Toussaint Louverture, from Haiti's sun to Jura's hell

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T. Louverture - ©ÖNB / Public domain T. Louverture - ©ÖNB / Public domain
Joux castle Castle Imprisonment Tragic destiny Toussaint Louverture

A real hole!

In Joux prison, a small Black man lost his dreams… Toussaint… Toussaint-Louverture! Born in Saint-Domingue (current Haiti), freed slave, François-Dominique Toussaint-Louverture became the leader of the island’s insurrection from the beginning of the French Revolution.

He heard about the siege of the Bastille, in France… and that thing inspired him. Once the slavery was abolished in 1794, he expelled the English from his island, with the help of the French. But emperor Bonaparte arrested him in 1802 and locked him first in Brest (Brittany), then in Joux.

Well, he came from the hot Haiti! So, when he arrived in the cold Joux… We were in the middle of winter: his arrival was terrible! He had to pay anything, here, including his heating. He lacked of everything.

Hell on earth

His gaol was about 9 metres long and 4 large, with a low ceiling. He only had a pretty uncomfortable bed, a chest of drawers, a little table with two chairs. A thin opening in the wall only brought him a light glow… And a damned water oozed from everywhere: in the end, he had his feet completely wet…

That was how the poor Toussaint lived in Joux: hell on earth! He died during his first winter, one grey and sad day of April 1803: they found him sitting on his chair, his head resting on the little chimney. Died of a pneumonia, how strange! They buried him inside the stronghold. Few months later, in the beginning of the year 1804, Haiti get its independence…

Toussaint wasn’t the only Haitian to be locked in Joux: Jean and Zamor Kina, a father and his son from Saint-Domingue, who struggled for the independence, were imprisoned between 1802 and 1804: then they asked to be enlist in a regiment in Toulon (Southern France)… better than staying in the living hell of Joux!


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