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Capitulation of Alexandria
The French Campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801) was part of Napoleon Bonaparte's campaign in the East. His plan was to protect French trade, undermine Britain's access to India, and to establish scientific enterprise in the region. It was the main reason for his Mediterranean campaign of 1798, a series of naval engagements that included the capture of Malta.
The British responded. In the Battle of the Nile, 1798, the Royal Navy, under Horatio Nelson, defeated the French fleet off the coast of Egypt. The French fleet was almost completely destroyed, and that changed the balance of power between the two nations at war in the Mediterranean.
On land in Egypt the French were opposed by a joint force of British and Ottoman troops. Defeated, the French retreated to Alexandria, the second city of Egypt, where the British-led force surrounded them. On 30 August 1801 the French general Abdullah Jacques-François Menou offered to surrender and proposed terms. The terms were adjusted, then agreed. The event and the treaty is known as the Capitulation of Alexandria.
Under the articles of the treaty is this item:
- "the Arabian manuscripts, the statues, and the other collections which have been made for the French Republic, shall be considered as public property, and subject to the disposal of the generals of the combined army".
So Britain got hold of the Rosetta Stone and other Egyptian antiquities collected by the French Commission des Sciences et des Arts and the scholars of the Institute d'Egypte.
- Wilson, Robert Thomas (1803). History of the British Expedition to Egypt (2nd ed.). London: T. Egerton. pp. 346–353. https://archive.org/details/historybritishe00sirgoog. Retrieved 18 November 2013.