This article is about the most notorious queen in the history of Madagascar, Ranavalona I, termed the "Female Caligula" in a recent biography. Remembered in Western history (as related by 19th century Christian missionaries) as a barbaric and cruel persecutor of Christians, Ranavalona was the first female ruler of the Kingdom of Imerina (then ruling nearly all of Madagascar) for over 300 years. Once put in historical context, her reign can be understood as an effort to extend the realm and preserve Malagasy traditions against encroaching European influence. I'm nominating the article because it's thoroughly researched and complete, and in my opinion meets FA standards. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Foreign plots images: on my screen, these appear oriented vertically rather than side-by-side, leaving a lot of grayspace on the right and rendering the caption confusing - not sure what's going on with that
I'm not sure what was causing the problem - the coding seemed normal and that issue wasn't appearing on my screen - but now that I've removed the Lambert image, there should be no display problems. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Ranavalona_I.jpg: if the author died in 1915 as the description dates, the life+100 tag is incorrect
Corrected life+100 tag. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Queen_Ranavalona_I_of_Madagascar_engraving.jpg: source links are dead, need death date for illustrator, and need US PD tag
US PD tag added. The source links are working for me. Added illustrator's death date (1916). Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Original_wooden_manjakamiadana_palace_of_Ranavalona_I_of_Madagascar.jpg needs US PD tag
File:Tangena_trial_by_ordeal_Madagascar.jpg: source link is dead
The source link is working for me. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Christian_martyrs_burned_at_the_stake_in_Madagascar.jpg needs US PD tag and date of death for creator
US PD tag added, but couldn't find the death date so I'll remove the image from the article. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Radama_II_with_crown.jpg: source link is dead and need US PD tag
US PD tag added. Fixed source link. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
File:Joseph-François_Lambert_Charter_Charte.jpg: need US PD tag and date of death for creator.
US PD tag added. Couldn't find the death date, so I'll remove the image from this article (it's not necessary) and will claim fair use for subsequent uses as appropriate. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Leaning to support. I had read of her in one of the Flashman books.
"at the royal city of Ambohimanga" is this the assassination attempt or the forcing from the throne? Ambiguous.
Both - everything in that sentence happened at Ambohimanga. Is there something about the surrounding sentences that leads the reader to think otherwise? I'm too deep in the material to see it, but if you identify it, I can make the change. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
"1829 and 1842 in Imerina" You should explain or link Imerina.
In the previous paragraph and this one I discuss traditions she maintained, but the word "likewise" isn't necessary so I've removed it. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
"whose father, Andriantsilavonandriana, was a hova (a free commoner) having exceptionally been accorded the privilege of acting as counselor to King Andrianampoinimerina" I think this material between the dashes is too long for the sentence surrounding it to be effective and it should be spun off into its own sentence, perhaps making it clearer why this was exceptional.
Broken up and slightly rephrased for easier reading. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
"at about 160,000 for the period 1820–1853. A further 25–50% of the queen's soldiers " It's difficult to compare these figures due to one being a percentage and the other a number. Can this be adjusted?
The source provides the numbers this way (direct count and percentage), and since the number of soldiers in the army varied over time and isn't known with precision, providing precise numbers here based on my own calculations would be original research and not necessarily accurate. I agree numbers would be better to make comparison and interpretation of the numbers easier, but in this case I think I shouldn't do it. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Preservation of sovereignty
" who held several small islands off Madagascar" If these are the Comoros, I would pipe.
The source doesn't say, but I don't believe they were Comoros. There are many other smaller islands closer to the shores of Madagascar. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
" a site of commemoration " A site of pilgrimage? A shrine, perhaps?
Just a plaque is set up there. The sources I've read don't indicate whether pilgrimages happen there too. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
Clarification - the plaque is at a cathedral built on the site in honor of the martyrs. I've added that info with a more recent ref. Lemurbaby (talk) 18:23, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
"unwitting observer" That reads very oddly. It's not a question of her observing.
Changed to unwitting participant. Lemurbaby (talk) 19:29, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
" Several years later, in the spirit of solidarity " If it took them several years, it does not sound solid to me! The Cameron article says that this was due to pressure on the missionaries, though this is unsourced. So did they jump or were they pushed?
This is complex. I'd hoped to keep the explanation short but more detail would probably be helpful. I'll expand on this a bit over the coming week. - Lemurbaby (talk) 05:16, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
I've added more detail that helps make it clear how they came to leave the island. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Can at least a paragraph be written on any lasting effects or legacy she had, and something said more comprehensively on the changing historical view of her and the reasons for it?
