When a Caribbean island is named after a woman named Lucia (or Lucy), why do some people call it “the Helen of West Indies”?
This nickname is a reference to Helen of Troy, who was a mythological woman who was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world. She had around 30 to 50 men competing for her hand in marriage, and she ended up marrying Menelaus, King of Sparta. Then she was kidnapped by a Trojan prince named Paris—and Sparta and Troy went to war over her.
(The Trojan War was one of the most important events in Greek Mythology and may be based on a real war—although nobody knows for sure.)
Now, back to St. Lucia. This island-with-a-female-name was also fought over by two important powers. Although Carib Indians lived on the island and Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to “discover” the island, it was French settlers who created a treaty with the locals and who established the first permanent European presence on the island. However, in 1763 England obtained control of the colony by winning the Seven Year War with France.
And then the fighting began. Back and forth, forth and back, the island switched from French to English rule over and over again. France had control over the island seven different times, and England had control seven other times.
St. Lucia (the island) was fought over just like Helen (the legendary woman) was fought over. But we all know that Helen really didn't belong to Menelaus or Paris; she belonged to herself. And St. Lucia needn't belong to either France or England; the islanders could rule themselves.
They finally got a chance to do just that on this date in 1979.
Learn about St. Lucia with this Travel Guru video.
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