French campaign in Egypt and Syria  

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"As early as Napoleon's campaigns into Egypt the Orient fascinated Europe. It was Vivant Denon's Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt that would kick start Egyptomania." --Sholem Stein

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The Egyptian Campaign (1798–1801) was Napoleon Bonaparte's unsuccessful campaign in Egypt and Syria to protect French trade interests and undermine Britain's access to India. Despite several victories and an expedition into Syria, Napoleon and his Armée d'Orient were eventually forced to withdraw by local hostility, British naval power, A newly reformed Ottoman army (Nizam-ı Cedid) and politics in Paris.

In addition to its significance in the wider French Revolutionary Wars, the campaign had a powerful impact on the Ottoman Empire in general and the Arab world in particular. The invasion demonstrated the military, technological, and organizational superiority of the Western European powers to the Middle East, leading to profound social changes in the region. The invasion introduced Western inventions, such as the printing press, and ideas, such as incipient nationalism, to the Middle East, eventually leading to the establishment of Egyptian independence and modernization under Muhammad Ali Pasha in the first half of the 19th century and eventually the Nahda, or Arab Renaissance. To modernist historians, French arrival marks the start of the modern Middle East.

Scientific expedition

An unusual aspect of the Egyptian expedition was the inclusion of a large group of scientists("savants") assigned to the invading French force. Among its resultant discoveries was the Rosetta Stone. One of the scientists was Joseph Fourier, and while in Egypt he did some of the empirical work upon which his "analytical theory of heat" was founded. This deployment of intellectual resources is considered by some an indication of Napoleon's devotion to the principles of the Enlightenment, and by others as a masterstroke of propaganda obfuscating the true imperialist motives of the invasion.

In a largely unsuccessful effort to gain the support of the Egyptian populace, Napoleon also issued proclamations casting himself as a liberator of the people from Mameluke oppression, and praising the precepts of Islam. This ended Napoleon's campaign in what some at home in France believed as a failure. However, Napoleon's reputation as a brilliant military commander remained intact despite his obvious failures during the campaign.

See also

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