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The Lions Firanghis: Europeans at the Court of LahoreDate: Thursday, 21 October, 2010

By Bobby Singh Bansal

The kingdom of Maharajah Ranjit Singh was famed for its military prowess as much as its riches. The Maharajah however, was fully aware of the technological weakness of his native army and knew that its modernisation was imperative to survive against the advancing British.

The opportunity to modernise arose in 1822 with the arrival of two European officers at the Court of Lahore. His newly arrived ‘soldiers of fortune' were former officers of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and by the 1830s a multifarious array of French, Prussian, Spanish, Dutch and Italian officers had descended on the Anglo-Punjab frontier, hoping to enlist in the services of the opportunistic Maharajah.

In his unique inaugural book the author examines the lives of these ‘European mercenaries', who had served with such distinction, whose impact at the opulent Court of Lahore became legendary, and what became of them after they had returned to Europe.

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