25 min

1250 to 1517

Mamluk Sultanate

by Something Something

The Mamluk Sultanate was a state that ruled Egypt, the Levant and the Hejaz (western Arabia) in the mid-13th–early 16th centuries. It was ruled by a military caste of mamluks (manumitted slave soldiers) at the head of which was the sultan. The Abbasid caliphs were the nominal sovereigns (figureheads). The sultanate was established with the overthrow of the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt in 1250 and was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517.

Mamluk history is generally divided into the Turkic or Bahri period (1250–1382) and the Circassian or Burji period (1382–1517), called after the predominant ethnicity or corps of the ruling Mamluks during these respective eras.

The first rulers of the sultanate hailed from the mamluk regiments of the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub, usurping power from his successor in 1250. The Mamluks under Sultan Qutuz and Baybars routed the Mongols in 1260, halting their southward expansion. They then conquered or gained suzerainty over the Ayyubids' Syrian principalities. By the end of the 13th century, they conquered the Crusader states, expanded into Makuria (Nubia), Cyrenaica, the Hejaz and southern Anatolia. The sultanate then experienced a long period of stability and prosperity during the third reign of an-Nasir Muhammad, before giving way to the internal strife characterizing the succession of his sons, when real power was held by senior emirs.

  Table of Contents / Timeline



850 Jan 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

The early Fatimid army were composed of Berbers, native people of North Africa. Following the conquest of Egypt, the Berbers started to settle down as the members of Egypt's ruling elite. To maintain the supply of military force, the Fatimids bolstered their armies with Black infantry units(mostly Sudanese) while the cavalry were usually composed of Free Berber and Mamluk slaves(of Turkik origin) who were not Muslim which qualifies them to be slaves according to Muslim traditions. The mamluk was an "owned slave", distinguished from the ghulam, or household slave.;

Mamluks had formed a part of the state or military apparatus in Syria and Egypt since at least the 9th century. Mamluk regiments constituted the backbone of Egypt's military under Ayyubid rule in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, beginning with Sultan Saladin (r. 1174–1193) who replaced the Fatimids' black African infantry with mamluks.


Rise of the Mamluks

1250 Apr 7 -

Cairo, Egypt

Al-Mu'azzam Turan-Shah alienated the Mamluks soon after their victory at Mansurah and constantly threatened them and Shajar al-Durr. Fearing for their positions of power, the Bahri Mamluks revolted against the sultan and killed him in April 1250.

Aybak married Shajar al-Durr and subsequently took over the government in Egypt in the name of;al-Ashraf II;who became sultan, but only nominally.


Aybak assassinated

1257 Apr 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

Being in need to form an alliance with an ally who could help him against the threat of the Mamluks who had fled to Syria,Aybak decided in 1257 to marry the daughter of Badr ad-Din Lu'lu', the emir of Mosul. Shajar al-Durr, who already had disputes with Aybak felt betrayed by the man who she made sultan, and had him murdered after he had ruled Egypt seven years. Shajar al-Durr claimed that Aybak died suddenly during the night but his Mamluks (Mu'iziyya), led by Qutuz, did not believe her and the servants involved confessed under torture.

On 28 April, Shajar al-Durr was stripped and beaten to death with clogs by the bondmaids of al-Mansur Ali and his mother. Her naked body was found lying outside the Citadel. Aybak's 11-year-old son Ali was installed by his loyal Mamluks (Mu'iziyya Mamluks), led by Qutuz. Qutuz becomes the vice-sultan.

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Hulagu's departure to Mongolia

1260 Aug 20 -


Hulagu withdrew from the Levant with the bulk of his army, leaving his forces west of the Euphrates with only one tumen (nominally 10,000 men, but usually fewer) under the Naiman Nestorian Christian general Kitbuqa Noyan.;

Until the late 20th century, historians believed that Hulagu's sudden retreat had been caused by the power dynamic having been changed by the death of the Great Khan Möngke on an;expedition;to the;Song dynasty's China, which made Hulagu and other senior Mongols return home to decide his successor. However, contemporary documentation discovered in the 1980s reveals that to be untrue, as Hulagu himself claimed that he withdrew most of his forces because he could not sustain such a large army logistically, that the fodder in the region had been mostly used up and that a Mongol custom was to withdraw to cooler lands for the summer.

Upon receiving news of Hulagu's departure, Mamluk Sultan Qutuz quickly assembled a large army at Cairo and invaded Palestine. In late August, Kitbuqa's forces proceeded south from their base at Baalbek, passing to the east of Lake Tiberias into Lower Galilee. Qutuz was then allied with a fellow Mamluk, Baibars, who chose to ally himself with Qutuz in the face of a greater enemy after the Mongols had captured Damascus and most of Bilad ash-Sham.

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Battle of Ain Jalut

1260 Sep 3 -

ʿAyn Jālūt, Israel

The Battle of Ain Jalut was fought between the Bahri Mamluks of Egypt and the Mongol Empire on 3 September 1260 in southeastern Galilee in the Jezreel Valley near what is known today as the Spring of Harod (Arabic: عين جالوت, romanized: ‘Ayn Jālūt, lit. 'Spring of Goliath'). The battle marked the height of the extent of Mongol conquests, and was the first time a Mongol advance was permanently beaten back in direct combat on the battlefield.

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Qutuz assassinated

1260 Oct 24 -

Cairo, Egypt

On his way back to Cairo, Qutuz was assassinated while on a hunting expedition in Salihiyah. According to both modern and medieval Muslim historians Baibars was involved in the assassination. Muslim chroniclers from the Mamluk era stated that Baibars' motivation was either to avenge the killing of his friend and leader of the Bahariyya Faris ad-Din Aktai during Sultan Aybak's reign or due to Qutuz granting Aleppo to al-Malik al-Said Ala'a ad-Din the Emir of Mosul, instead of to him as he had promised him before the battle of Ain Jalut.

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Military campaigns

1265 Jan 1 -

Arsuf, Israel

With Bahri power in Egypt and Muslim Syria consolidated by 1265, Baybars launched expeditions against the Crusader fortresses throughout Syria, capturing Arsuf in 1265, and Halba and Arqa in 1266. According to historian Thomas Asbridge, the methods used to capture Arsuf demonstrated the "Mamluks' grasp of siegecraft and their overwhelming numerical and technological supremacy". Baybars' strategy regarding the Crusader fortresses along the Syrian coast was not to capture and utilize the fortresses, but to destroy them and thus prevent their potential future use by new waves of Crusaders.

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Fall of Arsuf

1265 Mar 1 -

Arsuf, Israel

In late March 1265 Sultan Baibars, Muslim ruler of the Mamluks, laid siege to Arsuf. It was defended by 270 Knights Hospitallers. At the end of April, after 40 days of siege, the town surrendered. However, the Knights remained in their formidable citadel. Baibars convinced the Knights to surrender by agreeing to let them go free. Baibars reneged on this promise immediately, taking the knights into slavery.

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Siege of Safed

1266 Jun 13 -

Safed, Israel

The siege of Safed was part of the campaign of the Mamlūk sultan Baybars I to reduce the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The castle of Safed belonged to the Knights Templar and put up strong resistance. Direct assault, mining and psychological warfare were all employed to force the garrison to surrender. It was ultimately tricked into surrendering through treachery and the Templars were massacred. Baybars repaired and garrisoned the castle.

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| ©The Mamluks defeat the Armenians at the disaster of Mari, in 1266.


Battle of Mari

1266 Aug 24 -

Kırıkhan, Hatay, Turkey

The conflict started when the Mamluk Sultan Baibars, seeking to take advantage of the weakened Mongol domination, sent a 30,000 strong army to Cilicia and demanded that Hethum I of Armenia abandon his allegiance to the Mongols, accept himself as a suzerain, and give to the Mamluks the territories and fortresses Hetoum has acquired through his alliance with the Mongols.

The confrontation took place at Mari, near Darbsakon on 24 August 1266, where the heavily outnumbered Armenians were unable to resist the much larger Mamluk forces.

Following their victory, the Mamluks invaded Cilicia, ravaging the three great cities of the Cilician plain: Mamistra, Adana and Tarsus, as well as the harbour of Ayas. Another group of Mamluks under Mansur took the capital of Sis. The pillage lasted 20 days, during which thousands of Armenians were massacred and 40,000 were taken captive.

