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Rare Document Sheds Light on the First Queen of Haiti

History

Maxime

The historical Black Queen, Marie-Louise Christophe, is further revealed with the finding of a rare five-page translation of her will. A researcher in the United Kingdom located the file on the first Queen of Haiti and widowed wife to King Henri Christophe.

Dr. Nicole Willson, Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Central Lancashire's (UCLan) Institute for Black Atlantic Research, has discovered in the UK National Archives a translation of the original will of Marie-Louise Christophe, who died in Pisa, Italy in 1851.

Together with Paul Clammer, writer and author of the Bradt Guide to Haiti, and Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut at Stamford Grégory Pierrot, Dr Willson has transcribed the five-page document.

“It’s a very rare and unusual document which reveals many interesting facts about Marie-Louise’s life in exile, her journey, her myriad encounters, her extended Haitian family and the legacy that she left,” Dr. Willson said.

Marie-Louise was wife to Henry Christophe I. Christophe was part of the all-black legion of volunteer soldiers, Chasseurs Volontaires, that fought in the Siege of Savannah, Georgia during the American Revolution. He would rise in the ranks to become a prominent leader in the Haitian Revolution and King of the North of Haiti.

Marie-Louis Coidavid would become Christophe's Queen. She was revered as a model wife and mother in the new Kingdom of Haiti. She was celebrated that her birthday was named a feast day, and Haitian Studies Scholar Marlene Daut has revealed that one of her birthday celebrations lasted for 12 days.

The cover photo used for this article comes from a painting depicting Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid and King Henri Christophe by Kervin Andre. Follow him on Instagram.

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Rare Document Sheds Light on the First Queen of Haiti