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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Napoleonic Era

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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider and our late friend and long time ACG Staff member, Michael Brown, better known here as Post Captain.

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  #1  
Old 18 Feb 17, 08:27
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Napoleon's Addresses: The Egyptian Campaign

While some may have a negative view of the Emperor of the French...there is no doubting that the great Napoleon Bonaparte was a man known for military successes and expansion of the French Empire. Bonaparte was a feared and admired Catholic leader depending on if you fought for or against Bonaparte that is. Bonaparte was also a student of history...including the history of the Roman Empire along with the various Muslim Empires of history. Numerous sources suggest Bonaparte was a man of all peoples...of Jew, Muslim and Christian. It was perhaps Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign that we can learn of the chivalry and honor of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Proclamation to the Troops on Embarking for Egypt, June, 1798

"Headquarters on Board the Orient,

the 4th Messidor, year 6.

Bonaparte, Member of the National Institute, General-in-Chief.

"Soldiers:—You are about to undertake a conquest the effects of which, on civilization and commerce, are incalculable. The blow you are about to give to England will be the best aimed, the most sensibly felt, she can receive until the time arrives when you can give her her death-blow.

"We must make some fatiguing marches; we must fight several battles; we shall succeed in all we undertake. The destinies are with us. The Mameluke beys, who favor exclusively English commerce, whose extortions oppress our merchants, and who tyrannize over the unfortunate inhabitants of the Nile, a few days after our arrival will no longer exist.

"The people amongst whom we are going to live are Mahometans. The first article of there faith is this: 'There is but one God and Mahomet is His prophet.' Do not contradict them. Behave to them as you behaved to the Jews—to the Italians. Pay respect to their muftis and their imaums, as you did to the rabbis and the bishops. Extend to the ceremonies prescribed by the Koran and the mosques the same toleration which you showed to the synagogues, to the religion of Moses and of Jesus Christ.

"The Roman legions protect all religions. You will here find customs different from those of Europe. You must accommodate yourselves to them. The people amongst whom we are about to mix differ from us in the treatment of women; but in all countries he who violates is a monster. Pillage only enriches a small number of men; it dishonors us; it destroys our resources; it converts into enemies the people whom it is our interest to have for friends.

"The first town we shall come to was built by Alexander. At every step we shall meet with grand recollections, worthy of exciting the emulation of Frenchmen."


http://www.napoleon-series.org/resea...speeches2.html
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  #2  
Old 18 Feb 17, 09:44
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The Egyptian angle

Even if his address was just aimed at winning hearts & mind, at least with the better educated part of the Cairene population, it seems to have worked.

Some aspects of the French revolutionary thought and technology were inspected by the elite in Cairo with a degree of discernment and at times even enthusiasm while at the same time they remained Muslims, as opposed to becoming revolutionay atheists.

After the Battle of the Pyramids they experienced both shock and fascination when Napoleon entered at the head of his well-behaving victorious soldiers, scientists and scholars. Egypt’s Muslims had been raised and lived in the belief that Islam's innate superiority should always assure victory in war against inferior infidels. Faced with the outcome of the battle those Egyptians with an open mind had to acknowledge not only French good behaviour, but also their superior military skills plus the intellectual freshness these infidels were bringing to Egypt.
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Old 18 Feb 17, 10:05
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Originally Posted by Major Sennef View Post
Even if his address was just aimed at winning hearts & mind, at least with the better educated part of the Cairene population, it seems to have worked.

Some aspects of the French revolutionary thought and technology were inspected by the elite in Cairo with a degree of discernment and at times even enthusiasm while at the same time they remained Muslims.
After the Battle of the Pyramids they experienced both shock and fascination when Napoleon entered at the head of his well-behaving victorious soldiers, scientists and scholars. Egypt’s Muslims had been raised and lived in the belief that Islam's innate superiority should always assure victory in war against inferior infidels. Faced with the outcome of the battle those Egyptians with an open mind had to acknowledge not only French good behaviour, but also their superior military skills plus the intellectual freshness these infidels were bringing to Egypt.
Yes good points. We can see the French influence in much of the middle east to this day. To what extent did Napoleon practice freedom of religion is part of the interest in Napoleon for me, as well as the reaction of the inhabitants of the ME to the French presence.

