Mutiny is a criminal conspiracy among a group of people (typically members of the military or the crew of any ship, even if they are civilians) to openly oppose, change, or overthrow a lawful authority to which they are subject. The term is commonly used for a rebellion among members of the military against their superior officers, but it can also occasionally refer to any type of rebellion against authority figures or governances.
A military or an armed force is a professional organization formally authorized by a sovereign state to use lethal or deadly force and weapons to support the interests of the state. It typically consists of branches such as an Army, Navy, Air Force, and in certain countries, Marines and a Coast Guard. The task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and of its citizens, and as the prosecution of war against other states. The military may also have additional sanctioned and non-sanctioned functions within a society, including, the promotion of a political agenda, protecting corporate economic interests, internal population control, construction, emergency services, social ceremonies, and guarding important areas. The military may also function as a discrete subculture within a larger civil society, through the development of separate infrastructures, which may include housing, schools, utilities, logistics, health and medical, law, food production, finance and banking.
A crew is a body or a class of people who work at a common activity, generally in a structured or hierarchical organization. A location in which a crew works is called a crewyard or a workyard. The word has nautical resonances: the tasks involved in operating a ship, particularly a sailing ship, providing numerous specialities within a ship's crew, often organised with a chain of command. Traditional nautical usage strongly distinguishes officers from crew, though the two groups combined form the ship's company. Members of a crew are often referred to by the title Crewman.
Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders of an established authority. The term comes from the Latin verb rebellō, "I renew war" (from re- + bellō. The rebel is the individual that partakes in rebellion or rebellious activities, particularly when armed. Thus, the term rebellion also refers to the ensemble of rebels in a state of revolt.
During the Age of Discovery, mutiny particularly meant open rebellion against a ship's captain. This occurred, for example, during Ferdinand Magellan's journeys around the world resulting in the killing of one mutineer, the execution of another, and the marooning of others; on Henry Hudson's Discovery resulting in Hudson and others being set adrift in a boat; and the notorious mutiny on the Bounty.
The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, is an informal and loosely defined term for the period in European history in which extensive overseas exploration emerged as a powerful factor in European culture and which was the beginning of globalization. It also marks the rise of the period of widespread adoption in Europe of colonialism and mercantilism as national policies. Many lands previously unknown to Europeans were discovered by them during this period, though most were already inhabited. From the perspective of many non-Europeans, the Age of Discovery marked the arrival of invaders from previously unknown continents.
Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese explorer who organised the Spanish expedition to the East Indies from 1519 to 1522, resulting in the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed by Juan Sebastián Elcano.
Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is a government-sanctioned practice whereby a person is killed by the state as a punishment for a crime. The sentence that someone be punished in such a manner is referred to as a death sentence, whereas the act of carrying out the sentence is known as an execution. Crimes that are punishable by death are known as capital crimes or capital offences, and they commonly include offences such as murder, mass murder, terrorism, treason, espionage, offenses against the State, such as attempting to overthrow government, piracy, drug trafficking, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, but may include a wide range of offences depending on a country. Etymologically, the term capital in this context alluded to execution by beheading.
Mutiny often carried capital punishment.
Until 1689, mutiny was regulated in England by Articles of War instituted by the monarch and effective only in a period of war. In 1689, the first Mutiny Act was passed which passed the responsibility to enforce discipline within the military to Parliament. The Mutiny Act, altered in 1803, and the Articles of War defined the nature and punishment of mutiny until the latter were replaced by the Army Discipline and Regulation Act in 1879. This, in turn, was replaced by the Army Act in 1881.
The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.
The Articles of War are a set of regulations drawn up to govern the conduct of a country's military and naval forces. The phrase was first used in 1637 in Robert Monro's His expedition with the worthy Scots regiment called Mac-keyes regiment etc. and can be used to refer to military law in general. In Swedish, the equivalent term Krigsartiklar, is first mentioned in 1556. However, the term is usually used more specifically and with the modern spelling and capitalisation to refer to the British regulations drawn up in the wake of the Glorious Revolution and the U.S. regulations later based on them.
The Mutiny Acts were an almost 200-year series of annual Acts passed by the Parliament of England, the Parliament of Great Britain, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom for governing, regulating, provisioning, and funding the English and later British Army.
Today the Army Act 1955 defines mutiny as follows:
The Armed Forces Act 2006 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Mutiny means a combination between two or more persons subject to service law, or between persons two at least of whom are subject to service law—
- (a) to overthrow or resist lawful authority in Her Majesty's forces or any forces co-operating therewith or in any part of any of the said forces,
- (b) to disobey such authority in such circumstances as to make the disobedience subversive of discipline, or with the object of avoiding any duty or service against, or in connection with operations against, the enemy, or
- (c) to impede the performance of any duty or service in Her Majesty's forces or in any forces co-operating therewith or in any part of any of the said forces.
The same definition applies in the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain.
