Hello, Welcome to Akara
Lemola, Amoha eto Akara
Lesiela in 1883, two days after becoming Queen
Queen of Akara
1917 (age 50)
Church of Akara
Lesiela I was Queen of Akara from 1883 to 1891. 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. Unlike the other Merina monarchs, she governed under a constitutional monarchy, largely influenced by her Prime Ministers. She was eventually deposed by her husband and younger brother, Yohannes, who succeeded her as king. Following her overthrow, Lesiela continued to serve as Queen-Consort to Yohannes, until her death in 1917.
Lesiela was born in 1867, to the Asan King Inhame and his wife Voahirana. Inhame was the son of King Mohapi, who had united most of the island of Akara under the kingdom's rule. Voahirana was a daughter of an Asan merchant and a chieftain from Akara's aboriginal population.
The Princess was greatly spoiled by her father. Leseila lived in luxury, having her own wing of the royal compound to herself, over fifty personal servants, and her clothes imported from Paris and London. She took up horseback riding, and owned a Arabian mare she named Thatia. Lesiela kept a large garden in the compound as well, which housed flowers from across Africa and India.
During her childhood, Lesiela was educated by tutors sent from the Britain. She was described as an industrious and inquisitive child with a strong love of studying the Bible and reading, and she developed affectionate relationships with her teachers. She excelled in geography, and often assisted her father in finding places on maps.
Coronation and First Years as Queen
On July 30, 1883, King Inhame died from complications with anemia, and Lesiela succeeded him as Queen. She chose to break with tradition by supplementing the customary retinue of soldiers at her ceremony with a group of 500 male and 400 female pupils from the capital's best schools. The girls were dressed in white while the boys wore soldiers' uniforms and performed traditional military drills with spears. Lesiela was crowned wearing a white silk gown with a red train featuring embroidery and gold embellishments. The queen was described in the American press in the following terms: "She is a little above the ordinary height and has delicate features, her complexion is a little darker than that of most of her subjects. She appears quite timid and she presides well at the solemn functions of her court."
Lesiela married her younger brother, Prince Seretse, after taking the throne. Lesiela was 19 at the time, while the Prince was 15. The Queen chose Seretse due to her preexisting influence over him, and his indifference with matters of the court. Seretse was largely uninterested in politics and administration, instead taking an interest in military matters, which allowed the Queen to govern without the interference of her husband. Lesiela saw her husband as "annoyingly obsessed with swordplay and the company of tribal knights," while Seretse commented that the Queen would often bore him with her talks of governance. Nonetheless, Lesiela fell pregnant not long after the marriage.
First Franco-Merina War
The French had become hostile to Imerina ever since the annunciation of Lesiela as Queen. They had hoped that Prince Lebona would have succeeded Inhame, as the Prince was heavily influenced by his French tutors, and feared that the British-tutored Lesiela would side against them. Thus, even during Lesiela's coronation, French ships were bombarding the coastal cities of Imerina.
After the marriage of Lesiela and Seretse, Lebona denounced the royal couple, and gathering a group of supporting nobles, declared himself king. The French recognized this claim and with the cooperation of Lebona and his army, were able to justify an invasion of Imerina. The French and Lebona's rebels quickly occupied the northern coasts of the island, eventually moving inland and taking the capital of Tana, forcing Lesiela to flee south. Lebona declared himself king not long after the capture.
Taking refuge in the city of Fianarantsoa, Lesiela spent much of her time hidden away in temporary home, humiliated by the loss of her capital and stressed from her pregnancy. Eventually, she would give the authorization for the army to take back Tana. Expecting that Lesiela would surrender soon, the French had largely left Tana in the hands of Lebona's own forces, leaving only a few French observers. Thus, the city was swiftly taken by the larger and better trained royal army, who forced Lebona to flee. Much to her chagrin however, her military advisers would not allow her to enter Tana till the war was over, due to fear over her safety. Later on, Lesiela's forces would essentially win the war at the Battle of Sakhama, when the the royal army routed the French forces. On the insistence of General Thapelo Metsakewa, Imerina's de-facto leader, the Queen gave her famous "Victory Against Leviathan" speech to celebrating soldiers at Sakhama, where she commended both them and the entire nation for defeating the French invasion, despite the odds being stacked against them.
