|Queen Laxmibai, the ruler of Jhansi|
Most people know that Mohandas Gandhi played a major role in the country’s struggle for independence. But so did Queen Laxmibai of Jhansi in the 19th century.
The queen, or rani, was an unconventional leader. She could read and write — very rare for a woman in that era — and she refused to abide by the norms of purdah, which concealed women behind curtains or veils, when speaking with her advisers and British officials.
|Rani of Jhansi riding into battle against the British|
She was widowed without a natural-born heir, and the East India Company used that as pretext to annex her kingdom. So she fled to the nearby state of Gwalior, trained an army and led it into battle against the British. She was killed in action in 1858.
In India, she is immortalized in history books, movies, songs and even nursery rhymes.
|The fortress at Jhansi in about 1882|