Comparison between Thutmose III and Napoleon I

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“Evaluate the comparison between Thutmose III and Napoleon I.”

James Henry Breasted, an American archaeologist and historian, described Thutmose III as “the Napoleon of Egypt”. [1] Today this association of the Egyptian Pharaoh to Napoleon I, ‘Emperor of the French’, persists among modern archaeologists and historians. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate this comparison, and to conclude to what extent it is accurate. Thutmose III was an Egyptian Pharaoh and the sixth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty, whose reign lasted for fifty-four years between 1479 to 1425 BCE. Following his father’s death in 1479 BCE, however, at ten years old Thutmose III was considered too young to succeed to the throne. As a result, his father’s widow, Queen Hatshepsut acted as his co-regent. For the next twenty-two years, though, she effectively ruled Egypt individually, even assuming the formal titulary of kingship. It was only after Queen Hatshepsut’s death in 1457 BCE that Thutmose III was able to rule as Pharaoh. By this time Thutmose III was already an experienced military commander. He had been trained as a soldier since he was a teenager and had apparently flourished in the role, appointed to lead Hatshepsut’s army in the six years previous to her death. During this time Thutmose III fought a major campaign in Nubia, and perhaps another, for which there is only tentative evidence, in addition to liberating Gaza from the rebels. As a result, he developed strong ties to the Egyptian army whilst acquiring experience in military organisation, strategy, tactics and logistics, as well as generalship. These qualities were demonstrated in Thutmose III’s first major campaign as pharaoh, in which the Canaanites, led by Durusha, the king of Kadesh, had decided to revolt in an attempt to free themselves of Egyptian influence after the death of Queen Hatshepsut. The battle commenced near Megiddo, which is now in Israel, as Thutmose III led an army of about ten-thousand men on a rapid march. Executing tactics and strategy which, while dangerous, were superior, he forced the Canaanites to scatter and flee into to the city. The Egyptians then besieged the city, which fell after another seven months. This absolute victory at the Battle of Megiddo is also the first known battle with precisely detailed events, as a part of the Annals, a listing of the seventeen campaigns led by Thutmose III as recorded on the walls of the temple to Amun at Karnak. If we examine and analyse the full text, two-hundred and twenty-three lines long (making it the longest, and possibly the most important, archaeological source in Egyptian history [2]) with an allowance for egotism it is largely reliable, and therefore useful. It illustrates that this first major campaign only marked the beginning of a long period of Egyptian expansion under a determined and relentless Thutmose III, who was obviously a successful military general. In subsequent campaigns he advanced north, steadily up the coast of Lebanon, capturing secure harbours, as well as safe transport and supply routes for Egypt’s army through the sea. By his sixth campaign, Thutmose III had also captured most of the inland cities, including Kadesh. [3] It was not until his eighth campaign, however, that Thutmose III asserted true dominance in the region, as he crossed the Euphrates River and defeated the Mitanni forces in Naharin, who posed a serious threat. Thutmose III’s subsequent campaigns were merely showings of force to ensure the continued loyalty and payment of tribute of almost three-hundred and fifty cities. With his gradual advance along a strategically well-planned route, and his careful, methodical preparation over a number of years, Thutmose III had conquered much of the Near East, from the Euphrates River to Nubia. As a result, he had also created the New Kingdom Egyptian Empire, and established himself as the nation’s greatest warrior Pharaoh. The empire itself, also perhaps the first great empire in...
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