All About History

BATTLE OF THE PYRAMIDS

Between 1796 97, Napoleon Bonaparte proved himself to be one of the finest generals in the world. His successes in the Italian campaign had also cemented his close relationship with his men, who came to idolise him.

Napoleon was now tasked with carrying on the war against Great Britain. His blow against “perfidious Albion” would not land against the British Isles, however, but Egypt.

Upon his return from Italy, he had been given the command of France’s ‘Army of England’, a force assembled to carry out an invasion of Britain. But he had inspected his troops and found them wanting. An alternative was therefore needed, and this left the conquest of Egypt as a means of indirectly harming Britain. Only by capturing Egypt, Napoleon argued, could France “truly destroy England”.

A NEW ALEXANDER

When contemplating his venture to Egypt, Napoleon likened himself to Alexander the Great. He admired Alexander, seeing him as an enlightened conqueror who had brought the advanced Greek civilisation to the peoples of the ‘backward’ Persian Empire. Napoleon wished to bring the benefits of Western civilisation to Egypt, which he believed had been smothered for centuries under the weight of the stagnant and oppressive Ottomans.

Ensuring good relations with the Egyptians was important to Napoleon. He wanted to win them

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