Today’s installment concludes The Massacre of the Mamalukes,
our selection from History of the Egyptian Revolution by Andrew A. Paton published in 1870. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of three thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in The Massacre of the Mamalukes.
On every side were seen horses expensively caparisoned, stretched by the side of their masters, and the richest dresses saturated with blood; for gold embroidery and the most costly cloth stuffs, with elaborately ﬁnished and decorated arms and caparisons, were what the Mamelukes mostly delighted in; and all these became the booty of the bloodthirsty soldiery. Of four hundred sixty Mamelukes who had mounted that morning to the citadel, not one escaped. A few French Mamelukes, in the service of Mehemet Ali, who had remained behind after the departure of Menou, and had been locked up by Kiahia Bey in a room adjoining his own, were saved. A bey of the house of Elfy had three French Mamelukes in his service, but they did not mount on horseback on that day.
Amyn Bey, another Mameluke, was saved by accident. Being prevented by pressing business from arriving in time, he found himself outside the gate just as the head of the procession was issuing from under the arch. He waited a little until they were gone out, but seeing that the gate was suddenly closed, and then hearing the musketry, he put spurs to his horse, and never stopped until he found his way across the desert into Syria.
Scarcely had the procession begun to move when Mehemet Ali showed signs of agitation, which increased when he heard the ﬁrst discharge of musketry. He grew pale, fearing lest his orders might not have been properly executed, and that some struggle might ensue fatal to himself and his party. When he saw the prisoners and the trunkless heads he grew calm. Soon after, his physician, a Genoese, entered, and said with the sickening gayety of sycophancy: “The affair is over; this is a Iéte for Your Highness.” To this Mehemet Ali gave no answer, and only asked for a draught to quench his thirst.
Meanwhile the crowds of citizens in the town were waiting to see the procession, and expectation was succeeded by surprise when only the delis forming its head were seen to pass, followed by grooms hurrying away in silence. This sudden movement caused an agitation among the spectators, and then the cry having arisen, “Shahin Bey is killed!” all the shops were shut, which was invariably the case when turbulence, bloodshed, and their concomitant, rapine, were apprehended. The streets became deserted, and only bands of lawless soldiery were seen, who rushed to pillage the houses of the Mamelukes, violating their women, and committing every atrocity.
The Turks, who could only marry women of an inferior class, saw with displeasure that those of a higher rank, disdaining their alliance, displayed eagerness to many Mamelukes, and therefore took care to avenge themselves. The houses of the beys were full of valuables. Several of these cavaliers were making preparations for marriage, decorating their apartments, and purchasing rich clothes, cashmeres, and jewels. Not only the houses of these persons were pillaged, but others besides. Cairo appeared like a place taken by assault, the inhabitants not showing themselves in the streets, but awaiting indoors what destiny had in store for them.
The murder and pillage continuing on the following day, Mehemet Ali descended from the citadel to reéstablish order and stop bloodshed. He was in full dress and accompanied by a large armed force. At each police post he reprimanded the officer in charge for having permitted such disorders. Mehemet Ali himself had only taken the lives of the Mamelukes: he had only massacred a political party addicted to cashmeres, diamond mounted pipes, and enameled pistols, as well as to sharing the political power with the agents of the Porte. He himself had laid the axe to the very root of Mameluke appropriation, and therefore all mangling of the branches excited his just reproba tion as a superﬂuous expenditure of labor. Near Bab Zueileh the Pacha met a Mogrebbin who complained of the pillage of his house, protesting that he was neither soldier nor Mameluke, on which Mehemet Ali stopped his horse, and sent an armed force, who arrested a Turk and a fellah, whose heads they cut off. Advancing toward the quarter of Kakeen, he was informed that the sheiks were assembled with the intention of complimenting him; but the Pacha answered that he would himself go to receive their felicitations, on which he proceeded to the house of Sheik Abdullah el Sherkawy, and after having passed an hour with him he returned to the citadel.
The following day Toussun Pacha went through the town, followed by a numerous guard, causing those who were found pillaging to be decapitated; for more than ﬁve hundred houses had been sacked on this occasion. Meanwhile the Mamelukes were diligently sought after. Even the old ones, who in all the troubles had never quitted Cairo, were unmercifully killed. Many made their escape by changing their costume for that of delis; others dressed as women escaped to Upper Egypt.
In the citadel, the dead bodies were thrown pell-mell into pits dug for them, the relations of the murdered being so overwhelmed as not to be able to bury them decently. The mother of the Emir Merzouk, son of Ibrahim Bey, was, however, allowed his dead body, which was found after two days’ search. Protection was also given to the widows of the Mamelukes by Mehemet Ali, who allowed his own men to marry them.
The secret of this sanguinary affair had been conﬁded to only four persons on whom the Pacha could rely; but he had at the same time written, through his secretary, to the commanders of the different provinces ordering them to arrest and put to death all the Mamelukes they could lay their hands upon. This order was mercilessly executed, and their heads were sent to Cairo and exposed there.
This ends our series of passages on The Massacre of the Mamalukes by Andrew A. Paton from his book History of the Egyptian Revolution published in 1870. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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