History, Mahdist Revolt
joint sovereignty, Muhammad Ahmad, Omdurman, Egyptian army, annihilation
The anarchic state of affairs that developed after Gordon’s resignation culminated in 1882 in a revolution led by Muhammad Ahmad, who in 1881 had proclaimed himself the Mahdi, the person who, according to an Islamic tradition, would rid the world of evil. The rebels won successive victories, including the annihilation of an Egyptian army in November 1883 and the capture of Khartoum in January 1885. With the latter victory, in which Gordon was killed, the Mahdists won complete control over the province.
Conditions in Egyptian Sudan deteriorated under the rule of the Mahdi and of the caliph Abdallah at-Taaisha, who succeeded the Mahdi in 1885. The caliph waged incessant war against the Nilotes, adding large sections of territory to Egyptian Sudan, and undertook various other military adventures, notably an abortive attempt to conquer Egypt in 1889. Economic and social chaos engulfed Sudan during the closing years of the caliph’s reign. Meanwhile, Egypt had become a virtual possession of Britain. In 1896 the British and Egyptian governments, alarmed at the spread of French influence in Nilotic Sudan, dispatched a joint military expedition against the caliph. This expedition, led by General Horatio Herbert Kitchener, routed the caliph’s forces at Omdurman on September 2, 1898. The Anglo-Egyptian victory brought about the complete collapse of the Mahdist movement. On January 19, 1899, the British and Egyptian governments concluded the agreement that provided for joint sovereignty in Sudan.
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