evacuation of the French troops from Egypt in 1801, Ottomans
and Mamluks contended
to control Egypt.
Mohamed Ali, an Albanian, became commander of the Albanian regiment
of the Ottoman army in Egypt. He led several campaigns in Upper Egypt
and restored order inside the army in 1804. The resentment of people
over the instability incited a delegation of Cairenes to approach
Mohamed Ali and invite him to install himself in power. The Ottoman
Porte had to confirm the people's choice. Consequently Mohamed Ali
was made a wali
of Egypt. After his takeover, Mohamed Ali began stabilizing the rule.
In 1807 Mohamed Ali defeated a British force which tried to invade
Egypt on behalf of the Mamluks who wanted to restore their power.
Mamluks, who proved to be problematic to stability
of power, became the main target for Mohamed Ali. In 1811, he invited
a number of 470 senior Mamluk Beys
and Lieutenants to celebrate the investiture of his son Tusun. After
leading them to inside the citadel -where the celebrations were to
take place- he gave order to slaughter them all. The brutal act exterminated
the power of Mamluks forever and gave Mohamed Ali an absolute control
over the country.
imaginary scene of the massacre of Mamluks in the citadel.
After eliminating his foes, Mohamed Ali turned to modernize Egypt.
He carried out an education development plan; He sent educational
missions abroad particularly to France and invited many European
experts. He also approved the establishment of secular schools.
In his reign, a massive upgrade and extension of the irrigation
system took place.
A government printing press was founded in 1821, which played an important
role in creating new intellectual elite.
by David Roberts of Mohamed Ali managing his rule
Medical and technical schools were opened to serve both the army and
Translation of European literature became so common, a pace that enriched
the Egyptian literature and knowledge. In 1820, Mohamed Ali approved
the development of long-staple cotton plantations. In few years, Mohamed
Ali began to sell cotton to European countries, which were in need
of raw materials because of the emerged industrial revolution. The
crop became Egypt's principle export and money began to flow to Egypt.
He also liberated peasants from the Ottoman tax-farming system that
was only at the interest of tax collectors. Moreover, hundreds of
plants and fruits were introduced to Egypt for the first time.
Egyptians, for the first time in decades, played an active role in
the administration and held many important posts. They were even recruited
in the army, something they didn't experience in centuries.
This was among a plan to streamline, modernize the army and change
it to a European-style combating force.
The military reforms gave Mohamed Ali extensive capabilities among
the international powers.
After eliminating foes, he launched several military campaigns whether
internally, to chase the fleeing Mamluks, or externally, to expand
His expansionist military campaigns were directed by his sons: Tusun,
Ibrahim and Ismail.
In 1811, at the request of the Ottoman Porte, Mohamed Ali sent a
military campaign commanded by his son, Tusun, to quell the Wahhabis,
who founded a fundamentalist movement that threatened the Ottoman
By 1818, Ibrahim Pasha,
who substituted his brother Tusun in the Arabian Peninsula, defeated
the Wahhabis in their capital and took control of Western and Central
Arabia. The next year, Ibrahim was made governor of Jeddah by the
On the other hand Ismail was leading a conquest in Nubia
In 1821, the governorship of Crete was granted to Mohamed Ali.
In a campaign that intended to reassert the Ottoman power in Europe,
Ibrahim Pasha led a campaign to Morea (now Peloponnesus) but both
the Egyptian and the Ottoman fleets were defeated and sunk in the
battle of Navarino by a combined European force which was provoked
by the Egyptian-Ottoman victories.
Mohamed Ali began to challenge the Ottoman power and in 1831 Ibrahim
commanded a successful conquest in Syria in which he annexed cities
of Acre, Damascus and Tripoli. He also defeated the Ottoman army at
Homs and Konya and planned to push on into Anatolia. The Ottoman Empire
was likely to fall if Ibrahim advanced further, but at that point
the European powers intervened and a convention was reached under
which Egypt was granted the control over Syria in return for an annual
tribute to the Porte.
Pacha, son of Mohamed Ali
In 1839, Ottomans attempted to take back Syria but were overwhelmingly
defeated by Ibrahim Pasha. Meanwhile, the Ottoman fleet surrendered
to Mohamed Ali at Alexandria.
Once again, the European powers had to intervene as they were alarmed
by the new situation. To them an ailing Ottoman Empire was preferable
than a rising Egyptian danger.
At the same time, European warships anchored off the Syrian coast
while Ibrahim Pasha was facing internal revolts inside Syria.
Ibrahim finally decided to withdraw from the province and an Egyptian
similar withdrawal from Arabia followed.
In 1841, the Ottoman-European 'Treaty of London' was clinched by
which Syria and Crete were taken from Mohamed Ali's control, the
Egyptian army was reduced and the Egyptian navy was forbade from
building new ships.
However in the next year, the Ottoman sultan added Sudan to Mohamed
Ali's control and made the governorship of Egypt hereditary.
In 1848 Mohamed Ali fell gravely ill and his son, Ibrahim Pasha,
was made a wali but died two months later. Abbas,
Mohamed Ali's grandson and son of Tusun, succeeded Ibrahim.
Mohamed Ali himself died in 1849 at the age of 80. He was celebrated
in history as the founder of modern Egypt.