Queen Ranavalona III, the Last Monarch of the Kingdom of Madagascar

Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

Today we will talk about the last queen of the Kingdom of Madagascar, Queen Ranavalona III. She reigned from July 30, 1883 to February 28, 1897. Like many African kings and queens of the late 1800s and early 1900, she was deposed by the European colonizer, in this case the French, and sent into exile first on the island of Reunion, and then later in Algeria (just like the King of Dahomey, Béhanzin) where she died, never to see her native Madagascar again.

Map of modern-day Madagascar

Who was Ranavalona III? Well, as her name goes, she was the third Malagasy queen with the name Ranavalona. She became queen after the death of her grand-aunt, queen Ranavalona II. Ranavalona III was born Princess Razafindrahety in 1861. She was raised as a protestant, and taught by instructors from the London Missionary Society. Upon completion of her education, she married nobleman Ratrimo, but he died under suspicious circumstances in May 1883, just 2 months after Queen Ranavalona II’s passing. Rumor had it that the prime minister Rainilaiarivony had poisoned her husband, Ratrimo so as not to relinquish power. The young princess then ascended the throne of Madagascar at the tender age of 22, on July 13, 1883. It is said that she was chosen over her older sister, Rasendranoro, because of her conciliatory nature which the prime minister and other members of the Andriana looked for.

Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony of Madagascar

At the time of Ranavalona III’s ascension, Madagascar was navigating a shift from absolute rule (power in the hands of the king/queen) to constitutional monarchy. Under the new system, true authority was vested in the prime minister: in this case, Rainilaiarivony, who secured his grasp on power by marrying the newly crowned—and recently widowed—queen. In accordance with tradition, Rainilaiarivony had previously wed both of Ranavalona III’s predecessors, Ranavalona II and Rasoherina. Lucky man, wouldn’t you think? One man married to 3 successive queens! Probably the only one in history (this will be the story for another day)! Rainilaiarivony largely oversaw the day-to-day governance of the kingdom and managed its foreign affairs.

Illustration of France implanting its protectorate on Madagascar

As a queen, Ranavalona III inherited a kingdom which was assaulted by the French who wanted her country to be part of their protectorate. Throughout her reign, she tried to strengthen trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain, in an effort to keep the French at bay. In 1886, the queen solicited U.S. intervention to help protect Madagascar from the French but was ignored. She, like many kings and queens of Africa back then, was probably not aware of the scramble for Africa, and the Berlin Conference (Selection from the 1885 Berlin Conference Final Act, The Berlin Conference 1884 – 1885 – Final Act (Continuation)), where Europeans allocated areas of the continent to themselves. She was forced to sign a treaty that gave France a certain control of Madagascar in order to prevent war, but the French wanted full control over Madagascar and did not back down. Ranavalona III successfully kept the French at bay until 1896 when the French declared Madagascar as their colony. Repeat French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital city of Antananarivo ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1895, ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom (French Colonial Treaty in Madagascar : 18 January 1896).

Queen Ranavalona III

The newly installed French colonial government promptly exiled prime minister Rainilaiarivony to Algiers, Algeria. Ranavalona and her court were initially permitted to remain in Madagascar as symbolic figureheads, but the outbreak of a popular resistance movement – the menalamba rebellion – and discovery of anti-French political intrigues at court led the French to exile the queen to the island of Réunion on February 27, 1897.

Queen Ranavalona III with her grandniece Marie-Louise ca 1905 in exile in Algiers, Algeria

Rainilaiarivony died that same year in Algiers, and shortly thereafter Ranavalona was relocated to a villa in Algiers, along with several members of her family. Despite Ranavalona’s repeated requests, she was never permitted to return home to Madagascar. Like many African kings and queens, she was deported (Deportation of African Heads of States). She died of an embolism at her villa in Algiers on May 3, 1917 at the age of 55. Her remains were buried in Algiers but were disinterred 21 years later and shipped to Madagascar, where they were placed within the tomb of Queen Rasoherina on the grounds of the Rova of Antananarivo (Rova de Manjakamiadana). you remember Queen Ranavalona III, remember that she was a queen who fought against the foreign invasion to the best of her ability, but above all remember that all she wanted was the independence of her people and culture.

