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Printing and the Abuse of Texts in al-Ǧabartī’s History of Egypt

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Chapter Summary

In June 1798, Napoleon landed from a fleet of French ships on the coast of Alexandria, accompanied by a host, not only of soldiers, but also French scientists, intellectuals, and interpreters who were prepared to make an archaeological, anthropological, and scientific study of Egypt. The occupation of Egypt lasted three influential years, ending with the evacuation of French forces in 1801 and the return of Ottoman overrule to a country that had been, before the arrival of Napoleon, under the control of local Mamluk military households. A witness to the French invasion, Abd al-Raḥmān Al--Ǧabartī (1756-1826), was a historian, biographer, and al-Azhar scholar. He wrote three different versions of his account of the French occupation, based on public documents, informants, and eyewitness accounts. Al-Ǧabartī's understanding of the Islamic cosmos includes the concept of a divinely revealed relationship between human speech, justice, and salvation.

Keywords: Abd al-Raḥmān Al--Ǧabartī; Egypt; French forces; Islamic cosmos; Napoleon; Ottoman



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