Assignment 2: The Colonizing of Madagascar

Jacquie Burkhardt



Before colonization, Madagascar was controlled by the Kingdom of Merina from 1540 to 1897. Madagascar was influenced by the European countries but did not enter colonial rule until one King signed the Lambert Charter. This gave French entrepreneurs exclusive rights to the islands resources. The other political figures in Madagascar staged a coup d’état and killed the king as well as canceling the charter. The French were angry about the loss of the charter and started the Franco-Hova War which lasted from 1883 to 1896. In then end the kingdom of Merina fell and Madagascar became a French protectorate. A nationalist feeling of hatred toward the French emerged among some the Malagasy. They formed VVS or Iron and Stone Ramification. The French tried to stop this group through all means necessary but it was their work that eventually led to Malagasy having more of a voice in the state of affairs.

Before contact with the European countries, Madagascar used a monarchy political system. It was mainly controlled by the Merina Kingdom with a few dissenting tribes. The country’s economy worked off of rice sales and slave trading. The Merina had three main classes: the nobles, the freemen and the slaves. Contact with the French and British in the 1700s and the 1800s led to a more westernized state by the time of the Franco-Hova wars. The leaders built schools and a large army. At the time of its colonization Madagascar’s economy started to fail as the fear of a slave revolt became more and more real.  Through this colonization the social structure of Madagascar changed radically particularly economically and politically. Madagascar prospered economically under French rule; railroads, roads and new crops were all created. However the economy was completely dependent on the French importing their goods. Farmers were expected to sell their goods to the French.  Also the French drastically changed the caste system. They abolished the slave trade and gave many political powers to French citizens and the remaining loyal Merina royals.

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