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Nicolas Mayeur is undoubtedly one of the first Frenchmen to have visited Madagascar from the South to the North and penetrated the Center of the island. Born in 1747, he accompanied his parents to
(Mauritius) in 1750, and then in Fort-Dauphin in 1762. He became friends with Tianjanahary, King of Foulpointe, where he worked as a slave trade from the East African The Comoros Islands and even Madagascar. Slaves who are landed at Mahajanga and are sent to the islands of Bourbon and Mauritius.
He wrote travel journals, among others, on the history of the Sakalava (April-September 1774) and in the North, on the Antankarana in particular (November 1774-December 1775). All these trips he undertook as the clerk of Baron Benyowski, commander-in-chief, on behalf of the French king, Louis XVI.
Thus, on the order of Benyowski, leaving Louisbourg in Antongil Bay, the
On November 14, 1774, he went “to explore the North of the Big Island, passing by the Cape of Amber to reach the West, especially the part between the capes of Amber and San Sebastian, as well as the islands Which are located in the north-west (Nosy Be, Nosy Mitsio, Nosy Faly, Nosy Lava …). The objective is to sign treaties with the indigenous leaders, to renew everywhere the alliances already made and to set up trading establishments (…) “
On May 12, 1775, he went to the village of Bemarivo on the right bank of the river of the same name, which belonged to Manjakarivo, the first cousin of Lamboeny, “chief of the Cape of Amber.” “On the 13th I made him a little present, which he approved, and he told me that he intended to accompany us to Lambouine’s. On the 14th, Mayeur is at Vohémar, a village dominated by a hill of the same name and to the south of which are two square stone buildings.
“These monuments are not the work of the people of the country, so it is a tradition in them that they were built by whites who once inhabited this part of the island. There was then, according to them, a point of land which stretched very far offshore, and formed a very beautiful, very spacious and very safe port, where the ships were perfectly sheltered; But a strong hurricane having submerged the point, the harbor was destroyed and soon filled: a natural consequence of this disaster made the abandonment of the establishment and the retreat of the whites. “
Departing from Vohémar on 4 June 1775, Mayeur sent letters to Lamboeny about his arrival and his intention to meet him. On the 9th the Mpanjaka urged us to go to Rondou, where we would be in all respects more convenient to await the end of the moon, and give it time to prepare lodgings and provisions of all kinds. In addition, he would send us some people to help transport our luggage. “
Continuing their journey, Mayeur, his colleague Corby who joined him and their escort arrive on July 2 in a country that presents another aspect. The arid plain, tiring by its monotony, gives way to a heap of mounds. The next day, they climb a very steep mountain by very difficult paths that lead them into the city led by Tsirambo of the family of Lamboeny and located half a day of the capital of it. They are waiting for the news.
“For two days he had been sent two men who were not returning. This extraordinary delay, joined to the advice we received about seven o’clock in the evening, which several chiefs of the province constantly intrigued with him, in order to put us in a bad light, made us take some precautions for the night. This chief always held on to us, but in the end, however, he could yield to the false insinuations of those around him, and prudence wished to be on his guard. So I put all my pots together and handed them ammunition. “
The next day, Mayeur dispatched Tsirabe and two men to go and test the ground. He returns on June 6 and points out that Lamboeny is waiting for the French. On the 7th, on the strength of this information, they set off for Antsohihy, the residence of Lamboeny, and encamped at a few rifle ranges. “We received the invitation not to go further because that day was his bad day. The next day, the 8th of July, about ten o’clock, we went to him. The king welcomed foreigners, but, notwithstanding his good disposition, the day was announced with unfortunate auspices.