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Echoes of History and Culture

The events that unfolded in Montréal in 1734 have resurfaced in various publications, plays, novels, screen adaptations and radio shows, etc. In the opinion of many, Angélique is guilty and as such is a “martyr”; she is considered to be the first in North America to have revolted against her status of slave. For others, she is innocent and a scapegoat.

An excellent summary of the trial was published in 1925 in Montréal's La Patrie newspaper, and in 1960, Marcel Trudel, then a professor at the Université de Montréal, summarised the event in L’esclavage au Canada français: histoire et conditions de l’esclavage, republished in French in 2004, under the title Deux siècles d’esclavage au Québec. In his work he was the first to address the issue of slavery in Nouvelle-France.

In 1969, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography published a short biography of Marie-Joseph Angélique and the fire of Montréal written by Professor André Vachon and based on the text by Trudel. Dorothy W. Williams, historian, offered the same version of the facts in her study entitled Blacks in Montreal 1628-1986: An Urban Demography, published in 1989.

Four authors have been inspired by the story of Angélique. In 1983, Marcel Cabay published a romantic version of the story in French, entitled Marie-Joseph Angélique, incendiaire. In the 1990s, two more novels and an English-language play were devoted to the history of Black slavery: Marie-Josèphe-Angélique, Montréal, Québec 21 juin 1734, by Paul Fehmiu Brown; L’esclave, by Micheline Bail and Angélique, by comedian and playwright Lorena Gale.

An in-depth study of the trial, and of the protagonists and events surrounding the trial, was published in French by historian Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne in 2004, under the title of Le procès de Marie-Josèphe-Angélique. Based on the book, Montréal film director Marquise Lepage directed a documentary in French entitled Le Rouge et le Noir… au service du Blanc.

Artist Guy Giard chose to illustrate the fate of slaves and of Angélique in a photo exhibit entitled Angélique 1734 — Haïti 2004 that is now accessible on a Website. During the production of the present site, anthropologist Serge Bouchard and director Rachel Verdon recounted the tragic fate of Angélique, based on the book by Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, in a series entitled De remarquables oubliés, (Radio-Canada) and Afua Cooper published another look at these events with The Hanging of Angelique (HarperCollins). From October 2006 to March 2007, the Centre d'histoire de Montréal will present an exhibition entitled "1734 The Trial of Angélique. Who Set Fire to Montréal?" while the Musée du Château Ramezay will present an exhibition on justice in New France entitled "Crime and Punishment".

You can view excerpts from some of these works and compare the findings by the various authors, assess them against our “virtual archives” and, in particular, reflect upon the nature and development of collective memory over time.


Chapters in Books

Internet Source