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Siege of Antioch

1268 May 1 -

Antioch, Al Nassra, Syria

In 1260, Baibars, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria, began to threaten the Principality of Antioch, a Crusader state, which (as a vassal of the Armenians) had supported the Mongols. In 1265, Baibars took Caesarea, Haifa and Arsuf A year later, Baibars conquered Galilee and devastated Cilician Armenia.

The siege of Antioch occurred in 1268 when the Mamluk Sultanate under Baibars finally succeeded in capturing the city of Antioch. Prior to the siege, the Crusader Principality was oblivious to the loss of the city, as demonstrated when Baibars sent negotiators to the leader of the former Crusader state and mocked his use of "Prince" in the title Prince of Antioch.

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Eighth Crusade

1270 Jan 1 -

Tunis, Tunisia

The Eighth Crusade was a crusade launched by Louis IX of France against the Hafsid dynasty in 1270. The crusade is considered a failure as Louis died shortly after arriving on the shores of Tunisia, with his disease-ridden army dispersing back to Europe soon afterwards. After hearing of the death of Louis and the evacuation of the crusaders from Tunis, Sultan;Baibars;of Egypt cancelled his plan to send Egyptian troops to fight Louis in Tunis

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Siege of Tripoli

1271 Jan 1 -

Tripoli, Lebanon

The 1271 siege of Tripoli was initiated by the Mamluk ruler Baibars against the Frankish ruler of the Principality of Antioch and the County of Tripoli, Bohemond VI. It followed the dramatic fall of Antioch in 1268, and was an attempt by the Mamluks to completely destroy the Crusader states of Antioch and Tripoli.

Edward I of England landed in Acre on May 9, 1271, where he was soon joined by Bohemond and his cousin King Hugh of Cyprus and Jerusalem. Baibars accepted Bohemond's offer of a truce in May, abandoned the siege of Tripoli.

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Fall of Krak des Chevaliers

1271 Mar 3 -

Krak des Chevaliers, Syria

The Crusader fortress of Krak des Chevaliers fell to the Mamluk sultan Baibars in 1271. Baibars went north to deal with Krak des Chevaliers after the death of Louis IX of France on 29 November 1270.

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Conquest of Southern Egypt: Battle of Dongola

1276 Jan 1 -

Dongola, Sudan

The Battle of Dongola was a battle fought between the Mamluk Sultanate under Baibars and the Kingdom of Makuria. The Mamluks gained a decisive victory, capturing the Makurian capital Dongola, forcing the king David of Makuria to flee and placing a puppet on the Makurian throne. After this battle the Kingdom of Makuria went into a period of decline until its collpase in the 15th century.

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Second Battle of Sarvandik'ar

1276 Jan 1 -

Savranda Kalesi, Kalecik/Has

In 1275, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars invaded Cilician Armenia, sacked its capital Sis (but not the citadel) and demolished the royal palace. His marauding troops massacred inhabitants of the mountain valleys and took large quantities of booty.;

The Second Battle of Sarvandik'ar was fought in 1276 A.D. between an army of the Mamluks of Egypt and a unit of Cilician Armenians, in a mountain pass that separates Eastern Cilicia and Northern Syria. The Cilician Armenians emerged as clear victors and followed the enemy in pursuit to the proximity of Marash, before stopping. The victory, however, cost the Armenians very dearly. They lost 300 knights and an unknown but important number of infantrymen.;

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Battle of Elbistan

1277 Apr 15 -

Elbistan, Kahramanmaraş, Tur

On April 15, 1277, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars marched from Syria into the Mongol-dominated Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and attacked the Mongol occupation force in the Battle of Elbistan (Abulustayn).

During the battle, the Mongols destroyed the Mamluk left wing, consisting of many Bedouin irregulars, but were ultimately defeated. It seems that both sides were expecting assistance from the army of Pervâne and his Seljuks. Pervâne had attempted to ally himself with both factions to keep his options open, but fled the battle with the Seljuk Sultan to Tokat. The Seljuk army was present near the battle, but did not take part.;

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Death of Baybars: Ascent of Qalawun

1277 Jul 1 -

Damascus, Syria

In 1277, Baybars launched an expedition against the Ilkhanids, routing them in Elbistan in Anatolia, before ultimately withdrawing to avoid overstretching their forces and risk being cut off from Syria by a second, large incoming Ilkhanid army. In July of the same year, Baybars died en route to Damascus, and was succeeded by his son Barakah. However, the latter's ineptness precipitated a power struggle that ended with Qalawun being elected sultan in November 1279.

