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Bahari Mamluks
(1250 - 1382 AD)

After the assassination of Toran Shah, the last sultan of the Ayyubids, by the Mamluks -with the encouragement of his stepmother Shagaret El-Dorr-, the rule of Egypt turned to the Bahari Mamluks (a.k.a. Mamelukes) who were slaves of Turkic origin. They were brought to Egypt as young boys. They resided in the barracks in a Nile island. Those were called 'Bahari Mamluks' because of their residence by the Nile River (Bahar El-Nile).
Other Mamluks of Circassian origin resided in quarters in the citadel towers (Burg), thus called 'Burgi Mamluks.' The latter will also rule Egypt.

mosque lamp
Enamled mosque lamp
from the reign of Mamluk
Sultan Qalawun in 14AD
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
Shagaret El-Dorr ruled for 80 days, to be the only woman who ruled Egypt in Islamic eras. She was granted the title of sultana. Under pressures from the Abbasid CaliphateWhat does it mean? in Baghdad, that couldn't imagine Egypt to be ruled by a woman, Shagaret El-Dorr took Aybak, a Mamluk general, as her husband and conceded the power to him.

Aybak ruled for 7 years but when his relation with his wife deteriorated, she had him killed but his loyal Mamluks killed her for that. Aybak's son, Ali, succeeded him as the next Sultan in 1257.

Meanwhile, Mongol hordes where advancing from central Asia, sweeping and brutally crushing all cities they encounter.
In 1258, Mongol hordes led by Hulegu (a.k.a Hulagu) destroyed Baghdad, killed the CaliphWhat does it mean? and ended the Abbasid caliphate.
The following year they entered Syria, while in Egypt Qutuz, a Mamluk general, disposed Sultan Ali and reinstated himself in throne.

In 1260, Qutuz commanded a big Mamluk army towards the Mongols and seized Gaza on his way. Qutuz defeated the Mongols in the
Mongols invade Arab
empires one after another
image 2004 ©
great battle of Ain Galout. Mamluks were regarded as the saviors of Islam for they were the only force that stopped the advance of the Mongols.

Qutuz was assassinated in the same year by his commander, Baybars, who declared himself the Sultan and annexed Syria to the Mamluk Empire.
Baybars was an active warrior. He embarked upon series of military campaigns in Palestine, annexing several cities.
He defeated the crusaders at Acre in Palestine but finally clinched a peace treaty with them in 1272.
Baybars also directed some of his campaigns towards the strongholds of Mongols in Asia Minor. These were all successful.

After his death in 1279, Baybars was succeeded by his son. However, power struggles on the throne erupted until Qalawun finally seized the throne and declared himself a sultan.

Woods blanks
Wood blanks incorporated in a mosque
of Sultan Qalawun propably made in
the Fatimid era
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
Qalawun carried on successful campaigns against Mongols in the east until he completely drove them away off the region.
Qalawun was succeeded by his son, Al-Ashraf Khalil, in 1291. Khalil attacked Acre, besieged it and after a fierce battle with the crusaders, he eventually succeeded to expel the last of them from the region.

Khalil was killed in 1293 and was succeeded by his 9-year-old brother, Al-Nasser Mohamed, the next year. Al-Nasser ruled for 30 years but eliminated the emirsWhat does it mean? of his fathers from court after he suffered their influences in his youth.
He then adopted a peaceful stance that later came at the expense of the military power of the Mamluks, something they excelled in for a long time.
Egypt saw prosperity during his reign and many trade tied were forged between
Mamluk manuscript
Page extracted from
an Arabic manuscript of equisterian
Mamluk period from 14th cetury AD
Photo by Raymon Kondos ©
Egypt and Europe. He was also a devoted builder who built mosques and palaces. To fulfill these accomplishments, he used to levy taxes on everything, which caused money to flow to the treasury.

After the death of Al-Nasser in 1340, a series of weak and incompetent Mamluks followed.
In 1347, Sultan Hassan came to power and one year later the Black DeathWhat does it mean? struck the country.
The plague was responsible for the d ecimation of the Egyptian population and the Mamluks with no distinction.
By inheriting properties of the plagued victims, Sultan Hassan gathered enough money to build an impressive mosque in Cairo that highly reflects the art features of the Mamluk architecture.

Al-Hassan was killed in 1361 and power struggle erupted as usual following his death. This was until a Burgi Mamluk (Circassian) called Barquq came to the throne, after deposed the last Bahari Mamluk, Hajji, in 1382. Thenceforth, the throne was shifted to Barquq's faction, the Burgi Mamluks.

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