Photograph of Rasoherina (1865). Image Credit: Tim Ross/WikiCommons.

By Catherine Capel

Queen Rasoherina reigned first as queen consort alongside her husband until his death in 1863, and then ruled as queen regnant of Madagascar until her own death in 1868. //Rasoherina was invited to be queen regnant by Madagascar’s governing body after the assassination of her husband Radama II. After she was crowned, Rasoherina married Prime Minister Rainivoninahitriniony. Her role became one that resembled a more figurehead like position, with the act of rulership being fulfilled by the Prime Minister. Rainivoninahitriniony was replaced by his younger brother, Rainilaiarivony, in 1864, only one year after he assumed control. Rasoherina then married Rainilaiarivony that same year.           

The first action of her reign was to sign an order through which she agreed to abstain from alcohol, abolish trial by combat and the poison ordeal, the continuation of religious freedoms granted by her predecessor and husband Radama. She also promised to never break up the army. Many treaties were agreed during the time of her rule including one with England in 1865 and America in 1867.

A few days before her death, Rasoherina witnessed the attempted coup of her husband, Rainilaiarivony, whom rebels wished to replace with Prince Rasata and name him as her official successor. The uprising was ultimately unsuccessful, and the conspirators exiled.

Recommended Reading

P. M. Mutibwa, “Madagascar, 1800-80,” in J. F. Ade Ajayi, ed., General History of Africa VI: Africa in the nineteenth century until the 1880s, 412-447 (Paris: UNESCO, 1989, 2000)

William Edward Cousins, Madagascar of To-day: A Sketch of the Island, with Chapters on Its Past History and Present Prospects (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1895).

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