The military law of England in early times existed, like the forces to which it applied, in a period of war only. Troops were raised for a particular service and were disbanded upon the cessation of hostilities. The crown, by prerogative, made laws known as Articles of War for the government and discipline of the troops while thus embodied and serving. Except for the punishment of desertion, which was made a felony by statute in the reign of Henry VI, these ordinances or Articles of War remained almost the sole authority for the enforcement of discipline until 1689 when the first Mutiny Act was passed and the military forces of the crown were brought under the direct control of parliament. Even the Parliamentary forces in the time of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell were governed, not by an act of the legislature, but by articles of war similar to those issued by the king and authorized by an ordinance of the Lords and Commons exercising in that respect the sovereign prerogative. This power of law-making by prerogative was however held to be applicable during a state of actual war only, and attempts to exercise it in time of peace were ineffectual. Subject to this limitation, it existed for considerably more than a century after the passing of the first Mutiny Act.
The term felony, in some common law countries, is defined as a serious crime. The word originates from English common law, where felonies were originally crimes involving confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods. Other crimes were called misdemeanors. Many common law countries have now abolished the felony/misdemeanor distinction and replaced it with other distinctions, such as between indictable offences and summary offences. A felony is generally considered a crime of high seriousness, but a misdemeanor is not.
Henry VI was King of England from 1422 to 1461 and again from 1470 to 1471, and disputed King of France from 1422 to 1453. The only child of Henry V, he succeeded to the English throne at the age of nine months upon his father's death, and succeeded to the French throne on the death of his maternal grandfather Charles VI shortly afterwards.
Charles I was the monarch over the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649.
From 1689 to 1803, although in peacetime the Mutiny Act was occasionally suffered to expire, a statutory power was given to the crown to make Articles of War to operate in the colonies and elsewhere beyond the seas in the same manner as those made by prerogative operated in time of war.
In 1715, in consequence of the rebellion, this power was created in respect of the forces in the kingdom but apart from and in no respect affected the principle acknowledged all this time that the crown of its mere prerogative could make laws for the government of the army in foreign countries in time of war.
The Mutiny Act of 1803 effected a great constitutional change in this respect: the power of the crown to make any Articles of War became altogether statutory, and the prerogative merged in the act of parliament. The Mutiny Act 1873 was passed in this manner.
Such matters remained until 1879 when the last Mutiny Act was passed and the last Articles of War were promulgated. The Mutiny Act legislated for offences in respect of which death or penal servitude could be awarded, and the Articles of War, while repeating those provisions of the act, constituted the direct authority for dealing with offences for which imprisonment was the maximum punishment as well as with many matters relating to trial and procedure.
The act and the articles were found not to harmonize in all respects. Their general arrangement was faulty, and their language sometimes obscure. In 1869, a royal commission recommended that both should be recast in a simple and intelligible shape. In 1878, a committee of the House of Commons endorsed this view and made recommendations as to how the task should be performed. In 1879, passed into law a measure consolidating in one act both the Mutiny Act and the Articles of War, and amending their provisions in certain important respects. This measure was called the Army Discipline and Regulation Act 1879.
After one or two years experience finding room for improvement, it was superseded by the Army Act 1881, which hence formed the foundation and the main portion of the military law of England, containing a proviso saving the right of the crown to make Articles of War, but in such a manner as to render the power in effect a nullity by enacting that no crime made punishable by the act shall be otherwise punishable by such articles. As the punishment of every conceivable offence was provided, any articles made under the act could be no more than an empty formality having no practical effect.
Thus the history of English military law up to 1879 may be divided into three periods, each having a distinct constitutional aspect: (I) prior to 1689, the army, being regarded as so many personal retainers of the sovereign rather than servants of the state, was mainly governed by the will of the sovereign; (2) between 1689 and 1803, the army, being recognised as a permanent force, was governed within the realm by statute and without it by the prerogative of the crown and (3) from 1803 to 1879, it was governed either directly by statute or by the sovereign under an authority derived from and defined and limited by statute. Although in 1879 the power of making Articles of War became in effect inoperative, the sovereign was empowered to make rules of procedure, having the force of law, to regulate the administration of the act in many matters formerly dealt with by the Articles of War. These rules, however, must not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Army Act itself, and must be laid before parliament immediately after they are made. Thus in 1879 the government and discipline of the army became for the first time completely subject either to the direct action or the close supervision of parliament.
A further notable change took place at the same time. The Mutiny Act had been brought into force on each occasion for one year only, in compliance with the constitutional theory:
that the maintenance of a standing army in time of peace, unless with the consent of parliament, is against law. Each session therefore the text of the act had to be passed through both Houses clause by clause and line by line. The Army Act, on the other hand, is a fixed permanent code. But constitutional traditions are fully respected by the insertion in it of a section providing that it shall come into force only by virtue of an annual act of parliament. This annual act recites the illegality of a standing army in time of peace unless with the consent of parliament, and the necessity nevertheless of maintaining a certain number of land forces (exclusive of those serving in India) and a body of royal marine forces on shore, and of keeping them in exact discipline, and it brings into force the Army Act for one year.
