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The king of Madagascar, Radama Manjaka died on July 24, 1828 (according to other historians he actually dies on Sunday, July 27), at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, to a disease of which he had been suffering for six or seven months; He was 37 years old (36 years in reality). His death plunged his subjects into pain. The city of Tananarive had only a lugubrious aspect; The houses were closed, and the silence which reigned everywhere was interrupted only by groans. According to the ancient custom, men, women, and children of all ages and ranks had shaved their heads in despair and mourning. “
Related to the death of Radama Ier (see our previous Note), this extract is taken from the Maritime and Colonial Annals of 1829, which contain a British newspaper. According to this document, it is only on Monday, August 11th in the morning (instead of Sunday, August 3rd) that the King’s death is made public. From then on, cannon shots were fired from minute to minute until evening. On the 12th of August, from dawn to midnight, the batteries and the artillery are alternately and half an hour in half an hour of the “fires of sadness.”
The interior and exterior of the Tranovola Palace (Silver House) where Radama turned his back, are lined with white and blue canvas. Similarly, the road leading to the western gate of Besakana, a second, but more spacious, residential palace, and a place where the sovereigns are exposed, is covered with black cloth and bordered by a double hedge of soldiers in a beautiful But whose attitude and insignia reflect the mourning. To the south of the staircase are three military musics, the instruments of which are surrounded by funeral pancakes.
At 11 am, the wooden coffin covered with crimson velvet with fringes and golden glands, and worn by 60 senior officers, begins for the Besakana. Major General Brady, army instructor, General Prince Coroller, nephew of Jean René and secretary of the late king, Louis Gros, commander-in-chief of the royal workshops, David Jones, the first Protestant missionary to settle in Imerina in 1818, were chosen to wear the corners of the sheet. “The sight of the king’s coffin renewed the grief of the inhabitants; The cries and moanings recommenced as if they had lost it a second time. The palace of Besakana, where the coffin is laid, is lined with fabrics of various colors. The remains of the king are entrusted during the night to a military guard.
On August 13, the missionaries and other foreigners obtained the favor of carrying the coffin of Besakana to the court of Tranovola, where a magnificent catafalque was prepared. It is surrounded by a balustrade with spears and supported by gilded columns. The interior is carpeted with a fine scarlet sheet trimmed with fringes of gold and silver. The columns are overloaded with sepulchral lamps, chandeliers, torches and an infinite number of candles spread a dazzling clarity. The royal family is united under the magnificent canopy, and shows a still more profound grief than that of the people. Young girls wearing a black belt on white dresses hunt insects with fans.
Meanwhile, the tomb is completed not far from the Tranovola. It rises near the catafalque, where, according to the custom of the country, it contains precious objects. Such as vases of gold and silver, crystals and porcelains, priced rifles, a golden powdered pear, and magnificent weapons, jewels, watches, clocks, clothes, and linen.
Other items considered also precious portraits in oil of …
Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, George IV, Bonaparte, Frederick the Great, several engravings by Napoleon, Kleber, Massena, Marbot, Desaix, Bernadotte, Eugene de Beauharnais, Poniatowski, etc. Other engravings, some of which are colored, represent views of Europe and the land and sea battles fought by France since the Revolution until the fall of the Emperor Napoleon. A sum of 150,000 dollars in gold and silver, as well as bullion, is added.
“Then six of the finest horses in his stables and 20,000 oxen were sacrificed to the king’s mane. All these offerings can be valued at 35,000 piastres, including the coffin made with 14,000 Spanish piastres. This coffin is 8 feet long by 4.5 in height and width, and about one line thick. “
At six o’clock the king’s body is transported to his last abode, and deposited with the stuffs which envelop him in the silver coffin already placed in the tomb above all the objects enumerated above. The whole is covered with stones. The wooden coffin is burnt and the ash is thrown into the grave. This one consists of a terrace of 25 to 30 square feet and 8 feet of height. “On this terrace is a charming European-style house with a gallery all round and a beautiful mirror on each side; It is decorated in the interior.