Military Review

Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign of Bonaparte

Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign of Bonaparte In 1798-1801, on the initiative and direct leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French army tried to gain a foothold in the Middle East, capturing Egypt. AT historical Napoleon’s career, the Egyptian campaign became the second big war, after the Italian campaign.

Egypt, as a territory, was and is of great strategic importance. In the era of colonial expansion, he was very attractive for both Paris and London. The bourgeoisie of southern France, especially Marseille, has long had extensive contacts and conducted trade with the countries of the Mediterranean. The French bourgeoisie was not averse to gaining a foothold in a number of lucrative places, such as the coast of the Balkan Peninsula, the islands of the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek archipelago, Syria and Egypt.

By the end of the 18 century, the desire to establish colonies in Syria and Egypt had grown significantly. The British seized a number of French colonies (Martinique, Tobago, etc.), as well as some Dutch and Spanish colonial possessions, which led to an almost complete cessation of the French colonial trade. It hurt the French economy. Talleyrand, in his report to the Institute on July 3 of 1797, “A Memoir on the Benefits of the New Colonies in Modern Conditions”, directly pointed to Egypt as a possible compensation for the losses suffered by the French. This was facilitated by the gradual weakening of the Ottoman Empire, which lost its position in North Africa. The decline of Turkey in the 18 century led to the emergence of the “Turkish heritage” question. Egypt in this legacy was a particularly tasty morsel.

The French also looked out for the very tempting Levant, the territory of the eastern Mediterranean (modern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestine), which was owned by the Ottoman sultans. For a long time, since the days of the Crusades, Europeans and Egypt were interested in, which in the period of the French Revolution was legally part of the Ottoman Empire, but in fact was an independent state entity. Egypt, washed by both the Mediterranean and the Red Seas, could become a springboard with which France could have a more serious impact on competitors in the struggle for India and other Asian countries and lands. Another famous philosopher Leibniz filed a report to King Louis XIV in which he advised the French monarch to seize Egypt in order to undermine the position of the Dutch throughout the East. Now, England was the main rival of France in South and Southeast Asia.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the proposal of Napoleon to seize Egypt did not outrage the French government. Even before going to Egypt, Napoleon ordered the capture of the Ionian Islands. At the same time, he finally formed the idea of ​​going to the East. In August, 1797, Napoleon wrote to Paris: “The time is not far off when we will feel that in order to actually defeat England, we need to master Egypt.” Capturing the Ionian Islands, he strongly advised the government to seize Malta, she was needed as a base for a throw to Egypt.

Political situation

After the victory in Italy, Napoleon 10 December 1797, solemnly met in Paris. Crowds of people welcomed the hero, whose name in recent times did not leave the mouth. In the Luxembourg Palace, the general was greeted by all official France: members of the Directory, ministers, dignitaries, members of the Council of Elders and the Council of Five Hundred, generals, senior officers. Barras gave a flowery speech in which he welcomed Bonaparte as a hero who avenged France for the enslavement and destroyed in the past by Caesar. The French commander brought to Italy, in his words, "freedom and life."

However, behind the smiles and friendly speeches of politicians, as usual, lies, irritation and fear. Napoleon's victories in Italy, his negotiations with the Italian governments and the Austrians, made him a political figure, he ceased to be just one of many generals. For almost two years, Napoleon acted in both military and political-diplomatic spheres, disregarding the interests of the ruling group, often in direct conflict with them. In particular, the Directorate gave Napoleon a direct order not to make peace with Austria, to begin a march on Vienna. But the general, contrary to the clear instructions of the government, made peace, and the Directory was forced to accept it, since the legislative councils and the whole country, exhausted by the war, longed for peace. Hidden opposition constantly intensified. And that scarecrow members of the Directory, the position of Napoleon is constantly strengthened. His policy met with widespread support.

