Ranavalona III of Madagascar
Ranavalona III (November 22, 1861 – May 23, 1917) was the last sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar. She ruled from July 30, 1883 to February 28, 1897 in a reign marked by ongoing and ultimately futile efforts to resist the colonial designs of the government of France. As a young woman she was selected from among several andriana (nobles) qualified to succeed Queen Ranavalona II upon her death. Like both preceding queens, Ranavalona entered into a political marriage with a member of the Hova (freeman) elite named Rainilaiarivony who, in his role as Prime Minister of Madagascar, largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs. Throughout her reign, Ranavalona utilized diverse tactics such as strengthening trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain in the hope of staving off impending colonization. However, French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital of city of Antananarivo ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1896, thereby ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom.