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Henri Christophe (October 6, 1767 - October 8, 1820) was a liberated slave, who participated in the Haitian struggle for independence, eventually appointing himself king of the northern half of the country.
Born in Grenada, Christophe was brought to Saint Domingue as a slave. He worked in a hotel restaurant, obtained his freedom, and is said to have fought in the American Revolutionary War at the Battle of Savannah.
Christophe distinguished himself in the rebellion of 1791, eventually rising to the rank of general in 1802. In 1806 he participated in the coup against Jean-Jacques Dessalines and seized control of northern Haiti. His chief rival was his coconspirator, Alexandre Pétion, who championed a republican form of government and controlled the south of the country.
Henri became President of "the state of Haiti" in 1807, with Pétion becoming President of the "republic of Haiti" in opposition in the south. In 1811 Henri made the state of Haiti a kingdom, and proclaimed himself king Henri I.
Henri built for himself 6 châteaux, 8 palaces and the massive Citadelle Laferrière, still considered one of the wonders of the age. He supported himself with a fabricated nobility consisting of 4 princes, 8 dukes, 22 counts, 37 barons & 14 knights.
Despite his efforts to promote education and establish a legal system, the Code Henri, King Henri was an unpopular autocratic monarch, whose realm was in a constant state of conflict with the south. Toward the end of his reign, public sentiment was sharply against what was perceived to be his feudal policies, intended to develop the country. Ill and infirm, Henri decided to shoot himself with a silver bullet rather than face the possibility of a coup.de:Henri Christophe fr:Henri Christophe nl:Hendrik I van Haïti