Mamluk Sultanate

Black Death in the Middle East
1347 Jan 1

Black Death in the Middle East

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.