1849) Viceroy of Egypt from 1805 until 1848. He
became the founder of the dynasty that would rule
Egypt until 1952 (ending with King King Faruk).
Muhamamd Ali is noted for establishing the modern
Egypt as an independent country. He was involved
in several reform programs aiming at creating a
modern Egyptian society after the European model.
Muhammad Ali reached his position by his own
skills, and his position was under threat both
from the Ottoman sultan as well as from Egyptian
groups. The most important act to secure his
position was to eliminate the Mamluks, the
military elite which could have threatened his own
position. He also managed to impose great control
over other groups that in many respects had
enjoyed great independence from the state earlier,
like merchants and the Bedouins.
Among his most dramatic reforms was to
expropriated land, and by 1815 most of the
agricultural land had come into the hands of the
state. This secured him great revenues.
He had the irrigation system improved and had new
crops were introduced. Cotton is most notable
here; today Egyptian cotton is considered to be of
the very best quality.
There was also a program to introduce modern
industrial production. This largely failed, both
because Egypt lacked sources of power as well as a
fit work force on all levels. The shortcomings
were especially problematic on the management
In order to meet the needs of the modernized
society, Muhammad Ali had schools started for
educating engineers, doctors and other
Much of Muhammad Ali's reform programs were
abandoned after his death. Some projects were not
well established, while other reforms were
abandoned due to lack of interest with his
1769: Born in Kavala, Ottoman Empire (now
in Greece), probably as of Albanian descent.
1787: Marries a member of the governor of
1799: Is involved in the fighting of the
Ottoman army in Egypt, facing the invading French
troops of Napoleon.
1805: Is appointed viceroy of Egypt, with
the title pasha.
1807: Defeats invading British troops.
1811: Has the military aristocracy of the
Mamluks massacred, thereby securing his own power. Launches a war on the Wahhabis of Arabia.
1818: Under the leadership of his adopted
son, Ibrahim Pasha, the Wahhabis are defeated.
1820: Launches a campaign on Sudan, aiming
at taking control of the country.
1821: Founds Khartoum, which would develop
into modern Sudan's capital.
1824: Upon the request of Sultan Mahmud 2,
Muhammad Ali sends troops to assist the Ottoman
fight against the Greek uprising.
1831: Having been promised control over
Syria for his assistance against the Greeks, but
not recompensed, Muhammad Ali invades Syria and
quickly take control over the most important
1833: Muhammad Ali's forces threatens
Constantinople, but the Ottomans receive aid from
Russia. Yet, the sultan effectively recognizes
Muhammad Ali as the sole ruler of Egypt.
1839: A new war brakes out between Egypt
and the Ottoman Empire, but is in reality decided
already with the battle at Nizip (now near the
border of Syria and Turkey), where the Ottomans
are decisively defeated.
1841: The war with the Ottoman Empire ends.
1848 July: Is removed from office because
of senility. Ibrahim Pasha becomes regent, but
when he dies in November Muhammad Ali's grandson
Abbas 1 takes over.
1849 August 2: Dies in Alexandria.