The Egyptian Navy of Muhammad Ali Pasha

By John Houghton, published April 2019


Muhammad Ali (Mehmed Ali in Turkish) ruled Egypt as Ottoman governor from 1805 to 1848. Defeating all internal opposition, he initiated a series of changes to Egyptian society and the economy that vastly increased his revenue and thereby enabled him to create an army of 140,000 men and a navy which matched that of the United States in size. This article describes the development of that navy and its infrastructure within the context of Muhammad Ali’s policies of territorial expansion and rivalry with his nominal suzerain, the sultan in Istanbul. A settlement with the sultan in 1841, forced on him by a coalition of European powers, made the governorship of Egypt hereditary in his family. The navy went into decline after this settlement although a number of modern steamers were added to the fleet in subsequent years.

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Filed under: Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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