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Bahri Mamluks

Bahri Mamluks
Flag of
Flags according to the Catalan Atlas of c. 1375
Personal insignia of Baybars from 1260
The Lion passant was the heraldic blazon of Baibars from 1260.
The Mamluk Sultanate during the Bahri period
The Mamluk Sultanate during the Bahri period
StatusSultanate under the Abbasid Caliphate
Sunni Islam
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ayyubid dynasty
Burji Mamluks

The Bahri Mamluks (Arabic: المماليك البحرية, romanizedal-Mamalik al-Baḥariyya), sometimes referred to as the Bahri dynasty,[1][2] were the rulers of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt from 1250 to 1382, following the Ayyubid dynasty. The members of the Mamluk ruling class were purchased as slaves (mamluks) and manumitted, with the most powerful among them taking the role of sultan in Cairo.[3] While several Bahri Mamluk sultans tried to establish hereditary dynasties through their sons, these attempts were ultimately unsuccessful, with the role of sultan often passing on to another powerful Mamluk.[3]

The Bahri Mamluks were of mostly Kipchak Turkic origin.[3][4] Fourteen of eighteen sultans between 1279 and 1390 belonged to the Qalawunid lineage.[5] After 1382/1390, they were succeeded by a second Mamluk regime, the Burji Mamluks, who were largely of Circassian origin.[6] The name Bahri or Bahriyya means 'of the river', referring to the location of their original barracks on Roda Island in the Nile (Nahr al-Nil) in Cairo,[a] at the citadel of Al-Rodah which was built by the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub.[8][b]


The Mamluks formed one of the most powerful and wealthiest empires of the time, lasting from 1250 to 1517 in Egypt, North Africa, and the LevantNear East.


In 1250, when the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub died, the Mamluks he had owned as slaves murdered his son and heir al-Muazzam Turanshah, and Shajar al-Durr the widow of as-Salih became the Sultana of Egypt. She married the Atabeg (commander in chief) Emir Aybak and abdicated, Aybak becoming Sultan. He ruled from 1250 to 1257.[11][c]

The Mamluks consolidated their power in ten years and eventually established the Bahri dynasty. They were indirectly helped by the Mongols' sack of Baghdad in 1258, which effectively destroyed the Abbasid caliphate. Cairo became more prominent as a result and remained a Mamluk capital thereafter.[citation needed]

Enthroned Prince. Probably Egypt 1334. Maqamat of al-Hariri.[12] "In the paintings the facial cast of these [ruling] Turks is obviously reflected, and so are the special fashions and accoutrements they favored".[13]

The Mamluks were powerful cavalry warriors mixing the practices of the Turkic steppe peoples from which they were drawn and the organizational and technological sophistication and horsemanship of the Arabs. In 1260 the Mamluks defeated a Mongol army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in present-day Israel and eventually forced the invaders to retreat to the area of modern-day Iraq.[14] The defeat of the Mongols at the hands of the Mamluks enhanced the position of the Mamluks in the southern Mediterranean basin.[15][d] Baibars, one of the leaders at the battle, became the new Sultan after the assassination of Sultan Qutuz on the way home.[17][e]

In 1250 Baibars was one of the Mamluk commanders who defended Mansurah against the Crusade knights of Louis IX of France, who was later definitely defeated, captured in the Battle of Fariskur and ransomed. Baibars had also taken part in the Mamluk takeover of Egypt. In 1261, after he became a Sultan, he established a puppet Abbasid caliphate in Cairo,[f] and the Mamluks fought the remnants of the Crusader states in Palestine until they finally captured Acre in 1291.[g]

Tatars and Mongols

Many Tatars settled in Egypt and were employed by Baibars.[h][21] He defeated the Mongols at the battle of Elbistan[22] and sent the Abbasid Caliph with only 250 men to attempt to retake Baghdad, but was unsuccessful. In 1266 he devastated Cilician Armenia and in 1268 he recaptured Antioch from the Crusaders.[23][i] In addition, he fought the Seljuks,[j] and Hashshashin; he also extended Muslim power into Nubia[21] for the first time, before his death in 1277.

Sultan Qalawun defeated a rebellion in Syria that was led by Sunqur al-Ashqar in 1280,[25][k] and also defeated another Mongol invasion in 1281 that was led by Abaqa outside Homs.[27] After the Mongol threat passed he recaptured Tripoli from the Crusaders in 1289.[28] His son Khalil captured Acre, the last Crusader city, in 1291.[29]

Territory of the Golden Horde in 1389

The Mongols renewed their invasion in 1299,[30] but were again defeated in 1303 in the Battle of Shaqhab.[31] The Egyptian Mamluk Sultans entered into relations with the Golden Horde who converted to Islam[l] and established a peace pact with the Mongols[33] in 1322.

Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad married a Mongol princess in 1319. His diplomatic relations were more extensive than those of any previous Sultan, and included Bulgarian, Indian, and Abyssinian potentates, as well as the pope, the king of Aragon and the king of France.[34] Al-Nasir Muhammad organized the re-digging of a canal in 1311 which connected Alexandria with the Nile.[33] He died in 1341.


The constant changes of sultans that followed led to great disorder in the provinces. Meanwhile, in 1349 Egypt and the Levant in general were introduced to Black Death, which is said to have killed many inhabitants.[35][m]

In 1382 the last Bahri Sultan Hajji II was dethroned and the Sultanate was taken over by the Circassian Emir Barquq. He was expelled in 1389 but returned to power in 1390, setting up an era where the sultanate was controlled by the Burji Mamluks.[36]

Military organization

On a general level, the military during the Bahri dynasty can be divided into several aspects:

  • Mamluks: The core of both the political and military base, these slave soldiers were further divided into Khassaki (comparable to imperial guards), Royal Mamluks (Mamluks directly under the command of the Sultan) and regular Mamluks (usually assigned to local Amirs).
  • Al-Halqa: These primarily free born professional forces were also directly under the sultan's command.
  • Wafidiyya: Turks and Mongols that migrated to the dynasty's border after the Mongol invasion, typically given land grants in exchange for military service; they were well regarded forces.
  • Other levies: Primarily Bedouin tribes, but also on different occasions also different groups of Turkomans and other settled Arabs.

List of Bahri Sultans

Regnal name(s) Personal name Reign
al-Malikah Ismat ad-Din Umm-Khalil
الملکہ عصمہ الدین أم خلیل
Shajar al-Durr
شجر الدر
al-Malik al-Mu'izz Izz al-Din Aybak al-Jawshangir al-Turkmani al-Salihi
الملک المعز عز الدین أیبک الترکمانی الجاشنکیر الصالحی
Izz-ad-Din Aybak
عز الدین أیبک
Sultan Al-Ashraf
سلطان الاشرف
Muzaffar-ad-Din Musa
مظفر الدین موسی
Sultan Al-Mansur
سلطان المنصور
Nur ad-Din Ali
نور الدین علی
Sultan Al-Muzaffar
سلطان المظفر
Sayf ad-Din Qutuz
سیف الدین قطز
Sultan Abul-Futuhسلطان ابو الفتوح
Al-Zahir - الظاہر
Al-Bunduqdari - البندقداری
Rukn-ad-Din Baibars I
رکن الدین بیبرس
Sultan Al-Sa'id Nasir-ad-Din
سلطان السعید ناصر الدین
Muhammad Barakah Khan
محمد برکہ خان
Sultan Al-Adil
سلطان العادل
Badr-al-Din Solamish
بدر الدین سُلامش
Al-Alfi - الالفی
As-Salehi - الصالحی
Sayf-ad-Din Qalawun
سیف الدین قلاوون
Sultan Al-Ashraf
سلطان الاشرف
Salah-ad-Din Khalil
صلاح الدین خلیل
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
ناصر الدین محمد
(first reign)
Al-Adil Al-Turki Al-Mughli
العادل الترکی المغلی
Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha
زین الدین کتبغا
Husam-ad-Din Lachin
حسام الدین لاچین
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
ناصر الدین محمد
(Second reign)
Sultan Al-Muzaffar Al-Jashankir
سلطان المظفرالجاشنکیر
Rukn-ad-Din Baibars II
رکن الدین بیبرس
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
ناصر الدین محمد
(Third reign)
Sayf-ad-Din Abu-Bakr
سیف الدین أبو بکر
Ala-ad-Din Kujuk
علاء الدین کجک
Sultan Al-Nasir
سلطان الناصر
Shihab-ad-Din Ahmad
شھاب الدین أحمد
Sultan As-Saleh
سلطان الصالح
Imad-ad-Din Ismail
عماد الدین إسماعیل
Sultan Al-Kamil
سلطان الکامل
Sayf-ad-Din Shaban I
سیف الدین شعبان اول
Sultan Al-Muzaffar
سلطان المظفر
Sayf-ad-Din Hajji I
سیف الدین حاجی اول
Al-Nasir Abu Al-Ma'ali
الناصر أبو المعالی
Badr-ad-Din Al-Hasan
بدر الدین الحسن
1347–1351 (first reign)
Sultan As-Saleh
سلطان الصالح
Salah-ad-Din bin Muhammad
صلاح الدین بن محمد
Al-Nasir Abu Al-Ma'ali Nasir-ad-Din
الناصر أبو المعالی ناصر الدین
Badr-ad-Din Al-Hasan
بدر الدین الحسن
1354–1361 (second reign)
Salah-ad-Din Muhammad
صلاح الدین محمد
Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Ma'ali
الأشرف أبو المعالی
Zayn-ad-Din Shaban II
زین الدین شعبان ثانی
Ala-ad-Din Ali
علاء الدین علی
Sultan As-Saleh
سلطان الصالح
Salah-ad-Din Hajji II
صلاح الدین حاجی ثانی
1382 (first reign)
Sayf-ad-Din Barquq
سیف الدین برقوق
Sultan As-Saleh
سلطان الصالح المظفر المنصور
Salah-ad-Din Hajji II
صلاح الدین حاجی ثانی
1389 (second reign)

