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If Andrianampoinimerina’s ambition is to make the sea the frontier of his kingdom, it is his son Radama Ier who will have to fulfill his dream (see previous note). To the conquests of his father (country sihanaka, bezanozano and betsileo), he adds his own (country betsimisaraka, antanosy and sakalava). The young 18-year-old prince will thus become, virtually, the king of Madagascar. Foreign nations recognize him as such, notably England, by the treaty of October 24, 1820.
“Unfortunately, from that time, around 1818, the fact that an indigenous king was to become the sole master of the island, did not fail to attract the attention of foreign nations with a colonizing vocation and was The origin of the various attempts made by these nations to colonize Madagascar “(Régis Rajemisa Raolison, Geographical and Historical Dictionary of Madagascar).
Madagascar is discovered on August 10, 1500, by the Portuguese, who, in remembrance of the Saint whose festival is celebrated on this day, give it the name of the Island of St. Lawrence. The name Madagascar was given to the Grande Ile only later, by Marco Polo which, by mistake, would have attributed to him the name of another country of the African continent. The Portuguese, merchants and missionaries, remained only a short time in Madagascar.
In 1642, Cardinal Richelieu authorized a captain named Rigaud to found a company called Compagnie de l’Orient, destined to exploit Madagascar. Pronis commanded the expedition that settled in Sainte Luce (1643) and then Tolagnaro became Fort-Dauphin. He was replaced by Flacourt who did not succeed any more, despite his qualities and a seven-year stay (1648-1655) in the island.
Despite a succession of more skilful expedition leaders than the preceding ones, the Compagnie des Indes was to evacuate Fort-Dauphin in 1672. This did not prevent Louis XIV from reuniting the “nominally” Grand Island to the Crown in 1686. During Almost a century ago, the foreign presence in Madagascar was reduced to movements of French ships, which came to refuel and repair on the east coast. It was during these passages that Princess Bety ceded her seigneury of Sainte-Marie to the French corporal Labigorne, her lover, in 1750.
In 1792, a Polish adventurer, Benyowski, founded an otherwise prosperous settlement in Antongil Bay. He managed to win the hearts of several thousand Betsimisaraka who proclaimed him king. Treated as a rebel by France, he was killed in a battle fought by the soldiers of the garrison of Sainte-Marie in 1786.
With the beginning of the nineteenth century begins in Madagascar a struggle of influence between France and England. Sylvain Roux, the French general agent of commerce at Toamasina, left this city, which England took possession of in 1811. The Treaty of Paris of 1814 ceded Mauritius to England and La Reunion to France. There is no mention of Madagascar, “no doubt considered at that time by each other as an independent state”.
This will allow England and France to rival each other with cunning and ardor to win the hearts of the Malagasy. And other benefits. The first empire, through the government of Mauritius, Sir Robert Farquhar, sends to Madagascar men all devoted to the Malagasy cause. They are Lesage, Hastie and Brady. The second, by the arms of Sainte-Marie and Tintingue in 1818, resumed in Fort-Dauphin in 1819.
Radama I, caught between the two countries, has the difficult part and acts as king diplomat. Taking advantage of the advice and assistance of the English agents, he took over from the French Toamasina in 1817, Sainte-Marie in 1822, and Fort-Dauphin in 1825. He carried arms to the Menabe, which he managed to submit only after three expeditions (1820-1822) and then at Boina, where he chased the official king of the Sakalava, Andriantsoli, in 1824. Radama I turned his back in 1828.
His wife, the Princess Ramavo, succeeded to the throne under the name of Ranavalona I. She is best known for her “cruelty”. “But to put the cruel acts of Ranavalona on account of his attachment to paganism would be to distort the historical perspective. The fear of seeing his kingdom pass into the hands of foreigners was the main motive of his actions, almost all inspired by his two principal ministers, Rainijohary and Rainiharo. “
The queen made no distinction between English and French. In 1845, every European was summoned to do the chores of the government or to leave the island within fifteen days. All of them, English and French, must leave, with the exception of three Frenchmen, the merchant of Lastelle, the diplomat Lambert, the “universal engineer” Laborde.
In 1852, Raharo succeeded his deceased father Rainiharo. An era of calm will open and allow Ellis to climb to Antananarivo.