If you happen to be one of those 500-or-so people whose last name is Masannat, you probably already know the story of one of our great grandfathers.
Although the Masannats are historically from Kerak or Madaba, the story of where they very originally came from remained unkown for some reason. The history of the family in Jordan dates back to about 100 years ago and doesn't go back any further even when you read those large books written by Rox Al-Ozaizi.
The man in the picture above is one of the famous grandfathers of the family. His named was Jules Massenet, he was one of the Masannats living in little village by Saint-Étienne, France. He became a very very popular Opera singer and wrote an opera comique (play) called Manon that is still popular to our day and is being played in different theaters in Europe. He was born and raised and eventually died in France. He had three brothers (Michel, François, Armand) and one sister (Josette) who got married to a Turkish military man, Fekret Emre, who was a very prominent member in the Ottoman's army. Because of their different religion she had to leave France and immigrate to Turkey. Three of her brothers immigrated with her but the 4th one (Jules-the Opera singer) refused to leave because he didn't want his career in France to be ruined. When Jules died in 1912 he left half of his fortune to his Josette but the French government confiscated that money because it was given to a woman who married a Muslim.
Fekret was very wealthy and was able to take care of the whole Massenet family even when he was relocated to Damascus to control the demonstrations there. However he was later executed after a prominent Turkish leader falsely accused him of treason.
Widowed Josette lost her mind and committed suicide (or so they say). The three brothers had to move far away from Damascus and Turkey. They were already fluent in Arabic and they mastered the Bedouin accent so when two of them moved to Madaba in the early 20th century they were accepted in the Ozazait tribe. The third (Francois-nicknamed Atallah!) moved to Kerak instead after a dispute with his brothers about the family's finances. He was not very welcomed by the Kerak ribes but when he joined Sharif Hussein Bin Ali in the revolution against the Ottomans he was regarded with respect. He got married and had 11 kids.
At this time the Masannats identify themselves as Jordanians and nothing else. There is no connection between our family here and those of Jule's descent (if he had any) who might have been living now in Saint-Étienne or elsewhere, and his name is not even mentioned among our family in Jordan. Most of the Masannats have the light-colored skin and colored eyes but they only identify themselves as Jordanians- they even changed the English spelling of their last name.
It's really exciting to learn more about the origins of your family and its history even though there may be some dark periods of it. It's part of the heritage and there shouldn't be anything to be ashamed of.
(for everyone who read this and believed it, I'm sorry but I was bullshitting you. Except for who Jules Massenet was, everything and everyone mentioned above is fake. The Masannats have originated from the Arabian Penninsula since the creation of humanity, and we're all bedouins. Having colored eyes automatically excludes you as a member of our family. However, this sotry is somewhat believable and I have used it more than once in the US since it can open a good conversation. Although I've never been to an Opera before but I think that any Masannat can have get good seats with such story)