Four Feathers, The - Summary

It was 1898 - a time when "the sun never set" on the British Empire. Presided over by Queen Victoria, who was approaching the end of her long reign, the far-flung empire covered eleven million square miles and included about four hundred million people.

 When Britain proclaimed a protectorate over Egypt, western ideas increasingly affected the court in Cairo. Muhammad Ahmed-Ibn-el-Sayed, later called “The Mahdi” (meaning “he who is divinely guided”), was a Muslim leader greatly disgusted by this turn of events.

Ahmed’s country - the Sudan - had been under Egypt’s control since 1819. Forty thousand Egyptian soldiers occupied Sudan. As western influence increased in Egypt during the early 1880s, Ahmed’s anger grew. To the British, Ahmed was the “Mad Mahdi.” To his followers, he was “The Purifier of Islam.” Today, in Sudan, he is still revered and remembered as “The Father of Independence.”

Egypt, forced to leave the Sudan to manage its own affairs, had to protect Egyptian nationals who still lived in the now-hostile country. Officials in Cairo persuaded Britain to help with their evacuation, and Charles George (“Chinese”) Gordon was sent to Khartoum.

Although he had 7,500 well-supplied troops with him, Gordon realized Ahmed would follow his normal pattern, laying siege to Khartoum. Ten months into that siege, Gordon ran out of time and supplies. Thirty thousand Mahdist troops surrounded Khartoum, destroying telegraph lines and ultimately beheading Gordon (against Ahmed’s explicit orders).

To avenge the death of Gordon, and to restore Anglo-Egyptian control over the Sudan, Major General Horatio Herbert Kitchener led his forces against the Mahdist army in September of 1898. Winston Churchill, then a 24-year-old war correspondent, rode with the 21st Lancers at the Battle of Omdurman. It would be one of the last great cavalry charges in modern military history.

In this story behind the film, based on A.E.W. Mason's novel The Four Feathers, step back in time to the late nineteenth century. Virtually visit the battleground of Omdurman, and learn about the siege of Khartoum. Read Churchill’s dispatches describing the horrors he witnessed. Examine the roots of contemporary conflict in modern Sudan. And ... discover the source of the Nile, which flows through Sudan and other African countries.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Sep 22, 2017

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"Four Feathers, The" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2005. Jul 22, 2018.
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