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Unformatted text preview: well. In the 1400s, as Portugal sailed southward along
the coast of Africa, searching for a sea route around
Africa to India, it had seized a number of ports on the
coast of Morocco. Religious leaders in Morocco,
however, united against the Christian threat, and in
1578, Portugal was decisively defeated, and its
expansion into Africa stopped.
The 'Alawite dynasty, that still rules Morocco today,
came to power in the late 1600s. They defeated the
Berbers with the help of Arab tribes that had emigrated
into northern Africa in the Middle Ages and with a
professional army of black Africans— descendants of the
slaves who had been brought back after the Moroccan
defeat of the Songhai empire (see week 2). After an initial
period of civil war among the ‘Alawite royal family
(which ended in 1757), Morocco became stable and
prosperous. Trade with Europe and the Mediterranean
By the eighteenth century, Algeria, Tunisia, and
Libya, which had been conquered by Suleiman the
Magnificent and incorporated into the Ottoman Empire
in the sixteenth century, had evolved into autonomous
states that were, in name, subject to the Ottoman Sultan, Essentials of Modern World History. Wk 8: Mid-East and North Africa, 1453-1914, © D. G. Rowley, 2004. Rev. 2011. 5 but, in practice, independent. They were involved in the
Mediterranean trading system, but also generated
considerable income by sponsoring pirates who preyed
on shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.
Egypt was a subordinate province in the Ottoman
Empire until the governing elite was overthrown by
Napoleon’s invasion in 1798, and the region was thrown
Muhammad Ali, a former Ottoman general, was
appointed governor of Egypt in 1805, and he asserted his
independence of the Ottoman Empire. Technically,
Egypt remained an Ottoman province, but in practice, it
behaved like an independent state.
Muhammad Ali laid the foundations of the modern
state. Like the Ottoman Sultans he introduced western
education, and he modernized the military and the
administration of the country.
Muhammad Ali modernized agriculture by allowing
wealthy Egyptians to take land away from subsistence
farmers, create cotton plantations, and hire the farmers
back at low wages. Cotton farming was given a big boost
by British demand during the American Civil War when
cotton supplies were cut off by the Union blockade of
Muhammad Ali also promoted industry and
borrowed a large amount of money from the European
powers to do so.
One of his successors hired a French engineering
firm to dig the Suez Canal (connecting the
Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea), but this turned out
to be a mistake. It put Egypt even deeper in debt, and it
attracted the interest of England, who saw the canal as of
key strategic importance to its control over India.
England now felt it needed to control Egypt, and the
opportunity came in 1875, when Egypt went bankrupt
and England bought the Egyptian government’s
controlling shares in the Suez Canal....
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