Listen: India's Forgotten Power Broker: Begum Samru
"Today's leader was Zor revered eighteenth century Indian ruler she came from nothing and became sovereign of her own kingdom and the head of formidable mercenary army remembered for skill in the political arena and on the battlefield. She forge your own path at a time and place where women didn't hold such positions of power. She's also also the only Catholic ruler in Indian history. Let's talk about BEGAM. Some ru was born around seventeen fifty unlikely in Kashmir her given name was Farzana while some historians claim that she was the daughter of a Muslim nobleman most believe that she was an orphan from from a humble background who was raised in a Kotha a traditional Indian House of pleasure women danced for rich men. When Beckham was fourteen years old? She met a forty five year old Austrian mercenary named Walter Reinhardt Somber who became completely smitten with the young dancer. The two started living together and also paired up professionally as mercenaries for hire this period Indian. History was one of great people. The Mughal Empire that ruled the Indian subcontinent was coming under increasing threat from both local chieftains and the British who were in the midst of invading and colonizing India as such Mughal kings relied on hired European mercenaries like Sambre to put down local insurrections Samba and begum turned out to be an extremely only successful mercenary team and beg him also managed to charm the Mughal rulers whose courts they visited historian. Adidas Gupta notes that begam actually sleep benefited from not being formerly married to somber. That would have put her behind a line of court gender segregation and excluded her from the inner workings of port politics in seventeen seventy four. Sambre was awarded the Principality of Donna. Alum the second after saving the Shah's army from a major the battle loss there sambre and beg them maintain their own standing army trained and organized to European military standards. That was ever ready. You to assist their mogul benefactors. When sombre died a few years later the mostly European officers in the Sardana army supported Begam as their next regent it? She became the ruler of Donna. And the new Seoul commander of the three thousand soldiers who served in the army took quite well to this job and fit herself. The trappings of a ruler she wore a turban and smoked hookah. The only four and a half feet tall. She led her men into battle on horseback. She she was seen as so invincible. That local legend how she was a witch could destroy her enemies by merely throwing her cloak. It in seventeen. Eighty one Beckham converted to Catholicism and began to build the basilica of Our Lady of graces in Sardana. It's it's not clear why she converted. Some historians have suggested that this may have been a savvy political move made based on the assumption that the Christian though not Catholic British but eventually take full control of India regardless of her motives her conversion makes Beckham the only Catholic ruler in Indian History Beckham's adventures insurers included taking many European lovers most of whom were military officers in one famous anecdote. She made a suicide pact with the French Lover Lover. After members of her own army heard rumors couple had married and started to mutiny after Begum stabbed herself with a dagger. The Frenchman shot himself and died. Agam survived her wound after she was rescued from the scene by another spur lover by the early eighteen. Hundreds Begemann the British Ron. Good terms begum. Even entertained high powered Brits and other Europeans at her court this allowed her to spend her later life growing her power and coffers and engaging and diplomacy rather than fighting on a battlefield in January eighteen thirty six begum died the incredibly vast fortune. She built over the last decades. It's a for life. One of the greatest India at the time was inherited by the British east India Company. It was worth approximately fifty five and a half million gold marks or about forty billion dollars in today's value"