What's Our History?
Monarchies, regardless how they are created, are based on performances. Some, like coronations, are shrouded in mystery and steeped in “tradition”. Others, interestingly, are imagined. They are created as figment of the ruler’s imagination - usually to reinforce their position. Louis XIV created etiquette and rituals to ensure his nobles competed for the honneur of watching The Sun King get dressed in the morning. Similar ceremonies were created centuries later when, in 1877, Queen Victoria was formally invested as Empress of India. The Delhi Durbar became a created ceremony where Indian princes and magnates paid homages to the rulers of the subcontinent. The 1969 investiture of the Prince of Wales was an entirely imagined ceremony. While historians document semi-formal ceremonies carried out, its modern form was created exclusively for media consumption and distribution - Prince Charles’s own maternal uncle-in-law, Lord Snowdon, directed the whole thing.
Authors also perform a role for monarchs. They can write a dynasty’s claim to the throne. Myths of time immemorial has been used to justify the divine ancestry of the Imperial House of Japan. The Ethiopian imperial family holds a similar legend, where they claim descent from the legendary King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. Elizabeth I, despite lacking in the divine ancestors, was nevertheless written in prose and poems as ethereal by the likes of Spenser and Shakespeare. The latter was himself the author of several historical plays, portraying monarchs whose own histories intertwined with that of the Tudors. Centuries on, storytellers continue to create new perspectives on royals. More often, with a goal of reinventing a figure to a new generation of viewers. And it’s not exclusive to figures of the distant past. Peter Morgan’s The Crown takes a look at the personal and public aspects of Queen Elizabeth II beginning from her marriage to Prince Philip, to the death of her father, and the early years of her reign.
If stories add flavor to a Monarchy, what would Legialle’s taste like?
Known to the locals as Igilli, the island of Legialle was organized under six chiefdoms (caciques) – Quisqueya, Otoao, Majibacoa, Guahaba, Luquillo, and Juyuya - with a High Chief (Ercacique) elected from among the six ruling dynasties. Quisqueya, the northernmost, was the wealthiest due to being a seafaring society. Archaeological evidence suggests they were well-advanced for its time, with evidence suggesting trade with Taino of Haiti and other regional islands. Some even suggest they maintained contact with the Aztecs.
The unity of the chiefs survived for thousands of years. First rotating among the six chiefdoms, the wealth and superiority of the Quisqueya eventually earned them the role as High Chiefs. And, for nearly a thousand years, they held to the post continuously. It all came to near-collapse in 320 AD. The death of the ineffectual High Chief Biautex II placed power in the hands of his newborn son, Biautex. Deemed far too young to rule, his maternal uncle Guarionex of Otoao staked his claim to the position. Guarionex’s sister Brizuela refused to submit her acknowledge her brother as heir. A thirty-year war ensued, with many lives lost and no victories gained. With no peace in sight, the chiefs agreed to the Great Partition – Quisqueya, Guahaba, and Luquillo to the North; Otoao, Majibacoa, and Jujuya to the South.
For nearly 1,200 years, Igilli remained in a constant state of war which resulted in the collapse of long-distance trade. In 1504 Columbus discovered the island. Though he referred to it as La Isla Hermosa – The Beautiful Island – the constant state of warfare effected much of the native population. The explorer allied himself to self-proclaimed high chief, Agϋoybená, who offered support and supplies in exchange for the chief swearing fealty to Spain. Though the Southerners were no match for the superior weapons, neither side were prepared for the aftermath: previously unknown diseases. The reunification of Igialli in 1524 was proclaimed by Christobol himself, declaring Agϋoybená the first Principe del Genmarilla. Those in the South who survived were sold into bondage under the auspices of the short-lived San Isabel Trading Company (La Empresa di San Isabella). As the Southern Igilli population dwindled, Spaniards settled along the southern coast, bringing with them small numbers of imported slaves. The Spaniards also brought with them several priests to convert the native population from worshiping their omnipresent goddess.
In 1568, the San Isabel Trading Company collapsed, due in most part to debts owed to the Spanish Crown. Philip IV forces were preparing to reinforce their trading posts by arms when Prince Alfonso de Genmarilla, great-grandson of Agϋeybaná, arrived in Madrid for negotiations. The Royal Court was surprised to see and learn more from the ‘noble savage’ Prince, who was not only Catholic but spoke Spanish fluently. He peacefully submitted to Philip IV in exchange for special rights and protections as a Vassal of the Crown. The Treaty of San Isabella, the name of the new Colony, was formally signed on 30 May 1619. The island was renamed Sainte-Elisabeth when France took possession of the island and nearby Sainte-Domingue in the mid-1600s.
