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Barqouqy mosque - Moez street.jpg
Sultan of Egypt and Syria
PredecessorAs-Salih Hajji (1x), As-Salih Hajji (2x)
SuccessorAs-Salih Hajji (1x), An-Nasir Faraj (2x)
Bornc. 1336
Died20 June 1399

Al-Malik Az-Zahir Sayf ad-Din Barquq (Arabic: ‎) (ruled 1382-1389 and 1390-1399) was born in Circassia. He was the first Sultan of the Mamluk Burji dynasty of Egypt.

The name Barquq means "plum" in Arabic, and was taken by Barquq on his arrival in Egypt.[1]

Early life

Barquq was of Circassian origin,[2] and was acquired as a slave and became a mamluk in the household of Yalbugha al-Umari in approximately 1363-64 (or 764 on the Islamic calendar).[3] During the reign of Sultan al-Mansur Ali, when Barquq held considerable influence in the Mamluk state, he brought his father Anas to Egypt in March 1381. Anas converted to Islam and became the first father of a first-generation mamluk to be mentioned by the Mamluk era sources because of his Muslim faith; the fathers of first generation mamluks were typically non-Muslims. Anas was promoted to the rank of emir of one hundred (the highest Mamluk military rank) and was known for his piety, kindness and charitable acts. He died ten months after his arrival to Egypt.[4]

Rise to power

Since 1341, the Mamluk empire had been ruled by the descendants of al-Nasir Muhammad. However, none of them were strong enough to exert effective control. Many of the rulers were minors at the time of their accession, and would act as puppets for one or another competing Mamluk faction.

This happened in 1377, when the sultan al-Ashraf Sha'ban, who had ruled in his own stead since 1366, was overthrown and killed. The rebelling Mamluks replaced him on the throne with his seven-year-old son. When that puppet sultan died, he was replaced by the younger brother.

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.[5]

First reign (1382-1389)

Barquq placed many of his own family in positions of power to the detriment of fellow Mamluks, attempting to solidify his position. He sponsored the construction of the Madrasa-Khanqa of Sultan Barquq in the center of Cairo. Completed in 1386, it was a pious foundation designed to serve as both a khanqah and a madrasa. It is one of the three dominant Islamic monuments clustered on the street Bayn al-Qasrayn in Fatimid Cairo. Although often called the Mausoleum of Barquq, only his daughter is buried there.[6]

Barquq ended the public holiday in Egypt celebrating the Coptic New Year Nayrouz.[1]

The central caravanserai of the famous Cairo souk Khan El-Khalili was founded in the first year of his first reign, though it was founded by his emir, Djaharks el-Khalili.


Early on, the Zahiri Revolt threatened to overthrow Barquq, though the conspiracy was discovered before any agitators could mobilize. The year 1389 saw the revolt of two Mamluk governors from the northern end of the empire, Mintash, governor of Malatya, and Yalbogha al-Nasiri, governor of Aleppo (not to be confused with Yalbogha al-`Umari). After securing Syria they marched toward Cairo. Barquq attempted to escape, but was captured and sent to al-Karak. Meanwhile, the two governors restored Hajji to the throne, who now took the reign name al-Mansur. Fighting developed among the Mamluk factions in Cairo, and Barquq's supporters overcame the rebels. Barquq returned to Cairo in February 1390.[5]

Second reign (1390-1399)

Mamluk Barquq copper fals Damascus 1382 1389, in the British Museum. Note the Fleur-de-lis motif[7]

During Barquq's second reign he succeeded in replacing almost all governors and senior officials with members of his own household. Barquq became an enemy of the Mongol warlord Timur after Timur's invasion of Baghdad in 1393, and his intention to invade Syria. Hence, he joined an alliance with the Ottoman Empire after 1393.[8]

Barquq died in June 1399 (Shawwal 801H in the Islamic Calendar) and was succeeded by his son Nasir-ad-Din Faraj. He was buried in a mausoleum built by Faraj in Cairo's Northern Cemetery.


Sultan Barquq's reign was also marked by trade with other contemporaneous polities. Excavations in the late 1800s and early 1900s in modern-day northwestern Somalia unearthed, among other things, coins identified as having been derived from Barquq. All of the pieces had been struck in either Cairo or Damascus.[9] Most of these finds are associated with the medieval Sultanate of Adal.[10] They were sent to the British Museum in London for preservation shortly after their discovery.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Margoliouth, 1907, pp. 171-172
  2. ^ [1], p. 290, at Google Books
  3. ^ Holt, 2014, p. 127
  4. ^ Sharon, 2013, p. 163
  5. ^ a b Holt, 2014, p. 128
  6. ^ Williams, 2002, pp. 170-172
  7. ^ Mayer, 1933, pp. 2 n 2, 22, 24
  8. ^ The Mamluks, Ivan Hrbek, The Cambridge history of Africa: From c. 1600 to c. 1790, Vol. III, Ed. Roland Oliver, (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 54.
  9. ^ University of Ghana, Institute of African Studies (1966). Research review, Volumes 3-4. The Institute. p. 67. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ Bernard Samuel Myers, ed., Encyclopedia of World Art, Volume 13, (McGraw-Hill: 1959), p.xcii.
  11. ^ Royal Geographical Society (Great Britain), The Geographical Journal, Volume 87, (Royal Geographical Society: 1936), p.301.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Hajji II
Mamluk Sultan of Egypt
Succeeded by
Hajji II
Preceded by
Hajji II
Mamluk Sultan of Egypt
Succeeded by

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