Napoleons Egypt: Invading the Middle East

French campaign in Egypt and Syria
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The overthrow of a tyrannical regime and the liberation of an oppressed people were constant refrains in the shipboard addresses of both the general and the president, who felt that the liberated owed them a debt of gratitude. Bonaparte lamented that the beys "tyrannize over the unfortunate inhabitants of the Nile"; or, as one of his officers, Captain Horace Say, opined, "The people of Egypt were most wretched. How will they not cherish the liberty we are bringing them?

Napoleon's Egypt

Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear. President Bush put this dramatically in , long after matters had not proceeded as expected: "We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude. That's the problem here in America: They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq. Proponents of various forms of liberal imperialism saw tyranny as a source of poverty, since arbitrary rulers could just usurp property at will and so make economic activity risky, as well as opening the public to crushing and arbitrary taxes that held back commerce.

The French quartermaster Francois Bernoyer wrote of the Egyptian peasantry: "Their dwellings are adobe huts, which prosperity, the daughter of liberty, will now allow them to abandon. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. The French landed at the port of Alexandria on July 1, Two and a half weeks later, as the French army advanced along the Nile toward Cairo, a unit of Gen. Jean Reynier's division met opposition from 1, villagers, many armed with muskets.

Charles Francois recalled a typical scene. After scaling the village walls and "firing into those crowds," killing "about men," the French confiscated the villagers' livestock -- "camels, donkeys, horses, eggs, cows, sheep" -- then "finished burning the rest of the houses, or rather the huts, so as to provide a terrible object lesson to these half-savage and barbarous people.

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The march of Murad Bey, and the movements of the Arabs on the Lakes of Natron and at Marjout, indicated a plan for protecting a descent either at the Tour of the Anates, or at Aboukir. There are times when you actually fee bad for Napoleon when the British navy intercepted a French mail ship, and published some of Napoleon's letters in which he expresses how upset he was that his wife was openly cheating on him. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our. We're all familiar with the grand, sweeping, Civil War and WWII stories that everyone has read, but I much prefer these smaller pieces focusing on lesser known aspects of world history. He only shared the secret of his return with a small number of friends whose discretion and loyalty were well-known. Soldiers, sailors, you have been neglected until this day; today, the greatest concern of the Republic is for you

He grandiosely established an Egyptian Institute for the advancement of science and gave thought to reforming police, courts, and law. But terror lurked behind everything he did. He wrote Gen. Jacques Menou, who commanded the garrison at the Mediterranean port of Rosetta, saying, "The Turks [Egyptians] can only be led by the greatest severity.

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Every day I cut off five or six heads in the streets of Cairo That August, the Delta city of Mansura rose up against a small French garrison of about men, chasing them into the countryside, tracking the blue coats down, and methodically killing all but two of them. In early September, the Delta village of Sonbat, inhabited in part by Bedouin of the western Dirn tribe, also rose up against the Europeans.

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Bonaparte instructed one of his generals, "Burn that village! Make a terrifying example of it. Jean-Antoine Verdier reported back to Bonaparte with regard to Sonbat, "You ordered me to destroy this lair.

Napoleon’s Egypt - Juan Cole - Book Review - The New York Times

Very well, it no longer exists. In October, much of the city mobilized to attack the more than 20, French troops occupying the capital.

The revolt was especially fierce in the al-Husayn district, where the ancient al-Azhar madrassa or seminary trained 14, students, where the city's most sacred mosque stood, and where wealth was concentrated in the merchants and guilds of the Khan al-Khalili bazaar. At the same time, the peasants and Bedouin of the countryside around Cairo rose in rebellion, attacking the small garrisons that had been deployed to pacify them.

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Bonaparte put down this Egyptian "revolution" with the utmost brutality, subjecting urban crowds to artillery barrages. He may have had as many rebels executed in the aftermath as were killed in the fighting.

Bonaparte: The Egyptian Campaign - Ancient Egypt documentary (Kemet) HD

In the countryside, his officers' launched concerted campaigns to decimate insurgent villages. At one point, the French are said to have brought heads of slain insurgents to Cairo in bags and ostentatiously dumped them out before a crowd in one of that city's major squares to instill Cairenes with terror. Two centuries later, the American public would come to associate decapitations by Muslim terrorists in Iraq with the ultimate in barbarism, but even then hundreds such beheadings were not carried out at once.

The American deployment of terror against the Iraqi population has, of course, dwarfed anything the French accomplished in Egypt by orders of magnitude.

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After four mercenaries, one a South African, were killed in Falluja in March of and their bodies desecrated, President Bush is alleged to have said "heads must roll" in retribution. An initial attack on the city faltered when much of the Iraqi government threatened to resign and it was clear major civilian casualties would result. The crushing of the city was, however, simply put off until after the American presidential election in November.

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When the assault, involving air power and artillery, came, it was devastating, damaging two-thirds of the city's buildings and turning much of its population into refugees. As a result, thousands of Fallujans still live in the desert in tent villages with no access to clean water. In this vivid and timely history, Juan Cole tells the story of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Revealing the young general's reasons for leading the expedition against Egypt in and showcasing his fascinating views of the Orient, Cole delves into the psychology of the military titan and his entourage.

He paints a multi-faceted portrait of the daily travails of the soldiers in Napoleon's army, including how they imagined Egypt, how their expectations differed from what they found, and how they grappled with military challenges in a foreign land. Cole ultimately reveals how Napoleon's invasion, the first modern attempt to invade the Arab world, invented and crystallized the rhetoric of liberal imperialism.

Unlike almost every previous work which highlights the presence of numerous French scientists and archaeologists among the members of what is usually presented as a civilizing mission, the aim of this work is to present the occupation as a series of vicious military encounters, of battles, skirmishes and ambushes, between the French and a population which they could not understand the members of which they could not correctly identify It is to Cole's great credit that he does not force the parallels too far.

But the shadow of contemporary Iraq is never far away.

Napoleon's Egypt

Cole, a thoughtful and imaginative scholar, offers the latter with his account of an earlier, disastrous attempt to interfere with the Arab world. If any American is interested in catching up, the place to begin is with Juan Cole's Napoleon's Egypt: The Invention of the Middle East, a masterful and beautifully written account of Western imperialism's first assault on the Islamic world. It includes indispensable details on the West's contempt for Islamic peoples -- so-called Orientalism -- and the untold misery it has caused. Some still believe it.

It is to Cole's great credit that he does not force the parallels too far. But the shadow of contemporary Iraq is never far away. Cole, a thoughtful and imaginative scholar, offers the latter with his account of an earlier, disastrous attempt to interfere with the Arab world. If any American is interested in catching up, the place to begin is with Juan Cole's Napoleon's Egypt: The Invention of the Middle East, a masterful and beautifully written account of Western imperialism's first assault on the Islamic world.

It includes indispensable details on the West's contempt for Islamic peoples -- so-called Orientalism -- and the untold misery it has caused. Some still believe it. Cole's book reminds us that today's leaders are not the first to find the Islamic world far more complex than they imagined.