Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Egypt, 1600–1800 A.D.

Ottoman rule, 1517–1805


Cairo remains capital of the Egyptian province of the Ottoman empire, one of its greatest sources of tax income and an important center for the production of carpets. Turkish governors are posted there for three-year terms and the architecture they sponsor is an interesting mix of local and Istanbul influences. These governors, though, have an uneasy relationship with the Egyptian population and their position is challenged early in this period. In 1798, Napoleon invades and the French control Egypt until 1801.

    • 1605 The Ottoman governor of Egypt is killed by rebels in the first of a series of revolts. This reflects growing tensions between the foreign governors and the local revenue farmers, who are under much pressure to provide tribute to Istanbul. After this time, real power lies in the hands of the Janissary military corps, which has gradually integrated into local society and has a weaker sense of allegiance to Istanbul.

    • 17th century The neighborhood around Cairo's port of Bulaq develops with the patronage of Ottoman officials, as it is one of the few remaining areas of the city not already densely populated. Falling revenues mean, however, that their patronage is on a smaller scale than in the previous century.

    • 1744 The Fountain of cAbd al-Rahman Katkhuda is constructed. The combination of first-floor water dispensary and second-floor boys' school is a type developed at the end of the Mamluk period, but exterior floral designs and interior tile work show influences from Turkey. Over a hundred such buildings are erected in the Ottoman period.

    • 1786 Egypt defaults on its payment to Istanbul and the Ottoman sultan is forced to dispatch troops to regain control of the province.

    • 1798 A French expeditionary force commanded by Napoleon occupies Egypt. The French rule Egypt for three years and try to expand into Syria, but are repulsed by allied Ottoman and British forces.