Following the abortive campaign in Egypt, Napoleon collected a number of men from the Mamelukes to serve in his household and a further number in his Imperial Guard. They held positions of great esteem and closeness to the Emperor’s person, and as time went on the title of Mameluke denoted the position in the household, rather than the origin of the person. The man known as Ali the Mameluke was actually a Frenchman born at Versailles, son of a member of the Bourbon household staff. He was attached to the household of the Emperor on the recommendation of the Master of Horse, Armand de Caulaincourt. The memoirs that he left behind him are a close and balanced portrait of Napoleon during the last years of his reign, the Hundred Days, and finally his imprisonment on St. Helena.
Ali’s memoirs are free from the overly gossipy tone of those left by Constant and are more accurate and penetrating than those of Roustam. He studiously avoids entering into the details that he did not personally view. Although he is a staunch Bonapartist, overall, there is not too much bias. He freely shows the stresses and strains of Napoleon carrying out his plans in grandeur, and then in ignominious surroundings at Longwood. All of the luminaries of the last days of the Empire pass before Ali’s eyes and therefore his pen, and he is not always flattering about them.
An important memoir of an intimate member of Napoleon’s household.
Napoleon From the Tuileries to St. Helena
1922 Harper & Brothers NY & London