The problem with naming the uprisings that took place in India between 1857 and 1858 has a long history to which the plethora of contrasting terminologies attests. Clearly, the restrictive term, ‘Indian mutiny’, being the common vernacular within British colonial historiography, fails to capture the idea that numerous Indian-led demonstrations took place against British rule, including not only military revolts, but also peasant uprisings, regional and national coups d’état and protracted guerrilla campaigns. Likewise, the more expansive terms that have been used in Indian historiography, such as ‘Indian War of Independence’, artifi cially impose a nationalist teleology, giving these events an embryonic role within the history of the Indian nation.1 While acknowledging the colonialist-nationalist debates engendered by these various titles, this essay will focus instead on the nomenclatures found in 19th-century Frenchlanguage writing, including journalistic, historical, travel and fi ctional accounts, all of which consciously and/or subconsciously employ what can be seen as counter-descriptive terms to Anglo-centric narratives of the so-called ‘mutiny’. It will demonstrate that these alternative French narratives tend to exacerbate the potential for Britain to lose its sovereignty of India on the one hand, while denying the possibility for Indian self-rule on the other.