Egypte, Egypticyens, Egyptien, Egyptijen, Egyte
The Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal says that King Evalach (Evelake) (later Mordrains) of Sarras was able to defeat the Egyptians, led by King Tholomer the Fugitive, with the help of Joseph of Arimathea, who brought the power of Christianity. As a result, Evalach converted.
In Arthur’s time, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Egypt was allied with Rome, and King Pandrasus of Egypt joined the Roman Emperor’s war against Arthur. Malory says that this king, who was also king of Ethiopia, was slain at the battle of Soissons. In Claris et Laris, Egypt is ruled by King Eleazar, an ally of Emperor Thereus of Rome.
Egypt is one of the many lands that Arthur conquers in Jean D’Outremeuse’s Ly Myreur des Histors.
Egypt | 30 BC to the 9th century AD
Roman and Byzantine Periods | 30 BC – 641 AD
In 30 BC, Egypt became a province in of the Roman Empire after the defeat of Queen Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony by Octavian (later Emperor Augustus). Egypt was a key grain producer for Rome and became a Roman province known as Aegyptus, and it remained a vital territory within the Roman Empire.
In the fourth century AD, the Roman Empire split into the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) and the Western Roman Empire. Egypt came under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire, and it continued to be an important center of trade, culture, and Christianity in the region.
Christianity began to spread in Egypt during this period, and the country became an early center of Christian thought and theology. The Coptic Church, one of the oldest Christian denominations in the world, traces its origins to the evangelist Saint Mark, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Alexandria in the first century AD.
The Copts developed their own version of the Egyptian language, known as Coptic, which used the Greek alphabet with additional signs borrowed from demotic Egyptian script. Coptic became the language of the Coptic Church and was used for religious texts and liturgy. With the spread of Christianity, traditional Egyptian religious practices declined, and many ancient temples were closed or repurposed.
Despite the growth of Christianity, there were periods of persecution and repression of Christians by Roman and later Byzantine authorities. Emperors such as Diocletian, who ruled 284-305 AD, and others issued edicts to suppress Christianity, resulting in the martyrdom of many Christians in Egypt.
Islamic Conquest | 641
The Islamic conquest of Egypt began in 639 under the leadership of the Muslim general Amr ibn al-As. The decisive Battle of Heliopolis in 641 led to the capture of Alexandria, marking the end of the Byzantine rule.
Arab Rule and Foundation of Fustat
Fustat, or Fustat al-Misr, was founded as the first Islamic capital of Egypt near present-day Cairo. It became a center of trade and culture under Arab rule.
Umayyad and Abbasid Periods and the Fatimid Caliphate
Egypt became part of the Umayyad Caliphate and later the Abbasid Caliphate. The city of Cairo was founded in 969 by the Fatimid Caliphate, marking a new capital. The Fatimids, an Ismaili Shia dynasty (969-1171), established Cairo as their capital. The period saw cultural and economic growth, and the construction of significant monuments like the Al-Azhar Mosque.
Ayyubid Dynasty | 1171-1250
Salah al-Din (Saladin) founded the Ayyubid Dynasty after ending Fatimid rule. The Ayyubids contributed to the region’s stability and continued cultural development.
Mamluk Sultanate | 1250 – 1517
The Mamluks, a military slave class, took control of Egypt. The Mamluk Sultanate faced external threats, including the Mongols and Crusaders. The Mamluk architectural legacy includes the Cairo Citadel.
Coptic and Islamic Culture
Throughout these centuries, Egypt’s culture was shaped by the coexistence of Coptic Christianity and Islam, contributing to its rich artistic and architectural heritage.
Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Vulgate Estoire del Saint Graal | 1220-1235
Claris et Laris | 1268
Ly Myreur des Histors | Jean D’Outremeuse, c. 1350
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470