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Madagascar
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Superstitious, authoritarian, cruel, inflexible, xenophobic, exacerbated. Thus his contemporaries depict the character of Ranavalona I, wife and cousin of Radama I. It inherits power in accordance with the wishes of Andrianampoinimerina. It will have to reign in Antananarivo for one third of a century (1828-1861).
In fact, at the beginning of his reign, on the contrary, he was much appreciated by his subjects, who, in short, could live far from the continual troubles and incessant labors which marked the reign of his two predecessors. Thus, for example, she watches over the maintenance of schools and their development, or promotes the emergence of musical taste among her subjects. She herself set an example to enhance her court by subsidizing two illustrious women in charge of training the royal singers “Mpiantsa”.
Also family celebrations and reunions, happy or sad events are so many opportunities to sing. Moreover, Antananarivo owes much to this sovereign and to Jean Laborde, his adviser and agent in a field rich of activities and results. “For it would be a mistake to believe that Ranavalona condemns without restraint all that is European. “
But soon, with certain symptoms, it finds that its authority risks being shaken and that the interference of Europeans will eventually put an end to the independence of Madagascar. It then reacts violently under the pressure, according to historians, of the party of traditionalists and conservatives: Prime Minister Rainiharo, the soothsayers and sorcerers, worried about the progress of civilization and Christianity. To clarify that Ranavalona Ire has four prime ministers during his reign: Rainimahay, then the young and beautiful Andriamihaja, father of Radama II, is believed, finally Rainiharo and Rainijohary, commander-in-chief of the Army.
Among these symptoms, there is an onset of revolution which she suspects the English of being the authors. It thus tears apart the treaties made with England since 1817, and resumes the slave trade more and more thanks to the opportunities offered by the markets of India, America and the Mascarenes. “The Rova then appears as a nest of raptors, great slave traders in the service of sugar industry and culture” (Robequain, a mountain capital in tropical countries: Antananarivo).
Subsequently, on 1 October 1829, Captain Gourbeyre, designated by France, took Tintingue and bombarded Toamasina “to avenge the affront which she considered to have done to her under Radama.” French troops, however, are forced to retreat before the Hova army.
In 1832, it prohibited slave children from attending schools, as some were already insubordinate and claimed to escape their servile status. In 1834, it intended to limit to the only schools controlled by its government the teaching of reading and writing, in order to proscribe “the spread of Christian morality, pernicious to the traditions”. The following year, the Kabary of the 1st of March forbade all his subjects to collaborate in any way with the missionaries. Having no longer any reason for being, one by one they leave the country.
This is the signal of the beginning of the persecutions against the Christians, who then organized themselves into “indigenous sects, whose members frustrate the royal power. The Society of Prayers who preaches modernism is the best known. Many of them do not know everything about Christ, but just as it happened in Rome, it is in the name of Christ that they rise up. The lower castes and the malcontents formed the clientele of the Christian rebels “(Tananarive, essays on its origins, its development, its present state, Revue de Madagascar, Spécial Tananarive 1952).
In turn, the Europeans who remained in the capital are also affected by the measures of royal reaction, because “they can not be compromised in the rebellion that broods”. On May 13, 1845, a special law was enacted by the Queen, under which traders and merchants were obliged to leave the island or to be subjected to the royal corvees, to all works and even to the “tangena”.
The Europeans hunted down, Ranavalona and Rainiharo embarked on repression. For nearly ten years, 200,000 capital executions would have taken place. With the death of Rainiharo in 1852, a more liberal period seems to open. But a plot was formed to bring Prince Rakoto, the legitimate heir to power: the Queen chased the few Europeans still present, whose brains of the plot, Jean Laborde and Lambert, in 1858, the regime of terror resumed until death Of Ranavalona Ire in 1861.