Though the colonizers settled on the land as early as the 1620s, heavily dependent on the slave trade for their plantations, the Spaniards maintained a distant (though firm) control over the indigenous people. Over time, a rigid social hierarchy evolved based on race and class. Over time, these conditions laid the foundation for revolution. Slaves and free men joined together in 1792, launching a war for independence. Led by Prince Louis Charles de Genmarilla, a direct descendant of Agϋeybaná, the revolutionaries successfully fended off French forces. Allied with Haitian revolutionaries, in 1804, the people of Sainte-Elisabeth formally declared their independence. Renaming their land Legialle, Louis Charles was proclaimed the first King of the new, Caribbean state.
It would be another fifty years until France recognized their former colony’s independence. As a gesture of goodwill, Emperor Napoleon III dispatched architects to modernize the capital. Colonial architecture was soon replaced with the latest style from Paris, giving the capital of Maudin a modern and regal look. Sons and daughters of Legiallois aristocrats were sent abroad for education or to purchase fashionable clothing. While the landed elites retained the use of hand labor, at the turn of the 20th century technological advances benefited aspiring aristocrats. Within a generation, new wealth came from nouveau riche men of industry. Once considered second-class citizens, these 'petit-princes' soon rivaled the landed elites. This was particularly displayed by their commissioning of ostentatious villas in the Art Deco styles, sometimes harmonizing with or against the 'traditional' architecture of Maudin. Despite their political and ideological differences, the rise of anti-elite thought was soon to challenge both their statuses.
The growing intelligentsia of the 1920s, primarily among the lower class Legiallois, began propagating a disdain for the Monarchy and the traditional elite. Ironically, it was a gentlemen of the elite class who would lead the 1939 coup. Toussaint Disannde was born in the western city of Naré in 1897, the son of a baroness and a sugar merchant. Despite his privileged lifestyle, Disannde disliked for the ways in which the lower-classes citizens were treated in society. As a student he became a devout supporter of communism. Joining the Gendarmerie Royale in 1916, he was discharged a year later for constant disobedience. Believing the island's elites to be too cozy with Euroepans, Disannde demanded they join him in overthrowing the monarchy. In 1934 he joined the Workers Party of Naré, and eventually became chairman in 1936. Elected a year later, the reforms he proposed went against the ideals and manners of the ruling elites. King Louis III, despite convention, dismissed him as Prime Minister. Disannde held meetings with republicans in the military and government, hoping his anti-monarchist rhetoric would awaken furor among his fellow countrymen. It would not be his words but an incident involving an aristocrat’s car hitting a pedestrian, and the former not being officially brought before justice, which sparked the civil war in 1938. Toussaint took the opportunity to lead his countrymen against the regime, culminating in his speech later known as Disannde’s Cause (12 July 1938).
On the night of 14 December 1938, more than 200 gendarmes pledged their allegiance to Disannde’s Cause and marched to the Royal Palace, where they believed King Louis III was staying (he was, in fact, at his retreat recovering from an illness). The officers looted the palace and proclaimed the Kingdom under the supervision and protection of Disannde. The looting of the palace that night sparked weeks of rioting throughout the country. With the entire gendarmerie under his command - given the unofficial designation as Generalissimo of the Armed Services - Disannde gave the King an ultimatum: abdicate, or face a tribunal guaranteeing his death. After days of resistance the King finally submitted on 25 December (The Christmas Abdication) and Disannde was proclaimed President the following day. To stave off regional powers, he guaranteed countries special licenses to valuable resources. In addition he publicly declared that the new, republican regime would support the interests of the people. The latter would never happen.
Disannde’s 26-year rule was marked with brutality. Rights were repressed; some of the traditional elite were arrested and murdered on unfounded charges; and most of the intelligentsia fled to other parts of the Caribbean and North America. Financially, he earned a profit of more than 300 million Coquilles annually from the exporting of minerals from nationalized industries, as well as lucrative license grants. In August 1963 Disannde suffered a debilitating heart attack. He immediately named his son and heir Jean-Jacques as the next President. But by this time the regime was highly unpopular and a support for the return of the Monarchy soared. When Disannde died on 17 January 1964 it took less than six months for his son to be ousted and the return of the Monarchy. As Louis III died earlier that year, the late Prince’s son Louis-Philippe succeeded to the throne on 23 July (The July Restoration). He reigned for fifty-four years, outliving his only daughter The Princess Elisabeth and her eldest son Prince Antoine. The throne was inherited by the present Sovereign, Marie-Adélina I, on 13 September 2017.