T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935) “The Uncrowned King of Arabia” - Michael Asher
Early Years • Born in Caernafonshire, Wales on August 16, 1888 • Attended Jesus College in Oxford studying archeology and language • Highly interested in his education and travel, Lawrence traveled through France and Syria during his summers • in 1909 Lawrence toured Syria walking over 1,000 miles in his short three months • Wrote his thesis on the influence of the crusades in Medieval architecture based on the findings from his travels • Lawrence was a polyglot, person who speaks easily multiple languages • These included English, Welsh, French, German, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Turkish, and Syriac
Interest in Arabia • Struck by interest and opportunity, Lawrence takes a position as practicing archeologist in Lebanon, and Syria in 1910. • After completing 1 tour of the job, Lawrence returns in the end of 1911. This time working in Syria and later Egypt. • In 1914, at the outbreak of WWI, Lawrence and his boss, Leonard Wooley, are hired by the British military to survey the Negev desert to discover information of the “Wilderness of Zin.” • Outcomes of the surveying included and updated mapping of the area, and discovery of previously unknown water sources.
Military Service • In October of 1916 Lawrence enlists and is invaluable with his knowledge of the Mesopotamia and Levant regions. • After Great Britain struck up a plan to incite an uprising rebellion of the Arabs against the ruling Ottaman empire, an ally of the Germans, Lawrence was stationed to fight with Arab guerillas as a commanding officer under Emir Faisal. • It was his plan to attack the Hejaz railway instead full frontal attack in order to diminish Ottaman supplies. • Lawrence then inspired a once deemed impossible land attack of the important port city of Aqaba. • After its fall to Lawrence and the guerillas, he was promoted to Major in the Royal Army.
Attempts of an Arab State • After Lawrence’s efforts in the capture of Damascus, he was promoted to Lt. col. By the end of the war in 1918. • He then pushed for complete Arab Independence at the end of the war and helped establish a provisional Arab government with its capital at Damscus led by Emir Faisal. • Lawrence’s efforts were overrun by French invasion in 1920 and they eventually took control of Syria as a colony. • After the war he worked for the British Foreign Officeas a member of Faisal’s delegation at the Paris Peace Conference. • Between 1921 and 1922 Lawrence served as an advisor to Winston Churchill on subjects concerning the Middle East as a member at the Colonial Office
Post War Years • From 1922 to 1926 Lawrence served with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Tank Corps • In 1926 after a he received much fame from his book, Revolt in the Desert, Lawrence was stationed in Brtish India • In 1928 He returned home to Britain • From 1928 to 1935 Lawrence remained a member of the Royal Air Force stationed at home, specializing working on High speed air craft, boats, and motercycles. • Lawrence spent much of his spare time riding motorcycles, and in May of 1936, just 2 short months after retiring from service, he died in a motorcycle accident, swerving to avoid 2 boys in the road.
Discoveries and Accomplishments • Lawrence toured France by bike in the summers of 1907 and 1908 to study Medieval church architecture • Lawrence walked over 1,000 miles at 21 to study Syrian churches for his thesis. • Lawrence helped map and write of the Negev Desert and the mythical “Wilderness of Zin” discovering previously unknown watering sources and paths except to Bedouin peoples. • He published updated maps of these regions through detailed personal accounts, traveling on camel and by foot through the desert. • Lawrence led the Arab revolt with Emir Faisal against the Ottoman empire through the desert, taking many victories at the Hejaz railway, Aqaba, and Damascus. • He proposed the boundaries of an independent Arab State to the British War Cabinet • Lawrence helped establish a provisional Arab governement in Damascus after WWI
He served as advisor for British foreign relations to the Middle East and India in his post war years. • Lawrence received much fame for the publications of his books, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and The Revolt in the Desert which were matter of fact, tell all documentaries of his service in the desert. • Lawrence gained much of his knowledge from close personal relations with native peoples that he was able to gain by taking on many of the customs of their culture such as language and dress. • Without Lawrence’s knowledge and discoveries of the Middle East, the extent of British influence in the region from WWI and after would have been relatively impossible. • After death, his larger than life figure would continue to interest the public as well as historians as he received much acknowledgement in subsequent biographies as well as a film made in 1962 titled Lawrence of Arabia, which is the name that many associate with him from that point.