Maps have always played an especially important role during wartime as providing information to an eager public, and this broadside and map is no exception. It was published in the midst of the Franco-Hova War, and presents the key players and theater of operations for France’s First Madagascar Expedition.
The Franco-Hova Wars comprised two French military interventions in Madagascar between 1883 and 1896 that overthrew the ruling monarchy of the Merina Kingdom, and resulted in Madagascar becoming a French colony. The French used a variety of pretexts to launch an invasion of the island in 1883.
As relayed by the depiction of a French flag on the map, the French navy bombarded the northwestern coast and occupied Majunga in May 1885. A column brought an ultimatum to Antananarivo, asking for recognition of French rights in northeastern Madagascar, a French protectorate over the Sakalava, recognition of French property principles and an indemnity of 1,500,000 francs. When the ultimatum was refused, France bombarded the east coast, occupied Toamasina, and arrested the English missionary Shaw.
A Treaty was signed in December 1885, the French interpreting it as a Protectorate Treaty, while Queen Ranavalona III and Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony denied it. The Treaty remained without effect, and would lead to the Second Madagascar expedition in 1895, which resulted in French colonization of Madagascar.