THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD

Carpentier

Haiti

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Code Noir (page 34)

King Louis XIV, of France, put the Code Noir into place in 1685; however, it was revised in 1789 to address the policy of the right of slavery. The first article deals with the policy that Jews were to be expelled from the French colonies. Jews could not own private property, or own slaves. The rest of the articles mainly have to do with slaves in the French colonies, and with the harsh controls that were necessary to control the enslaved. The main policies included: “prescribed baptism and instruction in the Catholic church for all slaves. It provided that assemblies of slaves for purposes other than Catholic worship were illegal, and masters would be punished for permitting such gatherings, as they could be interpreted as plots or revolts. However it was impossible to prevent all slave assemblages and secret reunions during the night occurred frequently”. These policies had a big impact on how the slaves were treated, and the laws that the slaves had to abide by in the Haitian colonies.

Sources:

http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/voodoo/syncretism.htm

For the full text of the Code, go to:

http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/335/

The Code Noir was implemented in Haiti in 1685 for the regulation of the slave trade. It was a royal legislation. It had such stipulations as the forbidding of any religions other than Roman Catholicism, and the requirement that all slaves and slave overseers were baptized in that religion. It outlawed work other than going to the market on holy days. It set several punishments for intercourse and intermarriage between the races, and stated that for a slave to marry, the consent of his or her master was the only necessary approval, not that of the slaves parents. It detailed the status of the children of slaves; children born to two slave parents were enslaved, children born to a free mother and a father in servitude were to be free, and children born to a slave mother and a free father were to be slaves. It forbid slaves from bearing arms, the assembly of slaves, and slaves trading or selling their own goods for a profit. It stated that slaves who struck their master or any free person were to be punished by death. It explicitly defined slaves as personal property. The document did allow slaves a few protections: masters could not force slaves to marry against their wishes, masters had to bury slaves properly (baptized slaves in a holy cemetery), slaves who were being “barbarously” could report their masters, slaves who were rendered incapable of servitude due to old age or illness were to be cared for by their masters or their care at a nearby hospital was to be paid for by the master, torture and mutilation of slaves was outlawed, and husbands, wives and their prepubescent children could not be sold separately from each other.

Its mention in Kingdom of this World refers to its “gentle reprimands” in the context of powerful men who colonized Haiti and made “their will law.” This seems to suggest that the document held little authority in a land that was an ocean’s distance from the government which issued it. Its protections were probably of little value to the slaves of Haiti.

 

 

Carpentier
Haiti
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
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