Egyptian Revolution of 1919

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Egyptian revolution of 1919
Part of the Revolutions of 1917–23
Revolution flag of Egypt 1919.svg
DateNovember 1918 – July 1919

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  British Empire

Revolution flag of Egypt 1919.svg Protesters

Commanders and leaders
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Reginald Wingate Revolution flag of Egypt 1919.svg Saad Zaghloul
Casualties and losses
29 British military personnel dead, 31 European civilians dead 800 Egyptians dead
1,600 wounded

The Egyptian Revolution of 1919 (Arabic : ثورة 1919Thawra 1919) was a countrywide revolution against the British occupation of Egypt and Sudan. It was carried out by Egyptians [2] from different walks of life in the wake of the British-ordered exile of the revolutionary Egyptian Nationalist leader Saad Zaghlul, and other members of the Wafd Party in 1919.

Revolution fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time

In political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression. In book V of the Politics, the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle described two types of political revolution:

  1. Complete change from one constitution to another
  2. Modification of an existing constitution.
United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state‍—‌the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.


The revolution led to Great Britain's later recognition of Egyptian independence in 1922 as the Kingdom of Egypt, and the implementation of a new constitution in 1923. Britain, however, refused to recognise full Egyptian sovereignty over Sudan, or to withdraw its forces from the Suez Canal Zone, factors that would continue to sour Anglo-Egyptian relations in the decades leading up to the Egyptian revolution of 1952.

The Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence was issued by the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 28 February 1922. Through this declaration, the British government unilaterally ended its protectorate over Egypt and granted it nominal independence with the exception of four "reserved" areas: foreign relations, communications, the military and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

Kingdom of Egypt 1922-1953 kingdom in Northern Africa

The Kingdom of Egypt was the de jure independent Egyptian state established under the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1922 following the Unilateral Declaration of Egyptian Independence by the United Kingdom. Until the Anglo-Egyptian treaty of 1936, the Kingdom was only nominally independent, since the British retained control of foreign relations, communications, the military and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Between 1936 and 1952, the British continued to maintain military presence and political advisers, at a reduced level.

Egypt–United Kingdom relations

Egypt–United Kingdom relations refers to the bilateral relationship between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Relations are strong and longstanding. They involve politics, defence, trade and education.


Turkey retained nominal sovereignty over Egypt, but the political connection between the two countries was largely severed by the earlier seizure of power by Muhammad Ali in 1805, and re-enforced by the later increasing British influence and occupation of Egypt in 1882. From 1883 to 1914, the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan under the Ottoman Sultan remained the official ruler of the country, but ultimate power was exercised by the British Consul-General. [3]

Muhammad Alis seizure of power

The process of Muhammad Ali's seizure of power in Egypt was a long three-way civil war between the Ottoman Turks, Egyptian Mamluks who had ruled Egypt for centuries, and Albanian mercenaries in the service of the Ottomans. It ended in victory for the Albanians led by Muhammad Ali of Egypt (1769–1849).

Khedive noble title of the Ottoman Empire

The term Khedive is a title largely equivalent to the English word viceroy. It was first used, without official recognition, by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the governor of Egypt and Sudan, and vassal of the Ottoman Empire. The initially self-declared title was officially recognized by the Ottoman government in 1867, and used subsequently by Ismail Pasha, and his dynastic successors until 1914.

Sultan noble title with several historical meanings

Sultan is a position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", derived from the verbal noun سلطة sulṭah, meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who claimed almost full sovereignty in practical terms, albeit without claiming the overall caliphate, or to refer to a powerful governor of a province within the caliphate. The adjective form of the word is "sultanic", and the dynasty and lands ruled by a sultan are referred to as a sultanate.

When the Caucasus Campaign of World War I broke out between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, Britain declared martial law in Egypt, and announced that it would shoulder the entire burden of the war. On 14 December 1914, the Khedivate of Egypt was elevated to a separate level of Sultanate of Egypt, and declared as a British protectorate, thus terminating definitively the legal fiction of Ottoman sovereignty over its province of Egypt. The terms of the protectorate led Egyptian nationalists to believe that it was a temporary arrangement that would be changed after the world war through bilateral agreement with Britain. [3]

Caucasus Campaign conflict

The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, later including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the German Empire, the Central Caspian Dictatorship and the British Empire as part of the Middle Eastern theatre during World War I. The Caucasus Campaign extended from the South Caucasus to the Armenian Highlands region, reaching as far as Trabzon, Bitlis, Mush and Van. The land warfare was accompanied by the Russian navy in the Black Sea Region of the Ottoman Empire.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Russian Empire Former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.


