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Monarchs of the NileNew Revised Edition$

Aidan Dodson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774167164

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774167164.001.0001

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Epilogue

Epilogue

Chapter:
(p.185) Epilogue
Source:
Monarchs of the Nile
Author(s):

Aidan Dodson

Publisher:
American University in Cairo Press
DOI:10.5743/cairo/9789774167164.003.0019

Abstract and Keywords

This concluding chapter briefly recounts the Egypt's later succession of rulers following the Persian recapture of the state during Nakhthorheb's reign. Egypt would not see independence for another one and three-quarters millennia—the Persians ruled for some ten more years before being expelled by Alexander the Great of Macedon. At the breakup of that great conqueror's empire, Egypt fell into the hands of his general, Ptolemy, son of Lagos, who founded a Hellenistic line that was to control Egypt for three centuries. The tail end of the Ptolemaic Dynasty brought Egypt to Rome's attention, and thereafter it spent the next six centuries as part of the Roman and Byzantine empires. After that, Egypt saw a succession of further foreign control from the Ottoman Empire and later the United Kingdom, before the Egyptian monarchy would be formally reinstituted.

Keywords:   Thirty-first Dynasty, Macedonian Dynasty, Ptolemaic Dynasty, Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, United Kingdom, Egyptian monarchy

With the departure of King Nakhthorheb, Egypt’s independence was over for one and three-quarters millennia. The Persians were to rule for some ten more years before being expelled by Alexander the Great of Macedon. At the breakup of that great conqueror’s empire, Egypt fell into the hands of his general, Ptolemy, son of Lagos, who founded a Hellenistic line that was to control Egypt for three centuries. Not a drop of Egyptian blood is known to have flowed in the veins of the myriad Ptolemies, Berenikes, Arsinoes, and Kleopatras who formed the three-hundred-year Ptolemaic Dynasty, and although they may be seen in full pharaonic garb on the many temples they built or restored, it is clear that their regime was in all meaningful ways Hellenic in outlook. On the other hand, Egyptian models continued to be followed in many aspects of administration, and native law remained in use, alongside that brought by the Ptolemies and their Greek settlers.

The latter part of the Ptolemaic Dynasty was marred by endemic fighting within the royal family, whose struggles brought the country within the orbit of Rome. The dalliance of the last of the Ptolemies, Kleopatra VII, with Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius made the final act inevitable. In 30 bc, Egypt fell to Octavian, soon to be the emperor Augustus, and was for the next six centuries part of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Although the country was now stripped of any vestige of independence, the emperors would continue to be represented as pharaohs on the walls of the temples, worshiping the age-old gods, until the abolition of the ancient religion in the fourth century ad.

(p.186) Now a formally Christian country, Egypt next fell into Arab hands in 640, the gradually Islamicized state passing in and out of periods of de facto self-rule, until becoming a province of the Ottoman Empire in 1517. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, during which Egypt had been temporarily occupied by the French, the wali (governor) Muhammad Ali secured for himself an extremely large measure of freedom from the authority of the Ottoman sultan, his successors being raised to the dignity of khedive (viceroy). Regrettably, their mismanagement of the country’s economy was to place Egypt under the effective control of the British in the latter part of the nineteenth century. In the wake of the Ottoman declaration of war on the United Kingdom in 1914, Egypt became a formal British protectorate, with the khedive promoted to sultan.

The formal reinstitution of an Egyptian monarchy, in the person of King Fuad I (formerly the sultan Ahmed Fuad), came about in 1922, but true national freedom was not achieved for some decades, until the overt and covert rule of the British had ended. A republic was declared in 1953, following the deposition of King Farouk I and the brief rule of his infant son, Fuad II, still alive at the time of writing, and the very last of all those individuals who could claim to have been a ‘Monarch of the Nile.’