July 30: The Reign of African Queen Ranalavona III Began on This Date in 1883

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By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

The birthdate of Queen Ranavalona III was November 22, 1861. She served as the last legitimate head of state for Africa’s island nation of Madagascar.

From July 30, 1883, to February 28, 1897, Ranavalona III was in power. She made a point of opposing the French government’s colonial plans during her reign. She was chosen as a young woman from among many Andrianan elites who were eligible to succeed Queen Ranavalona II after her passing.

Like her predecessors, Ranavalona III married a representative of the Hova aristocracy named Rainilaiarivony, who served as the prime minister. He was mainly in charge of the kingdom’s day-to-day administration as well as its international policy. Throughout her reign, Ranavalona III made an effort to halt France’s colonization of Madagascar by fostering trade and diplomatic ties with foreign nations.

However, persistent French invasions of Antananarivo’s capital city and constant attacks on coastal port towns resulted in the takedown of the monarch’s castle in 1895, which ended the hundreds of years-old kingdom’s sovereignty and political independence.

Initially, the French government allowed the queen of Madagascar and her court to continue serving as symbolic figureheads. However, in 1897, France exiled her to the island of Réunion due to the menalamba revolt, which was a well-known form of resistance. Near the same year that Rainilaiarivony passed away, Ranavalona III and many other family members were moved to a villa in the North African city of Algiers, Algeria.

Her majesty, her family, and the servants who traveled with her received a stipend and had affluent lives, which occasionally included excursions to Paris for shopping and sightseeing. Nonetheless, despite her persistent efforts, Ranavalona III was never allowed to go back to Madagascar. She was 55 years of age when she passed away from an embolism at her house in Algiers on May 23, 1917.

She was laid to rest in Algiers. However, her bones were exhumed and sent to Madagascar 21 years later.


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