The story of an Algerian warlord exiled to Nogent-le-Rotrou. Eurelian Chronicles #46

Professor, historian, writer, Alain Denizet has unearthed anecdotes or local stories that are often a reflection of a national history. (© Laurent Rebours)

Look at Actu Chartres, every Sunday, for an Eurelian narrative of History and stories suggested by Alain Denizet. Professor, historian, writer from Eure-et-Loir, he collects all his narratives on his site over many years.

September 1842: El Hamelaoui, Algerian warlord exiled to Nogent le Rotrou

Rue Saint-Hilaire, Nogent-le-Rotrou.  Source: https://www.perche-gouet.net/histoire/photos/rues/164/9131.jpg.
Rue Saint-Hilaire, Nogent-le-Rotrou. Source: https://www.perchegouet.net/histoire/photos/rues/164/9131.jpg. (© DR)

As early as September 1842, an old man with colored complexiondressed in burn, wearing keffiyeh, crossed the threshold of a house on rue Saint-Hilaire in Nogent-le-Rotrou.

Informed of his arrival by The Nogentthe curious to discover Ahmed ben hadj Ahmed ben el Hamelaouiwarlord of Algerian Constantinois.

Here’s how, mix proven facts – high -ranking characters, – clichés clichés – the harem – and local humor – the Percheron odalisques … -, The Gatherer describes the stay of this man who came from the other side of the Mediterranean.

El Hamelaoui’s photo of the newspaper The GathererThe

The Gleaner, Sept. 29, 1842
The Gleaner, Sept. 29, 1842 (© DR)

“Our city is currently blessed with a true Bedouin race, former minister of the former mayor of the province of Constantine. His strange attire, his long white beard and his unusual demeanor aroused general curiosity and as one might expect, the most bizarre gossip was spread about him by the spectators. Some say he was a king deposed from the throne, with 10,000 boudjous to spend a day [Pièce d’argent, dans l’Algérie, compté pour 1 fr. 80 centimes.] ; others seriously affirm that he will take his harem to Nogent, that he will have, like Sultan Solomon, five to six hundred wives and that in order to keep the number of odalisques at full force, he will gather, if necessary, including of the Percheron beauties. We quoted a bourgeois, election reform broker, who should seek a place of bating in seraglio. It says his passport [sic] following the formula “special signs”, carries the word circumcision, which alone humiliates the gendarmerie brigadier and his wife[1] »

First ally of the French …

Capture of Constantine, VERNET Émile-Jean-Horace, dit Horace (1789-1863) .Grand Palais (Château de Versailles.
Capture of Constantine, VERNET Émile-Jean-Horace, dit Horace (1789-1863) .Grand Palais (Château de Versailles. (© DR)

Let us now return to the origin of the story. Why did El Hamelaoui live in the capital of Perche, so far away from the mild Mediterranean sun?

In opposition to the French army at first, he joined the victors after Constantine was captured in 1837 and, in the process, he was appointed Caliph of Ferdjiouabswears allegiance to Louis-Philippe, King of France.

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While he gives pleasure, especially bringing in taxes, the grateful France rewarded him with Legion of Honor.

National Archives, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine.  Rating of LH1165.
National Archives, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine. Rating of LH1165. (© DR)

He received it from Constantine on October 13, 1839 from the hands of Duke of Orléans, son of the kingwho congratulated himself that “the Arab leaders have long been our enemies now loyal to the cause of France.[2] “.

A few days later, El Hamelaoui reaffirmed his loyalty by lending his support to the Iron Gates expedition in October 1839. Important in controlling the young colony, it became possible to establish a land link between Algiers and Constantine. .

In October 1840, El Hamelaoui was made an officer of the Legion of Honor.

… Then rallied with Abd del Kader

Watercolor by Gaspard Gobaut, 846 at
Watercolor by Gaspard Gobaut, 846 in “the campaigns of his majesty, the Duke of Orléans in Algeria”. (© DR)

But soon, one of his enemies sent the French authorities a letter which he intercepted. Unfortunate letter since then promised his support to Abd del Kader who was resisting French colonization[3].

Tried in August 1841 by Constantine’s military court for “letter not authorized by the enemies of France”, El Hamelaoui was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

This person – whose qualities have been praised for three years – has had suddenly all the wrong in the world.

Not only deceptive, he is, if the newspaper is to be believed France of “very dissolute morals”, a bad Muslim because he “did not fast, did not go to the mosque, often changed wives” and administrator who was “hated” by the population because of his abuses [4].

Abd-del-Kader.  Portrait of EM Godefroy circa 1835. No portrait of El Hamelaoui. [Raison pour laquelle l’illustration qui annonce la chronique est celle d’Ab-del-Kader, autre héros de la résistance à la colonisation,  à qui son histoire est liée.]
Abd-del-Kader. Portrait of EM Godefroy circa 1835. No portrait of El Hamelaoui. [Raison pour laquelle l’illustration qui annonce la chronique est celle d’Ab-del-Kader, autre héros de la résistance à la colonisation,  à qui son histoire est liée.] (© DR)

From the Margueritte Islands to Nogent-le-Rotrou

While he was serving at the beginning of his sentence in the Margueritte Islands [5] – off canes – His young wife came to defend his case to the queen.

Touched, he sent a letter to the Minister of War containing these words: “The poor old man has no time to wait.” The old man is in his sixties …

The king forgave him.

the General Lebreton who presided over the war council was its roots in the soil of Percheron [6].

This is how El Hamelaoui took off his slippers at Nogent-le-Rotrou in September 1842. His wife followed him there, “following the Koranic rule that requires women to close their husbands’ eyes. [7] “. That there is nothing but dying.

Combined with the population of Nogent

Fort des Îles Margueritte seen from the beach.  Cannes Archives, 3Fi 650.
Fort des Îles Margueritte seen from the beach. Cannes Archives, 3Fi 650. (© DR)

With the help of an interpreter and a small escort, the exile spent several months in the capital of Perche, lived like a bourgeois, often visiting celebrities, a display of a residence marked by mutual respect. one and not missing on occasions with soft familiar.

Many elderly people from Nogent are quite elderly to this well-known guest who lives in the building on rue Saint-Hilaire, who toured the town while one of them hugged a boy from Nogent. Her parents were “very proud of the honor done to their baby [8]

Bulletin of the Percheron Society of History and Archeology

When El Hamelaoui left Perche, it was to go to Meaux, then Paris where, says Alain Loison, “he appeared in number of social eveningsbut always after ensuring that no Arab or Muslim fellow citizens, to live fully in the Western way [9] »

[1] The GathererSept. 29, 1842.

[2] Journal of political and literary debates on October 23, 1839.

[3] Abd del Kader surrendered in 1847 and was imprisoned in Amboise castle. Released in 1852, this open man became France’s interlocutor in the Arab world. A style was announced in his honor at Amboise on February 5, 2022.

[4] FranceAug. 14, 1841.

[5] Place of detention for North African prisoners from Algeria

[6] Eugène Casimir Lebreton was the third son of a plowman. Her parents lived Luigny when he was 4 or 5 years old. He was elected MP for Eure-et-Loir in 1848. He was also General Councilor of Nogent-le-Rotrou for 30 years and President of the General Council for twenty years.

[7] The GathererOct. 6, 1842.

[8] Bulletin of the Percheronne Society of History and Archeology, 1904, p. 34.

[9] Alain Loison, The mysteries of Eure-et-Loir, De Borée, 2012, p.370.

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