French Colonial Treaties: In Dahomey 03 Oct 1890 between France and Behanzin

Statue of Behanzin in Abomey, Benin
Statue of King Behanzin in Abomey, Benin

Below is one of the treaties signed between the French and the King of Dahomey, Béhanzin. This treaty was signed a few months after one of Béhanzin‘s unanswered letters to the French president , and two (2) years prior to King Béhanzin‘s defeat by the French, whose kingdom then came under Protectorate of the French Republic on 3 December 1892. Translated to English by Dr. Y. on http://www.afrolegends.com

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3 October 1890

Agreement between France and the Dahomey

In order to prevent the return of misunderstandings which have brought between France and the Dahomey a state of hostility prejudicial to the two countries’ interests, –

Us, undersigned

Dahomey_Bertrand_de_Montesquiou-Fézensac_(1837-1902)_10
Bertrand de Montesquiou-Fézensac

The king’s messengers

Aladaka

Do-De-Djé

Assisted by:

Cussugan – acting as Yeroghan* 

Zizidoque – cabécère† 

Zououhoucon – cabecere†

Aïnadou – Treasurer of Gore

Designated by his Majesty the King Béhanzin Ahy Djéré

And

Ship Captain de Montesquiou Fezensac [Bertrand de Montesquiou-Fézensac] commanding the cruiser Le Roland – artillery Captain Decoeur, designated by Rear Admiral Cavelier de Cuverville [>Jules de Cuverville] Commander-in-chief of the land and sea forces acting as governor of the gulf of Benin, acting on behalf of the French government.

                Have jointly agreed on the following arrangement which leaves intact all past treaties or conventions agreed upon between France and the Dahomey.

I

The King of Dahomey agrees to respect the French Protectorate of the Kingdom of Porto Novo, and to abstain from all incursions on the territories forming part of that Protectorate.

Dahomey_Jules Marie Armand de Cavelier de Cuverville
Jules de Cuverville

He recognizes the right of France to occupy Kotonou indefinitely.

II

France engages to take such action, on the King of Porto Novo, as to prevent any legitimate cause of complaint being made in future by the King of Dahomey.

By way of compensation for the occupation of Kotonou, France will pay an annual sum, which will in no case exceed 20,000 francs (in gold or silver).

The blockade will be lifted and the present arrangement will take effect from the day of the exchange of signatures. However this arrangement will become final only after it has been submitted for ratification to the French government.

Made in Whydah on the third of October eighteen hundred and ninety.

*someone who governs a city on behalf of the King – a governor

† a sort of nobleman from court

French Colonial Treaty in Madagascar : 18 January 1896

Madagascar
Madagascar

The treaty below with the Queen of Madagascar marked the full possession of Madagascar by France. It also marked the end of the Kingdom of Madagascar, or Merina Kingdom, officially known as Kingdom of Imerina. In essence, Ranavalona III, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Madagascar, tried to stave off the French colonization of her land by strengthening trade and diplomatic relations with the United States and Great Britain throughout her reign; however, French attacks on coastal port towns and an assault on the capital city of Antananarivo ultimately led to the capture of the royal palace in 1895, ending the sovereignty and political autonomy of the century-old kingdom. France officially annexed Madagascar on January 1, 1896.

As you read the treaty below, you could see the beginning of the schemes for the FCFA and the 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa we talked about a while back. Note that Madagascar was banned from dealing directly economically with foreign powers: everything had to go through France… isn’t this a predecessor to the FCFA?

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Ranavalona_III_of_Madagascar
Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar

H.E. the Queen of Madagascar, after reading the declaration of possession of the Island of Madagascar by the government of the French Republic, declares to accept the following conditions below:

Article I

The government of the French Republic will be represented to the Queen of Madagascar by a Resident General.

Article II

The government of the French Republic will represent Madagascar in all external relations.

The resident general will be in charge of relations with the agents from foreign powers. Matters of interest to foreigners pertaining to Madagascar will be dealt with by through him.

The diplomatic and consular agents of France in foreign countries will be in charge of the protection of Malagasy subjects and interests.

Article III

The government of the French Republic reserves the right to maintain in Madagascar the military forces necessary for its authority.

Article IV

Ranavalona III conceded defeat to the French in Sept 1895
Ranavalona III conceded defeat to the French in September 1895

The Resident General will control the internal administration of the Island.

H.E. the Queen of Madagascar commits herself to proceed to the reforms that the French government will judge useful for the economic development and the progress of civilization.

Article V

The government of H.E. the Queen of Madagascar is prohibited from contracting any loan without the authorization of the government of the French Republic.

