The Gen A FRENCH OCCUPATION
On the pretext of securing the authority of the Ottoman Sultan in Egypt, and incidentally protecting the interests of
the European merchants, Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt was in reality another campaign. A campaign he designed to control the land route and ultimately the sea route to India, thwarting the British advances in the Indian Ocean. Thus in July 1798 Napoleon’s fleet landed near Alexandria. His first act was to issue a proclamation, stressing the equality of all men, to the effect that he had come to rid the Egyptian people of the tyranny of the mamluks. He also stated that he revered the prophet MuQ.ammad and the Qur·an and the French were sincere Muslims. He advanced towards Cairo and retaliatory force met him at lmbabah. Surprisingly, Murad Bay and Ibrahim Bay led the forces and they were defeated and escaped to the South.
The British under Nelson cut off Napoleon’s retreat and he sunk his fleet. It was Brueys’ command at Abu Qir. This act, and Napoleon’s failure to capture Murad Bay, shattered the image of French invincibility and there were several insurrections centred on al-Azhar Mosque which the French bombarded.
The proclamations of the French did not particularly impress the Egyptians, who despite protestations to the contrary Egyptians considered them kafir (non-believers). The various scientific devices which the French demonstrated failed to win the admiration of the Egyptians-In spite of the fact that they sent a hot-air balloon up over the Azbakiyyah Lake. The Egyptians considered it to be some kind of kite. Napoleon made an attempt
at the conquest of Syria but plague and other ailments decimated his troops and the expedition failed. However he did defeat an Ottoman force assisted by the British who attempted an invasion from Abu Qir in July 1799. Shortly after, Napoleon left Egypt leaving General Kleber as governor. After another two-pronged Ottoman attack the French agreed to leave Egypt in January 1800 but British interference forced the French to entrench. A Syrian assassinated Kleber and the and Gen took over governorship. Baron de Menou, who although he had accepted Islam, declared Egypt a French colony. The British under Sir Ralph Abercromby had invaded from Abu Qir in 1801 and occupied Alexandria. the Egyptians repulsed the French. as a result of Abercromby’s death, the Ottoman landed more forces and took and attached Cairo.
The French un willingly capitulated and in September 1801 they left for Europe
.scientific goals of Campaign
Napoleon had brought with him from France some of the most eminent professors, which body formed the Institut d’Egypte. Fortunately, they undertook an exhaustive survey of Egypt covering all fields of the sciences and arts. They compiled their findings into a great work of twenty volumes published in 1809-28 and entitled Description de l’Egypte.
Although the technology and scientific expertise that the French displayed had no immediate effects the long-term results were very significant. In a period of three years the Egyptians were confronted with the full impact of Western technology.