Citadelle la Ferrière

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Citadelle la Ferrière

Citadelle la Ferrière, a Haitian fortress situated atop Pic La Ferrière at 3,100 feet. The structure was begun by Jean Jacques Dessalines in 1804 and completed by Henri Christophe (King Henry I) in 1817. Access to this huge granite fortress in northern Haiti is by a precipitous road from the king's plush palace of Sans Souci at the foot of the mountain. The fortress itself has walls up to 140 feet high and 13 feet thick. In area it is 10,750 square yards and could house 15,000 soldiers. Protecting the citadel's outer walls were three galleries of 365 cannons. Two huge roof cisterns provided an internal water supply.

Dessalines began the fortress as a final place of retreat should France reinvade Haiti, and Christophe shared this purpose in completing it. But Christophe had additional motives. He wanted to show the world that blacks were capable of a grand construction—even with severe human loss. Further, it made him more mysterious and powerful in the eyes of the masses. For enraging the king, an errant duke or baron or even the monarch's own son might find himself sentenced there to hard labor among the granite. Fittingly, Christophe is buried inside the fortress with an epitaph boasting that he would rise to life from his ashes.

See alsoHaitixml .


W. W. Harvey, Sketches of Haiti (1827).

James Leyburn, The Haitian People (1941).

Hubert Cole, Christophe, King of Haiti (1967).

Additional Bibliography

Sheller, Mimi. Democracy After Slavery: Black Publics and Peasant Radicalism in Haiti and Jamaica. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000.

                                       Thomas O. Ott