of the Bengali contingent in the army.[191] The Brahmin presence in the Bengal Army was reduced because of their perceived primary role as mutineers. The British looked for increased recruitment in the Punjab for the Bengal army as a result of the apparent discontent that resulted in the Sepoy conflict.[192]

The rebellion transformed both the native and European armies of British India. Of the 74 regular Bengal Native Infantry regiments in existence at the beginning of 1857, only twelve escaped mutiny or disbandment.[193] All ten of the Bengal Light Cavalry regiments were lost. The old Bengal Army had accordingly almost completely vanished from the order of battle. These troops were replaced by new units recruited from castes hitherto under-utilised by the British and from the minority so-called "Martial Races", such as the Sikhs and the Gurkhas.

The inefficiencies of the old organisation, which had estranged sepoys from their British officers, were addressed, and the post-1857 units were mainly organised on the "irregular" system. From 1797 until the rebellion of 1857, each regular Bengal Native Infantry regiment had had 22 or 23 British officers,[194] who held every position of authority down to the second-in-command of each company. In irregular units there were fewer European officers, but they associated themselves far more closely with their soldiers, while more responsibility was given to the Indian officers.

The British increased the ratio of British to Indian soldiers within India. From 1861 Indian artillery was replaced by British units, except for a few mountain batteries.[195] The post-rebellion changes formed the basis of the military organisation of British India until the early 20th century.


Victoria Cross

Medals were awarded to members of the British Armed Forces and the British Indian Army during the rebellion. The 182 recipients of the Victoria Cross are listed here.

Indian Mutiny Medal

290,000 Indian Mutiny Medals were awarded. Clasps were awarded for the siege of Delhi and the siege and relief of Lucknow.[196]

Indian Order of Merit

A military and civilian decoration of British India, the Indian Order of Merit was first introduced by the East India Company in 1837, and was taken over by the Crown in 1858, following the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The Indian Order of Merit was the only gallantry medal available to Native soldiers between 1837 and 1907.[197]


Main article: Names of India's First War of Independence

There is no universally agreed name for the events of this period.

In India and Pakistan it has been termed as the "War of Independence of 1857" or "First War of Indian Independence"[198] but it is not uncommon to use terms such as the "Revolt of 1857". The classification of the Rebellion being "First War of Independence" is not without its critics in India.[199][200][201][202] The use of the term "Indian Mutiny" is considered by some Indian politicians[203] as belittling the importance of what happened and therefore reflecting an imperialistic attitude. Others dispute this interpretation.

In the UK and parts of the Commonwealth it is commonly called the "Indian Mutiny", but terms such as "Great Indian Mutiny", the "Sepoy Mutiny", the "Sepoy Rebellion", the "Sepoy War", the "Great Mutiny", the "Rebellion of 1857", "the Uprising", the "Mahomedan Rebellion", and the "Revolt of 1857" have also been used.[204][205][206] "The Indian Insurrection" was a name used in the press of the UK and British colonies at the time.[207]


See also: Panic of 1857

The Mutiny Memorial in Delhi, a monument to those killed on the British side during the fighting.

Adas (1971) examines the historiography with emphasis on the four major approaches: the Indian nationalist view; the Marxist analysis; the view of the Rebellion as a traditionalist rebellion; and intensive studies of local uprisings.[208] Many of the key primary and secondary sources appear in Biswamoy Pati, ed. 1857 Rebellion.[209][210]

Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English, which depicts the execution of mutineers by blowing from a gun by the British, a painting by Vasily Vereshchagin c. 1884. Note: This painting was allegedly bought by the British crown and possibly destroyed (current whereabouts unknown). It anachronistically depicts the events of 1857 with soldiers wearing (then current) uniforms of the late 19th century.