The Ilkhanids took advantage of the disarray of Baybars' succession by raiding Mamluk Syria, before launching a massive offensive against Syria in the autumn of 1281.

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1281 Battle of Homs


Second Battle of Homs

1281 Oct 29 -

Homs‎, Syria

After the Mamluk victories over Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260 and Elbistan in 1277, the Il-khan Abaqa sent his brother Möngke Temur at the head of a large army which numbered about 40–50,000 men, chiefly Armenians under Leo II and Georgians under Demetrius II.

On 20 October 1280, the Mongols took Aleppo, pillaging the markets and burning the mosques. The Muslim inhabitants fled for Damascus, where the Mamluk leader Qalawun assembled his forces.

In a pitched battle, the Armenians, Georgians and Oirats under King Leo II and Mongol generals routed and scattered the Mamluk left flank, but the Mamluks personally led by Sultan Qalawun destroyed the Mongol centre. Möngke Temur was wounded and fled, followed by his disorganized army. However, Qalawun chose to not pursue the defeated enemy, and the Armenian-Georgian auxiliaries of the Mongols managed to withdraw safely.

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The siege of Tripoli by the Mamluks in 1289.


Fall of Tripoli

1289 Mar 1 -

Tripoli, Lebanon

The Fall of Tripoli was the capture and destruction of the Crusader state, the County of Tripoli, by the Muslim Mamluks. The battle occurred in 1289 and was an important event in the Crusades, as it marked the capture of one of the few remaining major possessions of the Crusaders.

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The Hospitaller Maréchal, Matthew of Clermont, defending the walls at the siege of Acre, 1291 | ©Dominique Papety


Ascent of Khalil: Fall of Acre

1291 Apr 4 -

Acre, Israel

Qalawun was the last Salihi sultan and following his death in 1290, his son,;al-Ashraf Khalil, drew his legitimacy as a Mamluk by emphasizing his lineage from Qalawun, thus inaugurating the Qalawuni period of Bahri rule. In 1291, Khalil;captured Acre, the last major Crusader fortress in Palestine and thus Mamluk rule extended across the entirety of Syria. It is considered one of the most important battles of the period. Although the crusading movement continued for several more centuries, the capture of the city marked the end of further crusades to the Levant. When Acre fell, the Crusaders lost their last major stronghold of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

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The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War: 1299–1303

1299 Jan 1 -

Aleppo, Syria

In late 1299, the Mongol Ilkhan Mahmud Ghazan, son of Arghun, took his army and crossed the Euphrates river to again invade Syria. They continued south until they were slightly north of Homs, and successfully took Aleppo. There, Ghazan was joined by forces from his vassal state of Cilician Armenia.

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Battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar

1299 Dec 22 -

Homs‎, Syria

After recovering the Levant, the Mamluks went on to invade the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, both Mongol protectorates, but they were defeated, forcing them back to Syria.

Nearly 20 years after the last Mongol defeat in Syria at the Second Battle of Homs, Ghazan Khan and an army of Mongols, Georgians and Armenians, crossed the Euphrates river (the Mamluk-Ilkhanid border) and seized Aleppo. The Mongol army then proceeded southwards until they were only a few miles north of Homs.

The Battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar, also known as the Third Battle of Homs, was a Mongol victory over the Mamluks in 1299. The Mongols continued their march south until they reached Damascus. The city was soon sacked and its citadel besieged.

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Fall of Ruad

1302 Jan 1 -

Ruad, Syria

The fall of Ruad in 1302 was one of the culminating events of the Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean. When the garrison on the tiny Isle of Ruad fell, it marked the loss of the last Crusader outpost on the coast of the Levant. In 1291, the Crusaders had lost their main power base at the coastal city of Acre, and the Muslim Mamluks had been systematically destroying any remaining Crusader ports and fortresses since then, forcing the Crusaders to relocate their dwindling Kingdom of Jerusalem to the island of Cyprus.

In 1299–1300, the Cypriots sought to retake the Syrian port city of Tortosa, by setting up a staging area on Ruad, two miles (3 km) off the coast of Tortosa. The plans were to coordinate an offensive between the forces of the Crusaders, and those of the Ilkhanate (Mongol Persia). However, though the Crusaders successfully established a bridgehead on the island, the Mongols did not arrive, and the Crusaders were forced to withdraw the bulk of their forces to Cyprus. The Knights Templar set up a permanent garrison on the island in 1300, but the Mamluks besieged and captured Ruad in 1302. With the loss of the island, the Crusaders lost their last foothold in the Holy Land. Attempts at other Crusades continued for centuries, but the Europeans were never again able to occupy any territory in the Holy Land until the 20th century, during the events of World War I.

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Battle of Marj al-Saffar

1303 Apr 20 -

Ghabaghib, Syria

In 1303, Ghazan sent his general Qutlugh-Shah with an army to recapture Syria. The inhabitants and rulers of Aleppo and Hama fled to Damascus to escape the advancing Mongols. However, Baibars II was in Damascus and sent a message to the Sultan of Egypt, Al-Nasir Muhammad, to come to fight the Mongols. The Sultan left Egypt with an army to engage the Mongols in Syria, and arrived while the Mongols were attacking Hama. The Mongols had reached the outskirts of Damascus on April 19 to meet the Sultan's army. The Mamluks then made their way to the plain of Marj al-Saffar, where the battle would take place.

The Battle of Marj al-Saffar took place on April 20 through April 22, 1303 between the Mamluks and the Mongols and their Armenian allies near Kiswe, Syria, just south of Damascus. The battle has been influential in both Islamic history and contemporary time because of the controversial jihad against other Muslims and Ramadan related fatwas issued by Ibn Taymiyyah, who himself joined the battle. The battle, a disastrous defeat for the Mongols, put an end to Mongol invasions of the Levant.

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End of the Mamluk-Mongol wars

1322 Jan 1 -


Under an-Nasir Muhammad, the Mamluks successfully repelled an Ilkhanid invasion of Syria in 1313 and then concluded a peace treaty with the Ilkhanate in 1322, bringing a long-lasting end to the Mamluk-Mongol wars.

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Black Death in the Middle East

1347 Jan 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

The Black Death was present in the Middle East between 1347 and 1349. The Black Death in the Middle East is described more closely in the Mamluk Sultanate, and to a lesser degree in Marinid Sultanate of Morocco, the Sultanate of Tunis, and the Emirate of Granada, while information of it in Iran and the Arabian Peninsula is lacking. The Black Death in Cairo, at the time the biggest city in the Mediterranean region, were one of the biggest documented demographic catastrophes during the Black Death.

The plague resulted in widespread panic, in which the peasantry fled to the cities to escape the plague, while in parallell the city people fled to the country side, which created chaos and a collapse of public order. In September 1348 the plague reached Cairo, which at this time was the biggest city in the Middle East and the Mediterranean world, as well as bigger than any city in Europe.

When the plague reached Cairo, the Mamluk sultan An-Nasir Hasan fled the city and stayed in his residence Siryaqus outside of the city between the 25 September and 22 December, when the Black Death was present in Cairo. The Black Death in Cairo resulted in the death of 200.000 people, which were a third of the population of the city, and resulted in several quarters of the city becoming depopulated quarters of empty ruins during the following century.

In early 1349, the plague reached South Egypt, where the population in the region of Asuyt changed from 6000 taxpayers before the plague to 116 after.

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Circassians revolt

1377 Jan 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

By this point, the Mamluk ranks have shifted in majority towards the Circassians, from the North Caucasus region. A revolt breaks out against the Bahri dynasty and the Circassians Barakh and Barquq take over the government.

Barquq was a member of the faction behind the throne, serving in various powerful capacities in the court of the boy sultans. He consolidated his power until in November 1382 he was able to depose sultan al-Salih Hajji and claim the sultanate for himself. He took the reign name al-Zahir, perhaps in imitation of the sultan al-Zahir Baybars.


The Burji Mamluk dynasty begins

1382 Jan 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

The last Bahri Sultan, Al-Salih Hajji, is dethroned and Barquq is proclaimed sultan, thus launching the Burji Mamluk dynasty.


