Radama I

ca. 1793–1828
King of Merina

Radama I became king of the Merina kingdom in MADAGASCAR in 1810. He succeeded his father, who had founded the kingdom. In 1816 Radama negotiated an agreement with the British government that provided military and administrative support to Merina. Radama went on to conquer most of Madagascar.

Under the terms of the agreement, the British supplied Radama’s army with weapons and training. They also trained Merina’s government officials in schools run by the London Missionary Society. In exchange, Radama banned the export of slaves from his kingdom. The ban increased his power by weakening his rivals, who had benefited from the SLAVE TRADE.

Radama I

Radama’s military campaigns cost the lives of many of his soldiers. As a result of the loss of large numbers of men, Merina’s households were increasingly headed by women. The king’s most vocal opponents were women who objected to the growing influence of European culture. In 1822 a group of women staged a revolt when the king cut his hair in a European fashion. Radama’s wife, Mada RANAVALONA, who succeeded him, attempted to eliminate European influence from Madagascar.