Bonaparte had a choice: what to do next? The situation in the Republic was difficult - finances were upset, the treasury was empty, corruption and theft were flourishing. A bunch of speculators, suppliers to the army, embezzlers made enormous fortunes, and the common people, especially the poor, suffered from a shortage of food, high, speculative food prices. The directory could not create a stable regime, restore order in the country, on the contrary, its members themselves were participants in theft and speculation. However, Napoleon did not know what exactly to strive for. He was ambitious enough to claim a place in the Directory. Attempts in this direction have been made. But the members of the Directory, and above all Barras, were opposed to the inclusion of a general in the government. Straight, legal path to the top of power was closed for Napoleon. Other ways were still impossible. The majority of the population still supported the Republic, the illegal seizure of power could cause serious resistance in society. The campaign to Egypt postponed the final decision, gave Napoleon time to think, to strengthen the camp of his supporters. Success in this campaign could strengthen his authority in society. Yes, and his opponents were happy - the Directory is not without pleasure sent an ambitious general to the Egyptian expedition. Achieve success - well, disappear - also good. This decision satisfied both parties.

I must say that at this time, Napoleon became close with Foreign Minister Talleyrand. In some young instinct, he solved a rising star in the young Corsican general and began to support his initiatives.

A month and a half before returning to Paris, Bonaparte was appointed commander of the "English army." This army was intended to invade the British Isles. After the signing of peace with Austria and the Russian Empire, only England was at war with France. French weakness fleet, relative to the British fleet, it was not possible to safely transport a large army to America or India. Therefore, two options were proposed: 1) to land troops in Ireland, where the local population hated the British (they actually carried out the genocide of the Irishman); 2) to land an army in the possession of the Ottoman Empire, where, with luck, it was possible to move it to India. In India, the French counted on the support of local rulers. The second option was preferable. It was believed that with the Turks you can get along. France has traditionally had a strong position in Istanbul. Moreover, after the French seizure of the Ionian Islands and France signing advantageous agreements with the Kingdom of Naples, Britain lost all its permanent naval bases in the Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, Napoleon always attracted the East. His favorite hero was more Alexander the Great than Caesar or another historical hero. Already traveling through the Egyptian deserts, he was half-joking, half-seriously speaking to his companions that he was born too late and no longer could, like Alexander of Macedon, who also conquered Egypt, proclaim himself right there as god or god of God. And quite seriously, he said that Europe is small and that truly great things can be accomplished in the East. He said Burienne: “Europe is a mole hole! There have never been such great possessions and great revolutions as in the East, where 600 million people live. ” Large-scale plans were born in his head: to reach the Indus, to raise the local population against the British; then turn, take Constantinople, raise the Greeks, etc. to the struggle for liberation against Turkey

Napoleon had a strategic mindset and understood that England was the main opponent of France in Europe and the world. The idea of ​​invading the British Isles was very seductive for Napoleon. To hoist the French in London, which could be more captivating for an ambitious Napoleon. England did not have powerful ground forces and could not resist the French army. In 1796, the French managed to establish contacts with the Irish national revolutionary circles. But the operation was very risky due to the weakness of the French fleet. In February, 1798, Napoleon traveled to the west and north coasts of France. He visited Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, Newport, Ostend, Antwerp and other places. He talked with sailors, fishermen, smugglers, delved into all the details, analyzing the situation. The conclusions reached by Napoleon were disappointing. The success of the landing on the British Isles, neither in naval nor financially was not ensured. According to Napoleon himself, the success of the operation depended on luck, on chance.

The start of the expedition and the capture of Malta

5 March 1798 Napoleon was appointed commander of the "Egyptian army". 38-thousand the expeditionary army was concentrated in Toulon, Genoa, Ajaccio and Civitavecchia. Napoleon in a short time spent a tremendous work on the preparation of the expedition, on the inspection of ships, on the selection of people in the campaign. Inspecting the coast and the fleet, forming parts, the commander continued to closely monitor the British fleet under the command of Nelson, who could destroy all his plans. Bonaparte almost single-handedly selected soldiers and officers to go to Egypt, preferring proven people, those with whom he fought in Italy. Thanks to his exceptional memory, he knew a huge number of people individually. He personally checked everything - artillery, ammunition, horses, provisions, equipment, books. He embarked on the campaign of the color of the generals of the Republic - Kleber, Deze, Bertier, Murat, Lannes, Bessieres, Junot, Marmont, Duroc, Sulkovsky. Lavalette, Burienne. The scientists, the future “Institute of Egypt”, the famous Monge, Berthollet, Saint-Iller, Conte, Dolomie, etc., also went on a campaign.

