Napoleon in Egypt

Battle of the Pyramid

The Battle of the Pyramids Painted by Lejeune, Louis-François Baron, 1808

Battles on the land of Pharaoh and Description de l’Égypte

By Daiheng Chen


Napoleon was a great man and had a legendary life. He was a great general, a law maker and an emperor. In his legendary life, he conducted several significant wars. One of the most important campaigns is his campaign in Egypt, the mysterious eastern country. What makes this campaign special is that the French Army’s defeat and the beginning of so called Egyptology. As a result of terrible weather in Egypt and outdated maps, the French Army had a hard time fighting against the Mamelukes’ army and residents. How to deal with the religious and cultural problems properly with the local residence is also a challenge. Although the army did not bring back glorious victory, the Institut d’Égypte had made great progress on the scientific study on ancient Egyptian culture and other valuable sources. As a results of their hard work, the “Encyclopedia” of Egyptology Description de I’Égypte was born. And it benefits thousands of scholars on their study of ancient Egyptian culture and languages.

Scholars view the Egyptian Campaign from different aspect. Some of them believe that invading Egypt is only a demonstration against British; others argue that it was just a part of Napoleon’s ambition. Some even assert that Napoleon invade Egypt to consolidate his status and political figure in France. Well, there are no exact answers to this argument. Below is a research guide for people who are interested in Napoleon’s battles in Egypt and his further influence on Egyptian studies. The resource below contains printed sources, online sources,  and some interesting videos and other media. Enjoy researching!

General Overview

Napoleon. org

This source provides a brilliant overview about Napoleon’s bibliography and achievements. It has a special page for Napoleon in Egypt, which has a precise introduction of the challenges and achievement Napoleon met in Egypt. The source especially has a good sight on religious problems that he faced when he tried to rule the orient land. There several interesting pictures related to the topic too. This site is convenient and helpful tool for students to start their research.

The Twilight of Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign

This is a student edited source about Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign. Although this source is not as official as others, it is a good place for people with little history knowledge to start. The introduction page gives a brief but precise summary of the campaign, including the background and some important battles. What is special about this source is that it provided pictures and detailed prescription of the ancient Egyptian artworks that were found by Napoleon’s Institut d’Égypte.

Napoleon in Egypt

This book contains good overview within a median length. This book has vivid description with battles in Jaffa and Cairo. The author uses a large amount of primary source in his book. He inserts much content of the letters from Napoleon and Nelson. This book also provides maps of the battle field as well as other portraits and paintings.

Paul Strathern 1940- ;Napoleon In Egypt. New York, NY : Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks ; 2009

The Battle of Nile


The Nile Campaign (Print)

This book is focus on the battles that the French army had fought in Egypt from 1798 to 1801. Each chapter is a detailed narration of the one significant battle. It is rather close to a military history book; it contains some of the strategies and also plenty of primary sources. As a result, nearly all the pictures in this book portraits the scene of wars. It even has some photographs of the ships that were used in the invasion. This book perfect for those want to study the important battles Napoleon had in Egypt.

Christopher Lloyd 1906- ; The Nile Campaign: Nelson and Napoleon in Egypt. Newton Abbot, David and Charles; New York, Barnes and Noble ; 1973

Napoleon visting the plague victims at Jaffa

Bonaparte in Egypt and the Egyptians of To-Day (Print)

This book has a thorough analysis about how Napoleon’s Egyptian Campaign links the past and future of Egypt. It spends some chapters analyzing the situation about Egypt under the control of Turkey before French invasion. It also thoroughly analyzed the healthy and unhealthy influences that the Campaign have on Egypt in late 18th Century and todays Egypt.

A. Browne haji. ; Bonaparte in Egypt and the Egyptian of To-Day. London, T.F. Unwin ; 1907



Napoleon in Egypt

This source is a compilation of several authors and their opinions on how Napoleon affected Egypt. These authors view the Campaign from totally different aspects; some argue from the aspect of Egyptian society, others argue from the aspect of economy of Egypt, geopolitics, history and polemic. One of them even discusses the changes of Egypt’s medical profession after Napoleon’s Campaign. This source provides a wider view for us to see the Egyptian Campaign.

Irene A Bierman; Napoleon in Egypt. Reading : Ithaca Press, in association with The Gustave E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Los Angeles ; c2003

Description de I’Égypte

This is the marvelous work about Egypt, the start of Egyptology and the guide book of Egyptology. It contains early discovery of ancient Egypt from the aspect of cultures, languages, arts, and science. It is finished Napoleon’s historians, scientists, archeologists from the Institut d’Égypte.

Click here for an online version of Decription de I’Egypte on Napoleon. org . This version is well-designed and fun to read.


A page from Description of Egypt


Copies of Original Letters From The Army Of General Bonaparte In Egypt, Intercepted By The Fleet  Under The Command Of Admiral Lord Nelson. With an English Traslation. (Print)

This a series of collection of the letters that Napoleon wrote during his Egyptian Campaign. These letters conveyed his victories and defeats, his worry and sorrow. This version has both the orignal piece in French and the English traslation.

London, J.Wright, 1798

Napoleon’s Obsessions: Quest for Egypt

This is a 50 minutes “ducumentary” which detailedly describes Napoleon’s Life in Egypt. It concludes his brutal battles, relationship with the local Egyptian, problems of religions and threats from Turkey.

Napoleon\’s Egyptian Campaign