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The Bahri dynasty or Bahriyya Mamluks (al-Mamalik al-Bahariyya المماليك البحرية ) was a Mamluk dynasty of mostly Kipchak Turkic origin that ruled Egyptmarker from 1250 to 1382 when they were succeeded by the Burji dynasty, another group of Mamluks. Their name means 'of the sea', referring to the location of their original residence on Al-Rodah Island in the Nile (Bahr al-Nil) in Cairomarker at the castle of Al-Rodah which was built by the Ayyubid Sultan as-Salih Ayyub


The Mamluks formed by chance one of the most powerful and wealthiest empire of the time that lasted for more than 250 years from 1250 to 1517. In 1250, when the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub died, the Mamluks who were owned by him murdered his son and heir Turanshah, and Shajar al-Durr the widow of as-Salih became the Sultana of Egypt then she married the Atabeg (commander in chief) Emir Aybak and abdicated and Aybak became the Sultan (ruled 1250 - 1257). The Mamluks consolidated their power in ten years and eventually established the Bahri dynasty. They were helped by the Mongols' sack of Baghdadmarker in 1258, which effectively destroyed the Abbasid caliphate. Cairomarker became more prominent as a result and remained a Mamluk capital thereafter. The descendants of the dynasty are currently said to be under hiding somewhere in India.

A Mamluk cavalryman.

The Mamluks were power cavalry warriors mixing the practices of the Turkic steppe peoples from which they were drawn and the organizational and technological sophistication of the Egyptians and Arabs. In 1260 the Mamluks defeated a Mongol army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in modern-day Israelmarker and eventually forced the invaders to retreat to the area of modern-day Iraqmarker. The defeat of the Mongols at the hands of the Mamluks enhanced the position of the Mamluks in the southern Mediterranean basin. Baibars, one of the leaders at the battle, became the new Sultan after the assassination of Sultan Qutuz on the way home.

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 Egyptmarker. In 1261 , after he became a Sultan, he established a puppet Abbasid caliphate in Cairomarker, and the Mamluks fought the remnants of the Crusader states in Palestine until they finally captured Acremarker in 1291. Many Tatars settled in Egypt and were employed by Baibars. He defeated the Mongols at the battle of Elbistan and sent the Abbasid Caliph with only 250 men to attempted to retake Baghdad, but was unsuccessful. In 1266 he devastated Cilician Armenia and in 1268 he recaptured Antiochmarker from the Crusaders. In addition, he fought the Seljuks, and Hashshashin; he also extended Muslim power into Nubia 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, and also defeated another Mongol invasion in 1281 that was led by Abaqa outside Homsmarker. After the Mongol threat passed he recaptured Tripolimarker from the Crusaders in 1289. His son Khalil captured Acremarker, the last Crusader city, in 1291.

Golden Horde's Domains in 1389

The Mongols renewed their invasion in 1299, but were again defeated in 1303. The Egyptian Mamluk Sultans entered into relations with the Golden Horde who converted to Islam and established a peace pact with the Mongols 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 Bulgarianmarker, Indianmarker, and Abyssinianmarker potentates, as well as the pope, the king of Aragon and the king of France. Al-Nasir Muhammad organized the re-digging of a canal in 1311 which connected Alexandriamarker with the Nile. He died in 1341, and the constant changes of sultan that followed led to great disorder in the provinces; meanwhile, in 1349 , during Al-Nasir Muhammad first reign, Egypt and the Levant were visited by the Black Death, which is said to have carried off many lives of the inhabitants.

In 1382 the last Bahri Sultan al-Salih Salah Zein al-Din Hajji was dethroned and the Sultanate was taken over by the Circassian Emir Barquq; Barquq was proclaimed a sultan, ending the Bahri dynasty. He was expelled in 1389 but returned to power in 1390, setting up the Burji dynasty.

List of Bahri Sultans


See also


  • 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 977-241-175X
  • 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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