19 May 1798, an armada of four hundred transports and warships left the ports and, united, moved south. Its flagship was the battleship Orion. All of Europe knew that an expeditionary corps was being prepared in France, that its commander was the celebrated Bonaparte. The question was - where will it go? On the capture of Malta, Sicily, Egypt? To Ireland? No one, except for the narrowest circle of military leaders, knew where the fleet was heading. Even the Minister of War Scherer and the one until the last days was not in the know. Newspapers spread a variety of rumors. At the beginning of May, the rumor was popular that the fleet would pass the Straits of Gibraltar, would go around the Iberian Peninsula and drop troops on Green Island. The British also believed this rumor, Nelson, at the time when the French fleet left the harbor and to Malta, guarded Gibraltar.

9-10 June advanced French ships reached Malta. The island from the XVI century belonged to the Order of the Knights of Malta. The Knights of Malta (also known as the Hospitallers or Johnites) at one time played a major role in the fight against the North African pirates and the Ottoman Empire, but at the end of the XVIII century. experienced a time of decline. The Order maintained friendly relations with England and Russia, the enemies of France. The island was used as a temporary base for the British fleet.

The French have made a request for drinking water. The Maltese gave permission for water to be collected at the same time by only one ship. When the size of the French fleet was bold (the delay could lead to the appearance of the British fleet). General Bonaparte demanded the surrender of the island. The Maltese began to prepare for defense. However, the knights have long lost their morale and were not capable of action, the mercenaries did not show a desire to die the brave and capitulated or went over to the French, the local population also did not express the desire to make war. The Grand Master of the Maltese Order, Ferdinand von Gompesh zu Bolheim, failed to organize the defense, on the contrary, readily surrendered to the French, explaining his actions by saying that the statute of the order forbade hospitalists to fight Christians. As a result, the French fleet easily landed several landings, which quickly occupied the entire island. Above the fortress of La Valette, a French flag was raised.

Napoleon won the first victory. 19 June, the French fleet moved on, blowing winds, and the British were not visible. A small garrison was left on the island.

To be continued ...
Articles from this series:
Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign of Bonaparte
Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign Bonaparte. Part of 2
Battle of the pyramids. Egyptian campaign Bonaparte. Part of 3
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  1. Pinochet000
    Pinochet000 April 18 2013 08: 01 New
    Why did he even go there? Then he pinned us .... it is not clear. They came and rested. I don’t know, I have a strong feeling that at the turn of 1775-1812 something happened that was not in the history books.
    1. Prometey
      Prometey April 18 2013 08: 54 New
      Quote: Pinochet000
      I don’t know, I have a strong feeling that at the turn of 1775-1812 something happened that was not in the history books.

      I even read about a more radical version that Napoleon Bonaparte as a historical person did not exist (I’ll say right away that this is not a version of Fomenko).
      1. Pinochet000
        Pinochet000 April 18 2013 09: 18 New
        Quote: Prometey
        I even read about a more radical version

        Yes, I also read, I don’t know, now you don’t know who and what to believe, but that’s why Napoleon carried all kinds of scientists with him on a campaign and why, after going to Egypt, he came to us if the main opponent was England, and what are his goals for Russia not intelligible .... Moscow burned down and left back, how could a 600 thousand army be torn away a riddle in general, why did they rest? Partisans, disease, hunger? In short, some questions ....
        1. Prometey
          Prometey April 18 2013 09: 46 New
          Quote: Pinochet000
          so it was possible to prosrat 600 thousand army in general a mystery

