Any historical event that has ever taken place is, by all means, a complex and ambiguous phenomenon for it is not possible to foresee its long-term effects. The point here is that there is no chance of knowing for sure what the long-term consequences of this or that event in history might be. Mainly, the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century were marked by liberation of colonized people, the humiliation of colonial regimes, and transition from Imperialist thinking to progressive libertarian thinking. All things considered, the British occupation of Egypt in 1882 can be viewed as an example of an ambiguous historical event. What is meant here is that has become a powerful nation and having regained its independence, Egypt nowadays is facing new challenges.
In his book, Egypt under the British, Freeman Wood argues that what Western civilization has brought to Egypt are the technological advancements, new techniques for manufacturing, farming, and agriculture, and multiculturalism (189-193). Specifically, the fact that a great number of firms were opened by manufacturers of non-Egyptian citizenship is believed to have made a significant contribution to the transformation of Egyptian society itself. Egyptian society was reformatted in the sense that it has become a multicultural, multilingual entity. At the same time, it is admitted that by the time when the book Egypt under the British was published in 1896, the relationship in the international arena has already become strained. The reality that existed in Egypt in particular in the late nineteenth century can be characterized as stern by all means. However, the state of things in Egypt was claimed to be peaceful and prosperous in political and economic sense.
By the end of the nineteenth century, Lord Cromer denominated the “King of Egypt” has become one of the most influential political figures in Egypt. Prosperity and the life of plenty for the people of Egypt have become Lord Cromer’s priorities: Lord Cromer kept abreast of the public moods, social life, and economy of Egypt. Apart from that, after a careful evaluation of the political situation around Egypt and within the state itself, Wood argued that the impact of France, Germany, and Turkey was noticeable, as well.
The last chapter of the book Egypt under the British by H. Freeman Wood is basically dedicated to the characterization of the British occupation of Egypt through the lens of foreign affairs, home policies, economy, and social life. Clearly, the two parties existed – the one that supported Lord Cromer and British occupation and the one that attempted to stand against the British domination and strived for the independence of Egypt.
The chapter is positioned as a series of inquiries and testimonies formed into a coherent whole. The chapter’s summary may be represented as follows: “I do not know if the English govern everywhere as they govern in Egypt, but if they do, then I say that they are sent by God to rule the world”. Even though the foregoing statement could have been justified due to the total instability and the ubiquitous change of political courses by the world’s most powerful states in the late nineteenth century, from the modern perspectives, the foregoing statement sounds quite alarming.
All things considered, economic, political, social, and cultural changes the state of Egypt has undergone under the British administration were significant. Mostly, all the changes were positive and signalized that the nation was ready to regain independence.
In his turn, Alfred Milner is stating that the political situation that has been peculiar to Egypt in the late nineteenth century can be characterized as unique The history of Egypt in the late nineteenth century was marked by “continuous and accelerated progress”. On the background of a tendency towards the tax reductions, it is stated that the amount of the income of Egypt directed to the state’s own purposes under the British administration has increased “from one-third to more than one-half”. In addition, the aforementioned revenue proportion is reported to have been increasing annually at that time. The author of the book is stating that the revival of the economy of Egypt as a result of sufficient and fair administration. It is also asserted that the key factors of sufficient and fair administration were as follows: prioritizing public welfare, paying “zealous and ingenious attention” to public works such as for instance, irrigation.
As far as the issue of irrigation is concerned, it is important to admit the following. In the late nineteenth century, new technologies were introduced to protect the soils from draughts and floods; drainage systems were extended, as well (Milner 365). It is claimed that the year 1882 and the time shortly afterward were marked by the restrictions of financial freedom of Egypt and the state’s bankruptcy. The foregoing economic policies were adequate under the circumstances of the developing economy; however, hardly they seemed to be of use when Egypt has made a great leap forward in an economic sense
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Since 1892, important steps are reported to have been made to ensure the development of such departments as the departments of Finance, Public Works, Justice, Education, and Public Health. As far as the issue of education is concerned, it is important to admit that the Department of Education is believed to have been affected by the prejudiced, which, in its turn, was caused by political instability; thus, the development of the whole domain of social and scientific life was delayed. At the same time, the spheres of Education and Public Health, namely, such aspects of public health as sanitation, are claimed to have experienced “a lack of funds”. The department of Justice is believed to have undergone significant positive changes. Particularly, increasing the number of Single Judge Circuit Courts and the empowerment of Courts of Summary Justice are claimed to have made a great contribution to the efficiency of the whole judicial system.
