18 September 2005

Rustam Razmadze- the Mamluk

Roustan or Rustam, is the nickname of Napoleon Bonaparte's famous bodyguard Rustam Razmadze. Rustam was born in Tbilisi, and was considered to be Georgian. Rustam was kidnapped when he was a child and sold as a slave in Cairo. One of the local authorities presented a young slave to General Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798. Thus, Rustam (French form: Roustan) became a bodyguard of Napoleon till 1814, when the former married Mademoiselle Douville in Dourdan, France and refused to follow the Emperor in his exile to Elba.

Mamluks (also Mameluks, Mamelukes) (the Arabic word usually translates as "owned") comprised slave soldiers used by the Muslim caliphs and the Ottoman Empire. On more than one occasion they seized power for themselves.

After being converted to Islam, they were trained as cavalry soldiers. While technically after training they were no longer slaves, they were still obliged to serve the Sultan. They were kept by the Sultan as an outsider force, under their direct command, to use in the event of local tribal frictions. Many Mamluks rose to high positions throughout the empire, including commanderships. Status remained non-hereditary at first and children were strictly prevented from following their fathers. The intensive and rigorous training given to each new recruit helped ensure a great deal of continuity in Mamluk practices.

Read further on Wikipedia about the fascinating history of the Mameluks


Aleko said...


Thanks for posting about Georgia. One minor comment. Rustam was not a Georgian, but rather Armenian from Tbilisi. In his memoirs, he clearly states this and discusses relations (and certain dislike) of Georgian mamluks in Egypt.

Hans said...

Hi Aleko,

interesting. In Tbilisi are living even today many Nationalities, a lot of Armenians too. But his name 'Razmadze' is cleary Georgian. Anyway I did not read his memoirs, but really would like to. Best regards, Hans

Anonymous said...

indeed razmadze is a true georgian name and he was georgian. why do Armenians have to claim everything georgian?

anyways, thanks for the posting.