One of the nations that ranks in significance is the small and beautiful country of Madagascar.
However, like most countries in the world, this nation also has its dark past, a time when their leader almost ruined everything the nation stood for and the resources it used in exchanging with the outside world.
According to sources, during the rule of the famous queen of Madagascar, Ranavalona, also sometimes referred to as “The Mad queen,” a lot of tragedies were recorded, not from external figures but by the queen herself.
Ranavalona reigned in Madagascar from 1828-1861 which was enough time for her to change Madagascar forever.
Ranavalona is referred to as the Mad Queen of Madagascar and sometimes as “Ranavalona the Cruel.”
These titles seems far fetched until one brings her actions into account.
For instance, she is said to have reduced the population of Madagascar from 5 million during her reign, to at least 2.5 million.
This means that somehow, she caused the death and destruction of at least half her population.
Below you will find every interesting detail about the life of Ranavalona and everything she did to have destroyed her people through evil punishments and terrible decision making.
The origin of Ranavalona could be traced back to the French, who wanted to have the island of Madagascar by all means. They wanted to rule the island country due to its beauty and its biodiversity. However, the locals decided not to have foreign rulers, so they chose a man called Andrianampoinimerina, known to be wise and kind, to be their ruler.
Under his rule, Madagascar was a peaceful land, prospering every day. He had a successor of the throne, his son named Prince Radama. Around the same time, a young girl was born called Ramavo who is now famously called Ranavalona.
She was born into the ruling family of the Hova royal family.
Her family became prominent when her father saved the king by informing him of a plot to kill him.
Due to the king’s excitement and appreciation, he supposedly decided to reward Ranavolana’s father by adopting his daughter and then giving her to his son, Prince Radama.
Just like that, Ranavalona became a princess married into the royal family and when the king died in 1810,
Radama took the throne leaving Ranavalona as the new Queen of Madagascar.
Unfortunately, Ranavolana grew up at a time when education wasn’t available to all and so she was illiterate and her illiteracy came telling when she became queen and anytime she found herself in her husband’s court.
She could neither read nor write. Radama, her husband on the other hand, was a prince who had western education and as such, he supported it and wanted all his subjects to learn from the foreigners, especially from their culture, religion and ideas.
Radama’s rule created a connection to the foreigners. Europeans would often come into Madagascar to build churches and schools and at the same time, he was surrounded by several European advisors which made him one of the first few kings of Africa to have abolished slavery in the early 1800s.
Unfortunately, due to her inability to understand nor relate to the ideas and reasons for her husband’s connection and friendship with the Europeans, Ranavalona became distant from her husband, especially since she has not been able to bear any children.
This quickly became even more complicated when the king decided to focus on his work and ignore her.
Unfortunately, Radama died in 1828 at the age of 35, leaving Ranavalona as the queen of Madagascar since they had no son.
Though some believe he was poisoned, possibly by his wife, others believe he died of syphilis.
While she newly became queen, the king’s court planned to make Radama’s nephew king rather than have an illiterate queen but as soon as she heard of the plan she made sure it became unsuccessful and made sure she was pronounced queen.
She became one of the hardest please rulers in Africa at the time, she wore a large crown with expensive stones. She was once quoted saying;
“Never say, ‘she is only a feeble and ignorant woman, how can she rule such a vast empire?’ I will rule here, to the good fortune of my people and the glory of my name.”
One of the greatest moments that began to show what many call her moments of madness, was during her accession when she bath with the blood of Freshly killed bull, a ritual which she believed would connect her to the old Malagasy deities.
Immediately after her ascension, she ordered the deaths of everyone who stood agains her which included her nephew, his mother.
Since she was illiterate, she had no idea what it was like to truly have western education so she became invested in getting rid of the English and french.
She wiped out their reforms, English workers were expelled from Madagascar and the trading capacity the island had with the western world was destroyed.
Of course the foreigners weren’t going to give up that easy and so they tried invading but the army of Madagascar had developed greatly at the time, that Ranavalona defeated them.
She killed dozens of them and ordered that their heads be slit and lined up in a beach.
Soon she banned Christianity and anyone who practiced it in secret was punished brutally.
Christians were beaten, starved, pushed from a cliff, in one occasion, she ordered the deaths of at least 100 Christians in 1837.
She once asked her soldiers to prove their loyalty and anyone who failed her test was thrown in boiling water or hot oil. In 1945, she ordered her soldiers to go on a buffalo hunt.
The soldiers had no food supplies and other necessities.
A group of 50,000 soldiers started their journey, and many of them died with very few returning to their homes.
After 33 years of ruling, she died at the age of 79 in 1861.
She actually died peacefully while laying on her bed and was blessed with a son who she had with a lover, years before her death.
But at the time of her death, the population dropped from about 5 million to 2.5 million, which meant that Ranavalona had killed half of her population, including the slaves, soldiers, and officers.
Though she is credited for several good things such as the creation of factories that produced sophisticated weapons but her reputation as one of the most murderous queen’s in the world came at the expense of her people.