Napoleon I, while continuously striving to influence French society and gain new backing from the believers of any faith that lived within his empire, devoted considerable time to his efforts of manipulating an institution almost as old as the Roman Empire. The relationship between the Catholic Church and the French state deeply concerned the emperor. Napoleon I greatly understood the power of a religious majority, as first evidenced by his actions during his military campaign to conquer Egypt from 1798 to 1799. The then General Bonaparte, who liked to compare himself to Julius Caesar, after crushing a violent uprising in Egypt, pardoned the imams and sheiks of the El-Azhar mosque, who had done nothing against the French, while ordering the beheading of the real rebels. Just as Alexander the Great and his army had marched through the desert to visit the shrine of Amon, Bonaparte treated Islamic sites with admiration and respect during his own desert odyssey. Bonaparte felt flattered by those Egyptians who called him Sultan Kebir, which literally means the “Great” Sultan. Bonaparte even went so far as to outright state that the Koran predicted his defeat of the Mameluke caste that ruled Egypt and he also talked of the conversion of the French Army of the Orient to Islam. In spring 1799, Bonaparte actually had the ulemas of El-Azhar proclaim that Sultan Kebir “loved the Muslims, cherished the Prophet, instructed himself by reading the Koran every day, and desired to build a mosque unrivalled in splendour and to embrace the Muslim faith.”[14]

When Napoleon Bonaparte returned to France in 1799, he made use of his past experiences with religion to gain support from the Catholic majority in France that had been disillusioned by revolutionary excesses. The activities of the various revolutionary regimes had created religious disunity, which René Rémond sees as “a final religious war,” evidenced by the police’s recording of at least some violation of the laws restricting public worship in every one of the sixty-nine cantons of the department of Yonne between the fall of Robespierre and the coming of Bonaparte.


http://www.napoleon-series.org/resea...religion1.html

Do you think the above article is being fair to Robespierre?

How multicultural or open to different religions would you say Napoleon is?
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Old 18 Feb 17, 10:22
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Btw it looks like the above source suggests that Bonaparte converted to Islam. Other sources suggest Napoleon remained a Catholic and did not convert to Islam while in Egypt,

It has been alleged that Bonaparte, when in Egypt, took part in the religious ceremonies and worship of the Mussulmans; but it cannot be said that he celebrated the festivals of the overflowing of the Nile and the anniversary of the Prophet. The Turks invited him to these merely as a spectator; and the presence of their new master was gratifying to the people. But he never committed the folly of ordering any solemnity. He neither learned nor repeated any prayer of the Koran, as many persons have asserted; neither did he advocate fatalism polygamy, or any other doctrine of the Koran. Bonaparte employed himself better than in discussing with the Imans the theology of the children of Ismael. The ceremonies, at which policy induced him to be present, were to him, and to all who accompanied him, mere matters of curiosity. He never set foot in a mosque; and only on one occasion, which I shall hereafter mention, dressed himself in the Mahometan costume. He attended the festivals to which the green turbans invited him. His religious tolerance was the natural consequence of his philosophic spirit.

https://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/612/


Napoleon was not irreligious in the ordinary sense of the word. He would not admit that there had ever existed a genuine atheist; he condemned Deism as the result of rash speculation. A Christian and a Catholic, he recognized in religion alone the right to govern human societies. He looked on Christianity as the basis of all real civilization; and considered Catholicism as the form of worship most favorable to the maintenance of order and the true tranquility of the moral world; Protestantism as a source of trouble and disagreements. Personally indifferent to religious practices, he respected them too much to permit the slightest ridicule of those who followed them.


https://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/d/505/
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Old 18 Feb 17, 13:33
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Bonaparte was a chancer who was prepared to tell any old lie to advantage himself. A bit like Kaiser William who was also prepared to appear in Islamic costume if it got him what he wanted. To get the real measure of Napoleon take a look at the siege of Jaffa where he initiated a campaign of rape and pillage and had the garrison who had surrendered under promise of quarter bayoneted (to save ammunition) to death. If he had done that in WW2 he'd have been tried in 1945, hanged and his ashes flushed down the sewers. Judge him by his actions not his words.
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Old 19 Feb 17, 09:34
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Yes and Napoleon is one of the most loved and cherished figures of history. Its quite rare to hear someone try and paint Napoleon in a negative light. MarkV I wonder what the charge would have been in 1945 for running a slavery business of which many nations and historic figures were involved in the slave trade during the lifetime of Napoleon.

Napoleon reminds us of Caesar, Timur, Genghis Khan...yes these men at times were said to be feared warriors....but they were also men of multiculturalism who made extraordinary advancements in mankind....open to accepting different looking people into their ranks so long as they towed the line.
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Old 19 Feb 17, 10:03
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During Napoleons life and rise to greatness.....we saw the ugly aspect of slavery around the world including in the British and French Empire. Aside from some one off war action by Napoleon wrt the alleged bayoneting incident(of which we need more information on in any event) of which btw the British have had their fair share of accusations of war crimes....the darkest issue if you will of the times was slavery. It was the British and French Empire which respectively in 1833 and 1815 abolished slavery. Now yes, discrimination continued in both empires after the abolishment of slavery....but the wheels of freedom were in motion.

