Bahri Dynasty
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Bahri Dynasty
The Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate during the Bahri Dynasty.

The Bahri dynasty or Bahriyya Mamluks (Arabic: ?‎, romanizedal-Mamalik al-Ba?ariyya) was a Mamluk dynasty of mostly Cuman-Kipchak Turkic origin that ruled the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate from 1250 to 1382. They followed the Ayyubid dynasty, and were succeeded by a second Mamluk dynasty, the Burji dynasty.

Their name "Bahriyya" means 'of the river', referring to the location of their original settlement on Al-Rodah Island in the Nile (Nahr al-Nil) in Medieval Cairo[4] at the castle of Al-Rodah which was built by the Ayyubid Sultan as-Salih Ayyub[5][6]


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 Levant--Near 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.[7][8]

The Mamluks consolidated their power in ten years and eventually established the Bahri dynasty. They were 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.

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.[9] The defeat of the Mongols at the hands of the Mamluks enhanced the position of the Mamluks in the southern Mediterranean basin.[10][11]Baibars, one of the leaders at the battle, became the new Sultan after the assassination of Sultan Qutuz on the way home.[12][13]

In 1250 Baibars was one of the Mamluk commanders who defended Al Mansurah against the Crusade knights of Louis IX of France, who was later definitely defeated, captured in 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,[14] and the Mamluks fought the remnants of the Crusader states in Palestine until they finally captured Acre in 1291.[15]


Many Tatars settled in Egypt and were employed by Baibars.[16][17] He defeated the Mongols at the battle of Elbistan[18] 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.[19][20] In addition, he fought the Seljuks,[21] and Hashshashin; he also extended Muslim power into Nubia[17] 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,[22][23] and also defeated another Mongol invasion in 1281 that was led by Abaqa outside Homs.[24] After the Mongol threat passed he recaptured Tripoli from the Crusaders in 1289.[25] His son Khalil captured Acre, the last Crusader city, in 1291.[26][27]

Territory of the Golden Horde in 1389

The Mongols renewed their invasion in 1299,[28] but were again defeated in 1303.[29][30] The Egyptian Mamluk Sultans entered into relations with the Golden Horde who converted to Islam[31] and established a peace pact with the Mongols[32] 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.[33] Al-Nasir Muhammad organized the re-digging of a canal in 1311 which connected Alexandria with the Nile.[32] 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 carried off many lives of the inhabitants.[34][35]

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 the succeeding Burji dynasty.[36]

Military organization

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

1.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).

2.Al-Halqa : the primarily free born professional forces, they are also directly under the sultan's command.

3.Wafidiyya : These are Turks and Mongols that migrated to the dynasty's border after the Mongol invasion, typically given land grants in exchange for military service, they are well regarded forces.

4.Other levies : Primarily Bedouin tribes, but also on different occasions also different groups of Turkomans and other settled Arabs.

List of Bahri Sultans

Titular Name(s) Personal Name Reign
al-Malikah Ismat ad-Din Umm-Khalil
? ?
Shajar al-Durr
al-Malik al-Mu'izz Izz al-Din Aybak al-Jawshangir al-Turkmani al-Salihi
? ?
Izz-ad-Din Aybak
Sultan Al-Ashraf
Muzaffar-ad-Din Musa
? ?
Sultan Al-Mansur
Nur ad-Din Ali
Sultan Al-Muzaffar
Sayf ad-Din Qutuz
Sultan Abul-Futuh -
Al-Zahir -
Al-Bunduqdari - ?
Rukn-ad-Din Baibars I
Sultan Al-Sa'id Nasir-ad-Din
Muhammad Barakah Khan
? ?
Sultan Al-Adil
Badr-al-Din Solamish
Al-Mansur - ?
Al-Alfi -
As-Salehi - ?
Sayf-ad-Din Qalawun
Sultan Al-Ashraf
Salah-ad-Din Khalil
? ?
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
? ?
(first reign)
Al-Adil Al-Turki Al-Mughli
Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha
Husam-ad-Din Lachin
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
? ?
(Second reign)
Sultan Al-Muzaffar Al-Jashankir
Rukn-ad-Din Baibars II
Nasir-ad-Din Muhammad
? ?
(Third reign)
Sayf-ad-Din Abu-Bakr
Ala-ad-Din Kujuk
Sultan Al-Nasir
Shihab-ad-Din Ahmad
? ?
Sultan As-Saleh
Imad-ad-Din Ismail
? ?
Sultan Al-Kamil
Sayf-ad-Din Shaban I
Sultan Al-Muzaffar
Sayf-ad-Din Hajji I
Al-Nasir Abu Al-Ma'ali
Badr-ad-Din Al-Hasan
1347-1351 (first reign)
Sultan As-Saleh
Salah-ad-Din bin Muhammad
? ?
Al-Nasir Abu Al-Ma'ali Nasir-ad-Din
? ?
Badr-ad-Din Al-Hasan
1354-1361 (second reign)
Salah-ad-Din Muhammad
? ?
Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Ma'ali
Zayn-ad-Din Shaban II
Ala-ad-Din Ali
Sultan As-Saleh
Salah-ad-Din Hajji II
? ? ?
1382 (first reign) Sumit Bahri
? ?
Sayf-ad-Din Barquq
Sultan As-Saleh
Salah-ad-Din Hajji II
? ? ?
1389 (second reign)
Burji dynasty takes over Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo) under Sayf-ad-Din Barquq in 1389-90 C.E.

