He Was The King of Where?

the Adventurous Hungarian King of Madagascar

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

It seemed Hungary already had a royal monarch, so Count Móric Benyovszky set out to found his own kingdom – and succeeded!

Originally a Slovakian of Polish and Hungarian ancestry, Móric Ágost, Count de Benyovszky, was an explorer, writer, a military officer in the French, Polish, Austrian and American armies and the self-declared King of Madagascar. He is still considered a national hero in Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

Count Maurice de Benyovszky
Count Maurice de Benyovszky source: Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1746 in what was then Upper Hungary, Count de Benyovszky began his career as an officer in the Seven Years’ War, after which he fought for Poland against Russia. He was promoted to general and named a Count, was a prisoner in Siberia where he led a revolt and captured the governor’s palace (and the governor’s lovely daughter). After all that, he managed to capture a Russian battleship and explore the Pacific! He visited several Pacific islands, helped resolve political tensions in Formosa (now Taiwan) and then checked out Madagascar.

At long last landing in France, the smooth-talking Polish Count finagled Louis XV into appointing him a French general and naming him a count. He sailed back to Madagascar and, after defeating several tribes of natives with the help of other tribes, he was proclaimed Emperor of Madagascar, where he ruled for three years. Restless again, he eventually returned to Hungary where he talked Queen Maria Theresa into making him a count and appointing him a general.

An Austronesian Village showing several traditional houses, Malagasy levu). The vahoaka ntaolo villages of Madagascar were probably similar in the first millennium AD.

His plans here came to naught, but, undaunted, he went to Britain and then the new republic of the USA, where he loaded his ship with goods for Madagascar (a touch too quickly for the fledgling country to make him a count and appoint him general) and sailed back to his kingdom in Madagascar. Fighting to regain his kingdom, he was killed by the leader of local French forces (who presumably was also a general and a count)

We can say a lot of things about Móric Ágost, Count de Benyovszky, but we can never say he led a dull life.