Makaryus Hunayn (1773-1805)


ACopt who became a colonel in the French army during the Napoleonic Wars. Makaryus was born in the district of Bulaq in Cairo on 17 February 1773. He spent his early years training as a goldsmith with his father, Mu‘allim Abu Dabb. At the age of twenty, he decided to study with Antun Abu Taqiyyah. Through diligence and determination, he learned to read and write Arabic as well as French—which proved to be useful after the French invasion of Egypt in 1798 under Napoleon Bonaparte.

After the triumph of the French, he entered their service as an interpreter. In appreciation of his service, Napoleon appointed him assistant to the leader of the French expedition to Syria. At the age of thirty, decided to join General YA‘QUB’s Coptic in the French army as a regular soldier. On the strength of his performance in the military, he was made an officer.

With the departure of the French from Egypt in 1801, General also left, and with him went the figures in his Coptic Legion, including Makaryus Hunayn. In France, he became associated with the restructured Coptic Legion. Owing to his bravery and skills, his general nominated him as a close military escort, with the rank of captain. After that, he is known to have participated in the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 against the Russians and the Austrians. He played a prominent part in the Italian battles and was granted the rank of colonel as a reward for valor. Later he fought at Austerlitz, where he was mortally wounded. He died on 18 December 1805.


  • Tadrus. Al-Aqbat fi al-Qarn al-Ishrin, 3 vols. Cairo, 1911.