- Three years
after the outbreak of the French revolution, the island
of Santo Domingo faced a slave insurrection. A bloody
struggle ensued for nearly thirteen years, in which,
France, Spain and Britain attempted to gain control over
the island. Spain eventually ceded her rights to the
western parts of the island to France in 1795 and
withdrew from the conquest. The whole island eventually
established its freedom by soundly defeating the French
forces and forcing an evacuation in late 1803. The
independent state of Haiti was declared on 1 January
1804, the first such black state to be established
anywhere in the world. The first Head of State was the
successful commander of the nationalist forces, General
Jean-Jacques Dessalines. He was proclaimed Emperor
Jacques I later that same year and crowned on 8th
October 1804, two months before his white contemporary,
Napoléon. The new Emperor did not enjoy his new dignity
very long. An insurrection led by disgruntled army
generals led to a division of the country between a
northern zone, controlled by blacks, and a southern zone
controlled by mixed-race mulattos. The struggle resulted
in the death of the Emperor while leading his troops
against the insurgents in 1806. The subsequent history of
the country owes much to the bloody struggle for control
between these two racial groups.
General Henry Christophe, C-in-C of the army and
unofficial heir to Emperor Jacques I, succeeded him but
was only able to establish a stable government in the
north of the country. He did not assume the Imperial
mantle, styling himself Lord President of a Republic
instead. However, a new constitution in 1811 declared the
island a kingdom with Christophe as King.
King Henry constructed magnificent monuments, reformed
the government, the civil administration and the army. He
established a navy, founded a system of public
instruction and several learned societies, opened
diplomatic relations with foreign governments, and
corresponded with societies and institutions in Europe.
By all accounts, a successful, learned and enlightened
ruler. He was a lifelong admirer of King George III and
modelled his court on the Court of St James. At his
Coronation he founded Haiti’s first Order of Chivalry and
a peerage, creating Princes, Dukes, Counts, Barons and
Chevaliers. Some of these titles, such as the Duke of
Marmalade and Count of Limonade, caused ridicule within
certain quarters in Europe and America. However, these
were territorial designations based on actual place names
in Haiti. No more or, no less reason for merriment than a
Prince of Orange or a Duke of Bouillon.
Faced with an army insurrection inspired by the southern
mulatto republic, King Henry shot himself before the
southern forces were able to take his palace. On their
eventual arrival they destroyed Henry’s institutions and
killed his adherents, and abolished the monarchy in an
orgy of bloodshed, beastliness and cruelty. His
magnificent palaces, the citadel, fortresses and public
buildings were left ruin. In the years since then,
earthquakes and cyclones have taken their toll, but their
shells remain a proud testament to better days.
Although the whole island was now "united"
under mulatto rule, chaos and instability did not
subside. In 1843 the eastern, Spanish speaking parts of
the island declared full independence and established the
separate Dominican Republic. The western parts of the
island continued as the Republic of Haiti under the
control of French speaking mulattos. Relations were far
from peaceful and intermittent warfare between these two
states continued for most of the century.
The mulattos attempted to paper over the rift between
themselves and the blacks by appointing a series of aged
black military officers to the Presidency. They believed
that they could control affairs behind the scenes while
having a figurehead accepted by the blacks as one of
their own. In 1847 they plumped for Faustin Soulouque, an
officer of the Presidential Guard, believing him to be a
pliable puppet. Within two years however, he succeeded in
establishing a new constitution, which revived the
monarchy for the third time. Soulouque was proclaimed as
Emperor Faustin I in 1849 and was crowned in an opulent
ceremony at Port-au-Prince three years later. He revived
the nobility on a larger scale than King Henry I and
founded four orders of chivalry. However, he ruled as a
virtual dictator, ignoring parliament, popular opinion
and the powerful mulatto oligarchy. The instruments of
his rule included a repressive secret police (les
zenglens) and a reliance on the terrifying voodoo sects.
Although Faustin reigned longer than his predecessors, he
succumbed to an inevitable coup d’etat in 1859. Refused
protection by the French Consulate, he sought refuge
onboard a British warship and was taken into exile with
his family. Faustin lived at Kingston in Jamaica for many
years in near poverty, despite press reports that
suggested that he had taken great quantities of jewels
and gold with him. Eventually permitted to return to
Haiti in old age, he died at Petit-Goâve, his place of
birth, in 1867.
A fourth and final attempt at founding a monarchy
supposedly took place in the following year. Haydn holds
that General Sylvain Salnave, who had already declared
himself President-for-Life, proclaimed himself Emperor in
August 1868. However, Haiti was in a state of utter
confusion at that time, three rival regimes competing for
power in different parts of the country. It is therefore
impossible to completely verify Haydn’s claim. Salnave
was captured, tried and shot by his rivals in 1870.
It is interesting to note that several republican Heads
of State were either closely related to or connected with
their regal counterparts, or received noble titles from
them. These included:
Jean-Jacques Louis Philippe (1844-1845) created Count du Mirebalais and Duke de l’Avanche by King Henry I.
