Title of Original Work

Proclamations de Napoléon en Egypte

Author(s) of Translation

Trent Dailey-Chwalibog
Brittany Gignac

Document Type

Translation

Date of Translation Publication

1-1-2009

Original Work Publication Date

June 1814

Translator's Note

The following texts form a series of letters, speeches, and official proclamations of Napoleon Bonaparte during his campaign in Egypt at the turn of the 19th century. Bonaparte, with the title of commander-in chief, joined together both the French army and navy in 1798 to carry out this complex conquest. His intention was to seize Egypt, which was part of the Ottoman Empire, in order to create a French presence in the Middle East, and to protect French trade which was at the time being hurt by British relations with trade authorities in Egypt, the Mamluk Beys. One of the prime reasons for France agreeing to this near-impossible expedition was certainly to gain cultural enrichment from learning more about Middle Eastern life, but more so it was out of the fear that Napoleon's growing power was invoking in the French government. It was their hope that with the commander gone for several years, he would not only end in defeat, but would lose some of his credibility as an authority figure in France. After 3 years of countless defeats and exposure to the Bubonic Plague, the campaign did indeed prove to be unsuccessful. France gained no control over Egypt, nor of the British, yet Napoleon's reputation as a great military leader remained strong, due to the fact that during his campaign he formed his own newspaper that praised his efforts and was periodically sent back to France to inform the people of his so-called brilliant progress. Therefore, despite his failure in Egypt, he was still seen as admirable and was crowned Emperor only a few short years after. These 8 separate documents are all from the beginning of this legendary campaign, from an inspirational speech to his soldiers before leaving France, to the official statement issued to the Egyptian people after his first attacks against the Mamluk forces, the Battle of the Pyramids. The tone in each text never fails to be optimistic, compassionate, or encouraging, even in his proclamations warning Egyptian officials of his impending actions. This series of statements allows us to see the type of commanding officer that Napoleon Bonaparte truly was, where despite the fact that his personal greed for power was his driving force, he was capable of encouraging his troops and even the people he conquered to all be passionate for a common cause and to trust wholeheartedly in their leader.

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