Monday, August 6, 2007

Bonaparte's Proclamation on the Overthrow of the Egyptian Government

From A Selection from the Letters and Despatches of the First Napoleon. With Explanatory Notes By Denis Arthur Bingham. (London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1884), pp. 212-213. Comments below between the text of the letters is by Bingham.

Before landing at Alexandria he [Gen. Bonaparte] issued the following proclamation:

"Soldiers ! You are about to undertake a conquest the effects of which will be incalculable on civilisation and the commercial world. "

"You will deal England the surest and most sensible blow while waiting to kill her outright. "

"We shall make some fatiguing marches; we shall fight several battles; we shall succeed in all our enterprises; the fates are for us. "

"The Mameluke Beys, who exclusively favour English commerce, who have ill-treated our merchants, and who tyrannise over the inhabitants of the Nile, a few days after our arrival will have ceased to exist. "

"The people amongst whom we are going to live are Mohammedans ; the first article of their faith is 'There is no God but God, and [Muhammad] is his prophet.' Do not contradict them. Deal with them as we dealt with the Jews and with the Italians. Respect their muftis and their imaums, as you respected rabbis and bishops."

"Show for the ceremonies prescribed by the Koran, and for the mosques, the same toleration you have always shown for convents, for synagogues, for the religion of Moses and that of Jesus Christ. "

"The Roman legions protected all religions. You will find customs here different from those of Europe: you must habituate yourselves to them."

"The people here treat their wives differently from us; but in all countries the man who commits rape is a monster."

"Pillage only enriches a few men. It dishonours us; it destroys our resources; it renders the people hostile when it is necessary to make them friendly."

"The first town we shall enter was built by Alexander. We shall find at each step souvenirs worthy of exciting the emulation of Frenchmen."



bucachon said...

right after admonishing his troops not to pillage, he says We shall find at each step souvenirs worthy of exciting the emulation of Frenchmen.

did he really expect his hungry and poor soldiers to buy souvenirs? was this code for pillaging? or did the idea of souvenirs have a different meaning back then?

BCattivabrutto said...

I suspect the phrase "worthy of exciting the emulation of Frenchmen" does not refer to pillaging, but rather a reference to the links to Greek, Roman and Egyptian civilizations. The "souvenirs" meaning historic monuments.

nermine said...

Why do I wish Americans had read this part of history before invading Afghanistan and Iraq?

Why do I wish American Presidents were chosen among the well educated rather than the rich cowboys?

nermine said...

Does Napoleon's proclamation remind you of Omar bin Khattab's proclamation to his troops before he sent them to conquer Jerusalem more than fourteen centuries ago?

Omar's troops were forbidden by his proclamation to kill women, children or old men. They were forbidden to demolish or burn trees or houses of worship.

Omar was handed the city's key by its people who surrendered peacefully. He refused to pray in the city's great Cathedral in order to prevent his troops praying in it or barring Christians from practicing their faith in it.

Rumesa said...

Nermine if u study Napoleans life further u will come to know he attacked palestine and tried to occupy after that and invited jews even before occupying (and he ultimately couldnot) to establish their homeland in Palestine. The illegle state of Israel was for the very first time offered to jews by Napolean.