mutiny, concerted disobedient or seditious action by persons in military or naval service, or by sailors on commercial vessels. Mutiny may range from a combined refusal to obey orders to active revolt or going over to the enemy on the part of two or more persons. In the armed forces it is considered one of the gravest crimes against military law. Mutiny may be committed on a private vessel whether it is at sea or in port. As a result of two major naval mutinies in Great Britain in 1797—one at Spithead and one at Nore and Sheerness—many of the abuses in the navy, such as bad food, brutal discipline, and withholding pay, were remedied. Mutinies tend to occur with some frequency in the armed forces of nations on the point of suffering defeat; thus, in 1918 the German navy mutinied at Kiel and the Austrian navy at Cattaro (now Kotor). A mutiny may be the signal for a revolution, as were the Russian mutinies in 1905 and 1917 at Kronshtadt.
See C. Gill, The Naval Mutinies of 1797 (1913); G. E. Manwaring and B. Dobrée, The Floating Republic (1938, repr. 1966); R. L. Hadfield, Mutiny at Sea (1938); E. Fuller, ed., Mutiny (1953); G. Dallas and D. Gill, The Unknown Army: Mutinies in the British Army in World War I (1985); G. E. Manwaring and B. Dobrée, Mutiny (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.