Eunice and Ron Shanahan have shared with readers of the Victorian Web this material from their website, Letters from the Past.

Mohammed Ali Pasha

Muhammad Ali Lithograph by Horace Vernet from Comte A. de Forbin, Voyage du Levant 181 Tthis picture of Muhammad Ali is a part of lithograph from Searight.

In 1838 Muhammad Ali Pasha, who was the the ruler of Egypt in 1838, would be a candidate for the name "Mohammed the Black". He certainly deserved to be called by a nickname such as "the black" and worse.

"In March 1811 Muhammed Ali invited the leading Mamluks to a celebration in the Cairo citadel in the course of which they were all massacred (one man escaped to Acre). [Sarah Searight, The British in the Middle East (London, Elton Press 1979) p.121.]

In The Blue Nile (1962), Alan Moorehead indicates that Muhammad Ali was a Turk born in 1769 who was a volunteer in the Turkish army which landed at Abukir in 1799. In the political vacuum left when the British left Egypt in 1803 Muhammad Ali emerged from an exceedingly bloody civil war. In 1805, backed by Egyptian sheikhs he imprisoned the Turkish governor and took over. Some 50,000 Sudanese were killed when he suppressed an uprising and took revenge for the death of his son so that, by the end of 1823, "It was the peace of death along the river". Moorehead says that "even now one can hardly tolerate the story of the Turks' savage reprisals." and adds that

in 1838 Muhammad Ali, aged 70, visited the Sudan for the first time, bringing with him a large party which included a number of European engineers. The old tyrant, now the ruler of an empire which his son Ibrahim had pushed to the Euphrates, was full of projects: he wanted to clear the Nile cataracts, build a railway and a telegraph to Khartoum and establish cotton and indigo growing in the land between the two Niles. But after four months in the country he departed for Cairo, never to return. Ten years of increasing weakness and, eventually, imbecility were all that were left to Muhammed of his life" [ The Blue Nile (1962)]


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Last modified 3 December 2002