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Race and Slavery in the Middle EastHistories of Trans-Saharan Africans in 19th-Century Egypt, Sudan, and
the Ottoman Mediterranean$
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Terence Walz and Kenneth M. Cuno

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789774163982

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774163982.001.0001

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Muhammad Ali's First Army

Muhammad Ali's First Army

The Experiment in Building an Entirely Slave Army

(p.17) 1 Muhammad Ali's First Army
Race and Slavery in the Middle East

Terence Walz

Kenneth M. Cuno

American University in Cairo Press

During the period of the Fatimid Caliphate (969–1171), black slaves continued to be used, especially during the reign of al-Mustansir (1029–94), whose Sudanese slave mother encouraged him to recruit them because of their reputation for bravery, toughness, and obedience. Muhammad Ali's massacre of the mamluks in the Citadel in 1811 did not signal the end of the system of military slavery in Egypt. Muhammad Ali used both white and black for his slaves. Its officers were mamluks, and its soldiers were black slaves. Mamluks continued to be an important element in the military under Ottoman rule, and they had become the main power in Egypt by the arrival of the French in 1798. Historians have never studied that army, except to conclude that it quickly failed, and thus they begin with the second nizam army that Muhammad Ali started building in 1824.

Keywords:   al-Mustansir, Sudanese, mamluks, soldiers, nizam

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