Following As-Saleh, the Burji dynasty took over the Mamluk Sultanate under Sayf-ad-Din Barquq in 1389–90 C.E.

See also


  1. ^ There is another theory about the origin of the name which states that they were called 'Bahariyya' because they came by sea or from over sea.[7]
  2. ^ After the al-Rodah citadel was built, As-Salih took up residence there with his Mamluks.[9] Later, the Mamluk sultans lived at the Cairo Citadel which was situated on the Muqattam Hills near Cairo.[10]
  3. ^ See also Shajar al-Durr and Aybak
  4. ^ The victory of the Mamluks against the Mongols brought an end to the Ayyubid's claim in Egypt and the Levant . Ayyubid Emirs recognized the Mamluk Sultan as their sovereign.[16]
  5. ^ Qutuz was assassinated near al-Salihiyah, Egypt. Those murdered him were emir Badr ad-Din Baktut, emir Ons and emir Bahadir al-Mu'izzi.[18]
  6. ^ Sultan Baibars recognized the Sovereignty of Abu al-Qasim Ahmad as the Abbasid Caliph in Cairo only in religious matters after a few Bedouins witnessed Fariskurbefore the supreme judge of Egypt that he was the son of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Zahir Billah. The Caliph took the name al-Mustansir Billah.[19] Though the Abbasid Caliphs in Cairo during the Mamluk era legitimated the sovereignty of the Mamluks' Sultans, the Caliphs were actually powerless. However, contrary to the Ayyubids who were to some degree dependent on the Abbasid Chaliph in Baghdad, the fact that the Chaliph lived in Cairo gave the Mamluks independency and full freedom of action.
  7. ^ See al-Ashraf Khalil
  8. ^ In 1262, during the reign of Sultan Baibars, many Tartars from the Golden Horde tribe escaped from Hulagu to Egypt and were followed later by other Tartars. Baibars welcomed the Tartars and employed them in the army. They had their own army unit which was called al-Firqah al-Wafidiyah (the arrivals unite). Throughout the Mamluk era, the Wafidiyya (arriving Tartars) were free men and the Mamluk system did not apply to them. Baibars resided the Tartars in Cairo and gave them various official posts. The largest group of Tartars immigrated to Egypt in 1296 during the reign of Sultan Kitbugha who was himself of Mongol origin. They resided at the district of al-Hisiniyah in Cairo and many of their women married Mamluk Emirs.[20]
  9. ^ Cilician Armenia was devastated by Sultan Baibars's commander Qalawun upon the Battle of Mari in 1266. The Principality of Antioch was destroyed by Sultan Baibars in 1268.
  10. ^ Baibars defeated both the Seljuks and the Mongols at the battle of Elbistan.[24]
  11. ^ Shams ad-Din Sunqur al-Ashqar was a prominent emir and one of the most devoted Bahri emirs since the days of Sultan Baibars. He was taken prisoner by the Armenians and was freed in exchange for Leo the son of King Hethum I, King of Armenia who was captured during the invasion of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia in 1266. During the reign of Baibars' son Solamish, he was the deputy of the Sultan in Damascus. During the reign of Qalawun, Sunqur al-Ashqar proclaimed himself a Sultan while in Damascus, taking the royal name al-Malik al-Kamil. Sunqur al-Ashqar fought a few battles against Sultan Qalawun's Emirs but was pardoned later after he joined Qalawun's army against the Mongols. [26]
  12. ^ Sultan Baibars sent his first emissaries to Berke Khan the ruler of the Golden Horde in 1261 [32]
  13. ^ The Black Death probably began in Central Asia and spread to Europe by the late 1340s. The total number of deaths worldwide from the pandemic is estimated at 75 million people; there were an estimated 25-50 million deaths in Europe.
  14. ^ Nominal rule of Ayyubid dynasty under Sultan Al-Ashraf Muzaffar-ad-Din Musa 1250–1254
  15. ^ Interruption in the rule of Bahri dynasty by Burji dynasty