Until 1998 mutiny and another offence of failing to suppress or report a mutiny were each punishable with death.Section 21(5) of the Human Rights Act 1998 completely abolished the death penalty in the United Kingdom. (Prior to this, the death penalty had already been abolished for murder, but it had remained in force for certain military offences and treason, although no executions had been carried out for several decades.) This provision was not required by the European Convention on Human Rights, since Protocol 6 of the Convention permitted the death penalty in time of war, and Protocol 13, which prohibits the death penalty for all circumstances, did not then exist. The UK government introduced section 21(5) as a late amendment in response to parliamentary pressure.
The United States' Uniform Code of Military Justice defines mutiny thus:
- Art. 94. (§ 894.) 2004 Mutiny or Sedition.
- (a) Any person subject to this code (chapter) who—
- (1) with intent to usurp or override lawful military authority, refuses, in concert with any other person, to obey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny;
- (2) with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of lawful civil authority, creates, in concert with any other person, revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority is guilty of sedition;
- (3) fails to do his utmost to prevent and suppress a mutiny or sedition being committed in his presence, or fails to take all reasonable means to inform his superior commissioned officer or commanding officer of a mutiny or sedition which he knows or has reason to believe is taking place, is guilty of a failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition.
- (b) A person who is found guilty of attempted mutiny, mutiny, sedition, or failure to suppress or report a mutiny or sedition shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
U.S. military law requires obedience only to lawful orders. Disobedience to unlawful orders (see Superior orders) is the obligation of every member of the U.S. military, a principle established by the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials following World War II and reaffirmed in the aftermath of the My Lai Massacre during the Vietnam War. However, a U.S. soldier who disobeys an order after deeming it unlawful will almost certainly be court-martialed to determine whether the disobedience was proper. In addition, simple refusal to obey is not mutiny, which requires collaboration or conspiracy to disobedience.
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a lesser superior was petty treason. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.
A court-martial or court martial is a military court or a trial conducted in such a court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment. In addition, courts-martial may be used to try prisoners of war for war crimes. The Geneva Convention requires that POWs who are on trial for war crimes be subject to the same procedures as would be the holding military's own forces. Finally, courts-martial can be convened for other purposes, such as dealing with violations of martial law, and can involve civilian defendants.
Military justice is the body of laws and procedures governing members of the armed forces. Many nation-states have separate and distinct bodies of law that govern the conduct of members of their armed forces. Some states use special judicial and other arrangements to enforce those laws, while others use civilian judicial systems. Legal issues unique to military justice include the preservation of good order and discipline, the legality of orders, and appropriate conduct for members of the military. Some states enable their military justice systems to deal with civil offenses committed by their armed forces in some circumstances.
Sedition is overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of discontent towards, or resistance against established authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws. Seditious words in writing are seditious libel. A seditionist is one who engages in or promotes the interest of sedition.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the foundation of military law in the United States. It was established by the United States Congress in accordance with the authority given by the United States Constitution in Article I, Section 8, which provides that "The Congress shall have Power....To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces".
The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer, commanding general (CG), is the officer in command of a military unit. The commanding officer has ultimate authority over the unit, and is usually given wide latitude to run the unit as they see fit, within the bounds of military law. In this respect, commanding officers have significant responsibilities, duties, and powers.
The cat o' nine tails, commonly shortened to the cat, is a type of multi-tailed whip that originated as an implement for severe physical punishment, notably in the Royal Navy and Army of the United Kingdom, and also as a judicial punishment in Britain and some other countries.
Insubordination is the act of willfully disobeying an order of one's superior. Refusing to perform an action that is unethical or illegal is not insubordination; neither is refusing to perform an action that is not within the scope of authority of the person issuing the order.
The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed in the United Kingdom on 8 August 1914, four days after it entered World War I and was added to as the war progressed. It gave the government wide-ranging powers during the war period, such as the power to requisition buildings or land needed for the war effort, or to make regulations creating criminal offences.
The Royal Navy Police (RNP) is the service police branch of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Members of the RNP enforce law, discipline, and maintain order as outlined in the Armed Forces Act 2006.
The Confiscation Act of 1862, or Second Confiscation Act, was a law passed by the United States Congress during the American Civil War. Section 13 of the act formed the legal basis for President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
HMAS Moresby was a 24-class "Fleet Sweeping" sloop that served in the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a minesweeper, anti-submarine vessel, and survey ship. The ship was involved in both World Wars, and was the venue of the Japanese surrender of Timor on 11 September 1945.
The military courts of the United Kingdom are governed by the Armed Forces Act 2006. The system set up under the Act applies to all three armed services: the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force (RAF), and replaces the three parallel systems that were previously in existence.
Conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline is an offence against military law in many countries. It has existed in military law since before the 17th century and is an important offence which functions as a catch-all to criminalise offences against military order which are not specified elsewhere.
The main Offences against military law in the United Kingdom are set out in the Armed Forces Act 2006.
The Revolt of the Lash was a naval mutiny in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in late November 1910. It was the direct result of the use of whips ("lashes") by white naval officers when punishing Afro-Brazilian and mulatto enlisted sailors.
The Penal Code, 1860 is the main criminal code of Bangladesh. It is based on the penal code of the British Indian Empire enacted in 1860 by the Governor General-in-Council in the Bengal Presidency. It is similar to the penal codes of countries formerly part of the British Empire in South and Southeast Asia, including Singapore, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.