A Guide to Sites, Museums, and Memory

Chateau de Joux La Cluse-et-Mijoux, France

Built in the 12th century, Fort de Joux became, between 1678 and 1815, a state prison, where the French royalty, Revolution, and Empire housed their domestic and foreign prisoners. This is where Toussaint Louverture, leader of Saint-Domingue’s slave insurrection, was deported and imprisoned. Louverture was the first black general in the French army, first black governor of a colony, first leader of a slave-led revolution, and father of the independent Republic of Haiti.

Born enslaved on a plantation of the French colony of Saint-Domingue, Toussaint Louverture appeared in the history of mankind as the precursor of three great struggles:

  1. the movement for the emancipation of the black colonies: initiated in Haiti on January 1,1804, the movement would, in the 20th century, shake all the continents.
  2. the abolitionist movement: first launched in 1794 by the French Revolution, it proceeded throughout the 19th century and was completed in Brazil in 1888.
  3. the movement for racial equality: as with others who have become media figures of recent decades, like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba and Nelson Mandela, Toussaint Louverture will be remembered as of the great personalities of black power.

The Fort de Joux was the first site to engage, in France, in a commemorative action that has accelerated since 2003: it was the first plate of tribute to the memory of Toussaint Louverture in 1901, the first official ceremony in the presence of Colonel Nemours in 1927, the site of the first commemorative monument to Toussaint Louverture and pilgrimages of Haitians in 1954, a site of events for the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989, and a site of commemoration of the bicentenary of the death of Toussaint Louverture in 2003. Fort de Joux maintains the memory of Toussaint Louverture through the memorial to Toussaint Louverture; exhibitions and seminars; and media events that have included delegations from the United Nations, UNESCO, representatives of the diplomatic corps of more than thirty countries from Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, in Europe, and the Indian Ocean.

To strengthen its influence—local, national, regional, international (through its cooperation with the West Indies, Brazil, Haiti, and Senegal), Fort de Joux has embarked on the implementation of a vast project of architectural restoration and tourism and cultural development in the amount of EUR 18 million with funding provided by the State, the Conseil régional de Franche-Comté, the Doubs département and the Communauté de communes of Larmont, which owns the site. The goal of these efforts is to make Fort de Joux a “symbol of the struggle for freedom.”

Related Topics: