On March 1, 1811, all the principal men of Cairo ﬂocked to the citadel.
Continuing The Massacre of the Mamalukes,
our selection from History of the Egyptian Revolution by Andrew A. Paton published in 1870. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in three easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in The Massacre of the Mamalukes.
Shahin Bey, the elected successor of Elfy Bey, had made his submission to Mehemet Ali, and signed an arrangement the conditions of which were advantageous to him. From the Pyramids up the left bank of the Nile, to beyond Beni-Suef, and including the Faioum, was assigned to him as an appanage; and, on his presenting himself for investiture to Mehemet All at Cairo, he was loaded with rich gifts of shawls, pelisses, and diamond mounted daggers. The other Mamelukes, even although jealous of Shahin Bey, were also gradually obliged to yield. The beys at Siut on the upper Nile wished at ﬁrst to refuse tribute. But the Mamelukes, being no longer a corps united under an Ali Bey, or a Murad, as in former times, were fain to yield on ﬁnding that Mehemet Ali himself had come to Siut with an army of several thousand men to collect the tribute. After this there was not even the shadow of a rising. Many of the Mamelukes came to Cairo and sank completely into sloth and sensuality, passing from the wild to the tame state like beasts fatted for slaughter.
In February, 1811, the chiefs destined by Mehemet Ali to extirpate the Wahhabee reformers, and restore Arabia to the Caliph of Constantinople, went to encamp at Kubbet el Azab, on the desert near Cairo. Here four thousand men were united under the orders of Toussun Pacha, the son of Mehemet Ali, who was destined to command the expedition. On the following Friday the youthful general was to receive the pelisse of investiture and thereafter to proceed to the camp by the “Gate of Victory” — the astrologers having ﬁxed on this day as propitious to the success of the enterprise. All the civil and military authorities and the principal people of the country were informed of the approach of the ceremony; and on the night before, the Mameluke chiefs were invited to take part in full costume. A simple invitation to the Mamelukes in a mass, on any other occasion, would have been received with the habitual Oriental mistrust of such hospitality; but, with a skill in the way of evil worthy of a better cause, Mehemet Ali so managed that the obvious motive of the departure of an army, and the association of the Mamelukes with all the other authorities of the country, not only lulled their suspicions, but even ﬂattered their self-love.
On March 1, 1811, all the principal men of Cairo ﬂocked to the citadel. Shahin Bey appeared there at the head of his household, having come with the other beys to pay his respects to Mehemet Ali, who received them in the great hall. Coffee was then served and conversation took place. When all those who were to take part in the procession were assembled, the signal for departure was given, each person taking the place that was assigned him by the master of the ceremonies. A corps of delis, commanded by Oozoon Ali, opened the march; then came the waly or municipal governor of Cairo, the aga of the janizaries, with Turkish troops; then came the Albanians, especially devoted to Mehemet Ali, under the immediate command of Saleh Khosh. The regular troops came last, and the Mamelukes had their places assigned between the infantry and cavalry at the rear and the Albanians, who marched in front of them. The plateau of the citadel, on which are situated the chief buildings, is elevated high above the level of the city. Down on the lower level, and close to the public place of the Roumeyleh, is the gate of Azaba — a picturesque object ﬂanked with round towers, painted in stripes of red and white. Between the high courtyard and this gate was the old access to the plateau — not the modern macadamized slope, but a steep winding passage with sharp angles, and cut in the rock.
Down this road came the procession, and no sooner were the delis and ages out than Saleh Khosh ordered the gates to be shut, and communicated the order he had received, to exterminate the Mamelukes, to his Albanians, who immediately turned about, and, jumping aside or leaping up the rock, began to ﬁre on the horsemen. To charge down the steep rock was useless or impossible, for the gates were shut and exit barred; and on the sloping or angular rocks the heavily mounted Mamelukes, though powerful on the plains of Egypt, had no chance with the Albanians, whose home is only the mountainside. Behind the Mamelukes were the infantry troops closing the procession, whose advantage was still more decided; for they poured volleys of musketry down on these devoted men from the parapets above.
The Mamelukes now wished to return by another road into the citadel, but not being able to manage their horses on account of the unfavorable ground, and seeing that many of their people were killed and wounded, they alighted, and abandoning their horses and upper clothes, remounted the road, sabre in hand, but were ﬁred on from the windows of the citadel above. Shahin Bey fell pierced with balls before the gates of the palace of Saladin. Solyman Bey, another Mameluke, ran, half-naked and frightened, to implore the protection of the harem of the Viceroy, according to Oriental usage, but in vain. He was conducted to the palace, where he was decapitated. Others went to beg for mercy from Toussun Pacha, who took no part in the events of the day.
The troops had orders to arrest the Mamelukes wherever they might be found. Those taken were conducted to Kiahia Bey, and instantaneously decapitated. Many persons not Mamelukes were also killed. The citadel ﬂowed with blood, and the dead ﬁlled up the passages. The dead body of Shahin Bey was, with barbarous brutality, dragged about with a cord round the neck.
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