Colonial Bridgehead: Government and Society in Alexandria, 1807-1882

By Michael J. Reimer | Go to book overview

Introduction

From 1807 to 1882

A pervasive anxiety descended upon the city of Istanbul in the gloomy winter of 1807. The Russians had launched an attack in the Danube valley just before the beginning of the year, and British warships supported the assault by threatening the Ottoman capital itself. Although Istanbul was saved from external danger, the government was convulsed by a mutiny of the Janissaries. The Janissaries--the old corps d'élite of the empire but by the nineteenth century little more than a truculent urban syndicate--mobilized their allies and clients in the capital and overthrew the reigning sultan, Selim III.

In the Ottoman province of Egypt, it was also a year of crisis.1 The country staggered in the aftershock of invasions and epidemics. The thirty-eight-year-old viceroy, Muhammad Ali, was by no means in firm control of the country. He was short of cash with which to pay his unruly Albanian troops and faced a dangerous threat from the Mamluks--freedmen with a tradition of rule extending back over five centuries--whose men had removed to Upper Egypt. Muhammad Ali had hoped to strike at them quickly and scatter their forces, but was delayed first by illness and then by the distressing news of a seaborne invasion of Alexandria by the British. An Anglo-Mamluk combination was in the offing, aimed at his elimination from power.

The people of Alexandria, however, viewed the arrival of the 'Ingileez' somewhat differently. The invaders were infidels, to be sure, and the local garrison fought briefly in the town's defense before surrendering to British forces. On the other hand, the Alexandrians felt no special loyalty to the new viceroy nor much tangible solidarity with the rest of Egypt. The sultan had specifically excluded Egypt's northern ports from Muhammad Ali's jurisdiction as governor.

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Colonial Bridgehead: Government and Society in Alexandria, 1807-1882
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • State, Culture, and Society In Arab North Africa iii
  • Title Page v
  • For My Mother and Father, and My Wife, Marty vii
  • Contents ix
  • Tables, Maps, and Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One The Geographical And Historical Inheritance 15
  • 1- Between Egypt and the Sea 17
  • 2- The Ottoman Town 25
  • Part Two Muhammad Ali's City, 1807-1848 51
  • 4- Restructuring Urban Administration 65
  • 5- A Demographic Profile At Mid-Century 89
  • Part Three Bridgehead of Colonialism, 1848-1882 105
  • 6- The Boom Years 107
  • 7- Property and Privilege 123
  • 8- Administration and Society After 1850 137
  • 9- Mediterranean Magnet 159
  • 10- The Crisis of 1882 171
  • 11- Conclusion 183
  • Appendix Census Documents 197
  • Notes 201
  • Bibliography 235
  • Index 245
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