Peter Kneitz: The Lords of Muskets Influx and Integration of Firearms into Precolonial Madagascar. Insights from Robert Drury’s Account


When firearms first arrived on the island of Madagascar at the beginning of the 16th century, they soon became a very much sought-after commodity for the local population. This contribution traces for the first time the history of firearm technology on Madagascar during precolonial times, until the French colonization in 1896, in a systematic perspective. A case study on the use of firearms around 1710 shows that firearms became integrated into an already long-established logic of intensive war. On the political level, the firearms gave rise to a new form of chieftaincy that has endured for more than three centuries: the “lords of muskets.”