Description - Female Caligula by Keith. Laidler
In the early 1800s Madagascar formed friendly relations with the European powers after inviting British missionaries into the country and agreeing to banish slavery, but after the King died in 1828 his little known wife, Ranavalona, seized power and nothing was going to be the same again for 35 murderous years. Ranavalona's megalomania grew and grew with the length of her reign. The queen insisted on being addressed as Great Glory and later, as Ma Dieu. Being allowed to lick her feet was promoted as a great honour, unless they were pink, which meant they had been dusted with poison to ensure the supplicant died a horrible death. Nothing was too outrageous for Ranavalona's tastes and her palace was the largest wooden structure in the world at the time, towering 120 feet into the air. Her adjoining living quarters were entirely covered in silver bells and she had an enormous wind-chime erected that jingled incessantly and could be heard all over the city.
Court life was even more bizarre, with courtiers dressed in ball gowns, flowing Arabic robes or matching kilt and parasol ensembles, picking lice from each other's hair during dinner and watching trials by ordeal such as seizing coins from a boiling cauldron, or swimming across a crocodile infested river. Slaves were considered an entirely disposable commodity to Ranavalona and on her annual buffalo hunt ten-thousand were killed in just a seven day period. Many more died building the new roads which had to be constructed before her whenever she travelled and, approximately a million of her own subjects were killed by ritual execution such as par-boiling or being sewn up to the neck in a freshly slaughtered buffalo hide and left to rot to death. Female Caligula tells the true story behind the madness and relates the customs and atrocities of this eccentric period of history in an engaging and narrative style.
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(207mm x 159mm x mm)
John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Author Biography - Keith. Laidler
Dr. Kith Laidler is an anthropologist, writer and film-maker. He is the author of seven books, including the best selling The Last Empress (John Wiley). He is also producer of a large number of films, for which he did his own camera work. Originally concentrating on nature films, Dr. Laidler worked with Sir David Attenborough on The Living Planet. His production company, Wolfshead Productions, ahs made a number of highly acclaimed documentaries for a variety of broadcasters, such as Pandas Aren't Always Cuddly for BBC's Wildlife On One and Pandas of the Sleeping Dragon. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Durham University. He has, over recent years, turned his investigative techniques towards history and religion.