Begums and Maids: A History of the Deccan through its Female Protagonists

10 September 2021

From the thirteenth century, down to the eighteenth, the Deccan was home to some remarkable women. Their contributions straddle everything from poetry and intellectual thought to war and diplomacy. Could we, potentially then, reconstruct the history of the Deccan through their eyes?

In this lecture, Manu S Pillai highlights the lives, careers and ideas of some of the key female figures of the late-medieval and early-modern Deccan. Covering the sultanates as well as the Maratha state, and featuring begums and ranis as well as a kitchen maid, we will discover how these women challenged received wisdom and tropes and expressed ideas so bold that they still resonate. Together, they encapsulate a fascinating chapter of Indian history that can tell us a lot about politics, dissent, and how we ourselves perceive the past and its inhabitants.

Watch the video below.



Manu S Pillai

Manu S Pillai is the author of The Ivory Throne (2015), Rebel Sultans (2018), and The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin (2019). F... Read More