Mehmet Ali

(c. 1769—1849) Ottoman viceroy and founder of the Egyptian royal family

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(c. 1769–1849) Pasha (or viceroy) of Egypt (1805–49). An Albanian by birth, he rose from the ranks to command an Ottoman army in an unsuccessful attempt to drive Napoleon from Egypt. In 1801 he returned to Egypt in command of Albanian troops and by 1811 he had overthrown the Mamelukes, who had ruled Egypt almost without interruption since 1250. Technically viceroy of the Ottoman sultan, Mahmud II, he was effectively an independent ruler and reorganized the administration, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, and the army, employing chiefly French advisers, making Egypt the leading power in the eastern Mediterranean. He occupied the Sudan (1821–23), and campaigned for the Ottoman government in Arabia (1811–18) against the Wahhabis, and in Greece (1822–28), when his fleet was destroyed by a combination of British, French, and Russian navies at the Battle of Navarino (1827). He took Syria (1831–33) and defeated the Ottoman troops at the battle of Nizip (1839). Threatened by united European opposition, he agreed to accept the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan in 1841 and in return was granted a request that his family be hereditary pashas of Egypt.

From A Dictionary of World History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: World History.

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