Antananarivo, January 19, 1896

Hoy Ranavalomanjaka III

Mpanjakany Madagascar

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: 24 February 1852 in Piquini-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire

La ville d'Abidjan
La ville d’Abidjan (source RFI)

Today I will share with you another treaty signed in Piquini-Bassam (modern-day Côte d’Ivoire), this time between Charles Martin des Pallières, a French colonial officer, and the King of Piquini-Bassam. It is good to note that Piquini-Bassam or Petit-Bassam was also known as Picaniny-Bassam or Picanimy-Bassam, and became Port-Bouët after the French naval Captain Édouard Bouët-Willaumez in 1904. What hurts is to see what the French ‘paid’ for all that land: 10 pieces of cloth? 5 rifles? Seriously? Sadly this was a common play by European colonizers in those days: trade nothing for everything, all your land! Not much has changed today, at least not in Francophone Africa!

The English translation of the treaty is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. For the French original click here: Cote dIvoire_Traite relatif a la souverainete de la France sur le territoire de Piquini Bassam 24 Fevrier 1852.

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Cote dIvoire_Louis_Édouard_Bouët-Willaumez
Edouard Bouet-Willaumez

Fortified Trading post of Grand-Bassam

Treaty between M. MARTIN DES PALLIÈRES, lieutenant of the 3rd regiment of navy infantry, knight of the Legion of Honor, acting on behalf of Mr. the Governor of Senegal and its dependencies, and the king of Piquini-Bassam.

Article 1

Considering that it is in their interest to align under the protection of France and to start with her useful commercial relations, the king, the chiefs, and inhabitants of Piquini-Bassam, in exchange for protection, recognize the full and entire sovereignty of the French Republic on their territory.

Article 2

The King and his chiefs adopt the French colors to the exclusion of all others, and undertake to expel from their territory whoever will present himself with another flag or intentions hostile to the interests of France.

Article 3

The king and his chiefs cede in all property to the French lands which will be necessary to them [the French] to build such fortification or commercial establishment that they [the French] will judge necessary, upon payment, according to an estimate of the value of said lands.

Article 4

All foreign ships will be able to anchor in Piquini-Bassam.

Cote dIvoire_E._Bouët-Willaumez_et_les_chefs_indigènes de la cote de Krou 1890
Bouet-Willaumez with the Kru chiefs (Cote d’Ivoire)

Article 5

In case of shipwreck, they [the king and chiefs and inhabitants] should lend a hand to the rescue; a third of the cargo will be granted to the rescuers.

Article 6

If some difficulties shall arise between the French traders and the natives, it would be decided by the Trade post commander of Grand-Bassam, who would promptly render justice to the guilty persons, no matter what side they were from.

Article 7

The king and chiefs of Piquini-Bassam undertake (agree) to always receive the french well who would come to his house, whether for trading or for any other reason; They will give them help and assistance and will, as much as they can, promote the trading of palm oil and other products of the country with the french traders.

Article 8

In exchange for these concessions, the king and his people will be granted protection of the outpost and french warships. The king will be, after his signing the treaty, paid five barrels of juniper, five rifles, five barrels of powder and ten pieces of cloth.

The said treaty, read and re-read in the French language and the local language was made double and in good faith between us in the village of Piquini-Bassam, the twenty fourth of February one thousand eight hundred and fifty two.

The Commander of the fortified trading post of Grand-Bassam,

DES PALLIERES.

The Sergent of the trading post of Grand-Bassam,

       BOUNILLEAU.

 

Signature of PETER, King of Grand-Bassam.

Signature of GADJI, King of Piquini-Bassam.

Signature of MOBA (chief).

Signature of AKA (chief).

Signature of ASSAKOU (chief).

Signature of DIAVAU (chief).

 

Identical copy,

The Governor

Signed: PROTET

 

 

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: 7 February 1869 in Petit Bassam in Cote d’Ivoire

Map of Cote d'Ivoire
Map of Cote d’Ivoire

Since we were talking about Côte d’Ivoire, I thought about taking us down memory lane with this 1869 treaty between France and the King of Petit Bassam in modern-day Côte d’Ivoire. Today, on the island of Petit Bassam are neighborhoods such as TreichvilleKoumassi, and Marcory; these are all parts of the city of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire‘s most populous city. The treaty below was signed between the French navy lieutenant Vernet and King Bogny of Petit Bassam.

The English translation of the treaty is by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com. For the French original click here: Cote d’Ivoire_Traite relatif a la souverainete de la France sur le territoire de Petit Bassam 7 Fev 1869.

