THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD
Ile de la Tortue (page 10 and thereafter, sometimes just as La Tortue)
La Tortue, also known as the Turtle Island, is an island off the northern coast of Haiti. Europeans settled the island in 1629 in order to create a stronghold off the coast of Hispaniola. Hispaniola is now composed of the country Haiti, which includes the island of La Tortue, and the Dominican Republic. It has an area of 180 square kilometers or 69 square miles. Its name in both Spanish and French means 'turtle island' and it was given this name by Columbus and his sailors because of its humped shape, that resembled a turtle.
The Spaniards were the first to land on the island. Shortly after the Spanish landed on the island; the French and English arrived. The Spanish attached the French and English and, under the command of Fadrique de Toledo, drove them off the island in 1629. During the 1640s, La Tortue became a pirate island. Buccaneers or filibusters established ports on La Tortue and attacked Spanish ships coming to and from Hispaniola. A group of pirates named “Brethren of the Coast,” made it their stronghold. Most of the pirates were of French, English, and Dutch decent. However, by the 1680s, piracy throughout La Tortue mostly ended. The Treaty of Ratisbon, which all the European powers signed, put an end to piracy on the island.
The French, Spanish, and English fought over the island throughout the 17th century, and established different colonies on the island. It wasn’t until 1665 when the French gained permanent control over the island and elected Frenchman Betrand D’Orgeron as Governor. The French controlled the island until 1804 when Haiti gained its independence and France was expelled from the island.
At the beginning of the 17th century the population lived on the southern coast of the island. This part contained the port which allowed entry to slaveships from Africa. The first slaves arrived in 1633 in order to aid the plantations on the island. The southern part of the island was divided into four parts with the second division being named the Middle Plantation. Tobacco was the only crop grown in plantations on La Tortue and the thought of acquiring slaves became very popular and appealing for plantation owners. However, the new slave trend did not stick and by 1635 the use of slaves had ended. The slaves were set free and were said to be out of control. The Spanish would soon leave the island due to its minimal importance and Buccaneers now used La Tortue as a neutral hideout. In 1680, new Acts of Parliament eventually put an end to piracy and large numbers of pirates would never be found on the island again.
Today La Tortue is part of Haiti, and is said to have a population of somewhere between 28,000 to 60,000 people. In the book, The Kingdom of this World, La Tortue is mentioned as the place Pauline lived to avoid the yellow fever. Her husband, Leclerc, also landed on the island after his defeat on Santo Domingo. He died of yellow fever soon after. After the death of her husband, Pauline and Soliman left the island to return to France. It is said in the book that “The departure of Pauline marked the end of such common sense as still existed in the colony” (page 101).
For further information, and pictures, go to:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortuga_%28Haiti%29 (inc. a photograph of Tortuga taken from space by NASA)
http://www.google.com/#q=history+of+La+Tortue+island&hl=en&tbs=tl:1&tbo=u&ei=OkJ5S4HJLMjgnAef97SxCQ&sa=X&oi=timeline_result&ct=title&resnum=11&ved=0CCUQ5wIwCg&fp=1&cad=b (gives a chronology of the history of the island)
http://www.ilelatortue.com/index.htm (for additional maps and pictures of the island)