Our History

The Egyptian History has always fascinated me. Well, frankly, not always. Throughout school years I have always hated studying history, I loved the stories behind it, but sitting there for hours memorizing the names and dates,,, ouff that was too much for me. But still –elhamdlelah- I maintained my passion for all black and white photographs and I still listened carefully to anyone talking about our history. Later on I discovered that not all that I hear about historical events were true, that I have to know the sources of the info and the reason why this person says so and so about that incident. 

El mohem

I can definitely say that the educational system was the main reason my passion for history started to fade, but as I got older I wasn’t to blame anyone but myself for my ignorance. That’s why I went on Cairo Walks (mainly with PTP). I started to discover Islamic Cairo, Coptic Cairo, and modern Cairo. I started to listen to stories of glorious people, and of everyday things. I started to listen to conversations saying that folan el folani was a good guy driven by the love of the country, or was he a selfish man who looked for his own prosperity only. 

So how did Egypt move from the ancient times of pharaohs till the days of Islam, the Ottoman, Mohamed Ali, the revolution and akhiran the post revolution era? 

The last pharaoh of the Twenty-Sixth dynasty, Psammetichus III, was defeated by Cambyses II of Persia in the battle of Pelusium in the eastern Nile delta in 525 BC, Egypt was then joined with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. (…) 

The Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt began following Alexander the Great’s conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. (…)

An army of 4,000 Arabs led by Amr Ibn Al-Aas was sent by the Caliph Umar, successor to the Prophet Muhammad, to spread Islamic rule to the west. The Arabs crossed into Egypt from Palestine in December 639, and advanced rapidly into the Nile Delta. The Imperial garrisons retreated into the walled towns, where they successfully held out for a year or more. But the Arabs sent for reinforcements, and in April 641 they captured Alexandria. Most of the Egyptian Christians welcomed their new rulers: the accession of a new regime meant for them the end of the persecutions by the Byzantine state church. The Byzantines assembled a fleet with the aim of recapturing Egypt, and won back Alexandria in 645, but the Muslims retook the city in 646, completing the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Thus ended 975 years of Græco-Roman rule over Egypt. (…)

During the initial Islamic invasion in 639 AD, Egypt was ruled at first by governors acting in the name of the Ummayad Caliphs in Damascus but, in 747, the Ummayads were overthrown and the power of the Arabs slowly began to weaken. Although Egypt remained under the nominal rule of the Abbasid Caliphate, its rulers were able to establish quasi-independent dynasties, such as those of the Tulunids and the Ikhshidids. In 969 the Ismaili Shi’a Fatimid dynasty from Tunisia conquered Egypt and established its capital at Cairo. This dynasty lasted until 1174, when Egypt came under the rule of Saladin, whose dynasty, the Ayyubids, lasted until 1252. The Ayyubites were overthrown by the Mamluks, who ruled under the suzerainty of Abbasid Caliphs until 1517, when Egypt became part of the Ottoman Empire. (….)

Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Egypt was always a difficult province for the Ottoman Sultans to control. It remained dominated by the semi-autonomous Mameluks until it was conquered by the French in 1798. After the French were expelled it was ruled by the Albanian Muhammad Ali of Egypt and his descendants who pulled Egypt even further out of Ottoman control. This lasted until 1882 when the British invaded and Egypt became a de facto protectorate of Britain.(…)  

Later on the reign of Mohamed Aly’s family ended with the 1952 coup, and so we started a new chapter of history where Egypt was controlled by Mohamed Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar El Sadat and Hosny Mubarak. 

It’s funny how I used to consider the history of Egypt as consisting of four chapters only:

  • Ancient (including the pharaohs age, Achaemenid Egypt, Potelmic, and Roman)
  • Arab
  • Ottoman (which surprisingly I thought it should include Mohamed Aly’s dynasty)
  • Modern (starting from the 1952 coup)

 It’s also funny (and sad!) that I combined thousands of years (the first category), and at other times I combined different competitors of power (in the Arab and the ottoman categories), and it’s also funny how our current period is just 55 years old, which is literally NOTHING compared to our periods (the Romans alone ruled for almost a hundred years!).

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