L’Expérience Royale d’Henry Christophe en Haïti

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2021-04-27

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Abstract

Henry Christophe, a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the self-proclaimed “First Monarch in the New World, Defender of Faith, Founder of the Royal and Military Order of Saint-Henry”, founded the Kingdom of Haiti in April of 1811. Henry Christophe imitated the courtly life and political and economic structures of Western monarchies, including those of England, France, and Prussia. Christophe called himself a “Destroyer of tyranny,” but in imitating the cultural norms associated with the colonial powers that had oppressed Haiti, his violation of human rights and his harsh labor policies can be seen as a perpetuation of the colonial mindset. However, Henry Christophe, who styled himself as a New World black monarch, was neither completely an imitation and a copy, nor completely original. Christophe’s empire, much like Haiti itself, is an amalgamation of European traditions and practices originating in Africa. Through an analysis of literature and historical sources, this thesis will analyze Henry Christophe’s regime and the aesthetic and signficance of his kingdom’s heraldry and courtly life. In the pursuit of this analysis, two literary works will be analyzed: the novel The Kingdom of this World (1957) by Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier, and the play La Tragédie du roi Christophe (1963) by Martinican writer and statesman Aimé Césaire. Both authors rely on a Hegelian, circular philosophy of literature in which each success takes root in, or leads instead to its antithesis, a tragedy.

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Citation

Lochard, Marie-Line (2021). L’Expérience Royale d’Henry Christophe en Haïti. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/22922.


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