Abbas I of Egypt

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Abbas I (July 1, 1813 – July 16, 1854), (Arabic: عباس الأول ‎), Wāli of Egypt and Sudan, was a son of Tusun Pasha and grandson of Muhammad Ali, founder of the reigning dynasty of Egypt and Sudan at the time. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary says of him: "[b]igoted and sensual, he did much to undo the progress made under Muhammad Ali."[1]

He was born in 1813 in Jeddah and was brought up in Egypt. Being the grandson of Muhammad Ali, he succeeded his uncle Ibrahim Pasha in ruling Egypt and Sudan in 1848 [2]

According to al-Jabarti, the leading historian of this time period, Abbas I was born in Cairo while his father Tusun Pasha in Hejaz fighting against the Wahabist movement. As a young man, he fought in the Levant under his uncle Ibrahim Pasha. The death of Ibrahim in November 1848 made Abbas regent of Egypt and Sudan. The following August 1849, on the death of his grandfather Muhammad Ali (who had been removed in July 1848 on account of mental weakness), Abbas succeeded him as wāli.

He has been often described as a mere voluptuary, but Nubar Pasha spoke of him as a true gentleman of the "old school". He was seen as a reactionary, morose and taciturn, and spent nearly all his time in his palace. He undid, as far as lay in his power, the works of his grandfather, both good and bad. Among other things he abolished trade monopolies, closed factories and schools, and reduced the strength of the region's army to 9,000 men.

He was inaccessible to adventurers bent on plundering Egypt and Sudan of riches, but at the insistence of the British government, he allowed the construction of a railway from Alexandria to Cairo.

Among his personal interests was the breeding of Arabian horses, continuing a breeding program begun by Muhammad Ali. While Egypt was not particularly known for horse-breeding in the time, the rulers of Egypt obtained horses as payment for taxes and tribute. Muhammad Ali and Abbas I both recognized the unique characteristics and careful attention to bloodlines of the horses bred by the bedouin, particularly in the Anazeh and the Nejd. Thus each ruler accumulated significant numbers of high quality animals through both diplomacy and force.

In July 1854 he was murdered in Benha Palace by two of his slaves, and was later succeeded by his uncle (who was actually younger than him), Said Pasha.

Following his assassination, his Arabian horses were inherited by his eighteen year old son El Hami Pasha, who had little interest in them, giving away several and putting the rest up for auction. In 1861, a distant relative, Ali Pasha Sherif purchased approximately 30 horses of the original Abbas Pasha stock and rebuilt the horse breeding program.


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