Convention of London 1840

Convention of London 1840: Egypt, The Ottoman Empire and the seeds of British interests

The Convention of London 1840 seeks to maintain the balance and continuity of power that Europe’s major powers except France wanted to see maintained. The Ottoman’s had first held Egypt in the 16th Century. Their continued involvement in the Middle East and Egypt had brought some value to the Europeans as continuity equated with stability. The Convention of London sought to ensure that such stability was not completely undone by the war between the Ottoman’s and Muhammad Ali’s Egypt. Hence not only Britain but the major powers of Austria Prussia and Russia were also keen and active in making sure matters were resolved as quickly as possible to their mutual satisfaction.

The conditions of Muhammad Ali being allowed to hold Egypt and the Eyalet of Acre himself and through his successors required that Egypt would remain part of the Ottoman Empire;

  1. time conditions and penalties if he did not agree and withdraw his forces, that were onerous and designed to ensure that he would not prevaricate.
  2. he had to return Sultan Abdulmecid the Ottoman Fleet (which had defected) to Alexandria
  3. with draw his forces from Arabia, the Holy Cities Crete and Adana.
Backed by the French, who as recently as Napoleon had laid claims to Egypt, Muhammad Ali refused the terms offered. Consequently British and Austrian forces attacked Acre in 1840 and increased the pressure on Ali’s war weary forces. Finally he was forced to accept the terms that still gave him rule of Egypt and the Sudan as par of the Ottoman Empire. He also met the other material terms required and Egypt assumed the legal status of being a ‘privileged Ottoman province.’ Subsequently when the British intervened and sought to take control of Egypt this status would be a matter of contention cited by the Egyptian nationalists to seek to undermine the British occupation of Egypt.occupation.
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