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All the Pasha’s Men

All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt

Khaled Fahmy
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    All the Pasha’s Men
    Book Description:

    While scholarship has traditionally viewed Mehmed Ali Pasha as the founder of modern Egypt, Khaled Fahmy offers a new interpretation of his role in the rise of Egyptian nationalism, firmly locating him within the Ottoman context as an ambitious, if problematic, Ottoman reformer. Basing his work on previously neglected archival material, the author demonstrates how Mehmed Ali sought to develop the Egyptian economy and to build up the army, not as a means of gaining Egyptian independence from the Ottoman empire, but to further his own ambitions for recognized hereditary rule over the province. By focusing on the army and the soldier’s daily experiences, the author constructs a detailed picture of attempts at modernization and reform, how they were planned and implemented by various reformers, and how the public at large understood and accommodated them. In this way, the work contributes to the larger methodological and theoretical debates concerning nation-building and the construction of state power in the particular context of early nineteenth-century Egypt.

    eISBN: 978-1-61797-237-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Note on transliteration, dates and references
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. xix-lvi)

    On 25 November 1826 Mehmed Ali Pasha, the Ottoman Governor of Egypt, received in his palace Mr. John Barker in order to accept his credentials as the new British Consul in Alexandria. In a sign of deference, the Pasha stood up to greet the new consul, but ignored the official papers containing his credentials that he had in his hand. After a brief discussion of Mr. Barker’s predecessor who, the Pasha said, never contradicted “his will, or dispute [d] his opinions,” the Pasha then embarked upon a monolog that lasted for more than half an hour in which he told...

  8. Chapter 1 Between Sultan and vali: Syria and the nature of Mehmed Ali’s military expansion
    (pp. 1-40)

    In 1825 in a frank and candid interview with one of his French military advisors Mehmed Ali is reported to have said

    I am now the most important man [l’homme du jour] in the entire Ottoman Empire. I have returned the Holy Cities [of Mecca and Medina] to the true believers; I have carried my victorious armies to places where the power of the Grand Signor [i.e. the Ottoman Sultan] was not known, and to places whose people had still not heard of gunpowder. My right arm, my son Ibrahim, will conquer Morea and the moment his mission is crowned...

  9. Chapter 2 The birth of an army: conscription and resistance
    (pp. 41-78)

    During a visit to a local village market in Bani Suwayf in 1832, an English traveler described a scene of poor peasants, men and women, squatting, selling such humble products as water-jars, pots, pans and mats. Suddenly, he says,

    in the midst of these, as if to “shame the meanness” of their humble dress, we observed a number of cavalry officers, in their rich variegated costume, mounted on superb horse, galloping up the steep mounds, then down again, checking their fiery steeds in mid-gallop. Their principal commander, dressed in a magnificent scarlet cloak, embroidered dress, and costly shawl, with a...

  10. Chapter 3 From peasants to soldiers: discipline and training
    (pp. 79-128)

    After landing in Alexandria in the summer of 1798, the French army started a long, tedious march to Cairo under the blazing summer sun. The soldiers were suffering from fatigue, thirst and hunger. They were also considerably frightened, and even the presence of the charismatic Napoleon in their midst could not dispel the feeling of estrangement caused by a landscape and a people that were unfamiliar, exotic and often hostile.¹ They were frightened, above all, by the prospect of the expected encounter with the Mamluks, those famous warlords who had been in effective control of the country for centuries. Every...

  11. Chapter 4 Beyond the façade of order: the performance of the army
    (pp. 129-168)

    The battle of Konia in December 1832 was undoubtedly one of Ibrahim Pasha’s greatest military victories. Right in the middle of Anatolia, that is, hundreds of miles away from home and in the midst of severe cold weather, he succeeded in inflicting a heavy defeat on an army that was three times as large as his own. In addition, he managed to capture the Sadrazam, Mehmed Rasid Pasha, who was leading the Ottoman army himself. After the successful conclusion of the seven-hour battle the road to Istanbul was wide open and there was no significant Ottoman military force that could...

  12. Chapter 5 Behind the lines: daily life in the camps
    (pp. 169-210)

    In February 1832 Islam Aga, the adjutant-major of the 13th Infantry Regiment, died in the army hospital in Acre. On his death bed, he asked a friend of his, Huseyin Aga, the lieutenant-colonel of the 8th Infantry Regiment, to take charge of his funeral. He specifically requested him to sell his belongings, buy him a shroud and have a shaykh “recite the Koran on his soul.” Taking this to be his friend’s will, Huseyin Aga sold the property of his deceased friend so that he could meet the expenses of the funeral. Before the funeral had been conducted, however, the...

  13. Chapter 6 Mehmed Ali’s army and the Egyptian nation
    (pp. 211-250)

    One of the things that Mehmed Ali was concerned about when he took the first steps in creating his conscript army in Egypt was the design and shape of its flags.¹ After the soldiers had been trained and their officers appointed and after the entire regiment had been prepared to be dispatched to its destination, a festive ceremony was held in which the banner was delivered by the Pasha in person to the colonel of the regiment, thus officially marking the birth of a new regiment. On such occasions the Pasha is said to have given the following speech:


  14. Chapter 7 The Egyptian Vali, the Ottoman Pashas and the British Lord
    (pp. 251-278)

    In 1836, and at the height of his career, Mehmed Ali is reported to have received a letter from one of his officials informing him that a number of workers had been imprisoned in the “factory” they were working in. The Pasha answered the official sternly telling him not to treat the fellahin in that brutal way.

    Did I not tell you before [he reprimanded him], that the sources of my benefaction [lit.awlia’ ni’man] are two: Sultan Mahmud and the fellah. The reason I am repeating this to you is to urge you not to treat the fellah as...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 279-292)

    By studying the army of Mehmed Ali this book has attempted to challenge the powerful Egyptian nationalist discourse on Mehmed Ali Pasha’s reign, according to which the Pasha is seen as laying the foundations for a national recovery of Egypt aimed at gaining her independence from the Ottoman Empire. The thousands of Egyptians who served in the Pasha’s army, while not seeing themselves yet as Egyptians first and foremost, are claimed in this powerful, dominant nationalist discourse to have eventually discovered their true identities and to have seen themselves as Egyptians fighting for the glory of the fatherland. The Pasha’s...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 293-308)
  17. Index
    (pp. 309-314)