Death of Barquq: Crisis

1399 Jan 1 -

Cairo, Egypt

Barquq died in 1399 and was succeeded by his eleven-year-old son, an-Nasir Faraj, who was in Damascus at the time. In that same year, Timur invaded Syria, sacking Aleppo before proceeding to sack Damascus. The latter had been abandoned by Faraj and his late father's entourage, who left for Cairo. Timur ended his occupation of Syria in 1402 to pursue his war against the Ottomans in Anatolia, who he deemed to be a more dangerous threat to his rule. Faraj was able to hold onto power during this turbulent period, which in addition to Timur's devastating raids, the rise of Turkic tribes in Jazira and attempts by Barquq's emirs to topple Faraj, also saw a famine in Egypt in 1403, a severe plague in 1405 and a Bedouin revolt that virtually ended the Mamluks' hold over Upper Egypt between 1401 and 1413. Thus, Mamluk authority throughout the sultanate was significantly eroded, while the capital Cairo experienced an economic crisis.;

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Siege of Damascus

1400 Jan 1 -

Damascus, Syria

After taking Aleppo, Timur continued his advance where he took Hama, along with nearby Homs and Baalbek, and besieged Damascus. An army led by the Mamluk Sultan Nasir-ad-Din Faraj was defeated by Timur outside Damascus leaving the city at the mercy of the Mongol besiegers.

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| ©Angus McBride


Sack of Aleppo

1400 Oct 1 -

Aleppo, Syria

In 1400, Timur's forces invaded Armenia and Georgia, then they took Sivas, Malatya and Aintab. Later on, Timur's forces advanced towards Aleppo with caution, where they tended to construct a fortified camp each night as they approach the city. The Mamluks decided to fight an open battle outside the city walls. After two days of skirmishing, Timur's cavalry moved swiftly in arc shapes to attack the flanks of their enemy lines, while his center including elephants from India held firm Fierce cavalry attacks forced the Mamluks led by Tamardash, governor of Aleppo, to break and flee towards the city gates Afterwards, Timur took Aleppo, then he massacred many of the inhabitants, ordering the building of a tower of 20,000 skulls outside the city.

During Timur's invasion of Syria in the Siege of Aleppo,;Ibn Taghribirdi;wrote that Timur's Tatar soldiers committed mass rape on the native women of Aleppo, massacring their children and forcing the brothers and fathers of the women to watch the gang rapes which took place in the mosques.

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Reign of Barsbay

1422 Jan 1 -


Barsbay pursued an economic policy of establishing state monopolies over the lucrative trade with Europe, particularly regarding spices, to the chagrin of the civilian merchants of the sultanate. Moreover, Barsbay compelled Red Sea traders to offload their goods at the Mamluk-held Hejazi port of Jeddah rather than the Yemeni port of Aden in order to derive the most financial benefit from the Red Sea transit route to Europe. Barsbay also undertook efforts to better protect the caravan routes to the Hejaz from Bedouin raids and the Egyptian Mediterranean coast from Catalan and Genoese piracy.;

With regards to European pirates, he launched campaigns against Cyprus in 1425–1426, during which the island's king was taken captive, because of his alleged assistance to the pirates; the large ransoms paid to the Mamluks by the Cypriots allowed them to mint new gold coinage for the first time since the 14th century. Barsbay's efforts at monopolization and trade protection were meant to offset the severe financial losses of the sultanate's agricultural sector due to the frequent recurring plagues that took a heavy toll on the farmers.

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Cyprus reconquered

1426 Jan 1 -


In 1426–27, Barsbay invaded and reconquered;Cyprus, captured its king;Janus of Cyprus;(from the;House of Lusignan) and forced him to pay tribute.

The revenues from this military victory and trade policies may have helped Barsbay finance his construction projects, and he is known for at least three extant and notable monuments. He built a madrasa-mosque complex in the heart of Cairo on al-Muizz street in 1424. His mausoleum complex, which also included a madrasa and khanqah, was built in Cairo's Northern Cemetery in 1432. He also built a mosque in the town of al-Khanqa, north of Cairo, in 1437.

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Anatolian Expeditions

1429 Jan 1 -

Diyarbakır, Turkey

Barsbay launched military expeditions against the Aq Qoyonlu in 1429 and 1433. The first expedition involved the sacking of Edessa and the massacre of its Muslim inhabitants in retaliation for the Aq Qoyonlu's raids against the Mamluks' Mesopotamian territories. The second expedition was against the Aq Qoyonlu capital of Amid, which ended with the Aq Qoyonlu recognizing Mamluk suzerainty.;

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Famine and Plague

1430 Jan 1 -


Egypt was severely struck by famine and;plague.


Siege of Rhodes

1444 Aug 10 -

Rhodes, Greece

The siege of Rhodes was a military engagement involving the Knights Hospitaller and Mamluk Sultanate. The Mamluk fleet landed on the island of Rhodes on 10 August 1444, besieging its citadel. Clashes took place on the western walls of the city and at the Mandraki harbor. On 18 September 1444, the Mamluks departed from the island and lifted the siege.

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Battle of Urfa

1480 Aug 1 -

Urfa, Şanlıurfa, Turkey

The Battle of Urfa is a battle that took place between Aq Qoyunlu and the Mamluk Sultanate in August 1480 at Urfa in Diyar Bakr (modern-day Turkey). The reason was the invasion of the Mamluks into the territory of Aq Qoyunlu to capture Urfa. During the battle, the troops of Aq Qoyunlu inflicted a crushing defeat on the Mamluks. The Mamluk Sultanate, after this battle, received a heavy blow, and after the loss of the commanders of the troops, the state was greatly weakened.

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Ottoman–Mamluk War

1485 Jan 1 -

Anatolia, Turkey

The relationship between the Ottomans and the Mamluks was adversarial: both states vied for control of the spice trade, and the Ottomans aspired to eventually take control of the Holy Cities of Islam. The two states however were separated by a buffer zone occupied by Turkmen states such as Karamanids, Aq Qoyunlu, Ramadanids, and Dulkadirids, which regularly switched their allegiance from one power to the other.;

The Ottoman-Mamluk war took place from 1485 to 1491, when the Ottoman Empire invaded the Mamluk Sultanate territories of Anatolia and Syria. This war was an essential event in the Ottoman struggle for the domination of the Middle-East. After multiple encounters, the war ended in a stalemate and a peace treaty was signed in 1491, restoring the status quo ante bellum. It lasted until the Ottomans and the Mamluks again went to war in 1516–17.

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Portuguese ships, 16th century


Battle of Chaul

1508 Mar 1 -

Chaul, Maharashtra, India

The Battle of Chaul was a naval battle between the Portuguese and an Egyptian Mamluk fleet in 1508 in the harbour of Chaul in India. The battle ended in a Mamluk victory. It followed the Siege of Cannanore in which a Portuguese garrison successfully resisted an attack by Southern Indian rulers. This was the first Portuguese defeat at sea in the Indian Ocean.

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| ©Kings and Generals


Battle of Diu

1509 Feb 3 -

Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli

The Battle of Diu was a naval battle fought on 3 February 1509 in the Arabian Sea, in the port of Diu, India, between the Portuguese Empire and a joint fleet of the Sultan of Gujarat, the Mamlûk Burji Sultanate of Egypt, and the Zamorin of Calicut with support of the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire.

The Portuguese victory was critical: the great Muslim alliance was soundly defeated, easing the Portuguese strategy of controlling the Indian Ocean to route trade down the Cape of Good Hope, circumventing the historical spice trade controlled by the Arabs and the Venetians through the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. After the battle, Kingdom of Portugal rapidly captured several key ports in the Indian Ocean including Goa, Ceylon, Malacca, Bom Baim& Ormuz. The territorial losses crippled the Mamluk Sultanate and the Gujarat Sultanate. The battle catalpulted the growth of the Portuguese Empire and established its political dominance for more than a century. Portuguese power in the East would begin to decline with the sackings of Goa and Bombay-Bassein, Portuguese Restoration War& the Dutch colonisation of Ceylon.

The Battle of Diu was a battle of annihilation similar to the Battle of Lepanto and the Battle of Trafalgar, and one of the most important in world naval history, for it marks the beginning of European dominance over Asian seas that would last until the Second World War.

