Why did the Directory think it was a good use of manpower and resources to invade Egypt in 1798, of all possible uses for those soldiers?

Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
Okay so I was not aware that France was not at war with Austria or Russia by the time Napoleon left for Egypt, so.... this entire post is sort of moot now. Their reasoning makes more sense with this now known to me. Thanks to everyone for commenting though. Since this forum does not let us delete our own posts for some reason, I guess I'll have to leave this up, though. Oh well.
 
Feb 2019
1,011
Serbia
"The autocratic rule of the Mamelukes was also anathema to Revolutionary France and it seemed fitting to the Directory that France should free the Egyptians from their bondsy"

and the autocratic rule the French Directory was quite willing to impose of Ducth, Germans, Italians, or for that Matter French just shows this as words without meaning.
How so? The text is displaying the French justification to conquer Egypt. They apparently did have this as a moral justification and saw themselves as spreading the revolution, ''liberating'' Egypt, the cradle of civilisation as they thought of it at the time was their point of view. The fact that this idea of ''liberating'' was pretty hypocritical didn't matter to them.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,756
How so? The text is displaying the French justification to conquer Egypt. They apparently did have this as a moral justification and saw themselves as spreading the revolution, ''liberating'' Egypt, the cradle of civilisation as they thought of it at the time was their point of view. The fact that this idea of ''liberating'' was pretty hypocritical didn't matter to them.
Not at all how the text reads. It says that in some fashion liberation of the Turks was a real motive. It was not.
ideological libertaion of the Turks was not a motivation or factor in the decision to send the expedition.
 
Feb 2019
1,011
Serbia
Not at all how the text reads. It says that in some fashion liberation of the Turks was a real motive. It was not.
ideological libertaion of the Turks was not a motivation or factor in the decision to send the expedition.
I might be missing something here but how does this make it ''words without meaning''? The text does display the moral justification of liberation as one of the motives, In practice they wanted Egypt for the prestige and their fantasy of disrupting the link to British India.

The autocratic rule of the Mamelukes was also anathema to Revolutionary France and it seemed fitting to the Directory that France should free the Egyptians from their bonds and enlighten the people of the cradle of civilisation, whilst relieving the Mamelukes of their fabled riches and establishing a permanent French colony in their place.
Emphasis mine, it seems to me that the text establishes the real motive as the treasure of the Mamelukes and Egypt's location with the ''liberation'' as a moral justification.
My question is: What does this have to do with the fact that France was autocratic in their conquered territories and how does that render this ''without meaning''?
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
A cursury study just now suggests it was Napoleon's idea
Not quite. He was certainly a major supporter of the it, but it wasn't his idea to begin with, and ultimate authority did not, at this point, lay with him:

Although the idea of invading Egypt has been variously ascribed to Talleyrand, Barras, Monge (albeit only by himself), the encyclopaedist and traveller Constantin de Volney and several others, in fact French military planners had been considering it since the 1760s, and in 1782 Emperor Francis's uncle, Joseph II of Austria, had suggested to his brother-in-law Louis XVI that France annex Egypt as part of a wider plan to partition the Ottoman Empire...

...After the Revolution, the idea of invading Egypt had appealed both toe French radical idealists for its promise of extending liberty to a people oppressed by foreign tyrants, and to more calculating strategists such as Carnot and Talleyrand, who wanted to counter British influence in the eastern Mediterranean.
- Napoleon the Great by Andrew Roberts, p. 161-2.

and the autocratic rule the French Directory was quite willing to impose of Ducth, Germans, Italians, or for that Matter French just shows this as words without meaning.
Not at all how the text reads. It says that in some fashion liberation of the Turks was a real motive. It was not.
ideological libertaion of the Turks was not a motivation or factor in the decision to send the expedition.
There are varying degrees of liberty. To the French revolutionary government, 'liberty' was the removal of monarchs and nobility from positions of unbridled power in the political system; it was not necessarily granting everybody equal rights or establishing completely democratic government institutions. It's absurd to compare the conception of liberty in the late 18th century with our own now. Many people in the lands conquered by the French embraced their revolutionary ideals and preferred them to the ancien regime. You did not live back then. Do not speak as if you know the minds of every French politician, lawmaker and soldier. It is pure ignorance to claim that liberation was not a genuine motive for at least part of the decision-makers. Liberation from an oppressive government as well as damaging your enemies trade routes are not mutually exclusive things; they can both be achieved. The French were not operating under only one motivation in Egypt - there were tens of thousands of people involved, and thus many different opinions, motivations and belief systems. You can't simplify history into your own morally black-and-white image.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,756
There are varying degrees of liberty. To the French revolutionary government, 'liberty' was the removal of monarchs and nobility from positions of unbridled power in the political system; it was not necessarily granting everybody equal rights or establishing completely democratic government institutions. It's absurd to compare the conception of liberty in the late 18th century with our own now.
There was quite a variance witin the French revolutionary government there was hardly a unified position, and I agree that very few had some ideal of universal male suffrage. Howver most of them did profess an ideal os some democracy with some widespread but limited franchise for at least the middle.upper classes. Which they increasingly violated.

