Im going to do a series on heroic women along with my books. While Im not going to go into great depths I want people to recognize the faces of heroic women across the ages.
Rani Durgavati (5 October 1524 – 24 June 1564) was the ruling Queen of Gondwana from 1550 until 1564. She was born in the family of Chandel king Keerat Rai at the fort of Kalinjar (Banda, Uttar Pradesh). Rani Durgavati’s achievements further enhanced the glory of her ancestral tradition of courage and patronage.
In 1542, she was married to Dalpat Shah, the eldest son of king Sangram Shah of the Gondwana kingdom. The Chandel and Rajgond dynasties were allied because of this marriage. This resulted in Keerat Rai gaining the help of the Gonds at the time of Muslim invasion of Sher Shah Suri.
She gave birth to a son in 1545 A.D. who was named Vir Narayan. Dalpat Shah died in 1550 and due to the young age of Vir Narayan, Durgavati took the reins of the Gond kingdom. Diwan Beohar Adhar Simha and Minister Man Thakur helped the Rani in looking after the administration successfully and effectively. Rani moved her capital to Chauragarh in place of Singorgarh fort. It was a fort of strategic importance situated on the Satpura hill range.
The Rani’s contemporary was a Mughal General, Khwaja Abdul Majid Asaf Khan, an ambitious man who vanquished Ramchandra, the ruler of Rewa. The prosperity of Rani Durgavati’s state lured him and he invaded the Rani’s state after taking permission from Mughal emperor Akbar. This plan of Mughal invasion was the result of expansionism and imperialism of Akbar.
When the Rani heard about the attack by Asaf Khan she decided to defend her kingdom with all her might although her Diwan Beohar Adhar Simha (Adhar Kayastha)  pointed out the strength of Mughal forces. The Rani maintained that it was better to die respectfully than to live a disgraceful life.
To fight a defensive battle, she went to Narrai, situated between a hilly range on one side and two rivers Gaur and Narmada on the other side. It was an unequal battle with trained soldiers and modern weapons in multitude on the Mughal side and a few untrained soldiers with old weapons on the side of Rani Durgavati. Her Faujdar Arjun Das was killed in the battle and the Rani decided to lead the defence herself. As the enemy entered the valley, the soldiers of the Rani attacked them. Both sides lost some men but the Rani lost more.
At this stage, the Rani reviewed her strategy with her counselors. She wanted to attack the enemy in the night to enfeeble them but her lieutenants did not accept her suggestion. By next morning Asaf Khan had summoned big guns. The Rani rode on her elephant Sarman and came for the battle. Her son Vir Narayan also took part in this battle. He forced Mughal army to move back three times but at last, he got wounded and had to retire to a safe place. In the course of battle, the Rani also got injured badly near her ear with an arrow. Another arrow pierced her neck and she lost her consciousness. On regaining consciousness she perceived that defeat was imminent. Her mahout advised her to leave the battlefield but she refused and took out her dagger and killed herself on 24 June 1564. Her martyrdom day (24 June 1564) is even today commemorated as “Balidan Diwas”.
Evelina Haverfield (9 August 1867 – 21 March 1920) was a British suffragette and aid worker. In the early part of the 20th century, she was involved in Emmeline Pankhurst’s militant women’s suffrage organisation the Women’s Social and Political Union. During World War I she worked as a nurse in Serbia. After the war, she returned to Serbia with her companion Vera Holme to set up an orphanage in Bajina Bašta, a town in the west of the country.
Elsie Maud Inglis (16 August 1864 – 26 November 1917) was an innovative Scottish doctor, pioneering surgeon, inspiring teacher, suffragist, and founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, and the first woman to hold the Serbian Order of the White Eagle. Elsie (Eliza) Maud Inglis was born on 16 August 1864, in the hill station town of Naini Tal, India. Inglis had eight siblings and was the second daughter and third youngest. Her parents were Harriet Lowes Thompson and John Forbes David Inglis (1820–1894), a magistrate who worked in the Indian civil service as Chief Commissioner of Oudh through the East India Company, as did her maternal grandfather. Inglis had the good fortune to have enlightened parents for the time who considered the education of a daughter as important as that of a son, and unusually also had them schooled in India. Elsie and her sister Eva had 40 dolls which she used to treat for ‘spots’ (measles) she had painted on.
Inglis’s father was religious and used his position in India to “encourage native economic development, spoke out against infanticide and promoted female education.” Inglis’s maternal grandfather was Rev Henry Simson of the Garioch in Aberdeenshire. She was a cousin to the eminent gynaecologist Sir Henry Simson. Another cousin was related by marriage to her peer and fellow female medical student Grace Cadell who was the first Scottish woman to obtain a medical licence.
Inglis’s father retired (when aged 56) from the East India Company to return to Edinburgh, via Tasmania, where some of her older siblings settled. Inglis went on to a private education in Edinburgh (where she had led a successful demand by the schoolgirls to use private gardens in Charlotte Square) and finishing school in Paris. Inglis’s decision to study medicine was delayed by nursing her mother, during her last illness (scarlet fever) and her death in 1885, when she felt obliged to stay in Edinburgh with her father.
Julia Catherine Stimson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts 26 May 1881. Her parents were the Reverend Henry A. Stimson and Alice Bartlett Stimson. She had five siblings: Dr. Barbara B. Stimson, Dr Philip M. Stimson, Elsie Stimson Smith, Lucile Stimson Harvey and Henry B. Stimson. She was also first cousin to Secretary of War and Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson. She received her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1901, then received a degree from the New York Hospital Training School for Nurses in 1908. She held a number of administrative posts in New York City and Missouri, where she received her master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1917. She volunteered for military service in April 1917.
As superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps during World War I, Stimson became the first woman to attain the rank of Major (United States) in the United States Army. Mary T. Sarnecky, author of A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (Penn Press, 1993) wrote, “Stimson actively lived a feminist ideology in several singularly oppressive and paternalistic contexts–the upper-class Victorian home, the turn-of-the-century hospital setting and the military establishment of the early 20th century.”
She was born in 1910 in Skopje. She became a Roman Catholic nun in 1928. In Calcutta, she worked in the slums, teaching and aiding the sick and abandoned people. She established a home and an open-air school for the poor. She also founded “Missionaries of Charity” which gave donations to the poor. In New York, she opened a home to care for those infected with HIV/AIDS. Mother Teresa was one of the 20th Century’s greatest humanitarians. She received several awards including the Nobel Peace Prize for her humanitarian work. She is canonized as a saint.
More to come check out my books on women and their lives Kindle amazon louisa jen