Aimee Debucq de Riveıy (Nakshedil
No sultana is more intriguing than Nakshedil.
Her life is shrouded in such mystery that, to this day, no one is
sure whether Nakshedil and Aimee de Rivery, the fair, blue-eyed
girl from Martinique, were indeed one and the same. 1 learned about
her from an early age because she figured in my own family history-or
so said my grandmother Zehra. Among Zehra's many stories was the
one about my great-great-grandmother Naime. It went like this.
During the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz, some time in the middle of
the last century , the French Empress Eugenİe came to Istanbul.
The empress wantedto vİsİt the women İn the sultan's harem; thİs
was arranged, and the ladİes met. They fascİnated one another ,
but could not converse. ''Is there any among you who speaks French?''
the empress managed to convey. They al11ooked at each other, whİspered,
and shook theİr heads. ''Then,'' my grandmother contİnued, ''an
old woman spoke up: 'Be- fore Nakshedil Sultana died, there was
a young girl she İlked. She named her Naime because İt sounded,'
she said, 'like her own name before she was brought. She taught
this girl, herselfthe language of the French. And 1 thİnk the girl
still lives in the Old Palace"
Immediately Naime was delivered from the darkness
of the Palace of the Unwanted Ones and brought to the empress. She
was a shy little girl, but she indeed spoke fluent French, with
a Martinique accent.
When the sultan saw how much Empress Eugenie lİked this forgotten
girl, he offered Naime to her as a present to take back with her
to France. However, a young man in Eugenie's entourage fel1 in love
with Naime and fınal1y asked the empress for Naime's hand in marriage.
At this, the sultan intervened, saying the girl was a Moslem and
the only way a gavur (infıdel) could marry her was by converting
to Islam. Though he was from a devout Catholic family , the young
man did not hesitate to change his faith. As a Moslem, he was given
a ward in Macedonia, a town called Prilep, near Skopje. The couple
moved there, had many children, and started fırst a vineyard, which
was a failure, then a successful gunpowder business, the name of
which became our family's, Barutçu (gunpowder makers).
We do know that Aimet' DeBucq de Rivery was
born in 1763 to a noble family in Martinique. Her cousin ]osephine
Tascher de la Pagerie married Napoleon Bonaparte. A legend tel1s
of the two young girls going to a Creole fortunetel1r in Pointe
Royale, who predicted that they would both grow up to be queens,
one to rule the East, the other the W est. In 1784, on her retum
to Martinique, after attendingconvent school in Nantes, Aimee was
kidnapped by Barbarossa's corsairs. Twenty-one years old, Aimee
was sold to the Dey of Algiers. Captivated by her beauty , the dey
saw an opportunİty to win the sultan's favor. He presented the gİrl
to Abdulhamid I.