Thomas Metcalf has stressed the importance of the work by Cambridge professor Eric Stokes (1924–1981), especially Stokes' The Peasant and the Raj: Studies in Agrarian Society and Peasant Rebellion in Colonial India (1978). Metcalf says Stokes undermines the assumption that 1857 was a response to general causes emanating from entire classes of people. Instead, Stokes argues that 1) those Indians who suffered the greatest relative deprivation rebelled and that 2) the decisive factor in precipitating a revolt was the presence of prosperous magnates who supported British rule. Stokes also explores issues of economic development, the nature of privileged landholding, the role of moneylenders, the usefulness of classical rent theory, and, especially, the notion of the "rich peasant".[211]

To Kim Wagner, who has conducted the most recent survey of the literature, modern Indian historiography is yet to move beyond responding to the "prejudice" of colonial accounts. Wagner sees no reason why atrocities committed by Indians should be understated or inflated merely because these things "offend our post-colonial sensibilities".[212]

Wagner also stresses the importance of William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857. Dalrymple was assisted by Mahmood Farooqui, who translated key Urdu and Shikastah sources and published a selection in Besieged: Voices from Delhi 1857.[213] Dalrymple emphasized the role of religion, and explored in detail the internal divisions and politico-religious discord amongst the rebels. He did not discover much in the way of proto-nationalism or any of the roots of modern India in the rebellion.[214][215] Sabbaq Ahmed has looked at the ways in which ideologies of royalism, militarism, and Jihad influenced the behaviour of contending Muslim factions.[216]

Almost from the moment the first sepoys mutinied in Meerut, the nature and the scope of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 has been contested and argued over. Speaking in the House of Commons in July 1857, Benjamin Disraeli labelled it a 'national revolt' while Lord Palmerston, the Prime Minister, tried to downplay the scope and the significance of the event as a 'mere military mutiny'.[217] Reflecting this debate, an early historian of the rebellion, Charles Ball, used the word mutiny in his title, but labelled it a "struggle for liberty and independence as a people" in the text.[218] Historians remain divided on whether the rebellion can properly be considered a war of Indian independence or not,[219] although it is popularly considered to be one in India. Arguments against include:

• A united India did not exist at that time in political, cultural, or ethnic terms;
• The rebellion was put down with the help of other Indian soldiers drawn from the Madras Army, the Bombay Army and the Sikh regiments; 80% of the East India Company forces were Indian;[220]
• Many of the local rulers fought amongst themselves rather than uniting against the British;
• Many rebel Sepoy regiments disbanded and went home rather than fight;
• Not all of the rebels accepted the return of the Mughals;
• The King of Delhi had no real control over the mutineers;[221]
• The revolt was largely limited to north and central India. Whilst risings occurred elsewhere they had little impact because of their limited nature;
• A number of revolts occurred in areas not under British rule, and against native rulers, often as a result of local internal politics;
• "The revolt was fractured along religious, ethnic and regional lines.[222]

The hanging of two participants in the Indian Rebellion, Sepoys of the 31st Native Infantry. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato, 1857.

A second school of thought while acknowledging the validity of the above-mentioned arguments opines that this rebellion may indeed be called a war of India's independence. The reasons advanced are:

• Even though the rebellion had various causes, most of the rebel sepoys who were able to do so, made their way to Delhi to revive the old Mughal empire that signified national unity for even the Hindus amongst them;
• There was a widespread popular revolt in many areas such as Awadh, Bundelkhand and Rohilkhand. The rebellion was therefore more than just a military rebellion, and it spanned more than one region;
• The sepoys did not seek to revive small kingdoms in their regions, instead they repeatedly proclaimed a "country-wide rule" of the Mughals and vowed to drive out the British from "India", as they knew it then. (The sepoys ignored local princes and proclaimed in cities they took over: Khalq Khuda Ki, Mulk Badshah Ka, Hukm Subahdar Sipahi Bahadur Ka – "the people belong to God, the country to the Emperor and authority to the Sepoy Commandant"). The objective of driving out "foreigners" from not only one's own area but from their conception of the entirety of "India", signifies a nationalist sentiment;
• The mutineers, although some were recruited from outside Oudah, displayed a common purpose.[223]
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