Saint Domingue - known as The Pearl of the Antilles - was once France’s most profitable colony with the largest slave population in the Caribbean. The colony produced sugar, as well as coffee, indigo and other commodities, and the society was a fascinating mix of inhabitants and histories. Saint Domingue was also a colony groaning under the weight of its own rot, known as a place of exceptional evil and cruelty.
In 1789, tremors of unrest from the start of the French Revolution travelled across the Atlantic to Saint Domingue. Tensions built until August 1791 when slaves on the northern plains rose up, decimated the sugar industry and kick-started a decade-long revolution - the only successful slave revolt in history - that would culminate in 1804 with the establishment of Haiti.
The colony in 1792, a year after that first revolt, formed an incredibly rich backdrop against which to explore the daily life of a plantation and the effect of profound changes, both nation-wide and more intimate, on all of its inhabitants. We may read in the history books that “In 1792, unrest spread across the island of Saint Domingue” but that broad sentence tells us nothing about how all the diverse inhabitants of the colony experienced the unrest and navigated their daily life as history unfolded around them, and ultimately engulfed them.