Al-Ashraf Sha'ban
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Al-Ashraf Sha'ban
Al-Malik al-Ashraf
Mamluk Shaban II copper fals Hama.jpg
Sha'ban II copper fals coin from Hama. British Museum.
Sultan of Egypt
Reign29 May 1363 - 15 March 1377
PredecessorAl-Mansur Muhammad
Died15 March 1377
(aged 23-24)
IssueAl-Mansur Ali
Abu Bakr
As-Salih Hajji
Al-Malik al-Ashraf Zayn ad-Din Abu al-Ma'ali Sha'ban ibn Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Qalawun
FatherAl-Amjad Husayn

Al-Ashraf Zayn ad-Din Abu al-Ma'ali Sha'ban ibn Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Qalawun, better known as al-Ashraf Sha'ban or Sha'ban II, was a Mamluk sultan of the Bahri dynasty in 1363-1377. He was a grandson of Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad (r. 1310-1341). He had two sons (out of a total of eight) who succeeded him: al-Mansur Ali and as-Salih Hajji.[1]


Early life and family

Sha'ban was born in 1353/54.[2] His father was al-Amjad Husayn (died 1363), a son of Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad (r. 1310-1341) who,[2] unlike many of his brothers, never reigned as sultan. Sha'ban's mother was Khawand Baraka (d. 1372), a former slave woman who married al-Amjad Husayn.[3] Sha'ban had four brothers, Anuk (d. 1390/91), Ibrahim, Ahmad and Janibak (d. 1428), and three sisters, Zahra (d. 1370), Shaqra (d. 1401) and Sara (d. 1432).[2]


In late May 1363, the Mamluk magnates, in effect the senior emirs, led by Emir Yalbugha al-Umari, deposed Sultan al-Mansur Muhammad on charges of illicit behavior and installed al-Ashraf Sha'ban, then ten years old, as his replacement.[4] Yalbugha and the emirs viewed al-Ashraf Sha'ban as a figurehead who would be easy to manage. Yalbugha maneuvered to become the effective regent of the sultan.[4] In December 1366, a number of senior emirs and Yalbugha's own mamluks launched a revolt against him.[5] At the start of the revolt, a significant number of Yalbugha's mamluks remained loyal to their master, but once al-Ashraf Sha'ban, who sought to rule in his own right, lent his support to the rebels, they too joined the revolt.[5]

After Yalbugha was captured and killed by his mamluks, al-Ashraf Sha'ban made a number of them emirs, but most were left without employment or a patron.[5] At that point, al-Ashraf Sha'ban had only 200 of his own mamluks, the relatively low number being attributed to his lack of real power during Yalbugha's regency.[6] By June 1367, Yalbugha's former mamluks had largely entered the services of Emir Asandamur an-Nasiri, who had neutralized his rival emirs.[7]

In late 1367, Asandamur and his newly-acquired mamluks moved against al-Ashraf Sha'ban, but were defeated.[8] The revolt was also supported by Emir Khalil ibn Qawsun, the son of former regent Emir Qawsun (d. 1342) and a daughter of an-Nasir Muhammad who had been appointed atabeg al-asakir (commander in chief) by al-Ashraf Sha'ban earlier that year.[9] Khalil had been promised the throne by Asandamur.[9] According to a contemporary Mamluk chronicler, al-Nuwayri al-Iskandarani, al-Ashraf Sha'ban was significantly assisted by the "common people", who killed many of the mamluk rebels, "making them bite the dust".[10] The support of the commoners was enlisted by al-Ashraf Sha'ban's loyalist commanders, emirs Asanbugha Ibn al-Abu Bakri and Qushtamur al-Mansuri, both of whom withdrew from the battle in Cairo and left the commoners to fight Asandamur's forces alone.[11] The commoners were able to turn the tide in favor of al-Ashraf Sha'ban's partisans, and the latter's emirs and Royal Mamluks returned to the battle,[11] defeated the rebels and arrested Asandamur.[8] Because of their loyalty and key support during the revolt, al-Ashraf Sha'ban treated the commoners well throughout his reign.[11]

Later, in 1373, survivors among Yalbugha's former mamluks, including the future sultan, Barquq, were allowed back to Cairo from exile to train al-Ashraf Sha'ban's mamluks.[12] In June/July 1373, conflict broke out between al-Ashraf Sha'ban and Emir Uljay al-Yusufi.[13] The commoners once again took up arms alongside al-Ashraf Sha'ban's loyalists.[11] After some eleven confrontations, al-Ashraf Sha'ban, using Emir Aynabak al-Yalbughawi as an intermediary, persuaded Uljay's emirs and lower-ranking mamluks to defect.[13] Uljay was killed that year.[14] In 1374, a famine set in within Egypt that would last two years. To mitigate the burden on his subjects, al-Ashraf Sha'ban undertook efforts to provide food for the poor, dividing the financial responsibility of the effort among his emirs and the well-to-do merchants of Cairo.[15]

In March 1376, al-Ashraf Sha'ban departed for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Once he left Egypt, Aynabak led a revolt of the Royal Mamluks and unemployed mamluks against the sultan.[13] Meanwhile, the Mamluk guard that accompanied al-Ashraf Sha'ban also rebelled against him.[16] Al-Ashraf Sha'ban attempted to flee, but he was later captured by the rebels at Aqaba.[17] In return for a promised promotion from Aynabak, Emir Jarkas as-Sayfi strangled and killed al-Ashraf Sha'ban in 1377.[16] The rebels installed one of al-Ashraf Sha'ban's sons, al-Mansur Ali, as his successor.

Sha'ban was buried in one of the mausoleums of the madrasa he had built for his mother in the Darb al-Ahmar area, having never completed his own mausoleum complex.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Williams, pp. 16-17
  2. ^ a b c Bauden, Frédéric. "The Qalawunids: A Pedigree" (PDF). University of Chicago. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Al-Harithy, p. 332.
  4. ^ a b Steenbergen 2011, p. 437.
  5. ^ a b c Steenbergen 2001, pp. 139-140
  6. ^ Ayalon 2005, p. 63.
  7. ^ Steenbergen 2001, p. 141.
  8. ^ a b Steenbergen 2011, pp. 142-143.
  9. ^ a b Levanoni 2006, p. 100.
  10. ^ Steenbergen 2011, p. 143.
  11. ^ a b c d Levanoni 1995, pp. 111-112.
  12. ^ Steenbergen 2011, p. 145.
  13. ^ a b c Levanoni 1995, p. 103.
  14. ^ Sabra, Adam (2000). Poverty and Charity in Medieval Islam: Mamluk Egypt, 1250-1517. Cambridge University Press. p. 51.
  15. ^ Raphael, Sarah Kate (2013). Climate and Political Climate: Environmental Disasters in the Medieval Levant. Brill. p. 100.
  16. ^ a b Levanoni 1995, p. 104.
  17. ^ Haarmann 1998, p. 68.
  18. ^ Doris Behren-Abouseif (2007). Cairo of the Mamluks: A History of its Architecture and its Culture. The American University in Cairo Press.


External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
al-Mansur Muhammad
Mamluk Sultan
Succeeded by
al-Mansur Ali

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