Paolo Xuereb, a Maltese migrant in Tunis in the mid nineteenth century, was tried for murder in the court of the Bey of Tunis. Two contemporary documents describing the trial exist. One is a translated (into English) “transcript” made by the US consulate, the other is an Arabic statement of the verdict and sentence validated by some of the principal Islamic legal authorities of the Beylicate. The article compares these two documents and finds that where their focusses coincide they are nearly identical in content. But the differences between the documents are striking: one is an account of the course of the trial, the other a statement of its legalities and conclusions. This rare coincidence of documentation is used to tease out the implications for historians of how testimony given orally at a criminal trial in an Islamic environment is changed and transmitted when it is recorded in written form.
De Lagau to [Guizot] Tunis 25 May1844. ADN Correspondance Officielle et Ministerielle Registre 70.
C.R. Pennell“Sovereignty Negotiated from Below and Above: Native Personalities and European Law,” in New Worlds New Sovereignties: Frontiers of Possibility eds. Julie Evans and Patrick Wolfe (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press2013) 136–62; Pierre Grandchamp “Le Différend Tuniso-Sarde de 1843–1844” Revue Tunisienne 35 (1933) 127–213.
C.R Pennell“The Social History of British Diplomats in North Africa and How It Affected Diplomatic Policy,” in The Diplomats’ World. A Cultural History of Diplomacy 1815–1914’ Studies of the German Historical Institute London ed. Markus Mösslang and Torsten Riotte (Oxford: Oxford University Press2008) 347352.
Julia Clancy-Smith“Women, Gender and Migration along a Mediterranean Frontier: Pre-Colonial Tunisia, c. 1815–1870,”Gender & History17:1 (2005) 162–92; Claude Hagège and Bernard Zarca “Les Juifs et la France en Tunisie. Les Bénéfices d’une Relation Triangulaire” Le Mouvement Social 197 (2001) 9–28.
Rudolph Peters“Islamic and Secular Criminal Law in Nineteenth Century Egypt: The Role and Function of the Qadi,”Islamic Law and Society4:1 (1997) 70–90; Rudolph Peters “Murder on the Nile: Homicide Trials in 19th Century Egyptian Shariʿa Courts” Die Welt Des Islams 30 (N.S.):1–4 (1990) 98–116.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 25 March184436; Anne-Marie Planel “De la Nation à la Colonie: La Communauté Française de Tunisie Au Xixè Siècle” PhD dissertation (Paris: Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales 2000) 155.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April18441.
Jane Caplan“Illegibility: Reading and Insecurity in History, Law and Government,”History Workshop Journal68 (2009): 99–121.
C.R. Pennell“Treaty Law: The Extent of Consular Jurisdiction in North Africa from the Middle of the Seventeenth to the Middle of the Nineteenth Century,”Journal of North African Studies14:2 (2009): 235–56.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April1844no. 20 5; USNA Payne to Upshur Tunis 29 April 1844 6.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April1844no. 20 11–12.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April1844no. 20 16.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 29 April1844913 20.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April1844no. 20 4.
Payne to Upshur Tunis 3 April1844no. 20 17.
L. Carl BrownThe Tunisia of Ahmad Bey (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974), 154; Tahar Djaziri, “La Régence de Tunis d’Après l’Action et les Ouevres de Sidi Ibrahim al-Riahi (1750–1850),” Thèse de doctorat d’état (Paris: Université de Paris IV – Sorbonne1995) 127 246 388 466; Ibn Abī al-Dịyāf Itḥāf ahl al-zamān (Raymond Edition) 162.