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Napoleon in Egypt

The History and Legacy of the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria
Narrated by: Jim Johnston
Length: 3 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, European
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Publisher's Summary

In 1798, an initial review of France’s naval forces had led Napoleon to conclude his navy could not hope to outfight the power of the Royal Navy, which had been the dominant naval power for centuries, so he was forced to look elsewhere. After months of planning, Napoleon crafted a scheme to attack and conquer Egypt, denying the British easy access to their colonies in India, with the ultimate goal of linking up with the Sultan Tipoo in India itself and defeating the British in the field there. Napoleon sailed with Admiral Brueys and 30,000 troops that June, heading for Egypt. Notionally part of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt was de facto a weak independent regime run by the breakaway Mamelukes. For France, it offered an overland route to India and a chance to beat Britain at its own game via economic strangulation.  

Ironically, in their attempt to intercept Napoleon and the French fleet, Admiral Horatio Nelson and the British forces beat the French to Africa, failing to take into account their slower troop transports. While the British turned north, only two days later, on June 28, 1798, Napoleon’s army disembarked at Alexandria. Back in Sicily, Nelson heard further reports about the French and again sailed south. This time, about six weeks after the French reached Egypt, Nelson’s fleet destroyed the French Mediterranean fleet, leaving Napoleon stranded in Africa.  

In addition to being unable to be reinforced or supplied by sea, his ambitions to establish a permanent presence in Egypt were further frustrated by a number of uprisings. Early in 1799, Napoleon advanced against France’s erstwhile enemy, the Ottoman Empire, invading modern Syria (then the province of Damascus) and conquering the cities of Gaza, Jaffa, Arish, and Haifa. However, with the plague running rampant through his army and his lines of supply from Egypt stretched dangerously thin, Napoleon was unable to destroy the fortified city of Acre and was forced to retreat. 

Napoleon harbored all kinds of delusions about his time in Egypt that were not based in reality, but he definitely left a lasting legacy in the region, one he would never live to see or appreciate. By shifting the theater of operations to Africa and the Middle East, Napoleon inadvertently ensured the Europeans would fight there in the future, and the French occupation impressed upon the locals the necessity of catching up to the modern world in terms of technology. 

Napoleon in Egypt: The History and Legacy of the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria chronicles one of the legendary French leader’s most forgotten campaigns. You will learn about Napoleon’s time in Egypt like never before. 

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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