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The Battle of Chaldiran

1514 Aug 23 -

Çaldıran, Beyazıt, Çaldıran/

The Battle of Chaldiran ended with a decisive victory for the Ottoman Empire over the Safavid Empire. As a result, the Ottomans annexed Eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq from Safavid Iran. It marked the first Ottoman expansion into Eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia), and the halt of the Safavid expansion to the west. The Chaldiran battle was just the beginning of 41 years of destructive war, which only ended in 1555 with the Treaty of Amasya. Though Mesopotamia and Eastern Anatolia (Western Armenia) were eventually reconquered by the Safavids under the reign of Shah Abbas the Great (r. 1588–1629), they would be permanently lost to the Ottomans by the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.

At Chaldiran, the Ottomans had a larger, better equipped army numbering 60,000 to 100,000 as well as many heavy artillery pieces, while the Safavid army numbered some 40,000 to 80,000 and did not have artillery at its disposal. Ismail I, the leader of the Safavids, was wounded and almost captured during the battle. His wives were captured by the Ottoman leader Selim I, with at least one married off to one of Selim's statesmen. Ismail retired to his palace and withdrew from government administration after this defeat and never again participated in a military campaign.

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Ottoman–Mamluk War 1516

1516 Jan 1 -

Anatolia, Turkey

The Ottoman–Mamluk War of 1516–1517 was the second major conflict between the Egypt-based Mamluk Sultanate and the Ottoman Empire, which led to the fall of the Mamluk Sultanate and the incorporation of the Levant, Egypt, and the Hejaz as provinces of the Ottoman Empire. The war transformed the Ottoman Empire from a realm at the margins of the Islamic world, mainly located in Anatolia and the Balkans, to a huge empire encompassing much of the traditional lands of Islam, including the cities of Mecca, Cairo, Damascus, and Aleppo. Despite this expansion, the seat of the empire's political power remained in Constantinople.

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| ©Kings and Generals


Battle of Marj Dabiq

1516 Aug 24 -

Dabiq, Syria

The Battle of Marj Dābiq was a decisive military engagement in Middle Eastern history, fought on 24 August 1516, near the town of Dabiq. The battle was part of the 1516–17 war between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate, which ended in an Ottoman victory and conquest of much of the Middle East, bringing about the destruction of the Mamluk Sultanate. The Ottomans win a decisive victory over the Mamluks, due to their large numbers and use of modern military technology such as firearms. Sultan al-Ghawri is killed, and the Ottomans gain control of the entire region of Syria and opened the door to the conquest of Egypt.

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Battle of Yaunis Khan

1516 Oct 28 -

Khan Yunis

The Battle of Yaunis Khan between the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate. The Mamluk cavalry forces led by Janbirdi al-Ghazali attacked the Ottomans that were trying to cross Gaza on their way to Egypt. The Ottomans, led by Grand Vizier Hadım Sinan Pasha, were able to break the Egyptian Mamluk cavalry charge. Al-Ghazali was wounded during the confrontation, and the left-over Mamluk forces and their commander Al-Ghazali retreated to Cairo.

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| ©Angus McBride


End of Mamluk Sultanate: Battle of Ridaniya

1517 Jan 22 -

Cairo, Egypt

The Ottoman forces of Selim I defeated the Mamluk forces under Al-Ashraf Tuman bay II. The Turks marched into Cairo, and the severed head of Tuman bay II, Egypt’s last Mamluk Sultan, was hung over an entrance gate in the Al Ghourieh quarter of Cairo. The Ottoman grand vizier, Hadım Sinan Pasha, was killed in action.

The Mamluk sultanate comes to an end and the center of power transfers to Constantinople, but the Ottomans allow the Mamluks to remain as the ruling class in Egypt under their power.

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1518 Jan 1 -


Culturally, the Mamluk period is known mainly for its achievements in historical writing and in architecture and for an abortive attempt at socio-religious reform. Mamluk historians were prolific chroniclers, biographers, and encyclopaedists; they were not strikingly original, with the exception of Ibn Khaldūn, whose formative and creative years were spent outside Mamluk territory in the Maghrib (North Africa). As builders of religious edifices—mosques, schools, monasteries and, above all, tombs—the Mamluks endowed Cairo with some of its most impressive monuments, many of which are still standing; the Mamluk tomb-mosques can be recognized by stone domes whose massiveness is offset by geometrical carvings.

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