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"Boney's Mamelukes: website more accurate than books?" Topic


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Cacadores Inactive Member03 Jun 2010 9:38 a.m. PST

Boney's Mamelukes, website articles now more accurate than books?

I think this is a fair question to put on this board: a question for our times, I suppose. I recently responded to an interesting question about possible Mamelukes at Waterloo, by pointing out that one of the Ogre's personal valets during the Waterloo campaign was a Frenchman he had dress up and masquerade as a Mameluke. Why – I suppose we'll never know.

One poster, however, suggested I was wrong and should do some 'research' by clicking on a website indicating the relevant Mameluke was Roustan the Armenian. Another poster backed (Shane Devries) by saying Roustan was the man, quoting a web-site.

Now, the various French books I looked at all indicate that Roustam left Boney's employ before Waterloo. Before Elba in fact. And that there was a Frenchman, the son of a stableman, who Bonaparte also insisted should dress up as Mameluke during the Waterloo campaign.

In this case, the books suggest the Ogre's Waterloo Mameluke was French, while some people believe that the web, apparently, suggests it was Roustan the Armenian.

So my question is, at which point do peer-reviewed and referenced books about the Napoleonic era, become less believed than general web content? Can it ever be the case, that clicking on a web-site link (rather than to a downloaded book or book) could ever be described as 'research'?

von Winterfeldt03 Jun 2010 12:19 p.m. PST

Amazing, why don't people who suggest that you do research aren't prepared to do their own, all they would have to need is to consult

Dictionnaire Napoléon, tome second, page 668 and they will find out that you are right.

Rustveli03 Jun 2010 5:29 p.m. PST

Cacadores,

I think your opponents confused two mamluks who served Napoleon. You are referring to Louis Etienne Saint Denis, whose father served in the royal stables under Louis XVI. In 1806, young Saint Denis joined Napoleon's household as a stable boy and, in December 1811, he became the Emperor's second mamluk (first was Roustam Raza, who was indeed an Armenian from Georgian capital (and my hometown) Tbilisi). Unlike Roustam, he stayed loyal to Napoleon and accompanied him to St. helena, where he married a young English girl. He returned to France after the Emperor's death in 1821.

Best wishes,
alex

Steven H Smith Inactive Member03 Jun 2010 11:27 p.m. PST

Souvenirs de Roustam, mamelouck de Napoléon Ier / introduction et notes de Paul Cottin,…; préface de Frédéric Masson,… Paris: P. Ollendorff, 1911:

link


Napoleon from the Tuileries to St. Helena: Personal recollections of the Emperor's second Mameluke and Valet Louis Étienne Saint Denis (Known as Ali). Translation from the French and Notes by Frank Hunter Potter. With an Introduction by Professor G. Michaut, of the Sorbonne:

link

link

link

link

French title:

Souvenirs du mameluck Ali sur l'empereur Napoléon by Louis Étienne Saint Denis. Edited by Gustave Michaut. Paris: Payot, 1926. 320 pages. Series: Bibliothèque historique:

Could NOT find an available download. <:^{

BravoX Inactive Member04 Jun 2010 4:09 p.m. PST

I don't see any inherent reason why clicking a link can't be considered research or why a web site can't be believed more than a book.

It doesn't mean that it necessarily must alway be the case or that in the cited incident it should be.

If going to and searching a library or an archive can be considered research why could it not if the action was taken electronically?

Similarly if a printed book is to be believed why cannot an article published electronically on a web site also be believed?

Even the argument of peer review of a book doesn't hold much water as this 'can' occur in electronic medium just as much as traditional print.

The electronic medium is not a limiting factor here.

In fact it can argued that a web site could be more 'up to date' taking account of later research than a book which by its very nature represents a fixed snapshot of research at the point in time when it is printed.

At the end of the day some claim stand or falls on its own merit not on the medium it is presented in.

I think you made your point but I think the medium of the supporting evidence was irrelevant.

Defiant Inactive Member04 Jun 2010 7:19 p.m. PST

Now, the various French books I looked at all indicate that Roustam left Boney's employ before Waterloo. Before Elba in fact. And that there was a Frenchman, the son of a stableman, who Bonaparte also insisted should dress up as Mameluke during the Waterloo campaign.

Okay, when I posted my reply I knew Roustan was not French and wished to prove it so I posted the link to show you this. However, I also did not know that there was a second Mameluke and that he was indeed French. From my understanding Roustan served Napoleon for 17 years so to my understanding it was Roustan who served him on St Helena but I am wrong. Thank you for pointing this out. If this is true and Roustan left prior to Elba then I do apologize sincerely, it was naive of me not to know this I will admit.

