Sudan 1821-1882 Sudan 1899-1918

External Online Maps featuring Mahdiyya Sudan

Africa 1885 (Scottish Geogr. Magazine), posted by PCL, UTexas
Africa 1886 (Berthelot 1888), posted by MSU
Africa 1890, from Encyclopaedia Britannica Amer. edition, posted by PCL, UTexas
Africa, 1891 (Brockhaus/Efron, Russian edition, 1890-1904), posted by MSU
Africa in 1892, from Gardiner's Atlas of English History, 1892

Sudan, 1882-1898

Khedive ISMAIL PASHA had been deposed in 1879; his successor TAWFIQ was perceived as weak, under the influence of URABI PASHA.. Following political intrigues at the court in Cairo, Urabi Pasha was ousted and the British government used the inability of the Egyptian administration to pay interest on her national bet to declare Egypt a BRITISH PROTECTORATE.
In the KORDOFAN region of the Sudan, MUHAMMAD AHMAD declared himself to be the MAHDI, the expected one, a mouthpiece of the prophet, and assembled a community of followers. While the Egyptian administration during the preceding 6 decades had not been resented per se, many reforms introduced by her - the modernization of the army, the limitation of the application of the Sharia, the implementation of taxation, the abolition of slavery - were, all the more if they were perceived as alien to Islamic tradition, as due to Western pressure or influence. The presence of christian missionaries, the fact that Westerners such as Samuel White Baker, Charles Gordon, Eduard Schnitzler (Emin Pascha) occupied leading positions in the Egyptian administration of the Sudan personified this western influence.
Historian P.M. Holt stresses that the Mahdiyya originated in the Kordofan, began as a regional phenomenon, in 1881. The Mahdi called on his followers to refuse taxation and to fight the 'Turks'. Attempts by Governor MUHAMMAD RA'UF to arrest the Mahdi, to contain the rebellion failed; soon Kordofan, except her garrisons, was under the control of the Mahdiyya. In Jan. 1883 the garrisons of Bara and El Obeid surrendered. The Egyptian administration sent an army commanded by a British officer, WILLIAM HICKS; it was annihilated on Nov. 5th 1883. In the BATTLE OF SHAYKAN the Mahdiyya acquired modern weaponry and ammunition.
While British Prime Minister sent General Charles "Chinese" Gordon, who was appointed Governor General by the Khedive, to Khartoum, with the order to evacuate the Edyptian residents of the city, the Mahdi had established his control over much of the Sudanese countryside; Khartoum and a few strongholds along the Nile were still held by Egyptians, as was the south - the Bahr-el-Ghazal and Equatoria. The Governor of Bahr-el-Ghazal, Englishman F.M. LUPTON, surrendered to a Mahdist expedition in April 1884; Governor of Equatoria EMIN PASCHA (German Eduard Schnitzler) rather than awaiting a Mahdist force he could not possibly resist, moved south and established residence at WADELAI on Lake Albert. At Suakin (Port Sudan) on the Red Sea the Egyptian garrison also held out.
The Mahdist forces established their camp at OMDURMAN, opposite Khartoum, and laid siege to the latter, which held out until January 26th 1885; Governor Gordon was killed in the attack. A British relief force arrived on British steamers two days later. The MAHDI died of disease June 22nd 1885.
The administration fell into the hands of the Mahdi's chosen successors, the 4 Caliphs, most notably Abdallah ibn Muhammad. The Mahdiyya administration followed the model of the early Caliphate, restored the Sharia to universal application and reduced taxation. Christians faced persecution. In one aspect the Mahdi diverted from the tradition of Sudanese governors - he had coins struck.
Abdallah ibn Muhammad quickly consolidated his position; a feared British invasion did not materialize; expansion continued as the garrisons of KASSALA and SENNAR fell in July/August 1885. DARFUR (the Sultan of which had lead an army against Khartoum in 1886) was brought under control, a border war with christian ABYSSINIA fought - King John of Abyssinia was killed in a March 1889 battle. Another war was fought on the border with Egypt.
The military events in 1889, which, besides the battle with the Ethiopians included the crushing of a revolt in Darfur and a defeat the defeat of an expedition sent against Egypt, marked the climax of Mahdist expansion. A misharvest caused severe famine; the privileged treatment given to the Khalifa's tribe, the TA'AISHA, caused general resentment; an 1891 rebellion was suppressed.
A Mahdist expedition into Italian Eritrea was defeated in 1893; Italian forces took Kassala in 1894. The same year a Belgian force established a stronghold at REJAF in what was to be called the LADO ENCLAVE.
While the Khalifa's rule became more and more despotic, the French (1895) planned an expedition to the Nile, under COLONEL MARCHAND. Now the British administration realized that her claim on the central Nile valley was questioned by the Italians, Belgians and French; in 1896 a British force commanded by SIR HERBERT KITCHENER was dispatched to occupy Dongola; it occupied Berber in 1887, defeated the main Mahdist force at Atbara on April 8th 1898; Omdurman fell on September 1st 1898.

Timeline, from BBC News; from; Chronology of Sudanese History, from African-American Studies 112A, at UCB; another timeline by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Sudan
Encyclopedia of the Orient : Sudan
History of the Sudan, from Sudan Home, 11 chapters; from Country and People of Sudan, concise; from Sudan Net
Article Sudan, from EB 1911; from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition
Nubia : Egyptian-Ottoman Rule
Article Mahdiyya, from Agence Europe
Biography of Charles Gordon (Chinese Gordon, Gordon of Khartoum), from Public Bookshelf; from Victorian Web
The Governors of Equatoria, from The History of Uganda, scroll down (posted by Govt. of Uganda)
Siege Coins, from Coin Library, has paragraph on Khartoum siege coins 1884-1885, scroll down
Biography of Emin Pascha (Eduard Schnitzler), from KHM, in German, illustrated
DOCUMENTS World Statesmen : Sudan, by Ben Cahoon
Alfred Egmont Hake: The Death of General Gordon at Khartoum, 1885, from Islamic History Sourcebook
Chinese Gordon, article by W.T. Stead in The Century, August 1884, posted at the W.T. Stead Site
From British Military Medals : Egypt Medal 1882-1889, Khedive Star, 1882-1891, Queen's Sudan Medal 1896-1897, Khedive's Sudan Medal, 1896-1908
News from Sudan, in "The Great Round World and What is Going on in it", Vol.1 No.38, July 1897, Vol.1 No.46, September 1897, Vol.1 No.48, October 1897, Vol.1 No.50, October 1897, Vol.1 No.53, November 1897, Vol.1 No.58, December 1897, Vol.2 No.5, February 1898, posted by Gutenberg Library Online
REFERENCE P.M. Holt, A Modern History of the Sudan, NY : Grove Press 1961, esp. pp.90-106
Article Egyptian Sudan, in : Statesman's Year Book 1895 pp.319-320 (on events of 1894) [G]
Article Egyptian Sudan, in : Statesman's Year Book 1898 pp.319-320 (on events of 1897) [G]
Article : Bahr-el-Ghazal, in : International Year Book 1898 p.82, 1899 pp.95-96, 1900 pp.101-102 [G]
Article : Dongola, in : International Year Book 1898 p.273 [G]
J. Wardle, General Gordon, Saint and Soldier (1904), posted by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 4th 2003, last revised on October 19th 2007

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