Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Paşa

Osmanlı Devlet Adamı, Vali

Statesman, governor of Egypt and the founder of the dynasty of Egypt (B. Village of Kondova / Kavala / Greece, 1769 - D. 1849, Cairo / Egypt). He was the nephew of Hüseyin Ağa, who was the alderman of Kavala, and the son of İbrahim Ağa who was the Aga of Derbent. Even though some historians say that he was a Pomak, it is understood that his family was most probably from Konya according to the last researches made. He didn’t have any education and he gained a little bit of literacy after the age of forty-forty five. He accomplished his military service in his homeland as a soldier. He started a revolt that ended successfully against the Ottoman Empire. Even though he seemed related to the Ottomans, he was accepted as the real emperor of Sudan, Egypt, Palestine and Syria in this period and these lands were governed by his dynasty for 150 years. Namely, he was the person who transformed Egypt into a government separated from the Ottoman Empire and he was the founder of the dynasty of the Kingdom of Egypt.

Kavalalı went to Egypt with the Ottoman army directed by the commander-in-chief Yusuf Ziya Pasha sent in order to take out the French from Egypt. He came into prominence in the army with his great wisdom and his courage and he won the degree of “Serceşmelik” meaning the commandant of a civilian soldier procession. A force composed from the Janissaries and the Albanian civilians was left in Egypt in order to provide the discipline and to prevent the rebellions of the Mamelukes after the French left Egypt in the year of 1801. The commandant of this force was Arnavut Tahir Pasha and the serceşme was Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Ağa. Koca Hüsrev Pasha, who became the Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in the first year of the sultanate of Abdülmecit, was the Governor of Egypt at the time. Mehmed Ali Ağa took advantage of the disorders and increased his authority. He benefited from the revolt prompted against the governor Hüsrev Pasha and he became the governor of Egypt on 8th July 1805.

Mehmed Ali Pasha made various innovations for the development of Egypt. He formed a strong army with the teachers he brought from Europe. He moved against the Mamluk rulers, who were still active in the government in the year 1811, and he definitively ended the Mamluk sovereignty in Egypt. After that, his armies battled against the Wahhabis in the Arabian Peninsula on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan between the years 1811-18. The Albanian Soldiers in Cairo prompted a revolt of a short duration in the year of 1815. Kavalalı sent these soldiers against the state of Func for the conquest of Sudan in 1821. In this way, Sudan was brought under the control of Egypt. The Ottoman Empire, having difficulties in suppressing the rebellion erupting in Mora, asked for help from Mehmed Ali Pasha. He was promised the governorate of Mora and Crete in the case he would be successful. The rebellion was suppressed. But when Mora was left to Greece with the Treaty of Edirne in 1829, Kavalalı asked for the governorate of Syria at that time. The Ottoman Empire, afraid of the enlargement policy of Mehmed Ali Pasha, rejected his request.

 Upon that, Mehmed Ali Pasha moved to Palestine with his army and captured the Castle of Acre. Even though the Ottoman government sent an army against Pasha, the Ottoman army directed by Ağa Hüseyin Pasha was defeated by the Egyptian forces directed by İbrahim Pasha, who was the son of Kavalalı. The Egyptian forces captured Aleppo, Damascus and Adana. They also defeated the forces of the Grand Vizier Reşid Pasha in Konya and they moved till Kütahya. Upon that, Mahmut II asked for the help of England and France. However, he couldn’t get what he expected upon the fact that France stood up for Mehmed Ali Pasha and that England didn’t want to interfere in the internal affairs of the Ottoman. This time, the Ottoman was obliged to ask for the help of Russia. The Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi was signed with Russia and the Russian armada came to Istanbul.

The Peace Agreement of Kütahya (1833) was signed upon the interference of England and France, which were afraid of the fact that Russians would take the possession of straits. According to the peace agreement, the governorates of Egypt, Syria and Crete were given to Mehmed Ali Pasha and the governorate of Jeddah and Adana were given to his son İbrahim Pasha. However, both sides were unpleasant with this agreement. Mahmud II wanted to remove the governor of Egypt and wanted to take back the lands he had lost. The Ottoman army and the army of Kavalalı came face to face in Nizip. Since the Ottoman army was defeated again, the European states, afraid of the reinforcement of Mehmed Ali Pasha, organized a conference in London in order to discuss this topic. In this while, Abdülmecid ascended the throne after Mahmud II had deceased and Firari Ahmet Fevzi Pasha was assigned as the grand vizier. Being afraid of the hostility of Koca Husrev Pasha, the new grand vizier delivered the Ottoman armada to Mehmed Ali Pasha. In the end, an agreement was made with the interference of Europeans, especially England. Abdülmecid was leaving Egypt to the lineage of Mehmed Ali Pasha according to the enact he gave in 1841. Syria, Crete and Adana were given back to the Ottoman Empire according to the treaty signed in London. Even though Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha didn’t accept the treaty at the first place, he had to accept it after the fact that England and Austria had landed troops to Beirut and that the English armada bombarded the coasts of Lebanon.

Mehmed Ali Pasha was old then. He came to Istanbul in 1845 and he kissed the foot of the young sultan Abdülmecit to show that he made peace with the Ottoman Empire. He was greeted in the Feriye Palace and the importance and care he deserved was shown to him. In this time, he took permission and visited his place of birth Kavala and he returned back to Egypt. Since he went senile two years before his death, the governorate of Egypt was transferred to his son İbrahim Pasha with the title of deputy. However, upon the fact that İbrahim Pasha deceased unexpectedly before his father did, Abbas Pasha, who was the son of his younger son Tosun Pasha, took the charge of his uncle. Mehmed Ali Pasha was buried in his mausoleum in Cairo after his death. His grandson Abbas Pasha (1848), who was officially assigned as the governor instead of Mehmed Ali Pasha, had a bronze sculpture of his grandfather built  in Alexandria.

Kavalalı Mehmed Ali Pasha improved the agriculture by means of the technics he applied in Egypt, especially with the channels he had formed from the Nile River till Alexandria. Therefore, the income of Egypt improved quickly in a short time. Mehmed Ali Pasha endeavored for creating an orderly army on one hand and created factories of artillery, rifle and gun powder on the other. He had shipyards and pools constructed for the new armada. He sent some of the children and slaves of the local community to Europe and enabled them to take education in various fields. He benefited from the experts and scientist, whom he brought from Europe, in the maximum way possible.

He had the origins of a craftsman, not soldier, and he was someone who had a forecast ability in this field. Within this context, Kaptan-ı Derya (the Commander of the Naval Forces), Koca Hüsrev Pasha was in an expedition when the Janissary was abolished. During this time, he liked the fez he saw on the head of Bedouins in Tunisia very much and he made his crew wear those on their heads. He came into presence with this fez when he returned back to Istanbul. The Sultan Mahmud II very liked the fez that he saw for the first time and he made preparation for all the soldiers to wear fez. He founded a factory of fez in the coast of the Golden Horn. However, Mehmed Ali Pasha assayed to make a clothing reform in Egypt by the beginnings of the 1820s and accepted the fez as a headdress. Mehmed Ali Pasha, who had the origin of craftsmanship in him, made the factories of fez founded before even declaring his opinion. After the preparations were finished, he put a ban on the local headdresses of Fellahs and Mamelukes and he obliged the wearing of fez. The governor of Egypt Mehmed Ali Pasha also founded the first sugar mill in Egypt in the year of 1830, namely one hundred year before Turkey, by virtue of his similar forecast ability. 



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