Of Kings and their subjects!

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At many times my naive mind used to wonder, especially when I was not such a keen history student how did some people in the desert become so wealthy, why did their subjects stick around those kings in those deserted plains where growing anything for self was tough, where water was scarce, where the sun was harsh and the terrain unforgiving. Over a period of time after reading a lot on wikipedia and the internet I have understood how the silk route used to work and how the people who lived in the desert benefited.

Eventually many Rajput kings also joined forces with the Mughals, where in after a war the territory would be owned by the Mughals but all the loots would be given to the Rajput’s who would many a times be the leader of the armies. No wonder the Rajput’s are still so proud about their weapons and their bravery. No, I am not judging anyone, I am sure the Rajputs did need the gold as their territory was not very fertile and they had to arrange for things that only wealth would buy.

Another very important thing I have noticed is that since the Kings were above their subjects and no one could actually question them, they lived life as per their whims. Not one king we heard about on the trip had less than 8 wives. If some king actually had one I guess he was not important enough for the guides to mention him! We even came across one guy Takhat Singh who had 58 queens and 59 children! Still no where near the Dhritrashtra figure though! 😛 lol

Some of the stories, anecdotes and ways of life of those ages are …well… lets say of another era… I guess we at times cannot comprehend some things.

Above is a shot of the Umaid Bhavan Palace, now a luxury hotel managed by Taj, though the king still stays there using some 20% of the property with the rest being converted into a pretty mean and expensive hotel. The shot was taken from Mehrangarh Fort, the Umaid Bhavan Palace is one of the last built palaces among the royal complexes in India. The king’s palace simply outsizes the houses of the subjects!

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12 thoughts on “Of Kings and their subjects!

  1. shail says:

    Most of the marriages that the Kings entered into were for political and strategic reasons. They probably never even saw the wives even a single time after the wedding day. I feel pity for the thus “caged” women, pawns in the game of political and familial intrigue. While the King secured his borders and acquired wealth and loyalty of their family members, what did these women gain? Only imprisonment in a golden cage.
    That’s an awesome photo. I am sure you had a super holiday! 😀 😀

    • hitchy says:

      Yup the holiday was superb! We had a lot of fun…

      I love decoding the history… I am sure some marriages in those days were strategic or political but I am not sure all were like that… I think that because the Kings were above the society and above public scrutiny they indulged in everything they liked… and they obviously were fond of women and somehow because of their high social status they went about acquiring and pleasing themselves…

      This is purely my theory or thinking but perhaps they somehow didn’t have to please or answer anyone and hence they did what their heart pleased…

        • hitchy says:

          Lol like I said one of them had 58 queens and 59 children! If that was not shocking enough why would I bother about the concubines and illegitimate children.

          But then those times have gone we can only look at them and try to understand the reasons behind it…

  2. Sampurna says:

    The kings of erstwhile Rajwarra did not have sole authority over government and subjects. The Rajput king was the head of a oligarchy – think of it as a triangle – where the king resided on the top and was supported by his nobles. These nobles (mantris) wielded the real power in terms of land, revenue, army, etc. Mantris would discuss, debate and arrive at mutually agreeable decisions on state policy. At times, mantris could gang together and overrule the writ of the king – as was the case with Rana Uday Singh of Chittor. (Don’t refer to the soap please). James Todd wrote that the Rana, under the influence of his powerful second queen, declared one of his younger sons (the second queen’s son) as his heir. Rana Pratap was (at least overtly) subservient to the decision. However, the king’s mantris refused to have the rule of primogeniture disbanded – and got Rana Pratap to assume the throne after deposing the younger prince (I forget his name).

    In short, it was not as simple as the king could do as he pleased 🙂 But yeah polygamy was practiced and I’m glad it’s over.

    Another thing about the Umaid Bhavan Palace – as far as I know, it was built during the time of a famine to generate jobs for people who had otherwise no means to earn at that time. The payment, of course, was made by the king – not as alms but as payment for work.

    • hitchy says:

      Yes the guides did mention about Umaid Bhavan Palace being made to provide employment. The fellow James Todd was looked upon quite lowly by a couple of guides in Jaisalmer, they opined that he never visited the place and wrote the history from Udaipur which was quite skewed in their opinion! In anycase though I love looking at the same place from different points of views.

      The soap of Rana Pratap is horrific and cannot be watched! 😀

  3. Deeps says:

    Pretty fascinating and intriguing were lives of kings and just as saddening were lives of their wives,as Shail pointed out.

    Wonderful post, Hitchy, worth pondering over. And a stunning shot to go with it!

  4. craftyshines says:

    Interesting post, Hobbes. I will go read up too.

    Some of the information by guides is so amusing, we need to take it with a pinch of salt. The masalas are provided by them!

    I can’t fathom how 4 generations above ours would have 14-16 children, and just one wife bearing them all!

    Looks like a super holiday there. 🙂

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