In late-eighteenth-century India, the glory of the Mughal emperors was fading, and ambitious newcomers seized power, changing the political map forever. Enter the legendary Maharajah Ranjit Singh, whose Sikh Empire stretched throughout northwestern India into Afghanistan and Tibet.
Priya Atwal shines fresh light on this long-lost kingdom, looking beyond its founding father to restore the queens and princes to the story of this empire’s spectacular rise and fall. She brings to life a self-made ruling family, inventively fusing Sikh, Mughal and European ideas of power, but eventually succumbing to gendered family politics, as the Sikh Empire fell to its great rival in the new India: the British.
Royals and Rebels is a fascinating tale of family, royalty and the fluidity of power, set in a dramatic global era when new stars rose and upstart empires clashed.
Publisher: C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm
'A clear-eyed account … Atwal charts all of this history with flair and economy.’
'A brilliant book [that] is full of surprising stories … Atwal has managed to craft a very fresh and page-turning history of the origins and demise of the Sikh Kingdom.’
'The book is a tour-de-force, as Atwal brings her careful reading of a wide range of historical material to reveal the contingencies of the past in all its complexity.'
‘Priya Atwal’s regal history combines academic finesse with lucid prose to examine the role women played in the Sukerchakia dynasty. … Atwal brilliantly combines cultural analysis with an intricate dissection of Orientalist gender stereotypes.’
‘An intricate masterpiece laden with gems as old as the empire itself, “Royals and Rebels” is a welcome and necessary addition to the South Asian history repertoire.’
‘Shattering the stereotype of the ‘crude’ warrior, Dr. Atwal exposes how culture was central to the Sikh imperial project… [and] challenges our traditional, monolithic concept of Empire itself.’
'Smart, timely and fresh, from an exciting new voice in history writing.'
'Priya Atwal's lyrical and authoritative retelling will ensure that this fascinating bit of history commands the attention it deserves.'
'A wonderfully vivid appraisal of a fascinating period of Indian history. Atwal's work is serious and captivating. A welcome new voice, with much to teach us.'
'I wish all histories were written like this one. Priya Atwal blasts through centuries of Orientalist and misogynist history to shed brilliant new light on women in the high politics of empire. A thrilling, richly detailed and important book.'
'Gripping! A dramatic tale of the Sikh Empire taking on the British, especially its forgotten but influential queens and princes. A new history that marvellously expands the horizons of our knowledge.'
'Priya Atwal has produced an important book, one that is a delight to peruse, complete with carefully chosen images, while at the same highly innovative and informative in terms of its historical perspective.'
'A wonderfully engaging, intimate history of India's Sikh Empire, accompanied by previously unseen images of the Sikh court. We meet the extraordinary women and men who shaped its culture, and established their own remarkable relationships with Britain's royal family.'
'A path-breaking, thought-provoking and highly original study that will reign supreme over literature on the Sikh Kingdom. This ambitious and compelling book will inspire both scholars and general audiences even fifty years from now.'