Giesegaard appears to have been successful in completely marginalizing the traditional, elected chairmen of the village council and replacing them with so called bondefogeder, or peasant bailiffs, whose main task was to help the steward in mobilizing corvee manpower in return for their own exemption from corvee labour.
One could say that within the hierarchy of the village, the fatalists - to be allowed to live their life - had to stand by and watch the strivers helping themselves; just as, outwardly, they had to satisfy a minimum of Giesegaard's requirements for corvee labour, taxes and a certain superficial obedience.
Nevertheless, the steward did point out the negative consequences of corvee labour for peasants who, because of poor implements and weak horses, were already behind with their own farming.
Instead, the abolition of corvee labour in Egypt is to be seen as part of a larger process of political and social transformation.
Central and local authorities used corvee labour to compel peasants to work on a variety of tasks, especially during this season.
Corvee labour could be used not only to maintain the irrigation network but also to expand it by digging new canals or building new dykes.
The extent to which corvee labour was used for such purposes -- especially those that went beyond maintenance of the irrigation system -- varied, at least partly according to the ambitions and strength of the state.
It was at the beginning of the nineteenth century that the nature of corvee labour was expanded and transformed from what it had been in the recent past, when, under Muhammad `Ali (1805-48), the Egyptian state undertook an ambitious and extensive effort to expand the irrigation network.
The expanded use of corvee labour under Muhammad `Ali did not replace the old, local uses.
The first, and probably most ambitious, major project undertaken by the expanded use of corvee labour was the Mahmudiyya Canal that ran through the north-west Delta, ending in Alexandria.
Having discovered various uses for corvee labour, Muhammad 'Ali bequeathed to his successors the motivation and the bureaucratic machinery to gather it -- a legacy that Egypt's newly ambitious rulers extended and exploited to the full.