were in poor shape,16 while Sicard half a century later reckoned their numbers at only fifteen, in addition to about a dozen at St Paul's.17 Again according to Sicard, at the Wadî al-Natràn, a main centre for Coptic monasticism, there were only two religious; there were two deacons at St Makarios and four religious at Anba Bishoi, whereas Deir al-Siàrianî and Deir al-Barâmus had proper communities. At the end of the eighteenth century a hand-written note commemorating the visit of the Coptic Patriarch John XVIII in 1781 increased these figures considerably by putting the number of religious at al-Barâmus at twelve and nine respectively, plus eighteen and twelve at Bishoi, and correspondingly twenty religious at St Makarios and eighteen at al-Stàrianî; one might nevertheless ask if the monks constituting part of these figures actually lived in their monasteries. Finally, Deir al-Muharraq seemed to have been populated largely by Ethiopian monks, to the extent that it was called the monastery of the Abyssinians.18 The total number of Coptic monks during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries thus fluctuated around about 100, and maybe even fewer.
Another indication of the state of the Coptic Church in Egypt is the distribution of Coptic bishoprics. At the beginning of the sixteenth century (1508), there were eighteen bishoprics, of which ten were in Upper Egypt and eight north of Cairo.19 During the time of Vansleb and Sicard, the number of bishoprics was drastically reduced both in the Delta and even in Upper Egypt.20 By contrast, the situation of the twelve bishoprics as described by Sicard at the beginning of the eighteenth century continued almost unchanged until the end of the nineteenth century.
A major achievement of the French Expedition to Egypt (1798-1801) was the Description de l'Egypte, where Jomard put the total population of Egypt at 2,500,000 on the basis of the number of villages and the consumption of grain; he estimated the Christian and Jewish population at 215,000-220,000. If the number of Jews is subtracted from this figure - according to Sicard, there were only about 7000-8000 of them in Cairo - and those for Levantine Christians, mainly Greeks and Armenians, the resulting number of Copts comes to just
16 J. M. Vansleb, Nouvelle relation en forme de journal d'un voyage fait en Egypte (Paris: Compagnie de libraires associés, 1678), 311.
18 S. Sauneron, 'La Thébaïde en 1668', Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Archeologie Orientale du Caire 67 (1969), 141.
19 J. Muyser, 'Contribution a l'étude des listes épiscopales de l'Eglise copte', Bulletin de la Societe d'Archéologie Copte 10 (1944), 162-3.
20 J. M. Vansleb, Histoire de l'Eglise d'Alexandrie (Paris: Chez la veuve Clousier; Chez Pierre Prome, 1677), 26-7; Sicard, Œuvres, 11, 72.
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