          Yes, in fact, there is no mystery. Firstly, the invasion army totaled 350 thousand people. (the remaining 250 thousand historians keep in mind and plus on paper). Secondly, there is a concept - non-combat losses (from overwork, illness) and which, during the absence of antiseptics, antibiotics, could reach 30% (apparently rapid marching throws of only a few thousand km, could only genetically modified Macedonians and Mongols). Well, actually, direct losses during hostilities.
        2. bazilio
          bazilio April 18 2013 10: 54 New
          Quote: Pinochet000
          why, after going to Egypt, he pounced on us if England’s main opponent

          because in 1805 Nelson (the English admiral) piled on Villeneuve (the French admiral) at Cape Trafalgar (the Atlantic coast of Spain). The British sank 22 ships of the French, without losing a single one. After this battle, Napoleon spat on his plans to invade England and took aim at Austria and Russia.
          1. Prometey
            Prometey April 18 2013 13: 53 New
            Quote: bazilio
            because in 1805 Nelson (the English admiral) piled on Villeneuve (the French admiral) at Cape Trafalgar (the Atlantic coast of Spain). The British sank 22 ships of the French, without losing a single one.

            Not exactly your bravado slang is suitable for the outcome of the battle. Directly during the battle, only 1 ship of the Franco-Spanish squadron was sunk, the rest were captured, with some of them drowned as a result of a storm that erupted after the battle. Many British ships, including the flagship Victoria, were heavily damaged and were unable to sail to England without further repairs.
            1. bazilio
              bazilio April 19 2013 10: 30 New
              Quote: Prometey
              Not exactly your bravado slang is suitable for the outcome of the battle.

              I apologize, I tried to preserve the style of saying "... got into us"
          2. Mika712
            Mika712 April 18 2013 20: 49 New
            Because after the defeat of the French fleet, the only way left was to get England - a continental blockade. Russia, thrown a couple of times by the British, joined the blockade. But then Pavel got a snuffbox, the English henchman Alexander I came to power. He lifted the blockade. Napoleon tried to take revenge, but did not master.
    2. wk
      wk April 18 2013 20: 56 New
      Quote: Pinochet000
      I don’t know, I have a strong feeling that at the turn of 1775-1812 something happened that was not in the history books.

      this includes Suvorov’s Swiss campaign with the famous passage through the Alps that has fallen into all textbooks, but nowhere is there a clear justification for the goals of this campaign and its results are also vague.
      1. Prometey
        Prometey April 18 2013 21: 27 New
        Quote: wk
        there is no clear justification for the goals of this campaign and its results are also vaguely described.

        Because Suvorov is recognized as an undefeated commander. But, to be objective, the alpine campaign is a meaningless expedition (for the Austrians, having learned about Suvorov’s plan, for reasonable reasons abandoned this undertaking) and as a result, the Russian army barely took their feet from Switzerland. In general, it is inconvenient to say that, in essence, Suvorov’s alpine campaign is a failed expedition.
    3. Setrac
      Setrac April 19 2013 03: 49 New
      Quote: Pinochet000
      I don’t know, I have a strong feeling that at the turn of 1775-1812 something happened that was not in the history books.

      You assume that history is relative truth, and only a few points have been changed to suit political interests, but this is not so. History is a lie, and the whole, to which the meager part of the truth is added, is for credibility. The truth is not written about the events of the Second World War, modern events in Syria are reported FALSE, and what can be said of a more distant history.
      1. CRONOS
        CRONOS April 19 2013 11: 25 New
        Take a trip to Syria and cover the event not falsely, but as believable as you can. What prevents that?
        1. Setrac
          Setrac April 19 2013 20: 41 New
          Quote: CRONOS
          Take a trip to Syria and cover the event not falsely, but as believable as you can. What prevents that?

          More events in the world than one person can illuminate, this is first. Secondly, I do not need to promote my propaganda to the masses. Thirdly, if there is nothing to say in essence, why do you discriminate yourself with dubious attacks?
  2. pinecone
    pinecone April 18 2013 11: 37 New
    Young, hot, "initiative" like that. "The East beckoned him" ...
    The ultimate goal of the Egyptian campaign was the secession of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, so the revolutionary government of France funded this whole venture, the initiator of which was not Napoleon at all.
    However, both London and Petersburg had their own plans for this. It turned out that Ushakov and Nelson fought together at sea for the territorial integrity of Turkey.
  3. Nester
    Nester April 18 2013 11: 43 New
    The situation in the Republic was difficult - finances are upset, the treasury is empty, corruption and theft flourished. A handful of speculators, suppliers to the army, embezzlers made huge fortunes, and ordinary people, especially the poor, suffered from a shortage of food, high, speculative food prices. The directory could not create a stable regime, restore order in the country, on the contrary, its members themselves were participants in theft, speculation.