Certain men and women of history stand out...without a doubt Napoleon Bonaparte is one of them like him or not. For many the Napoleonic code elevated Napoleon to one of the most tolerate and outstanding men of all time. The Napoleonic code brought in religious freedom and sought to combat nepotism in the French Empire.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 10:32
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Did You Know? Napoleon Was A Serious Admirer Of Islam

The modern day American, British and French ideals of tolerance of others so long as they are loyal to the country....can be traced back to men such as Napoleon.


Not many know that Napoleon was an admirer of Islam. A willingness to embrace Islam, its values and its adherents is not new to Europe. As far back as the late 18th and early 19th centuries, French general and emperor Napoleon Bonaparte showed support for Islam that combined liberal ideals with political pragmatism.

.....

He was also a great pragmatist. His republicanism gave way when a strong government was needed and when he had the opportunity to become Emperor. He would tolerate any set of views that did not undermine his position or the strength the French state.

.....

Rather than attempt to enforce a new ideology on these diverse people, Napoleon set out to integrate existing religious hierarchies into the power structures of the new empire. Catholic, Protestant and Jewish leaders all found a place in the organisation of Napoleon’s empire. And as he sought to expand eastwards, Islam also became important.

.....

In aiming for the Middle East Napoleon had another aim – to control the holy city of Jerusalem, and through it to gain favour with the religious leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths.


https://www.warhistoryonline.com/fea...-of-islam.html
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Old 02 Mar 17, 10:45
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A Flattering Legacy

Some Egyptians responded by referring to Napoleon as Sultan Kebir, the Great Sultan, a title which left Napoleon feeling flattered. Having taken to studying Mohammad, the Koran and Islamic culture, he understood the compliment this represented.

Later in life, Napoleon stated that, if he had remained in the Middle East, he would probably have taken a pilgrimage to Mecca to kneel at the shrine there. It’s easy to dismiss this, but to have said it at all shows a great respect for Islam that was remarkable for a European of his time.


https://www.warhistoryonline.com/fea...-of-islam.html

As a Catholic I would love to be able to visit Mecca....and the great Emperor Napoleon would have added Arabia to his Empire if he could...therefore opening up Mecca to anyone which is what Muhammad would have wanted.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 10:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Sennef View Post
Even if his address was just aimed at winning hearts & mind, at least with the better educated part of the Cairene population, it seems to have worked.

Some aspects of the French revolutionary thought and technology were inspected by the elite in Cairo with a degree of discernment and at times even enthusiasm while at the same time they remained Muslims, as opposed to becoming revolutionay atheists.

After the Battle of the Pyramids they experienced both shock and fascination when Napoleon entered at the head of his well-behaving victorious soldiers, scientists and scholars. Egypt’s Muslims had been raised and lived in the belief that Islam's innate superiority should always assure victory in war against inferior infidels. Faced with the outcome of the battle those Egyptians with an open mind had to acknowledge not only French good behaviour, but also their superior military skills plus the intellectual freshness these infidels were bringing to Egypt.
Good points Colonel Sennef, and the following which is irt the time of Napoleon in Egypt, relates to what you wrote above,



In 1798, a revolt took place against the French in Cairo. The armed rebels, many based around the Great Mosque, proclaimed their intention to exterminate the French in the name of the Prophet Muhammad. Having put down such a revolt, many commanders would have punished the imams and sheikhs who had inspired this violent religious talk. But Napoleon was careful not to punish them, as they had not taken an active part in the revolt, instead beheading those who had led the action. The message was clear – rebellion was unacceptable, but the French would not harm the holy men of Islam.


https://www.warhistoryonline.com/fea...-of-islam.html

I admire the way Napoleon handled his Egypt Campaign. If only the French Empire was still around and dominated the middle east...how glorious the middle east would be.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 11:28
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Question

This little man in the funny 'at is the same bloke who ran off and left his army to rot in Egypt?

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...it looks like the above source suggests that Bonaparte converted to Islam...
He'd be surprised to learn that.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 16:12
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This little man in the funny 'at is the same bloke who ran off and left his army to rot in Egypt?

Aside from your views, how would you say Bonaparte is viewed in England?
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Old 02 Mar 17, 16:16
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He'd be surprised to learn that.
Idk III Corps...some say Napoleon took the name Ali Bonaparte and converted to Islam. From what I have read it appears Napoleon once donned a Muslim outfit to gain favor with the Muslims of Egypt..thats why some of the Egyptians identified Napoleon as Sultan Kebir or the Great Sultan... Whether or not Napoleon remained Catholic or converted to Islam does not matter to me...to me Napoleon was one of the greatest statesmen to live.


Napoleon did what he could to gain favor from Jews, Muslims as well as non Catholic Christians...it only makes sense that Napoleon would reach out to Muslims in Egypt...doesnt mean Napoleon converted to Islam.
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Old 02 Mar 17, 18:03
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Originally Posted by Stonewall_Jack View Post
Aside from your views, how would you say Bonaparte is viewed in England?
Just another uppity foreigner we had to bitch slap back into line is about the size of it.

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