The Second Anglo-Sikh War
took place in 1848 and 1849, between the Sikh Empire
and the British East India Company
. It resulted in the subjugation of the Sikh Empire, and the annexation of the Punjab
and what subsequently became the North-West Frontier Province
by the East India Company.
Background to the War
The Sikh kingdom of the Punjab was consolidated and expanded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh
during the early years of the nineteenth century. During the same period, the British East India Company's territories had been expanded until they were adjacent to the Punjab. Ranjit Singh maintained an uneasy alliance with the East India Company, while increasing the military strength of the Khalsa
(the Sikh Army, which also saw itself as the embodiment of the state and religion), to deter British aggression against his state and to expand Sikh territory to the north and north west, capturing territory from Afghanistan
When Ranjit Singh died in 1839, the Sikh Empire began to fall into disorder. There was a succession of short-lived rulers at the central Durbar
(court), and increasing tension between the Khalsa and the Durbar. The East India Company began to build up its military strength on the borders of the Punjab. Eventually, the increasing tension goaded the Khalsa to invade British territory, under weak and possibly treacherous leaders. The hard-fought First Anglo-Sikh War
ended in defeat for the Khalsa.
Aftermath of the First Anglo-Sikh War
At the end of the war,... Read More