What is remarkable about this trial is that Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar legally recognized and publically acclaimed as the Sovereign of India had to defend himself against the charge of treason brought against him by a foreign trading company that had come to wield political power in India. In this paper, through an analysis of this trial, I show the essential link between the origin of the discourse of international law and the history of colonialism. I contend that what makes this trial significant is that the advent of the discourse of international law in the colonies went hand in hand with the abrogation of the discourse of national sovereignty. This legal abrogation of the discourse of national sovereignty in the colonies grounded in international law went on to determine, I conclude, both the discourse of empire and that of anticolonialism in the twentieth century.
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