As for his reasoning for dressing up a Frenchman and pose him as a Mameluke I can only suggest this was done because Napoleon needed to show that is old servants were still loyal to him with all of the mistrust an treason that was flying around at the time. The more people Napoleon could show were still loyal to him the harder the concrete would set around his return to power. I see nothing wrong with this reasoning if it worked. Memoirs and history now shows us that he took extraordinary measures to show the people that former associates were still loyal to him and under the circumstances he probably had to do this.

As for the Internet as a source of viable and reliable information I agree with BravoX, you cannot discount this medium just because you do not trust the information placed on it. If the information is properly cited and linked for reference then there is nothing wrong with using the Internet for sources of historical or any other data for that matter. Providing you can back it up with references.

Shane

Steven H Smith Inactive Member04 Jun 2010 9:06 p.m. PST

Re: "… the son of a stableman, who Bonaparte also insisted should dress up as [a] Mameluke during the Waterloo campaign."

1) "the son of a stableman": 'Ali's' "father, Etienne, had been 'piqueur' (1) in the royal stables under Louis XVI. …

(1) There is nothing in the English stable which quite corresponds to the office of 'piqueur'. He had all sorts of functions. Among other things he was a huntsman, also an outrider who preceded his master to order relays of post horses; he was an overseer of stables, and it was his duty to take large convoys of post horses, carriage horses, draft horses, or remounts from place to place. As horses supplied the only means of locomotion in the armies of that day, except the men's feet, great numbers of them were required, and the piqueur's duties involved heavy responsibility." Indeed, no mere "stableman". See p vii "Napoleon from the Tuileries to St. Helena".


2) "… Bonaparte also insisted [Ali] should dress up as [a] Mameluke during the Waterloo campaign.": "… appointed [2nd] Mameluke and decorated with the name of Ali, he became "assistant arquebus carrier" on January 1, 1812." So, we see 'Ali' was a Mameluke well before 1815 (December 1811). See p. viii "Napoleon from the Tuileries to St. Helena".

En Avant Inactive Member05 Jun 2010 5:59 p.m. PST

If you want to read about Ali…

link

Amicalement
Armand

10th Marines Inactive Member06 Jun 2010 6:48 a.m. PST

I wasn't aware there was a problem with what happened to Roustam and who Mameluke Ali was-guess you learn something everyday.

Ali, and who he was and what he did, has been in print in English for at least 22 years and readily accessible.

As for websites, I am usually wary of them until I can figure out whether or not they are reliable and accurate. With the availability of books on Google and Gallica, though, research in primary source material has become much more accessible to everyone.

Sincerely,
K

Roustan Inactive Member06 Jun 2010 9:26 p.m. PST

Whether it is a website or printed material, I always attempt to locate reference(s)/source(s) to validate my research prior to publication.

Russ

Cacadores Inactive Member09 Jun 2010 4:08 a.m. PST

Shane Devries 04 Jun 2010 7:19 p.m. PST

'' Thank you for pointing this out. If this is true and Roustan left prior to Elba then I do apologize sincerely, it was naive of me not to know this I will admit.''

A gentlemanly reply. Marmelukes certainly make a colourful addition to the wargames table, whichever side you're playing.

BravoX 04 Jun 2010 4:09 p.m. PST
why a web site can't be believed more than a book.

Well, where does info on this period come from? All we know of events, really, comes from older books or from inferences from those books. And outside of America (perhaps inside too, although I have read US books that haven't been) English language historical books are peer-reviewed. The more book references a modern statement has, the more people generally believe it. The internet is very useful, but in the end anyone can write anything on it anytime anywhere.

Steven H Smith Inactive Member09 Jun 2010 8:30 a.m. PST

"The internet is very useful, but in the end anyone can write anything on it anytime anywhere."

The same can be said for books, old or new. Reader beware!

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2010 6:26 p.m. PST

The Hat of Roustam, was so big?

link

It becames from this page. Click for the photos on "Vior le reportage photos"

link

Amicalement
Armand

tolstoy1812 Inactive Member06 Jan 2012 9:15 p.m. PST

MR Smith: Thank you for the links. I am doing research. My French will be challenged by Roustam's memoirs, however.

I wish someone had translated them.

I did find a New York Times article on the Roustam's memoir: Napoleon as his Mameluke Servant Saw Him. It is a reprint of a page from the 1920's, on pdf. I just downloaded it, then ran across these postings above.

For Anglophones interested in Roustam's memoirs, I can only refer you to the Times piece.

Research on the internet is possible, but it isn't easy.

Rustveli09 Jan 2012 2:24 p.m. PST

tolstoy1812

Roustam's memoirs are available in Russian (if you know the language) and a friend of mine has translated them in English so they should be available soon.

Best wishes,
Alex

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