The death of her brother Lebona at the Battle of Manahoa disturbed the Queen, who had intended for her rule to lack the bloodshed of that of her father and grandfather. Lesiela would travel outside of Akara for the first time to observe the signing of the Treaty of Lourenço Marques, officially ending the war between France and Imerina. Alongside Imerina and France, the writing and signing of the treaty was observed by representatives of the British and Portuguese Empire, two other colonial powers in the region. While Lesiela remained on the throne, the French were able to keep the captured city of Antsiranana, despite protests from the Queen.
Emboldened by the victory, Lesiela repealed the Lambert Charter in 1884, which had granted France the exclusive right to exploit all minerals, forests, and unoccupied land in Akara in exchange for a 10-percent royalty payable to the Akaran monarchy. This act infuriated the French, who recalled their ambassador to Akara.
The threat of French expansion into Akara had been a constant fear of Lesiela ever since she took the throne. As such, she quickly sought to hasten the modernization of Akara's military. She invited Hanz Burgerdorf, a Prussian adventurer with experience in the German Army, to oversee the training of the Akaran Army. This choice pleased the Germans, who began making investment's in Akara's military, supplying uniforms, rifles, and ammunition.
Lesiela established The Queen's Royal Inkala University in the capital city in order both to educate herself and her populace. The school taught economics, philosophy, bible studies, mathematics, science, and foreign language. She also established the Rabenoro Army institution for the education of her military officers.
In March 1886, Lesiela and Prime Minister Makwetu established eight cabinet ministries to manage foreign affairs, the interior, education, war, justice, commerce and industry, finance, and legislation. State envoys were installed throughout the island's provinces to manage administrative affairs, ensure the application of law, collect taxes and provide regular reports back to Inkala on the local state of affairs. The traditional method of tax collection through local administrators was expanded in the provinces, bringing in new revenues, most commonly in the form of locally produced goods such as woven mats, fish, or wood.
Under Lesiela's rule the problem of deforestation was considered. The queen authorized construction using brick and other durable materials within the walls of Inkala. She also banned the traditional practice of tavy (swidden, slash-and-burn agriculture), charcoal making and construction of houses within forests.
Deeds and Policies
Banned trial by ordeal, and instead set up trial by jury
Reduced European control of Akara's economy. Nationalized farms that had been owned by the French. Repealed the Lambert Charter, which had given the French economic privileges in Akara.
For & Against
For: Christianity, Akaran Nationalism, Westernization, Militarization, Industrialization, Capitalism, Railroads, Centralism, Germany, Constitutionalism
Against: Socialism, Paganism, The French, Feudalism, Republicanism
Lesiela married her younger brother, Prince Seretse, in 1886. Seretse was the fourth child of their parents, King Inhame and Queen Voahirana. The couple had six children together. After Seretse overthrew her and became King Yohannes, Lesiela continued to act as Queen-Consort, highest in rank above all the other wives Yohannes took.
Lesiela kept many hobbies as Queen. She continued to maintain her garden in the Royal palace after her father's passing, and also continued to ride horses on the palace grounds. She took an interest in reading, and especially enjoyed learning classical literature and the tales of ancient Greece. Lesiela was a polyglot, and could speak Akaran, Greek, Spanish, and English fluently, and also spoke some French, Russian, German, and Amharic. An American journalist who visited her palace reported that Lesiela spent much of her leisure time flying kites or playing lotto, a parlor game, with her relatives and other ladies at court. She also enjoyed knitting, needlework and crocheting and would frequently bring her latest craft project to work on at cabinet meetings. She had a great love of fine garments and imported much of her clothing from abroad.
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Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Royal Hawk (Akara).
Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of Inhame (Akara).
Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of Merit (Akara).
Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of Military Merit (Akara).
Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of the Kingdom (Akara).
Sovereign Grand Master of the Order of Lesiela (Akara).
Order of the Star of Ethiopia (Abyssinia)
Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer (Greece)
Recipient of the Order of the Black Eagle (German Empire)
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