Died when: 68 years 169 days
Star Sign: Aquarius
Rainilaiarivony (30 January 1828 – 17 July 1896) was a Malagasy politician who served as the Prime Minister of Madagascar from 1864 to 1895, succeeding his older brother Rainivoninahitriniony, who had held the post for thirteen years. His career mirrored that of his father Rainiharo, a renowned military man who became Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Ranavalona I. Despite a childhood marked by ostracism from his family, as a young man Rainilaiarivony was elevated to a position of high authority and confidence in the royal court, serving alongside his father and brother. He co-led a critical military expedition with Rainivoninahitriniony at the age of 24 and was promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the army following the death of the queen in 1861. In that position he oversaw continuing efforts to maintain royal authority in the outlying regions of Madagascar and acted as adviser to his brother, who had been promoted to Prime Minister in 1852. He also influenced the transformation of the kingdom's government from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one, in which power was shared between the sovereign and the Prime Minister. Rainilaiarivony and Queen Rasoherina worked together to depose Rainivoninahitriniony for his abuses of office in 1864. Taking his brother's place as Prime Minister, Rainilaiarivony remained in power as Madagascar's longest-serving prime minister for the next 31 years by marrying three queens in succession: Rasoherina, Ranavalona II and Ranavalona III. As Prime Minister, Rainilaiarivony actively sought to modernize the administration of the state, in order to strengthen and protect Madagascar against the political designs of the British and French colonial empires. The army was reorganized and professionalized, public schooling was made mandatory, a series of legal codes patterned on English law were enacted and three courts were established in Antananarivo. The statesman exercised care not to offend traditional norms, while gradually limiting traditional practices, such as slavery, polygamy, and unilateral repudiation of wives. He legislated the Christianization of the monarchy under Ranavalona II. His diplomatic skills and military acumen assured the defense of Madagascar during the Franco-Hova Wars, successfully preserving his country's sovereignty until a French column captured the royal palace in September 1895. Although holding him in high esteem, the French colonial authority deposed the Prime Minister and exiled him to French Algeria, where he died less than a year later in August 1896.