The Hova, or free commoners, were one of the three principal historic castes in the pre-colonial Imerina Kingdom of Madagascar, alongside the Andriana (nobles) and Andevo (slaves). The term hova originally applied to all members of a Malagasy clan (possibly of the Zafiraminia people) that migrated into the central highlands from the southeast coast of the island around the 14th century and began displacing the existing population of Vazimba. Andriamanelo (1540–1575) consolidated the power of the Hova when he united many of the Hova chiefdoms around Antananarivo under his rule. He took the first step in distinguishing classes of Hova in his new kingdom by formally ennobling the subset of Hova related to him under the title andriana. Social structure of the new kingdom became further defined under his son Ralambo (1575–1612), who further subdivided the Andriana into four ranks. Ralambo was also the first to use the term Imerina (land of the Merina) to describe the land occupied by the Hova people, who thereafter gradually adopted the identity and label of Merina.
- Raison-Jourde (1983), pp. 141–142
- de la Vassière & Abinal (1885), p. 62
- Kus (1995), pp. 140–154
- de la Vaissière, Camille; Abinal, Antoine (1885). Vingt ans à Madagascar: colonisation, traditions historiques, moeurs et croyances. Paris: V. Lecoffre. ISBN 3-540-63293-X. (French)
- Kus, Susan (1995). "Sensuous human activity and the state: towards an archaeology of bread and circuses". In Miller, Daniel; Rowlands, Michael. Domination and Resistance. London: Psychology Press. ISBN 978-0-415-12254-2.
- Raison-Jourde, Françoise (1983). Les souverains de Madagascar. Paris: Karthala Editions. ISBN 978-2-86537-059-7. (French)