A fleet of 300 French ships led by General Bonaparte left Toulon on 19th May 1798 for Alexandria, which fell on 2nd July 1798. The originality and the exceptional character of the expedition are due to several points: It is first of all the most important to have ever criss-crossed the Mediterranean, but it is also characterized by the presence of scholars and artists attached to the army of the East: in all, a dozen professors, as many engineers, draughtsmen and architects.
The Egyptian campaign, whose military objective was to block the route to India for Great Britain, a rival power, was however coupled with a large-scale scientific expedition, with the aim of discovering the riches of Egypt and the countries of the East. The latter, for posterity, will bring back the famous Rosetta Stone,
its deciphering by Champollion and the development of Egyptomania among the general public. And despite the assassination of Kleber, to whom Napoleon had left the command in Egypt, the latter emerged with a prestige that opened the way to power, and from which he knew how to benefit by becoming First Consul, during the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (November 1799).
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