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Cote dIvoire_Abidjan map
The city of Abidjan and its neighborhoods, from colonial times to now

Treaty between M. VERNET, navy lieutenant, Knight of the Legion of Honor, Senior Commander of the Gold Coast trading posts, on behalf of the M. the Counter-Admiral, Commander in Chief of the navy of the western coast of Africa, Gabon, Gold Coast and BOGNY, King of the country of Petit-Bassam.

Article 1

The king and chiefs of Petit-Bassam, desiring to place their country under the protection of France, concede the full and entire sovereignty of their territory to H.E. Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.

Article 2

The French flag will be on all points where the Admiral Commander-in-Chief will deem necessary as a mark of sovereignty.

Article 3

The king and chiefs give up in full ownership to the French the lands which will be necessary to  them [the French] to build a fortification or commercial establishment that they [the French] will judge suitable.

Article 4

In the event of the sinking of a ship, to whatever nation it belongs, they must lend their hands to the rescue; one-third of the cargo will be conceded to the rescuers.

La ville d'Abidjan
La ville d’Abidjan (source RFI)

Article 5

In the event that disputes arise between the locals and Frenchmen or foreigners, if the matter cannot be arranged amicably, it will be brought to the court of the Senior Commander of Grand-Bassam who will judge in the last resort, unless approved by the admiral commander chief.

Article 6

Any ship, from whatever nation it belongs to, may deal with the villages of Petit-Bassam, in accordance with the orders of the admiral commander-in-chief and subject to a customs duty of 4% on exported goods, fixed by the decree of September 12th 1868. This right will be levied by the French agents from May 1st 1869.

Article 7

In exchange for these concessions, it will be granted to the king, chiefs, and inhabitants of the villages of Petit-Bassam protection of the colonial outpost and French warships.

 

The said treaty, read and re-read in the French language and the language of the country, will start its course today.

Cote dIvoire_Port Bouet le phare de Petit Bassam_2
The lighthouse of Petit Bassam, Port Bouet

It was made double and in good faith between us, and a copy was issued to each of the parties.

In the village of Petit-Bassam, the seven of February one thousand eight hundred and sixty nine.

The Senior Commander of the Outposts of the Gold Coast

            Signed: VERNET.

Signature of BOGNY.

Mark made by the King

+

Certified True:

            Signed: VERNET

                        Signature of DÉDÉ, translator.

                        The doctor of 2nd class of Grand-Bassam

                                    Signed: Le BUNETEL

 

Approved:

The Counter-Admiral, Commander-in-chief of the naval division of the Western coasts of Africa and Senior Commander of the trading posts of the Gold Coast and Gabon.

Signed: A. Dauriac

 

French Colonial Treaties in Africa: France in Niger – Gaya 23 June 1895

Niger_Zinder_Gaya_Liptako_with all modern day regions
Map of modern-day Niger with the Gaya region highlighted in orange, and the Liptako and Zinder regions as well.

Here is yet another French treaty signed in Niger, this time in the Gaya region. It is hard to say if this treaty was just for the area encompassing the city of Gaya, in Niger today, or the entire department of Gaya in the Dosso Region of Niger, or even if it went as far as the city of Gaya in Nigeria.

The treaty was signed between the King of Gaya, H.E. Abdoulaye, and the French officer Georges Joseph Toutée, on 23 June 1895. The French original is found here: Niger_Traite de protectorat France avec le Roi de Gaya 23 Juin 1895. The English translation below is brought to you by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com.

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23 June 1895

 Treaty between the French Republic and the King of Gaya in Niger

Between the Undersigned,

H.E. Abdoulaye, King and owner of the city and dependencies of Gaya, assisted by his council, on one hand, and Georges Joseph Toutée, Staff captain of artillery, Knight of the legion of Honor, commander of the imperial order of Annam, acting in the name and in accordance with the instructions of the French Republic on the other hand,

It has been agreed the following treaty.

Article I

The Kingdom of Gaya is placed for life under the sovereignty and exclusive protectorate of France.

Article II

The present treaty, which will take effect immediately is hereby submitted for ratification by the French government.

Article III

On the occasion of this convention, the King of Gaya accepts the presents sent to him by the French government, as well as the tricolor flag, symbol of the union between the two countries.

Made in Gaya on the Niger river, the twenty third of June eighteen ninety five, in three expeditions, including one in Arab.

And have signed: 

The King                  X

         The Captain,         G. Toutée

    The adjutant          Douse