    I didn’t live in the time of Napoleon, but something is familiar to me.
  4. Standard Oil
    Standard Oil April 18 2013 12: 00 New
    Well, they found the study of the pyramids, the Rosetta stone, piled on the descendants of the hospitaliers, Mamelukes, then the Turks, there were even plans to build the Suez Canal and there is India, and as Napoleon said: "The Ganges is enough to touch the French sword to collapse this building of mercantile grandeur (it’s he about Great Britain if that). "So Bonaparte was no idiot at all, another question is that he did not calculate his strength, especially at sea.
  5. lilit.193
    lilit.193 April 18 2013 15: 36 New
    But why did he go there? Well, Hitler understands why - the Suez Canal. But what did Napoleon really forget in Egypt?
    1. Setrac
      Setrac April 19 2013 03: 53 New
      Quote: lilit.193
      But why did he go there? Well, Hitler understands why - the Suez Canal. But what did Napoleon really forget in Egypt?

      It is obvious! Napoleon in Egypt laid the future "finds" of historians, created the history of ancient Egypt.
  6. knn54
    knn54 April 18 2013 19: 41 New
    But this trip was very carefully prepared. Someone was preparing equipment, collecting scientists and engineers, and setting tasks. And a huge fleet was equipped, including the flagship Orient, armed with 120 guns! Any outcome of the operation would suit the directory: it will return with a victory - and it’s good for them, because it was they who sent it there, well, if it doesn’t return, it’s even better.
    In Egypt, the future emperor arrived at the pyramid of Cheops and demanded from the ministers to be taken to the so-called "royal tomb room", and left alone. Napoleon appeared twenty minutes later. His enthusiasm left no trace. His face was ashen - gray, his eyes dull lifeless, looking down at the ground.
    In the evening, the adjutant Captain Geret still dared to turn to Napoleon with a question whether he would call a doctor and share what depresses his spirit so much? Standing officers approached, among them a doctor, surrounded Napoleon. Suddenly, Napoleon closed his eyes with his palms and, slowly swaying from side to side, exclaimed with a dull groan: “Oh, Lord! Why do you need it! You don’t believe it anyway! ” And the secret of what he saw died with the exiled emperor of France in 1821. "
    Discarding the sense of duty and responsibility for the troops entrusted to him as unnecessary, on August 22, 1799 Bonaparte fled from Egypt in one of the surviving ships, leaving his army to the mercy of fate.
    A general who has committed such an act (desertion) should have said goodbye to his career. The government was obliged to severely punish him, and the public - to subject no less severe censure. Everything happened, for some reason, on the contrary: the French greeted the conqueror of the mysterious East with hope and glee, and the bankrupt Directory did not dare reproach the hero for anything. A month after Bonaparte landed on the French coast, he carried out a coup d'etat and became a sovereign dictator, "citizen of the first consul."
    PS There is a version that Napoleon discovered several rich Egyptian burials, and in a hurry he collected everything in the tomb of Tutankhamun, and then carefully disguised it.
    This explains the STRANGE in the composition and location of the mass of objects in the burial of Tutankhamun.
  7. Pinochet000
    Pinochet000 April 18 2013 19: 55 New
    Quote: knn54
    But this trip was very carefully prepared.

    Yes, I read, preparation for a scientific expedition, recalls .... with good security laughing
  8. Bosk
    Bosk April 19 2013 08: 05 New
    Quote: Pinochet000
    Came and rested

    Somewhere I read that being in exile on Father Helena Bonaparte decided to calculate how many lives of French soldiers the Russian campaign cost him and a figure of 100000 tons appeared. man, and the remaining losses were as he put it GERMANS AND OTHER POLES ...