Egyptian Camel

The Roman Era

Time period : 30 BC - c. 324 AD

A Roman General

After Cleopatra's death, Egypt became a province in the Roman Empire. Like the previous conquerors, the Romans did not attempt to impose their own culture and religion on Egypt, instead respecting the local customs. During the early Roman reign, Egypt regained its status as the center of agriculture and commerce in the known world.

However, a few uprisings occurred during the Roman occupation. The Jews in northern Egypt attempted to revolt due to religious persecution. Later on, the local Egyptians revolted due to over-taxation.

In the 2nd century AD, a new religion, Christianity, began to emerge in Egypt. The Romans, fearing more religious turmoil, tried to limit its influence, but it soon spread to most of the local population.

 

The Christian and Byzantine Eras

Time period : c. 324 AD - 641 AD

Throughout the Roman Empire, Christianity continued to be persecuted until Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire in 324 AD.

Emperor Constantine

Emperor Constantine also established a new capital in Constantinople. Due to the Roman Empire's vastness, it was later split into two for easier governing. The Western Roman empire ruled from Rome.

The Eastern Roman Empire, which controlled Egypt, ruled from Constantinople. This empire gradually evolved to become more Greek and Asian, and became the Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantine Empire ruled Egypt with relative calm, except for a few years in the early 7th century when the Persians invaded Egypt.

 

The Arab and Ottoman Eras

Time period : 641 AD - 1798 AD

The Muhammad Ali Mosque at Saladin's Citadel

In 639 AD, Egypt was invaded by the Arabs, bringing with them a new religion called Islam. Two years later, with additional reinforcements, the Arab managed to control Egypt and drive out the Byzantine Empire.

During this time, Egypt saw a lot of warfare, with control changing hands between the Abbasid Caliphate, the Fatimid Caliphate, the Kurds, the Mamelukes and the Ottomans. Ottoman rule of Egypt lasted nearly 3 centuries, though it was punctuated by civil war and much infighting.

One of the more famous leaders in this era was Salah Al-Din, also known as Saladin, a Kurdish commander who eventually became Sultan of Egypt, starting the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin was respected by both the Arabs and the Europeans for his defense of Egypt and the Arab lands against the European Crusader States during the Crusades.

 

The French and British Eras

Time period : 1798 AD - 1953 AD

In 1798, Ottoman rule of Egypt was disrupted by the invading French army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. French rule was also tumultuous, with threats from local dissidents and the Ottomans. The French pulled out of Egypt when Napoleon's war in Europe took a turn for the worse.

Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

An Albanian army then invaded and ruled Egypt. One ruler, known as Ismail the Magnificent, undertook a number of public works, including the construction of the Suez Canal, and improvements to the administration systems. Ismail's projects brought the country into great debt, allowing the British and French to gain much economic control in Egypt.

In 1882, the British sent an army to Egypt to protect its interests. Their presence there would remain till beyond World War II.

 

The Modern Era

Time period : 1953 AD - Present

The modern Cairo skyline

After a disastrous war with Israel in 1948, a group of nationalistic military officers, led by Gamal Nasser, overthrew the British-backed regime and turned Egypt into a republic in 1953.

Nasser was succeeded in 1970 by Anwar Sadat, a moderate leader who negotiated peace with Israel and initiated economic reforms. However, President Sadat was assassinated by extremists in 1981.

He was succeeded by Hosni Mubarak, who remained President until he was forced to step down during the Arab world mass uprising in 2011.

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