Ali Bey Al-Kabir
Ali Bey Al-Kabir (Arabic: علي باي الكبير ) (1728 – 8 May 1773) was a Mamluk leader of Egypt from 1760 to 1772. Originally a Mamluk soldier, he rose to prominence in 1768 when he rebelled against his Ottoman rulers making Egypt independent. His rule ended following the insubordination of his most trusted general, Abu al-Dhahab, which led to Ali Bey's exile then death outside the walls of Cairo.
He was a Georgian. Ali Bey was kidnapped and brought to Cairo in 1743 where he was sold into slavery. He was recruited into the Mamluk force in which he gradually rose in ranks and influence, winning the top office of sheikh al-balad (chief of the country) in 1760. Attempting to gain complete control, he sought to exile his rival Abd el-Rahman in 1762 when the latter was conducting the caravan of Mecca, but was instead sentenced to exile at Gaza; Ali Bey started for that city, but on the third day made to the Hijaz where he was joined by a number of his followers, and from there travelled to Girga where he spent the next two years, until his supporters in Cairo effected his recall.
"During his time in power, he successfully expanded Egypt's trade with Britain and France. He also hired European advisers to the military and bought European weapons".
In 1768 Ali Bey deposed the Ottoman governor and assumed the post of acting governor. He stopped the annual tribute to the Sublime Porte and in an unprecedented usurpation of the Ottoman Sultan's privileges had his name struck on local coins in 1769 (alongside the sultan's emblem), effectively declaring Egypt's independence from Ottoman rule. In 1770 he gained control of the Hijaz and a year later temporarily occupied Syria, thereby reconstituting the Mamluk state that had disappeared in 1517. However, a few days after a major victory by the allied forces of Dhaher al-Omar and Ali Bey on 6 June 1771, Abu al-Dhahab, the commander of his troops in Syria, refused to continue the fight after an Ottoman agent stirred up mistrust between him and Ali Bey, and hastily returned to Egypt. As a result, Ali Bey lost power in 1772. Next year, he was killed in Cairo.
- Constantin-François Volney, Travels Through Syria and Egypt, in the Years 1783, 1784, and 1785, third edition (London, 1805), vol. 1 p. 111f
- A History of the modern middle east Cleveland and Buntin p.59
- Volney, Travels, vol. 1 pp. 119 - 122.
- Sicker, Martin (2001), The Islamic world in decline: from the Treaty of Karlowitz to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, pp. 83-85. Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-96891-X
- Sayyid-Marsot, Afaf Lutfi (2007), A history of Egypt: from the Arab conquest to the present, pp. 57-59. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-70076-0