The Powerful Leader —> Queen Ranavalona I
(1778–August 16, 1861)
This sister was one to be reckoned with; Queen of Madagascar from 1828 to 1861, Ranavalona gained herself a bit of a reputation as a badass.
Known by some as the “Mad Queen of Madagascar,” during her 33 year reign this remarkable and very powerful woman successfully fought off the encroachment of European colonialists such as Great Britain and France while keeping the sovereignty and culture of her country intact.
She banned the practice of Christianity from the island for her own people and used forced labor in lieu of tax payments in money or goods to complete public works. Her excessive force used on both her own sovereign people and foreigners alike gained her the epithet of “Ranavalona the Cruel.”
History has since changed its view of “The Bloody Mary of Madagascar” and recognized that despite her seemingly harsh rule and despotic reputation, she was in fact a much respected and admired Queen who loved her country and would do anything to protect her empire and the country’s sovereignty.
Not long after her death, Madagascar did indeed become a French colony, something which she had fought fiercely against. It is considered that the reason why the island is so rich in traditional crafts today is because it remained free of European rule for much of the 19th century, thanks to Ranavalona.
In her own country Ranavalona is viewed with pride as a great sovereign and symbol of patriotism.