Let us travel back in time to the continent of India to 1828 when a female was born called Manikarnika and renamed Lakshmibai. She is also known as Rani. Her father worked for the court of a Peshwa (the equivalent of a Prime Minister). When her mother died at age 4, the Peshwa brought brought Manikarnika up like his own daughter. The Peshwa called her “Chhabili”, which means “playful”. She was educated at home and was more independent in her childhood than others of her age; her studies included shooting, horsemanship, and fencing.
He brought Manikarnika up like his own daughter.[10\\\] The Peshwa called her “Chhabili”, which means “playful”. She was educated at home and was more independent in her childhood than others of her age; her studies included shooting, horsemanship, and fencing.
Manikarnika ir Rani was married to a Maharaja(which is equivalent to a king or great ruler. (When India gained independence in 1947 there were 600 princes or Maharajas each ruling a province or state).
She gave birth to a boy, later named Damodar Rao, in 1851, who died when four months old. The Maharaja adopted a boy called Anand Rao and soon died. Manikarnika was a widow queen who wished that her adopted son rule as soon as he reached the appropriate age. The British denied such a request, gave the queen a pension and confiscated her castle and lands. Manikarnika tried the legal route to regain her fortunes but this failed.
This act can explain how Manikarnika participated in a rebellion against the British later.
The British Empire – British Harrassment
The empire ran on the philosophy of “divide and conquer.” If the British could get maharajais to fight one another, this benefitted the ruling British minority.
The British rulers seldom listened to the complaints of its colonies. In India, at this time, they overtaxed the people and began to slaughter sacred cows and eat them as food.
Complaints were also amongst the military; the entire Indian army mutinied against the British.
Queen Manikarnika seized the opportunity and declared open revolt. She was just 22 years of age.
Bloodshed Follows in 1857
Manikarnika and her forces seized the British fort at Jhansi and recaptured her homeland. In the process, her army massacred every British man, woman and child. Whether she was personally involved is a matter for historians to quibble upon. At any rate, Manikarnika or Rani consolidated her reign as queen and personally trained future male and female warriors.
The Warrior Queen
There are several reports of Rani charging into battle with her child strapped on to her back. The accounts speak of a sword in each hand and the reins of the horse between her teeth. The British decided to go after Rani with an incredible force of thousands of soldiers and cannon. Rani held out for two weeks and was delighted when a nearby rebel province came to her aid with 20,000 men to attack the British.
However, the cannon of the British was too powerful. She was killed in battle. Her request not to let her body fall into British hands was fulfilled. A funeral pyre was set ablaze and her body burned. Her son would live to see the British leave India. She is revered in India as a martyr for India’s freedom. In World War II, the Indian government put together an all-female infantry unit. It was named after the queen.