Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Elena Frangakis-Syrett


Simon Davis

Subject Categories

Economic History | History | Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Other International and Area Studies


Toward the beginning of the nineteenth century, Egypt was being led by Mehmed Ali, a reformer eager to build his own dynastic state separate from the Ottoman Empire. Despite his achievements, by the end of the nineteenth century Egypt had been occupied by Great Britain for nearly two decades. This paper will examine the developments in Egypt and Great Britain that drew the two together, with particular emphasis on the growth and expansion of international finance into foreign government lending. As finance became an increasingly profitable career in Britain, financiers entered the gentlemanly class and socialized with the political elite. Government policy subsequently reflected the aims of both the political and financial elite under a newly defined national interest. As the national interest was threatened--by financial crisis in Egypt and geopolitical threats in Europe--Britain was drawn into more direct involvement with the purchase of Khedive Ismail's Suez Canal Company Shares under Prime Minister Disraeli and the invasion and occupation of Egypt under Prime Minister Gladstone, who were both linked with financiers and members of the gentlemanly class. Originally intended to be temporary, the occupation would last 70 years and help institutionalize racial and cultural aspects of British imperialism.