Although he has signed the treaty in 1885, the prime minister sets about arming and training an army (British officers are made available to help him). The queen and her husband are sent into exile (in 1897). Madagascar prospers economically under French rule. Railways are introduced, roads are improved, new crops are cultivated (including coffee and tobacco) to supplement the existing exports of rice and cassava.
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The French force subsequently moves north to capture Diégo-Suarez at the northern tip of the island.
Two years later the prime minister and his current wife sign a treaty which confirms the power of gunboat diplomacy.
Madagascar is one of Captain Kidd's favourite ports of call for shelter and provisions.
Meanwhile, and of greater local significance, substantial kingdoms are beginning to be established at this same period by some of the island's many competing rulers.
In addition to their early and essentially notional claim to the island, from a few decades in the 17th century, the French have maintained a close contact with Madagascar during the 19th century.
When Ranavalona I expels most of the Europeans, in the 1830s, one of the few who remains is Jean Laborde, a Frenchman who wins considerable influence over the queen.
As a very large island in the Indian Ocean (1000 miles from north to south, and in land area more than twice the size of Great Britain), Madagascar is a natural landfall for seafarers sailing east from Africa or west from Indonesia.
Although the voyage from Indonesia is by far the longer, the ethnic make-up of the island's population, known collectively as the Malagasy, is as much Indonesian as African.
And when her son, Radama II, decides to grant a concession to European entrepreneurs, it is a French company which he chooses.
But by the 1880s the French government is in a more demanding mood.
By the middle of the 17th century almost half the island, in the west and north, is ruled by a dynasty emerging from the Sakalava tribes.