A ‘theatre of bloody carnage’
The revolt of Cairo and Revolutionary violence
in A global history of early modern violence

The repression that followed Cairo’s short-lived revolt against French occupation in October 1798 represents one of the single bloodiest episodes of the French Revolutionary wars. This chapter examines the violence that French forces deployed in suppressing the revolt and explores the attitudes towards civilian resistance that this violence reveals. In part, the violence of the French response to the rioting that swept Cairo that October echoed that of the counter-insurgency campaigns the Revolution’s armies had already conducted in other theatres of war in the 1790s. However, the ferocity of this violence also reflected the French soldiers’ intense antipathy towards Islam and, more generally, the religious ‘fanaticism’ they routinely blamed for the resistance encountered by the imposition of French rule. Drawing on these soldiers’ testimonies, this chapter traces the continuities that link this explosion of violence in a colonial context with the soldiers’ earlier exposure to, and cultural memory of, civil war at home in France.


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