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Madagascar: Royal flags

Last modified: 2002-05-31 by jarig bakker
Keywords: madagascar | royal | ranavalona iii | benyowszky |
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Madagascar kingdom: introduction.

There were various tribal kingdoms in Madagascar prior to the 19th dentury, at the beginning of which the Merina rulers extended their highland state to dominate the whole island. In the late 19th century, the French gained control of the kingdom, which they annexed in 1896.

Merina rulers:
Radama I - 1819-1828
Ranavalona I (Queen) 1828-1861
Radama II - 1861-1863
Rasoaherina (Queen) 1863-1868
Ranavalona II (Queen) 1868-1883
Ranavalona III (Queen) 1883-1896
Jarig Bakker, 5 Mar 2002

Flag of Queen Ranavalona III

by Paige Herring 1 January 1999

This flag is recreated from a picture of a German Cigarette card which reproduced the flag of Queen Ranavalona III. The flag was shown in reverse; therefore, I have reproduced it as such. I'm not sure if the lettering on the obverse would have been in mirror form or in a readable form.
Paige Herring, 1 January 1999

The last indigenous monarch, Queen Ranavalona III, used a flag of diagonally red over white with her royal cipher (crown over R M) over all (Crampton, The World of Flags, 1990, p65)
Roy Stilling, 11 October 1996

According "Les drapeaux de Madagascar" by Lucien Philippe, book made from a comunication in an International Congress, the queen Ranavalona I (first) used white flag with name (in red) and below the name the word "manjaka" (Queen). Several flags are quoted in time of Ranavalona II but anyone is white whit red name edged black.
Also several flags in the era of Ranavalona III, but anyone according the one posted.
But in the book by D. Ruhl "Die Flagge des kriegs und handelsmarinen" (1885, 1887) is quoted the ensign posted. But, in opinion of Karl Fachinger, was an error, and the real flag was B-W-R with the golden name. Later the queen Ranavalona III has a personal standard: the french flag with golden royal crown in the white band, and below the crown, the letters R M.
 Jaume Ollé, 7 January 1999

The source from which I got the image is Crampton's Flags of the World, 1990. The image is under the Malagasy (I've done my research into adjectives) section. I've read other descriptions, the Ranavalona III image is the first picture. My assumption, based on what little I know of the cigarette card heyday, would be that the image would be from prior to World War II. My last thought is that I doubt that the flag could be hers since was she deposed in 1897.
Paige Herring, 6 January 1999

Finnaly, <mg-h-rav.gif> with added transparency and a question. Calvin says: <<from a picture of a German Cigarette card >>...<< The flag was shown in reverse; therefore, I have reproduced it as such. I'm not sure if the lettering on the obverse would have been in mirror form or in a readable form.>> It seems to me that though the hoist in this image is obviously at the viewer's right hand, it is not the reverse but the obverse (main side), considering that the lettering is in readable for. If the other side though proves to have displayes the cypher also in readable form then this is indeed the reverse and thus no need to show it at FOTW-ws instead of the obverse (unless to keep with the source image, of course), which BTW agrees with the obvious use of left to right flowing latin alphabet.
Antonio Martins, 3 Apr 2000

Other Flag of Queen Ranavalona III

by Ivan Sarajcic 6 January 1999

I've detected the flag that is evidently related to Calvin Paige Herring's Queen Ranavalona's flag. Yellow letters "RANAVALO" (black outline) are on the white background. This is the only unfamiliar flag to me from the little guidebook called "Taschenbuch für die Kriegsmarine mit Kalendarium" (Adolf Sponholz Verlag - Hannover 1944). It is listed in section "Die wichtigsten Flaggen der Welt (Forsetzung)" among the other flags of independent countries. As far as I know, Madagascar was French colony at that time (1944), wasn't it? Maybe "Ranavalo" flag was Queen Ranavalona's personal flag?
Ivan Sarajcic, 6 January 1999

Reported flag of a reported king in Madagascar

From the book "L'Etat c'est moi" by Bruno Fuligni.

The author reports the story of the count Benyowszky, who related his life in an autobiography where quite good observations are mixed with enormous lies. Please don' t read the following lines as pure truth.

