Statue of Empress Josephine
Fort-de-France, Martinique
Date of incident: 1991

A statue of the Joséphine de Beauharnais, the wife of Napoléon Bonaparte and the first French Empress, was erected in 1859 at La Savane park in Fort de France, Martinique, when Josephine’s grandson, Napoleon III, was ruler of France. Originally named Marie Josèphe Rose de Tascher de la Pagerie, she was born in Trois-Ilets, Martinique in 1763. In 1779, she moved to Europe and married Alexandre François Marie de Beauharnais, who was later beheaded in 1794 during the Reign of Terror. Joséphine de Beauharnais married Napoléon Bonaparte on March 9, 1796 and was crowned Empress of France in 1804 and divorced in 1809. The statue of Empress Josephine was beheaded in 1991, and a few years later spattered with red paint. Josephine is disliked because it is believed that she convinced Napoleon to reinstate slavery in all the French colonies* which he did in 1802. On April 27, 1848 the French government again abolished slavery in all of its colonies.

*Slavery was abolished in 1793, but Martinique refused to recognize the abolition decree. On February 4, 1794, the abolition of slavery in all the French colonies was voted into being, but, at that time, Martinique was taken over as an English colony, so the decree was again ignored.