Begum Samru Farzana Zeb un-Nissa from 18th century India is better known as Begum Samru. The four-and-a-half foot tall woman was a court dancer who caught the eye of Walter Reinhardt Sombre, the infamous Butcher of Patna. When the couple was defeated by Mughal Commander Najaf Khan, Najaf Khan took a liking to the couple, and they became part of his brigade.
Begum Samru was baptized Joanna Nobilis Sombre by a Catholic priest when she was in her 40s. When her husband died, she succeeded the throne. She not only continued to rule, she also commanded an army of 4,000 troops. After a defeat in 1803, she surrendered to British General Lord Lake.
Later in life, Begum Samru built the Basilica of Our Lady of Graces, employing an Italian architect who completed the project in 11 years. Because of her conversion to Catholicism later in life, Begum was the only Catholic ruler in India.
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