That's a good idea. I'll develop this over the coming week, too. Lemurbaby (talk) 05:16, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
"Extreme Devotion Writing Team (2002). Extreme Devotion: The Voice of the Martyrs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. ISBN978-0-8499-1739-4." How is this a reliable source? (note: That just leaped out at me, this is not a source review.)
Hi Wehwalt, thanks for your patience. I think I've addressed all your points above. Regards, Lemurbaby (talk) 10:27, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
OK, just checking back in. Will check back gain early next week.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:58, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
I've made lots of changes over the weekend, and have some more to make in the early part of this week. Thanks for your patience. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:48, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Support Excellent portrait of a remarkable figure. With all these names, you also get a gold star on the spelling quiz.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:05, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Comments: This is a very good article. Like Wehwalt, I came across Ranavolana in a Flashman book, but I've also read about her elsewhere in passing in a more scholarly manner. The prose is excellent here, but a few points about which I'd like my mind putting at rest before supporting. Sarastro1 (talk) 13:41, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
"was a sovereign of the Kingdom of Madagascar from 1828 to 1861": Was there more than one sovereign during this period? If not, do we need "a"?
"to complete public works projects and build a standing army": "build" an army is a little jarring after the use of "public works" (which presumably would have been built as well). Raised an army? Developed an army?
Hm... let me try "develop". Lemurbaby (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
"that European intermediaries leveraged to attempt to hasten": May be better as "in an attempt to hasten" to avoid "to…to"
"until Ranavalona's natural death in 1861 at the age of 83": While I understand the use of "natural" here, I think it could be cut. There has been no suggestion in the lead that there were any attempts on her life, and I think the inclusion of her age leaves no doubt that it was a "natural" death.
"Recent research, however, has recast Ranavalona's actions as those of a queen…": Has "research" done this, or scholarship/analysis/reinterpretation. It really should only be research if it involved new discoveries rather than new interpretations. Also, see below as there doesn't seem to be much about this in the main body.
Changed to "academic research", which encompasses analysis etc. And I agree about expanding on this analysis in a separate section later in the article. I'll work on that over the coming week. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Why do some names have variants in brackets, with no explanation? E.g. "Andriantsalamanjaka (Andrianavalontsalama)"
In the past, Malagasy people would occasionally take on new names over the course of their life, so they were known by several different ones. I'll add "also called..." to all these instances. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
The article never explicitly states that Andrianampoinimerina died and Radama took over. It is implied by "to secure his succession upon Andrianampoinimerina's death" and "much as Radama had done to the queen's own family upon his succession to the throne", but I had to re-read several times to realise that Radama was king at the time of his death. Could this be explicitly pointed out?
Rephrased: "Upon Andrianampoinimerina's death in 1810, Radama succeeded his father as king and followed royal custom by executing a number of potential opponents among Ramavo's relatives, an act that may have strained their relationship." Lemurbaby (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
"whose family had a stake in succession after Radama": Should it be "the succession"?
"in an effort to extend her realm over the entire island": Maybe worth saying to what extent the island was or was not under Merina control?
I've added a map. In response to comments below I'll be expanding the text in this section as well. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:48, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
"and harsh traditions of justice under her rule": Again, my inclination would be to leave out "harsh" in grounds of POV, but maybe that's just me and feel free to ignore this one.
I want to express that the process of justice as well as the punishments could lead to death (but didn't always). I agree the word "harsh" doesn't seem neutral, but a word like "lethal" is too absolute. I'll keep it until I can find a better word. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:59, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
The section on the fate of Andriamihaja is a nice story. However, I'm slightly concerned that it is from a missionary account. Given what the article says about the views of Europeans, I wonder how reliable an account this is? Some of the "historians" of this period, particularly ones with a missionary objective, were not above twisting the stories they told to do the job that they wanted. I'd be more comfortable if a modern historian was examining this for its veracity.
He's not considered a major enough figure to be captured in more recent histories of Madagascar, which tend to only mention him in passing as the father of Radama II. But at the time, he was a very important person - it's just that there were very few sources written at that time at all, so the only sources with detailed info come from that time. There isn't a better source to use. Instead I provided a second early account that relates the same information in more detail. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Last two sentences at the end of "Expansion of realm" are apparently unreferenced.
Who made the estimations of army numbers and those killed in the "Expansion of realm" section?
I've now included the name of the historian (Prof. Gwyn Campbell) in the body of the text. Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
"This outcropping has since become a site of commemoration for these early Malagasy Christian martyrs": This seems to come from an 1878 source; does the site remain? If it cannot be determined, this should be reworded to reflect the age of the source.
