WEAKENED by internecine strife, a victim to bankrupt statesmanship, Egypt was powerless to resist the surging tide of Arab expansion which quickly followed the death of Muḥammad and the establishment of the Caliphate. So rich a country, lying in such tempting proximity to the head-quarters of the Muslim State, and constituting a serious threat to its expanding communications, could not long escape the attentions of an ambitious general. Late in the year 639, ̔Amr ibn al-̔Âὣ led his columns through Sinai. A month's siege reduced Pelusium, and the Arab invaders struck at the Byzantine armies under Cyrus and Theodorus, shutting Cyrus up in Babylon (near modern Cairo) until he agreed to humiliating terms and joined his colleague in Alexandria. The emperor Heraclius repudiated the terms and banished Cyrus: but after being invested for seven months, the fortress fell. The Muslim army then marched on Alexandria. The death of Heraclius in 641 was disastrous to the Byzantine cause, for his son and successor, Constans II, was immature in years and judgement, and consented to evacuate his army from Egypt in September, 642. A fruitless attempt was made in 645 to recapture Alexandria from the sea, but 'Amr, who had been hastily recalled to take charge of operations, quelled the hopes of the insurgent population of the city, and by 646 no other authority but that of the Arabs remained in the land. So Egypt, which had been for centuries the repository of Greek learning, and a battleground of Christian sects, passed over irrevocably into the hands of the Saracens, and has remained ever since a pre-eminently Muslim country.
For more than two centuries, Egypt was administered by governors, first for the Umayyad Caliphs, and then for their suc-