Today in Middle Eastern history: the Siege of Acre ends (1799)

Napoleon’s siege of Acre, which lasted for two months from March 20 to May 21, 1799, was the high water mark of his eastern campaign. The French general (his years as emperor were still to come) had arrived in the eastern Mediterranean with a splash, capturing Malta on the way to a crushing victory against the Egyptian Mamluks at the Battle of the Pyramids in July 1798. He’d arrived in Egypt with plans to turn it into the centerpiece of a new French colonial empire, and the first step in a campaign of conquest the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Alexander the Great 2100 or so years earlier. Then he lost his fleet at the Battle of the Nile and, well, things went a little sideways.

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