Before World War One, nationalist agitation was limited to the educated elite. During the war, however, dissatisfaction with the British occupation spread among all classes of the population. This was the result of Egypt's increasing involvement in the war, despite Britain's promise to shoulder the entire burden of the war. During the war, the British poured masses of foreign troops into Egypt, conscripted over one and a half million Egyptians into the Labour Corps, and requisitioned buildings, crops, and animals for the use of the army. [4] In addition, because of Allied promises during the war (such as American President Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points"), Egyptian political classes prepared for self-government. By war's end the Egyptian people demanded their independence. [5]

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States during World War I, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

Fourteen Points peace treaty

The Fourteen Points was a statement of principles for peace that was to be used for peace negotiations in order to end World War I. The principles were outlined in a January 8, 1918 speech on war aims and peace terms to the United States Congress by President Woodrow Wilson. But his main Allied colleagues were skeptical of the applicability of Wilsonian idealism.


Saad Zaghlul Pasha Saad Zaghlul.jpg
Saad Zaghlul Pasha
Protesters during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 Taxiphote1919.jpg
Protesters during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919

Shortly after the First World War armistice on 11 November was concluded on the Western Front in Europe, a delegation of Egyptian nationalist activists led by Saad Zaghlul made a request to High Commissioner Reginald Wingate to end the British Protectorate in Egypt and Sudan, and gain Egyptian representation at the planned peace conference in Paris. The delegation also included 'Ali Sha'rawi Pasha, Abd al-Aziz Fahmi Bay, Muhammad 'Ali Bay, 'Abd al-Latif al-Makabati Bay, Muhammad Mahmud Pasha, Sinut Hanna Bay, Hamd Pasha al-Basil, Gurg Khayyat Bay, Mahmud Abu al-Nasr Bay, Mustafa al-Nahhas Bay and Dr. Hafiz 'Afifi Bay. [6]

Egyptian and British soldiers on standby during the riots Egyptian and British soldiers during the 1919 riots.jpg
Egyptian and British soldiers on standby during the riots
Egyptian women demonstrating during the revolution Cairo-Demonstrations1919.jpg
Egyptian women demonstrating during the revolution

Meanwhile, a mass movement for the full independence of Egypt and Sudan was being organised at a grassroots level, using the tactics of civil disobedience. By then, Zaghlul and the Wafd Party enjoyed massive support among the Egyptian people. [7] Wafdist emissaries went into towns and villages to collect signatures authorizing the movement's leaders to petition for the complete independence of the country.

Seeing the popular support that the Wafd leaders enjoyed, and fearing social unrest, the British proceeded to arrest Zaghlul on 8 March 1919 and exiled him with two other movement leaders to Malta. [8] In the course of widespread disturbances between 15 and 31 March, at least 800 Egyptians were killed, numerous villages were burnt down, large landed properties plundered and railways destroyed. [9] "The result was revolution," according to noted professor of Egyptian history James Jankowski. [10]

For several weeks until April, demonstrations and strikes across Egypt by students, elite, civil servants, merchants, peasants, workers, and religious leaders became such a daily occurrence that normal life was brought to a halt. This mass movement was characterised by the participation of both men and women, and by spanning the religious divide between Muslim and Christian Egyptians [10] The uprising in the Egyptian countryside was more violent, involving attacks on British military installations, civilian facilities and personnel. By 25 July 1919, 800 Egyptians were dead, and 1,600 others were wounded. [11]

The British government under Prime Minister David Lloyd George, sent a commission of inquiry, known as the "Milner Mission", to Egypt in December 1919, to determine the causes of the disorder, and to make a recommendation about the political future of the country. Alfred Milner /first Viscount Milner / Lord Milner's report to Lloyd George, the Cabinet and King George V, published in February 1921, recommended that the protectorate status of Egypt was not satisfactory and should be abandoned. [12] The revolts forced London to later issue a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence on 22 February 1922.


The British government offered to recognize Egypt as an independent sovereign state, but with the British government holding on these powers: the security of the communications of the British Empire in Egypt; defending Egypt against foreign aggression; and protecting foreign interests in Egypt and the Sudan. [13]

The Wafd Party drafted a new constitution in 1923 based on a parliamentary representative system. Egyptian independence at this stage was nominal, as British forces continued to be physically present on Egyptian soil. Moreover, Britain's recognition of Egyptian independence directly excluded Sudan, which continued to be administered as an Anglo-Egyptian condominium. Saad Zaghlul became the first popularly elected Prime Minister of Egypt in 1924.[ citation needed ]

See also


  1. Australian War Memorial – Egyptian Uprising 1919
  2. 1919 The People of Egypt Revolution
  3. 1 2 Vatikitotis 1992, pp. 240–243
  4. Vatikitotis 1992, p. 246
  5. Daly 1998, p. 2407
  6. Quraishi 1967, p. 213
  7. Vatikitotis 1992, p. 267
  8. Gerges, Fawaz A. (2013-12-30). The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World. Cambridge University Press. p. 67. ISBN   9781107470576 . Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  9. Schulze, Reinhard (2002). A Modern History of the Islamic World. I.B.Tauris. p. 54. ISBN   9781860648229 . Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  10. 1 2 Jankowski 2000, p. 112
  11. The New York Times. 1919
  12. Daly 1998, pp. 249–250
  13. Vatikitotis 1992, p. 264

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