COURT, Claude Auguste

COURT, Claude Auguste. Grasse (or Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne, both in Alpes-Maritimes) 24.9.1793 — Paris 21.1.1880. French soldier serving as a General under Rañjit Singh. Son of an officer, André Ambroise C. Educated at Lycée de Casale in Piémont in 1804-10, at École polytéchnique and in 1812-13 at the military academy of Saint-Cyr near Paris. In 1813 joined the French army (in active service 1813-15). In 1818 came to the East, first as tutor of the children of French consul in Baghdad. Until 1826 in Baghdad and Iran, then joined, together with —> Avitabile, Rañjit Singh’s forces and served as an artillery officer in 1827-39 (1836 General), and much improved the Sikh artillery. After Rañjit Singh’s death the Sikh troups attacked Court, who was protected by Ventura and soon returned to France (in 1844). Married Fezli Azam Joo, a Kashmiri lady, who came with him to France. They had several children. Like his colleagues —> Allard and Ventura he became interested in local archaeology and numismatics. He was a member of the A.S.B., achieved a big collection of coins, and found the Asokan inscriptions of Shahbazgarhi (publ. 1836). The coins he kept until his death, but after that they have disappeared for a long time. It has been suggested (Lafont) that he was the actual intellectual promoting force in all studies made by the Sikh generals.

Publications: “Further Information on the Topes of Mánikyála, being the translation of an Extract from a Manuscript Memoir on Ancient Taxila”, JASB 3, 1834, 556-562; “Conjectures on the march of Alexander”, JASB 5, 1836, 387-395 (tr. with notes by E. Jacquet, JA 3:4, 1837, 359-397); “Extracts translated from a Memoir on a Map of Pesháwar and the country comprised between the Indus and the Hydaspes, the Peucelaotis and Taxila of ancient geography”, Ibid. 468-482; “A Collection of facts which may be useful for the comprehension of Alexander the Great’s exploits on the Western Banks of Indus”, JASB 8, 1839, 304–313.

Memoires. 1856-57.

Sources: Hackin briefly in MDAFA 9, 1939, 3; Buckland, Dictionary (states erringly that Court died in Grasse in 1861); E. Errington, “Rediscovering the Coin Collection of General Claude-Auguste Court: A Preliminary Report”, Topoi 5, 1995, 409-424; J.-M. Lafont, Topoi 4, 1994, 9ff. and *Indika: Essays in Indo-French Relations, 1630-1976. N.D. 2000; Wikipedia; not in D.B.F. or Arch. biogr. fr.

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