Who or what exactly were the Mamluks

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Mamluks were originally military slaves in some Muslim domains from which a ruling dynasty later developed.

Among other things, the Mamluks succeeded in 1250 AD. to gain rulership in Egypt and ten years later to extend it to Shaam. Thereafter, the term was used for several ruling dynasties that were descended from the Mamluks but were mostly not slaves themselves. 1517 AD the Egyptian Mamluks were subdued by the Ottomans, but continued to rule Egypt until the battle of the pyramids.

The Arabic word "mamluk" goes back to the term "king" [malik] and translated would mean "king". So it is not a question of simple slaves, but of royal slaves, which were used exclusively for military service and who often sold themselves voluntarily.

The first slaves mostly from Turkic peoples - "Mamluks" - were used by Abbasids in the 9th century AD. used. Musta'sim in particular built a bodyguard out of slaves. The Samanids in Transoxania controlled the trade in warrior slaves and had developed their own training system. However, they were replaced in 1005 by a slave dynasty (Ghaznavids).

Saladin's bodyguard also consisted of soldiers who were mostly bought in childhood and adolescence on the markets for slaves in northern Anatolia or the Caucasus and then prepared for their service through training to become horsemen and an Islamic education. Most of them were voluntarily devoted to the ruler. They could even gain freedom and then in turn acquire mamluks and bind them to themselves.

After the death of the Sultan of the Ayyubids al-Salih in 1249 and the murder of his son Turan Shah, the Mamluk general Aybak seized power over Egypt together with the sultan's widow, Sajjar ad-Dur, whom he married. Aybak, who ruled as al-Malik al-Muizz from 1250 to 1257, founded the Egyptian Mamluk state and the Bahri-Mamluk dynasty.

After Aybak's death, the Mamluks had to defend themselves against the threat of the Mongolian Il-Chane, who conquered Baghdad in 1258 and Shaam in 1260. But they could be beaten by the Mamluks under Qutuz and Baibars at Ain Galut. This made the Mamluk Empire in Egypt the only country in the Middle East that could assert itself against the Mongols.

Baibars (1260-1277) took advantage of the victory to gain power in Egypt and also consolidated his rule in Sham. In 1261, Baibars installed an Abbasid caliph in Cairo, who was under his control, to legitimize his own rule. Despite all the successes, Baibars did not succeed in securing the successor to his son Berke Qan (1277-1279). This was overthrown in 1279 by Qalawun, the founder of the Bakri dynasty.

The Burgiyya dynasty (1382-1517 AD) was also able to initially successfully defend the borders of the Mamluk Empire. But Egypt got increasingly into a severe economic crisis due to the high tax burdens of wars, bad harvests, famines and the population decline triggered by the plague epidemics. Since the Mamluks also resisted taking over the "dishonorable" firearms, the empire was finally in 1516/1517 AD. conquered by the Ottomans who incorporated it into their empire. The rule system of the Mamluks continued under Ottoman rule.

From 1630 AD Mamluks ousted the Janissaries and gradually came back to power. However, the factions of the Mamluks fought bitterly among themselves. 1730 AD the survivors initially united. Then in 1768 Ali Bey rose up in revolt and even invaded Sham as a self-appointed sultan. He was beaten by his own son-in-law, but after his death various Mamluken factions again fought for power. Finally, the allied Mamluken emirs Murad Bey and Ibrahim Bey succeeded in ultimately ousting the Mamluken faction around Ismail Bey, allied with the Ottomans, from power.

Napoleon's campaign in Egypt (1798) and the rule of Muhammad Ali, who murdered around 500 Mamluks in a massacre in Cairo in 1811 and killed thousands more all over Egypt, ended the rule of the Mamluks.

A small part is said to have escaped to Sudan and initially served the local rulers as mercenaries, but then seized power there in 1818. At least this very argument offered Egypt a pretext for invading or conquering Sudan in 1820.

But despite their apparent annihilation, after the death of Muhammad Ali and his first successors, especially after the Egyptian-Ottoman Compromise in 1867, the influence of the Circassians and Ottomans increased again Key positions in the state apparatus. The uprising of the Egyptian military under Urabi Pasha in 1881, suppressed by the British, was also directed against this Ottoman-Circassian competition.

In addition, the Ghaznavids were a Mamluk dynasty in Transoxania, later also in Afghanistan and India. The dynasty founded by Ghurids, the successors of the Ghaznavids, who died in 1206 AD. over India the Sultanate of Delhi established and until 1526 AD. existed, is also known as the Mamluk dynasty.

Ruler of the Mamluks

The Bahri Dynasty in Egypt