Anna Komemne – Welcome to another wonderful episode of Minimum Wage Historian. I’m your temporary host, Anna Komemne; first woman historian and a Byzantine princess. Top that if you can. Zach isn’t here today. He’s working on two stories at once and our guest has distracted him with a kitchen full of curry. That’s perfectly alright because I’ve assembled the ladies today for a male-free special edition.
Mulan – I’m here.
Tomoe Gozen – I, Tomoe Gozen, concubine of Minamoto no Yoshinaka, am here to help in any way that befits my honor.
Buffalo Calf Road – Hi, I’m a Cheyenne warrior.
Mulan – Don’t be modest. Who’d you kill?
Buffalo – General Armstrong- I’m a woman and child killing douche- Custer!
Mulan – That’s right sister.
Tomoe – According to the schedule Princess Komemne, the guest is a woman named Rani Lakshmibai. I do not know who this is.
Anna – Well, we’re about to find out.
Anna – Lakshmi Bai, the Rani of Jhansi, was born in 1835 and her father was the equivalent of a the prime minister. This gave her more power than most women. She was free to become educated as she chose with ample amounts of sword fighting, horsemanship and archery.
Mulan – A proper education.
Buffalo – She also formed a small personal army of women, mostly her friends at court.
Anna – She was then wed to Raja Gangadhar Rao Newalkar, king of Jhansi and so she became the queen. It was a kingdom in the Maratha Empire which fought a 27 year war against the Moguls and reestablished Hindu rule in India. By all accounts he they liked each other and she bore a son, but fate is cruel and the son soon died. They said the husband’s heart was broken and he died just a few years later.
Buffalo – I don’t like this story.
Anna – Hold on a moment. Before he died, they adopted a boy and declared him their heir. Everything should have been fine.
Tomoe – But heroes are not born from pleasant, idle times.
Anna – No they are not.
Anna – The British East India Company controlled almost all of India and they made some bogus rule that if a royal family doesn’t have an heir, the Company inherits the land.
Mulan – But they did have an heir.
Anna – The East India Company refused to accept her adopted son as an heir and moved in to take the country.
Buffalo – Hold on. How can a company just come in and take a country? That’s like Sears moving into South Dakota and naming it “The State of Sears.”
Anna – That isn’t an inaccurate statement about how the East India Company operated. They had their own army and would move in and take over the local governments. They were their own country.
Anna – So the East India Company comes in and tells Lakshmibai to take some money and get out.
Mulan – They ordered her to leave her own home? Who do they think they are?
Buffalo – Absolute power with no controls.
Anna – She didn’t obey them and the British didn’t have time to deal with her because a rebellion broke out, the Indian Rebellion of 1857 or the First War of Indian Independence. With all the chaos going on in the country, Lakshmibai used her army to quell uprisings against her and assure her people that everything would be fine. Everything was fine until the East India Company showed up and laid siege to her city and fort. She held out for a long time but a traitor kept the relief force from arriving.
Tomoe – Honorless Etta! Traitors are cowards.
Anna – The British eventually broke through but Lakshmibai and her body guard of women warriors escaped during the night. Her and her ragtag army joined with other rebel armies and began to fight for their independence.
Buffalo – I can’t blame them. Doesn’t seem like East India Company rule was working out too well for them.
Anna – They went on to fight more battles and winning control of a fort. By all accounts she fought in full armor and kit.
Anna – The British surrounded the fort and attacked. General Sir Hugh Rose was wounded in the battle and praised Lakshibai as the most dangerous rebel commander.
Buffalo – This sounds familiar.
Anna – And this is where the history gets hazzy I’m afraid. Some say she was killed in the battle but no body was discovered. A British general claimed that she was still alive. No one knows.
Mulan – She lost? After all that fighting she looses?
Anna – Not quite. Because of the rebellion the British government takes a second look at the Company and breaks it up.
Buffalo – She stuck it to the man!
Tomoe – She fought with honor and moved her game pieces to achieve victory.
Anna – During the later Indian War of Independence, Rani Ladshmibai was a folk hero and an inspiration.