History isn’t all fun and games. Over the course of time, a great many rulers have come into power, changing their people and country for the worse. When it comes to tyrannical rulers, you might be hard pressed to find one more notorious than Madagascar’s 19th century queen Ranavalona. The most violent sovereign to ever take the throne in the country, Ranavalona was responsible for a great deal of death and destruction, leaving only desolation in her wake.
After marrying into power, Ranavalona was left the throne following the death of her husband in 1828. Seizing power almost immediately, the Queen barricaded herself inside the palace, keeping a number of judges, army leaders and community leaders on her side in order to enforce her fundamentalist views. Establishing her reign, Ranavalona soon had her rivals brutally slaughtered, doing away with family members and innocent members of the society.
Things would only get worse during Ranavalona’s reign, however, and over the years, she tallied up a whole load of damage. Showing off her influence at all times, the Queen refused to appear in public without the accompaniment of thousands of slaves and soldiers. Worse still, she promptly did away with the educational and religious structures already in place, giving sovereign power to her ancestors alone. She went on to reject international progressions, ordering the exile of a group of Christians and missionaries who had previously been welcomed into the empire. Those who escaped were lucky, however; Ranavalona had a number of them hang from ropes over a cliff until they eventually fell to their deaths below.
Those found to go against her reign were punished in the cruelest ways possible. Ranavalona supported an act which decreed that any Christians, thieves and lawbreakers had to swallow three chicken skins and a poisonous nut. If the person could swallow the skins and survive the nut, they were declared to be innocent, a feat which very few managed.
Over the years, Ranavalona gained a reputation for herself outside out her country. Due to her gruesome displays of the impaled heads of French soldiers, she soon became known as “Ranavalona the Cruel”, feared by all who came into contact with her.
Giving birth to a son, Ranavalona was soon to have her power put to rest once and for all. As he grew up under his mother’s fearsome reign, the young prince soon began to hate her preference for terror and torture. Secretely going against his mother’s word, Radama II befriended the few European ambassadors who had managed to go by unscathed, making alliance for the future. As he grew up, Radama’s hatred for his mother’s ways only grew more intense and in 1854, the prince even wrote a letter to Napoleon III, inviting the French leader to invade Madagascar.
While her son’s attempts to do away with his mother during her lifetime didn’t prove successful, Ranavalona’s death in 1861 spelled the end of the reign of terror, meaning that Radama II’s more peaceful ways could take hold of Madagascar. Going down in history as one of the cruelest leaders ever, Ranavalona will always be remembered for her tyrannical ways. Thankfully, the country has since moved on from the time, looking back to the history as another lesson learned.