Count Benyowszky was born in Verbowa (Hungary (?)) in 1741. He told he fought as a general in imperial army in 1756, but it seems to be wrong because he was only 15 or 16. His brothers stole his legacy, he tried to punish them but was then forced to leave. He went to Poland, fought with Confederation of Bar, was arrested by Russians, deported to Kazan, where he conspired against the russian government. He was then deported to Kamtchatka. He arrived in 1770 at Bolcherjezk, where he seduced the daughter of the Governor. He leads a rebellion and one of the fighters  kills the Governor. Benyowszky leaves to Formosa with the Governor's daughter (who dies meanwhile in Macau). Their vessel flies "the flag of the polish Confederacy". Benyowszky wrote that he became king of Formosa. He and his friends decided to establish a colony there, and went to Macau, Madagascar (Fort-Dauphin), and arrived in Lorient, France in 1772 to find some help. He tells France did not want to help him make an expedition in Formosa, and sent him to Madagascar. He arived in 1774 in the Bay of Antongil, where he founded Louisbourg. People of Madagascar see in Benyowszky the grandson of Ramimi, the last "ampansacabe". He put up a Supreme council, a  pemanent council with local people and Europeans, and tried to be recognized as a King. At the same time, French of Ile de France (Mauritius) wanted to defeat him so that Madagscar does not become a much important place for business in the Indian ocean. Benyowszky leaves Madagascar for Europe and America; he is finally supported by a business firm in Baltimore thanks to Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. He comes back in Madagascar in 1785. France decides to fight against him. He is killed during the assault of his small fort, in 1786, May 23rd.
There was on the fort *a blue flag, with two white stars and a white crescent*.
Nota Bene : The source for the flag is not quoted by Bruno Fuligni. I don't know how much such a story is reliable...
Olivier Touzeau, 20 Dec 2000

History related by Fuligni is well known. In his history of Malgache flags, Lucien Philippe, many years ago, also reported this facts. Kingdom was named "Royaume d'Antongil"
Flag is described with some differences according sources:
a) Blue flag with white crescent pointed to fly
b) Blue flag wit two white crescent, one at side of other, first one pointed to hoist and the second pinted to fly
c) Blue flag with crescent pointed to fly (a bit near to hoist) and two white five pointed stars, one above the other (one in each point of the crescent)
I have images but only in the size of my old collection (4 x 6 cms)
Jaume Ollé, 6 Jan 2001

Count Benyowszky, King of Madagascar is of Slovak origin and sometimes is he mentioned as “Benovský”. He was born in Vrbové Town, Trnavský kraj, Slovakia (and he was Hero of Slovak TV Serie ”Vivat, Benovský”). Arms of his family (barons Benyovszky) were “Azure in base a tripple hill Vert (an obligatory part of many Hungarian Arms) surmounted by (ducal) coronet Or (this was considered as sign of Hungarian Baronate/Lordship) with a Crescent Argent pointed upwards, in chief two six-pointed Stars Or. This can explain mysterious flags with crescent and two stars reported on Madagascar during Benyowsky era. I can add a short quotation from Grant of Arms from the year 1787:

„Maria Theresa, Empress (etc.), to Thee, Our loyal, beloved, noble Móric Benovszky, at this time in service of the french King, Brigade-General, Knight of the Military Order of St. Louis, Colonel and Governor of Madagascar, Our Greeting and Grace ... By our benevolent Decission and Grace, although you are in King of Frence service as a ...governor of Madagascar ...(we want to lead you) to the Commonwealth of these, who are asigned by title of Count, in German Graf, noble and gentle, in German Hoch- und Wohlgeboren, including your heirs of both sex, which are legitime born for all times... we are granting Your old Arms and improving this way: The shield is quartred; first Gules a Griffin Or conturnee... with queue between legs (coward), langued Gules, holding a sable natural, hilted Or; second and third Argent a Hand vested Purple with Wreath Vert,
holding a Standard Azure charged with six-pointed Mullet (star) Or; fourth... a ship with three sails on wawes of the sea. In base there is a pile Azure with three Fleurs-de-lys Or (of the France). An Escutheon Azure on Coronet of Hungary (?) Or a Crescent pointed upwards Argent under in chief two six-pointed Stars Or...
Motto on a scroll: IN ADVERSIS ET PROSPERIS. ...
In Vienna, 3th October 1778, in 38th year of Our Reign.“
Aleš Krízan, 21 May 2002

Could it also explain the crescent and two stars shown on the coat of arms of Mayotte, as recently described by me?
It might be pure coincidence, but Mayotte is not that far from Madagascar.
Ivan Sache, 22 May 2002


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