Jean Louis Pierrot (1845-1846) created Baron de Louis Pierrot and Duke de Valière by King Henry I and promoted to Prince de l’Empire by Emperor Faustin I.
Guillaume Fabre Nicolas Géffrard (1859-1867) created Duke de Tabara by Emperor Faustin I.
Louis Étienne Félicité Lysius Salomon (1879-1888) created Duc de Saint-Louis du Sud by Emperor Faustin I.
Pierre Nord-Alexis (1902-1908) a grandson of King Henry I through his natural daughter, Blézine Georges.
STYLES & TITLES:
See under individual dynasty.
See under individual dynasty.
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
See under individual dynasty.
ORDERS & DECORATIONS:
See under individual dynasty.
Almanach Royal d’Hayti. l’Imprimerie Royale, Sans-Souci, Haiti, 1816, 1817, 1818, & 1820.
John E. Baur. “Faustin Soulouque, Emperor of Haiti His Character and His Reign”, The Americas. Vol. 6, No. 2 (Oct., 1949), pp. 131-166. Cambridge University Press.
Timoleon C. Brutus. L’Homme d’Airain. Etude monographique sur Jean-Jacques Dessalines, fondateur de la nation Haitienne. Imprimerie de l’etat, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1947.
Jacques Cauna (ed). Toussaint Louverture et l’indépendance d’Haïti: témoignages pour un bicentenaire. Editions Karthala, 2004.
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti, Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1967.
The Daily Commonwealth. Topeka, Kansas, September 11, 1883. Page 7.
Prince Saunders, Esq. Haytian Papers, A collection of the very interesting proclamations and other official documents; together with some account of the rise, progress, and present state of the Kingdom of Haiti. London, 1816.
Généalogie of Haïti. http://www.agh.qc.ca
Généalogie of Haïti and Saint Domingue. http://www.rootsweb.com
Théophile Guérin. Biographie de L’Empereur Soulouque, Solution de la question Haïtienne. Chez Auguste Durand & E. Dentu, Paris, 1856.
Haiti. Tribunal de Cassation. Imprimerie Edmond Chenet, Port-au-Prince, 1913. Page 397.
Journal des débats politiques et littéraires, Mercredi 21 Aout 1872.
Le XIXe siècle: journal quotidien politique et littéraire, Mercredi 23 Octobre 1872.
Vergniaud Leconte. Henri Christophe dans l’Histoire d’Haiti. Éditions Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1931.
Marceau Louis. L’Imperatrice Marie Claire Heureuse d’Haiti. Les Presses Libres, Port-au-Prince, 1953.
Marceau Louis. Marie-Louise d’Haiti, Prix du Département de l’Education Nationale, Port-au-Prince, 1951.
Sir Harry Luke, KCMG. Caribbean Circuit. Ivor Nicholson & Watson Ltd., London, 1950.
Thomas Madiou. Histoire d’Haïti. Vols I-VIII. Second edition. Editions Henri Deschamps, Port-au-Prince, 1988.
Henri E. Marquand. Souvenirs des Indes Occidentales, et impressions intimes. Simpkin, Marshal & Co, London, 1853.
Kesner Millien. “Le Pape Pie IX et l’Empereur Faustin 1er, une tentative de collaboration”, Le Nouvelliste (internet edition), 4 Août 2014.
Le Moniteur Haïtien. From 1845 onwards.
Ordonnance Portant Nomination des Ministres. l’Imprimerie Impériale, Port-au-Prince, 22 Septembre 1849.
Ordonnance Portant Organisation de la Maison Militaire. l’Imprimerie Impériale, Port-au-Prince, 31 Octobre 1849.
Ordonnance qui Confere des Titres Nobiliaires aux Fonctionnaires Civils. l’Imprimerie Impériale, Port-au-Prince, 31 Octobre 1849.
“Statut Concernant la Famille Impériale”, Le Moniteur Haïtien, 3 Novembre 1849.
Daniel Supplice. Dictionnaire biographique des personnalités politiques de la République d’Haiti 1804-2001. Bibliothèque nationale d’Haiti, Port-au-Prince, 2001.
Robert Ellis Thompson, Wharton Barker. The American: A National Journal. Volumes 6-7, American Company, limited, 1883. Page 318.
Nathaniel Parker Willis. Health trip to the Tropics. Charles Scribner, New York, 1853.
The Baron de Vastey (Pompée Valentin de Vastey). Political Remarks on Some French Works and Newspapers Concerning Hayti. The King’s Printing Office, Sans-Souci, 1817.
Ernst Zéphir. Mourir d’avoir aimé la fille de Dessalines; Roman Historique. Éditions Jeunesse Consécante du Pays, Port-au-Prince, 2005.
Dr Morris Bierbrier, FSA
on next page.
- I would be
grateful to hear from anyone who may have changes,
corrections or additions to contribute. Please contact me
Christopher Buyers, August 2000 - August 2016