Mehemet Ali

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Mehemet Ali

, Mohammed Ali
1769--1849, Albanian commander in the service of Turkey. He was made viceroy of Egypt (1805) and its hereditary ruler (1841), founding a dynasty that ruled until 1952
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mehemet Ali


(Muhammad Ali). Born in 1769, in Kavalla, Macedonia; died Aug. 2, 1849, in Alexandria. Ruler of Egypt from 1805 to 1849 and founder of the dynasty that ruled until the July revolution of 1952.

A janissary of Albanian origin, Mehemet Ali engaged in the tobacco trade and learned to read only at the age of 45. As commander of an Albanian detachment of the Turkish Army, he took part in Turkey’s war against France in Egypt from 1799 to 1801. He came to power with the support of the Muslim clergy of Cairo, led by Saiyad Omar Makram. He later dealt with the latter and then with the Mamelukes in 1811; he thus became the autocratic ruler of Egypt, only formally recognizing the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan.

Mehemet Ali created a regular army, with which he waged aggressive wars in Arabia (1811–18), the eastern Sudan (1820–22), and the Morea (Peloponnesus) (1824–28); his aim in the last of these was the suppression of the Greek national liberation revolution of 1821–29. He also fought wars against the Turkish sultan; during the second of these (1839–40), despite his victory over the Turkish Army, he was pressured by the European powers to capitulate on Nov. 27, 1840, and to open Egypt to foreign trade.

To meet expenses, Mehemet Ali abolished the waqfs (religious landholdings) in 1809 and confiscated the lands of the Mamelukes and multazimin (tax farmers) during 1811–14, concentrating all land in the hands of the state. After 1829 he made land grants to his favorites. He also took measures to develop agriculture and manufacturing; he reorganized the national administration and introduced a foreign-trade monopoly during 1816–20 and state monopolies on the purchase and sale of agricultural products and handicrafts. He made wide use of foreign advisers, mainly French. Mehemet Ali founded a number of schools for professional training and also sent Egyptian youth abroad to study.


Marx, K. , and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 9, p. 202.
Lutskii, V. B. Novaia istoriia arabskikh stran, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. Chapters 3, 6, 8.
Ar-Rafi’i’Abd-al-Rakman. Asr Muhammad Ali (The Epoch of Mehemet Ali), 3rd ed. Cairo, 1951.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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