Yes, a cathedral was built there to commemorate the martyrs. I've added this detail and a recent reference. Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
"A conservative estimate places the number executed at between sixty and eighty": Who says it is a conservative estimate?
Rephrased to indicate historian's name and remove "conservative". Lemurbaby (talk) 10:27, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
The lead mentions the changing interpretation of Ranavolana's rule by historians. The only mention I can find of this in the main body is: "Ranavalona's foreign contemporaries strongly condemned the queen's policies and viewed them as the actions of a tyrant or even a madwoman, a characterization that persisted in Western historical literature until the 1970s". There is nothing there about "Recent research, however, has recast Ranavalona's actions as those of a queen attempting to expand her empire while protecting Malagasy sovereignty against the encroachment of European cultural and political influence." It is implied in places, but I think a section on "interpretation" is warranted in the article, as this would be interesting in itself.
I've added a section called "Legacy" that gets into this. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:27, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
Are there any images (other than that in the lead) from Madagascar itself? The others have a slightly missionary feel, which is not necessarily a problem, but a non-European view might be good.
I've added a photo of a cathedral built at a martyrdom site in Tana. Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Also a couple of sourcing issues:
Ref 1 has no indication of a publisher. What makes it reliable?
Actually the entire Laidler book is an illustration of that issue. It essentially compiles these unfavorable views into a compendium of slander.Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
As the only modern full-length biography, Laidler seems under-used. It would certainly offset the number of 19th century sources. Is there any particular reason why it was not used more in the article? Sarastro1 (talk) 13:41, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
The Laidler book is not an objective, factual biography of Ranavalona. He wrote it to sensationalize Ranavalona's reign in order to make some money. He drew from the least objective of the pre-colonial sources to piece together something that is, in my opinion, doing a lot to perpetuate an outdated and prejudiced view of Ranavalona and even of precolonial Madagascar. There is nothing the book offers that can add to the article, except maybe in the eventual discussion about different perspectives on her reign. Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Sarastro - thanks for your comments. Once I've made some mods to the Andriamihaja section on Tuesday, I will have responded to all your points. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:48, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I've responded to all your points above, Sarastro. Thanks again for the review. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Support: I'm more than happy to support now. This is one of the best articles I've read where I've known something of the subject beforehand. I still wonder about poor old Andriamihaja: the story seems to me to be something put about to discredit Ranavalona by European "historians" in the 19th century. It may benefit from modern (or perhaps postmodern) analysis, but we can only reflect the sources as they are. My only other point is that perhaps the caption for the map could explain that it shows the whole island. Neither of these points affect my support in any way, and this is a great piece of work. Sarastro1 (talk) 18:58, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Support. Comment. I very much want to like this article. It's interesting, it reads well, and it is about an historically important ruler whose story (and kingdom!) will be largely unfamiliar to many Western readers. But I am concerned about the source selection. I'm not sure whether I'd formally oppose on that ground, but I do think the article can do better. Even in the lead, you comment that the original European characterization of Ranavalona I has been viewed unfair in modern hindsight. I picked on the sourcing initially, but I think this is a demonstrably stronger article for it. Support, and gladly so, on comprehensiveness and references. Squeamish Ossifrage (talk) 18:14, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
You are still leaning pretty heavily on Freeman and Jones, Oliver, Pfeiffer, and Prout -- all 19th century works.
Pfeiffer is her actual account of her involvement in the coup and what happened to her party, so it's the best source for it. Prout has the most detail on the situations where I use his reference. Freeman and Jones are also the first-hand accounts of the first missionaries living and working there under her reign, which later sources draw from. That said, I've tried to use them less, especially where the 2012 Campbell book can substitute, since that book actually is a comparative analysis of the primary missionary sources of the period (very awesome resource!). I've also tried to use Oliver less, but kept it where I haven't been able to find the details in other sources. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Can more be taken from Laidler (I don't have this source handy)?
Ade Ajayi, starting on p.439, discusses the evolution of her government "in the direction of a constitutional monarchy"; is that a viewpoint worth including?
I'll add more from Ade Ajayi, although the weakness of that source is it tries to over-compress far too much information into shorthand explanations (saying Ranavalona took the country in the direction of a "constitutional monarchy" is not false, but it's a bit misleading and doesn't add so much as attempt to summarize). Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
The 2003 Les Ethnies ont une histoire by Chrétien and Prunier briefly discusses some aspects of the familial and ancestral aspects of the political class during the time period.
Unfortunately I can't access this source. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
And this 1977 journal article may give some relatively modern insight into her interactions with the missionaries (given that the title is "Ranavalona I and the Missionaries 1828-1840"); unfortunately, I don't appear to have access to it.