See also


  1. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation (2006). Peoples of Western Asia. p. 364.
  2. ^ Bosworth, Clifford Edmund (2007). Historic Cities of the Islamic World. p. 280.
  3. ^ Borrero, Mauricio (2009). Russia: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 162.
  4. ^ 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. (Shayyal, 110/vol.2 )
  5. ^ (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 )
  6. ^ After the Castle of al- Rodah was built, As-Salih moved with his Mamluks to it and lived there. (Al-Maqrizi, p.405/vol. 1 ). Later, the Mamluk Sultans lived at the Citadel of the Mountain which was situated on the Muqatam Mountain in Cairo (Al-Maqrizi, al-Mawaiz, p. 327/vol.3 ) where the Mosque of Muhammad Ali and the remains of the 12th century Saladin Citadel of Cairo stand now.
  7. ^ (Al-Maqrizi pp. 444-494. vol/1 ) (Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Years 647H - 655H ) (Ibn Taghri/vol.6 - Year 646H )
  8. ^ See also Shajar al-Durr and Aybak .
  9. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Taking of Aleppo's Castle by the Mongols and new events in the Levant.
  10. ^ Shayyal, p. 123/vol.2
  11. ^ 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. (Shayyal, p.126/vol.2 )
  12. ^ (Al-Maqrizi, p.519/vol.1 ) - (Ibn Taghri/ vol.7 )
  13. ^ Qutuz was assassinated near al-Salihiyah, Egypt. Those murdered him were emir Badr ad-Din Baktut, emir Ons and emir Bahadir al-Mu'izzi. (Al-Maqrizi, p. 519/vol.1 )
  14. ^ 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. (Shayyal, p. 132/vol.2 ) - (Ibn Taghri/ vol.7 ) - (Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Murder of al-Malik al-Nasir Yusuf) . 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.
  15. ^ See al-Ashraf Khalil
  16. ^ 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. (Shayyal, p. 144/vol. 2)
  17. ^ a b Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7
  18. ^ (Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/Year 675H- Al-Malik Al-Zahir entering land of the Roum) - (Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7)
  19. ^ (Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Soldiers entering the land of the Armenians) - (Ibn Taghri/ vol. 7)
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Baibars defeated both the Seljuks and the Mongols at the battle of Elbistan. (Shayyal, p. 138/vol. 2)
  22. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 697H.
  23. ^ 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.


    Sultan 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. (Al-Maqrizi, p. 51, 121, 127, 131-133, 145/vol. 2 )

  24. ^ (Abu Al-Fida, pp.66-87/ Year 688H ) - (Shayyal, p. 165/vol.2 )
  25. ^ (Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ 688HYear) - (Shayyal, 168/vol. 2 )
  26. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 690H
  27. ^ See Al-Ashraf Khalil .
  28. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 699H
  29. ^ Abu Al-Fida, pp. 66-87/ Year 702H
  30. ^ See Battle of Shaqhab
  31. ^ Sultan Baibars sent his first emissaries to Berke Khan the ruler of the Golden Horde in 1261. (Shayyal, p. 141/vol2)
  32. ^ a b Shayyal, p. 187/vol. 2
  33. ^ Shayyal, pp. 187-188 /vol.2
  34. ^ Shayyal, p.194/vol.2
  35. ^ 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. - (Wikipedia / Article Black Death.)
  36. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp.140-142/vol.5
  • Abu al-Fida, The Concise History of Humanity.
  • Al-Maqrizi, Al Selouk Leme'refatt Dewall al-Melouk, Dar al-kotob, 1997.
  • Idem in English: Bohn, Henry G., The Road to Knowledge of the Return of Kings, Chronicles of the Crusades, AMS Press, 1969.
  • 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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