Manikarnika Tambe (1828-1858) married Gangadhar Rao, Maharaja of Jhansi and changed her name to Lakshmi becoming Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi. They were childless when her husband died in 1853 and the British refused to recognise the adopted son invoking the Doctrine of Lapse to annexe the princely state. The Rani was given a pension and required to leave the palace at Jhansi Fort. Meanwhile the Indian Mutiny spread from town to town and on 5 June 1857 the Jhansi garrison mutinied. Sixty-three men, women and children were besieged by mutineers in the Town Fort but were persuaded to surrender on promise of safe passage. They were however killed (see article Mutiny at Jhansi). The Rani's complicity in the massacre is disputed but the event led to the Siege of Jhansi by the British under Sir Hugh Rose. When the fort was stormed the Rani escaped to Kalpi where the rebels were defeated again. Lakshmibai retreated with Rao Sahib to Gwalior and was killed at the Battle of Kota-ki-Serai.
The most comprehensive source of information on Lakshmibai is the articles on Allen Copsey's website Lakshmibai, Rani of Jhansi. This includes contemporary accounts, discussion on the conflicting opinions and a bibliography.
Rani Lakshmibai www.copsey-family.org
Lakshmibai timeline www.copsey-family.org
The Rani of Jhansi, Rebel against Will by Rainer Jerosch 2007 Google Books
Rani Lakshmibai Wikipedia