Instead I'm using the 2012 Campbell book, which offers a recent, comparative and much deeper insight into interactions with missionaries. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Strike that - there are some helpful bits in that article that I'll incorporate. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:48, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Possibly also "La première codification africaine: Madagascar 1828-81" by Deschamps in Ideas and procedures in african customary law from 1969, although here I don't even have the article in abstract.
Haven't been able to access this either, but I'm working now on expanding the legal aspect of her work. The article "Ranavalona: ancestral bureaucrat" gives a more recent analysis of this aspect of her reign. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm uncertain the weight I'd give the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal (and this scan of a 2002 article is of such poor quality to make reading a challenge), but if it isn't useful on its own merits, its bibliography is certainly lootable for further references. Squeamish Ossifrage (talk) 04:30, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I'll use some of this in the legacy section. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Hi Squeamish, and thanks for the comments. I understand your concern about the sources. Being very familiar with this subject area, I've read widely across current and historic sources and have chosen ones that provide information many later sources draw from in snippets. I like going to the original source because in the cases of the ones I've cited here, they are the most complete descriptions of the events that other sources also reference in less detail. Not all historic sources are created equal and some authors are far more objective historians than others. In addition, many of the more recent sources are actually less credible because they fail to compare historic sources and cherry pick information in a way that leads them to fail to capture the reality that more serious historians and academics have managed to detail from responsible research. The Laidler book is a fantastic example of this problem. It's faux history, written to sensationalize her reign by playing on prejudices and stereotypes (his own as well as those of the historic sources he draws from). That said, I'll have a look at the sources you've tracked down, and if they work better or add something, I'll use them. I do intend to pull a little more from the Ade Ajayi ref because it does go into some detail I've omitted but upon reflection think it would be useful to include. Cheers, Lemurbaby (talk) 18:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I wondered, given the title, if that might be a problem with the Laidler source. Regardless, he's by no means the only one to try to cast her as a bloodthirsty maniac. So even if that's of dubious historicity, it's probably worth covering as a minority viewpoint (and then citing other sources in refutation). Meanwhile, reading over related Wikipedia articles revealed a 1993 book by Daniel Ralibera, Madagascar et le christianisme, which evidently (p.196) discusses Ranavalona's closure in 1835 of the system of schools created by the London Missionary Society under Radama. Additional details on the closure and her policies restricting the education of slaves are apparently to be found in Francis Koerner's 1999 Histoire de l’Enseignement Privé et Officiel à Madagascar (1820-1995): les Implications Religieuses et Politiques dans la Formation d’un Peuple. Which, thinking about education, actually makes me wonder ... I see the Raison-Jourde source, but is there any other modern Malagasy scholarship available? What sort of treatment of Ranavalona I and her reign might I expect if I cracked open a history textbook in Antananarivo? As an unrelated question, I know that naming conventions during the Kingdom of Madagascar were complicated, but is there any information about whether the later Queen Ranavalona II chose (or had chosen? ... I don't know how this worked) that name in honor of this queen (I know it wasn't her birth name), or was that simply a common enough name for the period and social class as to be a coincidence? Squeamish Ossifrage (talk) 19:28, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I can add the details about restriction on slave education, although I get into the details of the ed system more in the Education in Madagascar article. I've noticed the Christianity section of this is getting really long relative to everything else, which matches the amount of detailed resources on aspects of her reign - the Christianity part has always attracted the most attention from contemporaries and later writers. I really don't want that to overpower everything else because she reigned for 30 years and the Christian issue was actually marginal relative to her foreign relations and especially the efforts to expand and retain control over territories in Madagascar. I think I'll be focusing on expanding those two sections now, and maybe the government section as well, to give better balance to the article. I'm still expanding the Legacy piece, too. Lemurbaby (talk) 10:59, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Internet access cut out in the middle of my edits last night (I'm in Rwanda), and now I have to go to work. I'll wrap up tonight. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:06, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
All comments have been addressed. Lemurbaby (talk) 04:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Support A nice and interesting article. Meets criteria.--Dwaipayan (talk) 04:10, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Delegate comment -- almost there, check your duplicate links... Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 14:51, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
You're right - good catch! I've gone through now and removed the duplicate links I found the old fashioned way since I can't seem to figure out how to make the script work. - Lemurbaby (talk) 20:27, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Okay tks. If you'd like to try and make it work, feel free to ask for advice on my talk page and I'll see if I can help. Just one other thing, we generally don't bother listing things under See also if they're linked in the main body, such as Kingdom of Imerina. Anyway, you can look at that after promotion... Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 00:07, 30 March 2013 (UTC)