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Martinique History Timeline

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Martinique timeline

1400s - 1600s
  • (1493) Christopher Columbus charted the island
  • (1502) Christopher Columbus landed in Martinique; Spaniards feared the Caribbean Indians on the island
  • (1635) First French colonists founded the colony of Saint Pierre under authority of Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc
  • (1636) Louis XIII's decree granted the use of African slaves in the French West Indies
  • (1645) Sovereign Council established, authorized the right to grant titles of nobility to families in the islands
  • (1648) French American Islands Company failed; Martinique purchased by Jacques Dyel du Parquet
  • (1658) Louis XIV resumed sovereignty over island, paid £120,000 to du Parquet children
  • (1664) Jean-Baptiste Colbert established the West Indies Company; Martinique reverted to the possession of the French Crown
  • (1674) West Indies Company dissolved; Martinique became a colony of the kingdom
  • (1685) King Louis XIV allowed forcible removal of Africans from their homeland to work as slaves on sugar plantations; the "Code des Noires" containing 60 articles, regulated slavery, slaves were regarded as chattel
1700s - 1800s
  • (1720) French naval officer, Gabriel de Clieu, introduced coffee to the island
  • (1762) Martinique surrendered to British
  • (1763) Treaty of Paris ended Seven Years War, French gave up all of Canada to regain Martinique and Guadeloupe; French established separate governments for Martinique and Guadeloupe
  • (1776) Martinique struck by hurricane, 100 French and Dutch ships were sunk, 600 people killed
  • (1790) Civil War broke out
  • (1794-1815) British invaded and held Martinique; the decree of the French Convention abolished slavery but was not applied during British occupation in Martinique
  • (1802) Treaty of Amiens returned Martinique to France; Napoleon reinstated slavery
  • (1809 - 1814) British captured and held Martinique
  • (1813) Hurricane killed 3,000 people
  • (1815) Napolean abolished slave trade
  • (1844-45) First large sugar factories established
  • (1848) Victor Schoelcher obtained decree abolishing slavery
  • (1871) Martinique gained representation in the National Assembly
  • (1902) Mont Pelee volcano erupted violently, destroyed the city of St-Pierre, over 29,000 causalities; capital permanently moved to Fort-de-France
  • (1905) Over 5,000 of Martinique's population left the island to take jobs on the construction of the Panama Canal
  • (1913) France enacted compulsory military service in the colonies; the act called on Martinique to send 1,100 men per year to France for training; Martinique engaged in massive rum export during first World War
  • (1916) Sugar mills converted into rum distilleries; Martinique's economy revived
  • (1928-30) Bananas played an important role in local economy
  • (1929) Mont Pelee erupted again
  • (1939-1945) Martinique supported the Vichy regime after France's collapse in WWII; US naval blockade forced the island to transfer its allegiance to the Free France
  • (1946) Martinique became an Overseas Department of France
  • (1974) Martinique became administrative region
  • (1978) Alfred Marie-Jeanne founded the Martinique Independent Movement (MIM)
  • (1999) Europe and United States engaged in a commercial battle over the bananas in Martinique
  • (2003) Voters rejected reforms to legislature
  • (2007) Hurricane Dean pounded Martinique, wiped out its banana crop; $240 million estimated in damage; health officials declared dengue epidemic following deaths of over 1,000 in a month
  • (2009) Over 10,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital protesting rising food prices; in another protest, vandals burned cars, looted stores in protest over high prices, low pay and neglect by French officials; French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Martinique was free to hold referendum on political autonomy, but said the island would always belong to France
  • (2010) 80% of voters rejected plan to give local government more autonomy while remaining part of France

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