al-Nahdha and Tanzimat, the 19th-century winds of change
Al-Nahda, the Arabic term for “the awakening” or “renaissance”, and Tanzimat the Turkish equivalent, meaning “restructuring”, was an all-encompassing movement to revive and modernise the “East”.
Initiated by Muhammad ‘Ali of Egypt and the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II and his son ‘Abd al-Majid I, al-Nahda and Tanzimat was a period of intellectual modernisation and reform that touched upon all aspects of life in the Arab and Ottoman worlds. This “awakening” and “restructuring”, aimed at bridging the gap between “East” and “West”, was an attempt by the reformer-rulers of Egypt, the Ottoman Empire and Tunisia to catch up with the “West”. These reforms, though sometimes successful, were frequently executed with excessive cruelty. Inspired by the West (Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt), al-Nahda began in Egypt and later spread to the Ottoman world and North Africa. Nevertheless it was the outcome of deep, underlying internal socio-political and economic changes in the “East”. Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, and Tunis were the focal points of this renaissance.
Napoleon returning from the Island of Elba


National Library of France , Paris, France

Painter: Carle Vernet (1758–1836); engraver: Levachez

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769‒1821), from a young military leader in 1793, rose to become the First Consul in 1800 and Emperor of France in 1804. Under his direction, economic, legal and educational reforms were initiated and the Napoleonic Code was established. His invasion of Egypt (1798‒1801) had long-term consequences.

See Database entry for this item

In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Dance and entertainment