  1. ^ Shoup, John A. (2017). The Nile: An Encyclopedia of Geography, History, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-4408-4041-8.
  2. ^ Flood, Finbarr Barry; Necipoğlu, Gülru (2017). A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture. Wiley Blackwell. p. 579. ISBN 978-1-119-06857-0.
  3. ^ a b c Bosworth, C. E. (1996). "The Mamluks". New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 76–80. ISBN 978-1-4744-6462-8.
  4. ^ Naylor, Phillip C. (2015). North Africa, Revised Edition: A History from Antiquity to the Present. University of Texas Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-292-76190-2.
  5. ^ Jo Van Steenbergen, "The Mamluk Sultanate as a military patronage state: Household politics and the case of the Qalāwūnid Bayt (1279-1382)." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 56.2 (2013): 189–217.
  6. ^ Bosworth, C. E. (1996). "The Mamluks". New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 76–80. ISBN 978-1-4744-6462-8.
  7. ^ Shayyal, 110/vol.2
  8. ^
    • Al-Maqrizi, p. 441/vol.1
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Year 647H - Death of as-Sailih Ayyub
    • Ibn Taghri/vol.6 - Year 639H
  9. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p.405/vol. 1
  10. ^ Al-Maqrizi, al-Mawaiz, p. 327/vol.3
  11. ^
    • Al-Maqrizi pp. 444-494. vol/1
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Years 647H - 655H
    • Ibn Taghri/vol.6 - Year 646H
  12. ^ Ettinghausen, Richard (1977). Arab painting. New York : Rizzoli. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-8478-0081-0.
  13. ^ Ettinghausen, Richard (1977). Arab painting. New York : Rizzoli. p. 162. ISBN 978-0-8478-0081-0.
  14. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Taking of Aleppo's Castle by the Mongols and new events in the Levant.
  15. ^ Shayyal, p. 123/vol.2
  16. ^ Shayyal, p.126/vol.2
  17. ^
    • Al-Maqrizi, p.519/vol.1
    • Ibn Taghri/ vol.7
  18. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 519/vol.1
  19. ^
    • Shayyal, p. 132/vol.2
    • Ibn Taghri/ vol.7
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Murder of al-Malik al-Nasir Yusuf
  20. ^ Shayyal, p. 144/vol. 2
  21. ^ a b Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7
  22. ^
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66–87/Year 675H- Al-Malik Al-Zahir entering land of the Roum
    • Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7
  23. ^
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Soldiers entering the land of the Armenians
    • Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7
  24. ^ Shayyal, p. 138/vol. 2
  25. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66–87/ Year 697H.
  26. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 51, 121, 127, 131-133, 145/vol. 2
  27. ^
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Year 688H
    • Shayyal, p. 165/vol.2
  28. ^
    • Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ 688HYear
    • Shayyal, 168/vol. 2
  29. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 690H
  30. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66–87/ Year 699H
  31. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 702H
  32. ^ Shayyal, p. 141/vol2
  33. ^ a b Shayyal, p. 187/vol. 2
  34. ^ Shayyal, pp. 187–188 /vol.2
  35. ^ Shayyal, p.194/vol.2
  36. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp.140-142/vol.5


  • Abu al-Fida. Tarīkh al-Mukhtaṣar fī Akhbār al-Bashar [Concise History of Humanity].
  • Al-Maqrizi (1969). Bohn, Henry G. (ed.). Kitāb al-Sulūk li-Ma'rifat Duwal al-Mulūk [The Road to Knowledge of the Return of Kings]. AMS Press.
  • Al-Maqrizi, al-Mawaiz wa al-'i'tibar bi dhikr al-khitat wa al-'athar, Matabat aladab, Cairo 1996, ISBN 977-241-175-X
  • Idem in French: Bouriant, Urbain, Description topographique et historique de l'Egypte, Paris 1895.
  • Ayalon, D.: The Mamluk Military Society. London, 1979.
  • Ibn Taghri, al-Nujum al-Zahirah Fi Milook Misr wa al-Qahirah, al-Hay'ah al-Misreyah 1968
  • Idem in English: History of Egypt, by Yusef. William Popper, translator Abu L-Mahasin ibn Taghri Birdi, University of California Press 1954.
  • Shayyal, Jamal, Prof. of Islamic history, Tarikh Misr al-Islamiyah (History of Islamic Egypt), dar al-Maref, Cairo 1266, ISBN 977-02-5975-6
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Bahri Mamluks
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