Many people in the lands conquered by the French embraced their revolutionary ideals and preferred them to the ancient regime.
Ancient rgeime is a a vague term. many did 'embrace' the 'ideals' of the french revolution (and which ideals, it washarldy a universal agreement), but that was harldy the bais of French occupation and goverance of the lands conquered by the french revolution which were generally treated like conquered lands. various factions and groups sought to alliy with French republic, often the "progressive" elements of the population (but not always) but the terms imposed were hardly compatible with the Ideals of the French revolution. The very initial stages of the Revolutionary wars there was some idealisism about universality of rights of man and bortehr republics. But that quickly passed to basic imperial attitudes. Occuptaion came down to how much could be extracted.

You did not live back then. Do not speak as if you know the minds of every French politician, lawmaker and soldier.
None of us were born back then,, if thats the requirement for having an opinion and discussing history we might as well close this forum now. Your posting of a fourm full of peopel not born back then, you are engaged in dicussion of these events.

It is pure ignorance to claim that liberation was not a genuine motive for at least part of the decision-makers. Liberation from an oppressive government as well as damaging your enemies trade routes are not mutually exclusive things; they can both be achieved. The French were not operating under only one motivation in Egypt - there were tens of thousands of people involved, and thus many different opinions, motivations and belief systems. You can't simplify history into your own morally black-and-white image.
Which of the key decision makers do you claim were motivated by "liberation". the Idea that ten of thosands involved has some sort say and input into the decison making is just false.,
I reject your black and white projection of my position. Liberation was not a motive.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,756
I might be missing something here but how does this make it ''words without meaning''? The text does display the moral justification of liberation as one of the motives, In practice they wanted Egypt for the prestige and their fantasy of disrupting the link to British India.
Liberation was a justifcation propganda thing withouyt any bais in reality that the Author chooses to report them equaily with the "real" reasons rather than distinguish the between Rhetoric and Intent. Failure to make such a diistinction is a worry in an Author.

Emphasis mine, it seems to me that the text establishes the real motive as the treasure of the Mamelukes and Egypt's location with the ''liberation'' as a moral justification.
My question is: What does this have to do with the fact that France was autocratic in their conquered territories and how does that render this ''without meaning''?[/QUOTE]

there is no emphasis in the original and the text places equal emphasis on the motives. Because it's simply false. Repeating historical propaganda without evaluation or consideration seriously devalues the authors words of any credibility or value. That is what words without meaning. The Author is simply repeating French propaganda at face value. A failure to act as an Historian.
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
None of us were born back then,, if thats the requirement for having an opinion and discussing history we might as well close this forum now. Your posting of a fourm full of peopel not born back then, you are engaged in dicussion of these events.
But the problem is you're the one insisting that their own self-declared intentions were not true and were all disingenuous, because you simply do not like the idea of the French actually unironically believing in their own ideals and not being as completely cynical and Machiavellian as someone like Talleyrand. Again, you seem to ignore the fact that it is completely possible to have more than one motivation for doing something. I will repeat what I said before: it was entirely possible to want to both liberate the Egyptians from Mamluk and Turkish rule, and also disrupt British trade and influence in the region. These things were not mutually exclusive at all. Just because politicians and generals focus on the practical means and outcomes of something does not mean they were not also personally motivated to some degree by a genuine idealogical drive. The French Revolution created and encouraged an extremely political and ideological society, and this ideology seeped into almost every aspect of people's lives.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,756
But the problem is you're the one insisting that their own self-declared intentions were not true and were all disingenuous,
No I am Not. I'm declaring this self declared intention was disingenious not making blanket statments about all self declare dinetnetions.

Throughout history People often make putative testaments about there actions which are prorpaganda and justification rather than teh actiual motive(s) for doing something., it;s a necessary part of history to distinguish between was is justification and propaganda and what are the real motives for doing this. Liberation of the Turks is one of the easy cases. It was solely propaganda.Witout such judgements History is hostage to propaganda.


because you simply do not like the idea of the French actually unironically believing in their own ideals and not being as completely cynical and Machiavellian as someone like Talleyrand.
We're talking the late Directory here. It's not "the French" but a smalll group of men like Barras. Are you saying Barras was moved by ideologically concerns about freeing turks? At this piont those directlng policy of the French Rpeublic were not idealogoues, but farily cynical actors.

Again, you seem to ignore the fact that it is completely possible to have more than one motivation for doing something. I will repeat what I said before: it was entirely possible to want to both liberate the Egyptians from Mamluk and Turkish rule, and also disrupt British trade and influence in the region. These things were not mutually exclusive at all.
At no piont do a contest this or argue along there lines. Multiple movations are possible and common. And even contradictory motivies are possibnle.
I have NEVER advanced teh argument that one doing something must be ascribed rto one singular motive.

Just because politicians and generals focus on the practical means and outcomes of something does not mean they were not also personally motivated to some degree by a genuine idealogical drive. The French Revolution created and encouraged an extremely political and ideological society, and this ideology seeped into almost every aspect of people's lives.
Barras, Tallyrand, Napoloen. this simply does not fit the decision makers at this point in time. Who among the actual decison makers were strongly driven by ideological drive?

Can you point to revolutionary pamphlets that there was any ideological thinker who was concerned with the specific suffering of the Turks?