The Furcy controversy shook Ile Bourbon (La Réunion) in 1817. An alleged slave named Furcy contested his supposed legal condition of servitude and was defended by the colonial government’s attorney general and seconded by an obscure Creole attorney, Sully Brunet, even though most of the island’s free residents opposed the case. How did Brunet recognize the judicial irregularities in Furcy’s trial? What were his relations with his superiors? What was Brunet’s role in this affair? This painful episode in the history of La Réunion raises many questions and left a deep impression on Sully Brunet. This case reveals the particular interpretation of civil authority in the context of slavery. It also had serious consequences for the island. The colony tried to adapt to the incessant changes in legislation and sought to regain stability lost after the British captured the island in 1810. The role of Sully Brunet in this case reveals much about the colonial judicial system, the struggles for political influence, and the divisions between Creole and European-born residents in the context of the institution of slavery. Sully Brunet, a willing participant and an unfortunate hero, deserves serious attention.


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pp. 135-163
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