Louis-Benoit Zamor was a boy from Chattogram, who became a leader in the French Revolution. He was kidnapped by British slave traders and was sold to King Louis XV of France who gave him to his mistress Madame du Barry
You may have heard of the names associated with the French Revolution, like Napoleon or Rousseau.
But not many of us know about Louis-Benoit Zamor, a boy from Chattogram, who became a leader in the revolution and whom history remembers as a traitor.
Back in the 1760s, Chattogram was the finest port in the East and all sorts of trading, including slave trading, was a common scenario there.
According to sources, Zamor was kidnapped by British slave traders and was sold to King Louis XV of France when he was 11 years old.
Some say he may have been as young as seven.
However, the King gave him to his mistress, Madame du Barry.
In 1770, he was baptised in the Notre-Dame Church and he was christened as Louis Benoit. Madame du Barry herself acted as his grandmother.
The countess spent her entire life under the false impression that the boy was African.
In reality, he may have belonged to the Siddi ethnic group from Bengal.
According to the book Memoirs of the Comtesse du Barry, translated by Baron Etienne Leon Lamothe-Langon, Zamor was a very mischievous child.
In the book, the countess writes: "The second object of my regard was Zamor, a young African boy, full of intelligence and mischief; simple and independent in his nature, yet wild as his country"
The young page was more of an exotic fashion accessory to the royal mistress. He would appear in the grand suppers hosted by her, to serve the guests or sit in a corner.
Zamor was also her muse, an evidence of her aristocracy which allowed treating a poor human being like a pet.
Just to add an exotic touch, he was even portrayed in a watercolour painting of a royal supper at du Barry's residence.
Zamor was brought and raised to become a toy, du Barry allowed people to humiliate him at her home.
These events played key roles in his later life.
Caroline Weber in her book Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution wrote that the countess educated him.
His keen interest in literature and philosophy, his thirst for knowledge and sense of equality, led him to take part in the French Revolution.
In the memoirs, du Barry mentioned, "Zamor fancied himself the equal of all he met, scarcely deigning to acknowledge the king himself as superior."
By the time the French Revolution broke out, he was an adult.
The 27-year-old young man was deeply inspired by the works of Rousseau and he took the side of the revolutionaries and the Jacobins.
He also began to loathe the countess and her luxurious lifestyle.
Zamor also protested her repeated visits to England with the intention of retrieving her lost jewelry.
Zamor, as an informant of the Committee of Public Safety, got the countess arrested in 1792, on her return from another England visit.
However, she secured her release from jail and dismissed him from her service as she learnt about his involvement with her arrest and his affiliation with the revolutionary patriots.
This further infuriated Zamor and he brought more charges against the countess, which eventually led to her arrest, trial and execution.
At the moment of her trial, Zamor's actual origin came forward.
The former page signed the tribunal papers as, "Louis-Benoit Zamor, born in Bengal", breaking the long misconception of his African origin.
Despite being an informant, the Girondins suspected him to be an accomplice of the countess and arrested him.
They searched his house for proof and found nothing but few books – some works of Rousseau.
On the wall hung portraits of the two most influential persons of the French Revolution: Jean-Paul Marat and Maximilien Robespierre.
He was released after six weeks' imprisonment.
He fled from France immediately after his release, but came back in 1815 after the fall of Napoleon.
He joined a local school and became a teacher.
Zamor spent his last days in his house near the Latin quarters of Paris.
He died in poverty on February 7, 1820.
Not many were present at his funeral. He was buried in Paris, in an unnamed grave.
And in that grave, rests a boy from the Bengal who never made it home.