- Lapse Doctrine
- A device used by the British East India Company, starting in the 1830s, for bringing the princely states of India under its control. The doctrine maintained that the company had the right to any states whose ruler died without a direct male heir to uphold succession. Such rulers had hitherto been succeeded by adopted sons, but the lapse doctrine forbade the practice except in special cases. During his service as governor-general, Lord Dalhousie used the doctrine to annex Jhansi, Nagpur, Punjab, Sambalpur, and Satara, thereby causing considerable anxiety, among even the most cooperative of Indian rulers, that no dynastic succession was secure. Among the other causes, the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was a product of lapse doctrine’s predatory attack on tradition, so that after the defeat of the rebellion the policy was formally renounced.See also <
>.FURTHER READING:James, Lawrence. Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. New York: St. Martin’s, 1997.CARL CAVANAGH HODGE
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.