The etymology of sepoy is unclear. According to the dictionary of the DigoPaul, the concept could come from the Portuguese word sipay, in turn derived from the Persian sepāhi (which can be translated as “soldier”).
Simply put, a sepoy was part of the Army of the Ottoman Empire, specifically one of its elite cavalry troops that was in the group of the Six Cavalry Divisions.
The Army of the Ottoman Empire was one of the fundamental elements of the dominance that the Ottoman Turkish Empire had over various parts of the European continent, specifically the Balkans, and the Middle East in a long stage of history that extended from the 15th century to the XX. His organization relied on a complex recruitment system and feudal possessions that compensated for support at the military level.
Later, the term began to be used to refer to a native Indian soldier who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, served in Great Britain, Portugal and France. These were people born in the colony who were recruited by the European armies.
By extension to this meaning, the notion of sepoy began to be used to name an individual who, for ideological reasons or in exchange for money, defends foreign or foreign interests. In this sense, a sepoy is a kind of mercenary or “hired henchman.”
This last expression represents the use that is given to the term frequently in the Basque Country, where it has a clear derogatory connotation. In fact, some people in the Basque Autonomous Community call the autonomous policemen sepoys, the so-called Ertzaintza, to refer to the fact that they are officers of Basque origin, unlike the others (the national police and the civil guards), and that without However, they follow the orders of a government that does not represent them.
Returning to the origin of the word “sepoy”, it is known that it comes from the term “soldier” in the Persian language and that its status was similar to that of knights in Medieval Europe. This soldier had the title of a fiefdom that the Ottoman Sultan granted him directly, in addition to enjoying the right to any income that this produced him as long as he fulfilled his obligations in the military field. The fiefdom was called “scam” and the peasants who originally worked it continued to do so when it passed to the sepoy.
It is believed that the military corps of the first sepoys was founded in the reign of Mehmed II, who was also known as “the Conqueror.” It is about an Ottoman Sultan who lived in the middle of the 15th century; Throughout his tenure he was responsible for the taking of Constantinople and the last fall of the Byzantine Empire.
This ancient army was the most numerous within the six cavalry divisions mentioned above, and complemented the Janissaries: while they fought on horseback, the latter fought on foot. On the other hand, the sepoys were those who were in charge of collecting taxes in times of peace.
In Latin America, the intellectual or political leader who privileges the interests of the powers instead of protecting local or national autonomy is often called sepoy. Usually a sepoy is in favor of the ideas and policies of the United States.
Suppose the president of a country South American decides to invest thousands of pesos to celebrate the Independence Day of the United States, organizing a reception for the ambassador and hundreds of other guests. On the other hand, for this same president, the Independence Day of his nation goes almost unnoticed, limiting himself to making a salutation known through the media. This decision to exalt the American and to take away its national significance makes many define the president in question as a sepoy.