Marie Louise Coidavid – Haiti’s only Queen (Part one)




marie louise coidavid children
Marie Louise's children (public domain)

Queen Marie Louise Coidavid was Haiti’s only Queen. She was born into a free black family. Her future as the Queen of Haiti seemed unlikely until there was a political upheaval in the colony. In 1791, there was a slave rebellion. Her future husband joined the uprisings and rose to prominence. Thus, Marie Louise, an innkeeper’s daughter, found herself on the unlikely throne when her husband proclaimed her Queen. This article tells the story of a rebellion and the beginning of a new era.

Queen Marie Louise Coidavid was born in Cap Francois on 8 May 1778.[1] Her father, Coidovic, was a free black man. He ran an inn called Hotel de la Couronne.[2] Her mother was a free black woman. Thus, Marie Louise was a free woman.[3] They lived in a house outside the inn.[4] Marie Louise grew up a devout Catholic. [5]Because Coidovic did not have an education, he sent his daughter to schools where she could be accomplished in music and painting.[6] As Marie Louise grew older, she began to mingle with both black and white people. She loved to hear stories from older women of various colours.[7] As a result, her education was not just in schools but through the stories the older women would tell.[8] Marie Louise was well-grounded in history and understood the historical context of her island.[9]

When Marie Louise Coidavid was still a girl, a twelve-year-old boy entered their household. [10]He was born on the island of St. Kitts. He was bought by a French naval officer, and the sailors called him Christophe because of the island where he was born.[11] When the French naval officer had no use for him, he was sold to Coidovic. Marie Louise and Christophe immediately became friends.[12] As they grew older, they fell in love with each other.[13] She often read him history books. One day when Marie Louise was reading a book on English history, Christophe decided to have two names (a first and last name) like the English.[14] His name would be Henri because he was born in an English colony.[15] He would make Christophe his last name.[16] Marie Louise desired her lover to be a free man. She dreamed of a revolution where he could make his place on the island. She told Henri, “There may be a revolution. A black kingdom may take the place of a white one.” [17]

Henri later bought his freedom and became engaged to Marie Louise.[18] Before they could get married, there was a slave uprising in 1791. The two were ecstatic about the rebellion, and Henri joined the rebels in 1793.[19] He was eventually promoted to general under François-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture.[20] He was put in charge of Cap Francois. He built a splendid mansion in the city and married Marie Louise.[21] The two newlyweds revelled in their new fortunes, and Henri became more arrogant.[22] During those few years, the Christophes lived in peace and happiness.[23] Marie Louise gave birth to Francois Ferdinand in 1794, but he died shortly after birth. She then gave birth to two daughters, Françoise-Améthyste and Athénaïs. In 1804, she bore a son named Victor Henri. In June 1803, L’Ouverture was captured by Napoleon Bonaparte’s men, and he was deported to France. This did not deter the rebels, and they gained their independence in 1804.[24] Haiti was known as the first black republic in the West. The leader of the republics was Jean-Jacques Dessalines.[25]

Henri was very unhappy with the new leader. In 1806, Henri and his comrade general, Alexandre Petion, teamed up to overthrow Dessalines.[26] Both men were ambitious, and each wanted to be the new leader. They had a brief but bitter rift between each other.[27] In February 1807, they came to a truce. Haiti would be divided. Henri would rule the North and Petion the South. [28]Henri was not satisfied with merely being a President. On 26 March 1811, Henri proclaimed himself King of Haiti.[29] Marie Louise was now Queen. Their son, Victor Henri, became Crown Prince. They built their palace in Milot and named it Sans Souci.[30]  In June 1811, Henri and Marie Louise held their coronation.[31]The new King and Queen were excited to begin their new reign.

Even though the rebellion ended, there was still political unrest. At the time the new rulers were crowned, they did not know that their reign would only last nine years. Their happiness would only be short-lived. They would be the only monarchs of the Kingdom of Haiti. 

Read part two here.

Sources:

Benson, L. (2014). A Queen in Diaspora: The Sorrowful Exile of Queen Marie-Louise Christophe (1778, Ouanaminth, Haiti–11 March, 1851, Pisa, Italy). Journal of Haitian Studies20(2), 90–101. http://www.jstor.org/stable/24340368.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2021, 4 October). Henry ChristopheEncyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Henry-Christophe.

Waterman, C. E. (1935). Carib Queens. Boston: Bruce Humphries Inc. pp. 95-158. http://faculty.webster.edu/corbetre/haiti/history/earlyhaiti/marie-louise.htm.


[1] Waterman, p. 95

[2] Waterman, p. 95; Benson, p. 90

[3] Waterman, p. 95

[4] Waterman, p. 98

[5] Benson, p. 97

[6] Waterman, p. 98

[7] Waterman, p. 99

[8] Waterman, p. 99

[9] Waterman, p. 99

[10] Waterman, p. 101

[11] Waterman, p. 101

[12] Waterman, p. 102

[13] Waterman, p. 102

[14] Waterman, p. 103

[15] Waterman, p. 103

[16] Waterman, p. 103

[17] Waterman, p. 105

[18] Waterman, p. 106

[19] “Henry Christophe” para. 3

[20] “Henry Christophe” para. 3

[21] Waterman, p. 108

[22] Waterman, p. 109

[23] Waterman, p. 109

[24] “Henry Christophe” para. 3

[25] “Henry Christophe” para 3

[26] “Henry Christophe” para. 3

[27] “Henry Christophe” para. 4

[28] “Henry Christophe” para. 4

[29] “Henry Christophe” para. 5

[30] Waterman, p. 120

[31] Waterman, p. 127






About Lauralee Jacks 177 Articles
I am a former elementary teacher in Tennessee. I have a bachelor’s degree in Liberal and Civic Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, a master’s in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the College of Saint Mary. Because my family are from East Asia, I have a passion for historical Chinese and Korean television shows. I always wanted to separate fact from fiction in dramas. Writing articles from History of Royal Women gives me a chance to dig deeper and explore these royal women as they might have been in real life. Also, it gives me a chance to look at the history and culture of where my family originated. I love researching East Asian royalty because they rarely get enough attention in the West often being overshadowed by European royalty. I find these royal women to be just as fascinating and their stories deserve to be told. Thus, I am excited to write for History of Royal Women!

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