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#371
Madagascar
Keymaster

The book by Hubert Deschamps. Entitled “History of Madagascar” (1960, Paris), provoked many comments at the time. Jean Valette presents the work which has three parts: the Dark Ages (until 1500), the Ancestors’ Times (1500-1800), The New Era (from 1810).
From the outset, the archivist-paleographer believes that these dates appear a little rigid, even if they consider them “points of detail”.
“Why 1500 Is it because it was on August 10 of that year that the first European saw Madagascar? It is obviously a convenient date, but it really brings something essential in the life of the Madagascar. We do not think so. Why 1810 Because of the death of Andrianampoinimerina which, it is true, marks an important turning point in the history of the merina country and, consequently, in the general history of Madagascar. But would it not have been better to use a less precise date, for example around 1810, to enclose this general history more closely? This would have made it possible to take into account not only the death of the merina king but also of Mikiala, King of Menabe (1807) and Ravahiny, Queen of Boina (1808), all dates which, in our opinion, profoundly mark what the author calls the era of the Malagasy kingdoms. “
Hubert Deschamps writes: “Coming from India, they stayed on the coast of Africa, mixed or allied with Africans with whom they then went to Madagascar . “
For Jean Valette, this makes it possible to reconcile the divergent data of ethnography and linguistics. This also explains the presence in Madagascar of a mixed stand (Indonesian-African) with a language and customs of mainly Indonesian origin.
As for J. Auber, it is “a plausible application, but which seems to me a little easy, for it is more widely spread. Assuming that we were unaware of the history of Portuguese discoveries and of French and English influences until the conquest of Madagascar in 1895, it would lead in the same way to posing the unlikely hypothesis of external contact with immigrants With Portugal, France and England “.

In addition, Jean Valette salutes the part of the work on L’Ère nouvelle and especially on one of the chapters titled by the author La royauté assassinée, as an extract: “(…) royalty Was dead with Radama (II); Never was the real monarchy re-established in the hands of the sovereign; Until the end, the merina political system consisted of a dictatorship of the Prime Minister. “
According to the archivist-paleographer, there is certainly in this thesis of the author a very great part of truth. “The history of the Merina kingdom, from 1863 to its fall, is much more marked by the action of the Prime Minister than by the three queens who succeeded one another on the throne. “
Yet he adds: “But it would be interesting to study more closely whether the sacred
Monarchy, of which the oligarchy paid so little attention, has not remained more lively among the people. The mere fact that Rainilaiarivony, the real master of the palace, did not dare to create a new dynasty like Pepin the Short, suggests that he feared popular reactions. This break between the oligarchy and the people would not be enough to explain in particular the final collapse of Rainilaiarivony who, at the moment of danger, could not find anyone who fought for him. “With the exception of Rainianjalahy, the only general Which shows an offensive spirit and which, twice on 29 June and 30 September 1895, tries to arrest the French expeditionary force.