In his work titled Modern Egypt, Evelyn Baring, the Earl of Cromer is stating that Egypt, as it was in the late nineteenth century, can be viewed as the example of state brought to the brink of destruction. The critical situation that occurred in the country was caused by the poor administration and the fact that the basic principles of law and justice were ignored. Above all else, as far as the issue of the situation on the international area is concerned, it is important to admit that the relationships between England and Turkey were characterized by a great deal of struggle, mainly, for the right to dominate over Egypt. In general, the Egyptian administration was in a need of reformation mainly for diplomatic purposes.
Pondering the essence of the reforms implemented by the British administration of Egypt, the Earl of Cromer is contemplating the nature of the people of Egypt. As a result, he arrives at the conclusion that the features peculiar to the people of Egypt are as follows: “reticence … when speaking to anyone in authority, tendency to agree with anyone to whom they may be talking; the want of mental symmetry and precision”.
Considering the nature of the people of Egypt is important in a sense that potentially, it is capable of making a great contribution to a better understanding of the mechanisms of reformation on this particular ground. Centuries of domination over India have shaped the British policies in Egypt to a great extent (Chromer 8). All things considered, it is possible to assume that British occupation had some positive effects on Egypt in a political and judicial sense.
In his work Recollection of Military Life, John Adye gives a syllabus British military campaigns the British party has participated in throughout the nineteenth century. It is stated that the late nineteenth century was also marked by the reformation of the military service system. To understand the greatness of the British Empire and its potential capacities, one should be aware of the fact that enormous human resources were involved in the Egyptian campaign of 188; what is more important, the human resources are believed to have been increasing in number drastically at that time (Adye 258). To be more specific, it is important to state that:
“… during the last years of the long service system, the average annual number of recruits was only 12 546, whereas in 1892 no less than 41 659 men joined the army, and the reserve had in January 1894 reached the large figure of 80 349” (Adye 258).
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From the military point of view, fictitious national uprising, a lot of intrigues, and military discontent can be regarded as the driving forces of the revolutionary changes that took place in Egypt starting from the year 1881.
All things considered, in spite of the fact that mainly the military forces of the British Empire were reformatted, the defense systems of Egypt were changed, as well. Evidently, the reformation of military systems was aimed to ensure the safety of people living within the British dominion itself and the British colonies alike. The power of the British Empire has faded since the world was brought on the verge of World War I. The British Empire remained a monarchy but lost all its colonies as a result.
Being a representative of the people of Egypt himself, Aly Shamsy in his book An Egyptian Opinion: Egypt and the Right of Nations is pondering the issue of whether or not the people of Egypt are mature enough to regain independence. After a careful evaluation of the history of nineteenth-century Egypt, Aly Shamsy argues that the people of Egypt have deserved independence. Shamsy’s arguments are as follows. Those significant transformations Egypt had undergone on the eve of British occupation can be regarded as a great leap forward by all means. By the end of the second decade of the twentieth century, Egypt has been recognized as one of the most successful nations of the East. It is admitted that Mehemet Ali’s during his reign has made a great contribution to the development of Egypt politically, economically, socially, and culturally. It is also presumed that at the time, the people of Egypt were capable of apprehending and assimilating the experiences of Western civilizations. Finally, the research under consideration admits that among the others, the National Party and the Young Egyptian Committee (created in Geneva) have marked the evolvement of social consciousness the people of Egypt had encountered in the process of reformation. The fact that the people of Egypt became of the right species and the concept of human rights, in general, can be regarded as a marker of the nation’s maturity, as well.
Taking all the aforementioned facts into consideration, it is possible to make the conclusions as follows. The British occupation of Egypt in the year 1882 had a military background. The state of Egypt has undergone reformations in political, economic, social, and, partly, cultural spheres. In a political sense, Egypt under British administration has learned the concept of human rights; a transition was made from authoritarianism and dictatorship to more humane forms of government. In an economic sense, the people of Egypt learned how to deal with unfavorable climatic conditions and such natural hazards as droughts and floods. New types of farming and agriculture were introduced, as well, which has made the economy of Egypt more efficient. In the social sphere, the structure of the Egyptian society was reformatted in the sense that the paradigm of social and interpersonal relationships was altered. Transition from authoritarianism and dictatorship to the form of government that presupposes that the power of a sovereign is limited in a sense that he is obliged to control the key economic and legislative processes but is not allowed to interfere into them, as well as the introduction of multiculturalism, can be viewed as the main causes of the social changes Egypt had undergone in the years of British administration. Most importantly, after its reformation, Egypt as a state and the people of Egypt as a strong nation was mature enough to regain independence. At that particular period of time, it was a positive phenomenon by all means. It is rather upsetting that nowadays, the country that is considered to be a cradle of civilizations is facing severe ethnic and inter-religious conflicts.
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