Franco-Malagasy Wars

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Franco-Malagasy Wars


(1883–85 and 1894–95), colonial wars fought by France for control over the island of Madagascar.

After striving to gain a foothold on Madagascar throughout the first half of the 19th century, the French government in 1883 delivered an ultimatum to the Malagasy royal government that included demands for the establishment of a French protectorate over the northwestern part of the island and for French control of the country’s foreign policy. The Malagasy government agreed to fulfill some of the demands but rejected the idea of a protectorate. Thereupon, French ships bombarded the city of Majunga on May 16, 1883, and later other important points along the coast. French troops landed on Madagascar.

Despite the fierce resistance of the Malagasy, who defeated the French forces in the battle of Farafat on Sept. 10, 1885, the Malagasy government was obliged to sign a treaty with France on Dec. 17, 1885. The treaty ended the Malagasy government’s sovereignty in foreign affairs, sanctioned the French occupation of the Diégo-Suarez Bay, and provided for the payment of reparations of 10 million francs to France. The French did not succeed in including in the treaty provisions for the establishment of a protectorate.

In late 1894, France launched another war against the Malagasy government, this time sending a French expeditionary corps to the island. The poorly armed Malagasy Army put up a stiff resistance but was unable to withstand the onslaught of the French forces. In September 1895 the French Army reached Tananarive and bombarded the royal residence. By a treaty concluded on Oct. 1, 1895, the Malagasy government recognized the French protectorate over Madagascar. The next year, France declared the island a colony.


Subbotin, V. A. Frantsuzskaia kolonial’naia ekspansiia v kontse XIX v. Moscow, 1962. (With bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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