The World In Stamps

A journey in a stamps collection

Egypt the Cemetery Of the Aggressors: 1957

In 1957, Egypt issued a set of five stamps entitled “Egypt, the cemetery of the aggressors”. This set was issued to celebrate the end of the Suez war (also called: the tripartite aggression).

In 1956, Egypt announced the decision to nationalize the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. The Suez canal is an artificial waterway of strategic importance, linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Since its digging in Egypt in 1869, it was under the control of a foreign-owned Company.

Following the nationalization of the Canal, Great Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt in October 1956. The war aimed to take the control of the Canal and weaken the regime of the Egyptian president Nasser. The war ended due to the fierce Egyptian resistance and the strong international pressure.

The set of stamps issued in this occasion, represented five important victories of Egyptian troops during history.

Battle against the Hyksos in Avaris in 1580 B.C

Ahmes 1st, beating the Hyksos in Avaris
 Ahmose 1st, defeating the Hyksos in Avaris in 1580 B.C.
The first stamp represents the Egyptian troops defeating the Hyksos in the city of Avaris in 1580 B.C. 
The Hyksos are an Arab population, coming from Palestine, who settled progressively in Egypt starting from 1800 B.C in the time of the 12th dynasty. Later, with the weakening of the Egyptian state, they established a kingdom with Avaris as capital. This kingdom is considered to be the Fifteenth Dynasty. This kingdom did not control all Egypt. It coexisted and had conflicts with the sixteenth and seventeenth dynasties. Ahmose I, the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty, defeated the Hyksos and took control of their capital Avaris.

Capture of Louis IX of France in Egypt

 

Louis IX captured in Al-Masourah in 1250 A.D.
 Louis IX captured in Al-Masourah in 1250 A.D.

The historical backgroud

By the end of the twelfth century, Saladin defeated the crusaders in the battle of Hittin and liberated Jerusalem in 1187 A.D. 
In 1229, Emperor Frederick II, during the Sixth Crusade, had succeeded in securing the return of the city of Jerusalem to the kingdom of the same name after negotiations with the Ayyubid Emir Al-Kâmil.

On October 1244 AD, the Crusaders launched a massive land attack on Egypt, but they were defeated in Gaza by Prince Rukn al-Din Baybars. This enabled the Muslims to regain full sovereignty over Jerusalem and some of the Crusaders’ strongholds in the Levant.

The European powers became convinced that the main obstacle to their plans in the holy land was Egypt. in 1245, Pope Innocent IV gave his full support to the Seventh Crusade being prepared by Louis IX, King of France.

The seventh Crusade

King Louis IX and two of his brothers, Charles d’Anjou and Robert d’Artois, led the crusaders’s forces. They were joined later by the king’s third brother Alphonse of Poitiers. These forces were mainly french with an English contingent led by William of Salisbury.

After a first important victory were they controlled the port of Damietta, in June 1249, the crusaders were unable to progress in Egypt. In Februray 1250, the crusaders progressed towards the city of Mansourah. But the attacking forces fell into a trap and most of them were decimated, including the King’s brother Robert d’Artois, and the English commander William of Salisbury.

After two months long seige, the crusaders tried to retreat to the Damietta, but were attacked by Egyptian forces. The French King, his brothers and tens of French dignitaries were captured, and tens of thousands of combatants were killed.

Saladdin defeating the crusaders in Hittin 

Saladdin beating the crusadors in Hittin in 1187 A.D.
Saladin beating the crusaders in Hittin in 1187 A.D.
This stamp shows a drawing of Saladin on his horse. It commemorates the battle of Hattin, that occurred in July 1187 AD, where Saladin achieved a crushing victory over the Crusader armies. 
In 1099 AD, areas in today Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Jerusalem in particular were occupied by the Crusaders in the first crusade. 
The Crusaders and knights had established themselves as princes and kings on those areas and established the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This occupation lasted for about a century, that has seen a succession of truces and wars. The Islamic surrounding powers never gave-up their will to liberate the country from occupation.
 
The direct cause of this battle were attacks committed by in 1187 by Raynald of Châtillon, the Lord of Oultrejordain, raided a caravan of Muslim merchants while the truce with Saladin was still in place. Saladin asked Guy of Lusignan, the king of Jerusalem to compensate for the goods and punish his Lord for the truce violation. The king’s refusal of these demands was a reason for the outbreak of war that ended by the battle od Hittin, where the army of Saladdin crushed the crusaders’ army. This decisive victory opened the way for the liberation of Jerusalem and most of the coastal cities in current Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.

Egyptian army defeating the Mongols in Ain Jalut – Palestine

The Deafeat of Mongols in the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260A.D.
 The Defeat of Mongols in the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260A.D.

The Mongol empire emerged in the 13th century in eastern Asia as major power during the rule of Genghis Khan. It expanded rapidly towards central and western Asia and Europe. In few decades, Mongols extended their control over all central Asia and Persia.

After several attacks on Syrian cities starting in 1244, the Mongols besieged Baghdad, occupied and sacked it in 1958. Damascus had a similar fate sometime later. After these victories, the Mongols sent envoys to Cairo demanding the Mamluks, who ruled over Egypt, to surrender. 

In anticipation of a Mongol invasion, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, Saif ad-Din Qutuz, prepared an army and entered into Palestine. The Egyptian Mamluk and Mongol armies clashed in a locality in the south of the galilee called Ain Jalut. The Mongols were crushingly defeated by Qutuz’s forces, and the battle of Ain Jalut has been considered a historical turning point in the Mongol invasions. 

Franco-British troops leaving Port-Said

Withdrawal of Franco-British troops from Port Said in 1956
Withdrawal of Franco-British troops from Port Said in 1956

After an international agreement, the Anglo-French invading forced had to finish withdrawing by 22 December 1956. The Israeli forces withdrew from Sinai and the Gaza Strip, in March 1957.

The withdrawal of the foreign troops confirmed the Egyptian sovereignty over the Suez Canal.  The Egyptian resistance at Port Said become a symbol of Egyptian victory, linked to a global anti-colonial struggle.

Catalogue Reference: Yvert & Tellier 399 to 403.
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