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Stephen Cory

sixth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, seized power in 1286 after his father, Abu Yusuf Yaʿqub, had consolidated Marinid authority throughout Morocco. With this seemingly secure base, ʿAbu Yaʿqub spent most of his reign engaging in external battles. The Moroccan sultan was involved in the numerous struggles of southern Spain for several years, seeking to strengthen the Marinid position in that key area. In the final twelve years of his reign, ʿAbu Yaʿqub sought to expand Marinid rule throughout the Maghreb by bringing down the neighboring Zayyanid dynasty, which had often been a thorn in the side of earlier Marinid sultans. Although he initially made some progress on these two fronts, in neither case was ʿAbu Yaʿqub fully able to achieve his aims.

Like his father before him ʿAbu Yaʿqub spent his first two years as sultan putting down revolts within Morocco His main opponents were family members who ...

Article

fifth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, took over from his brother, Abu Yahya, in October 1258 Abu Yahya brought the Marinids to the brink of controlling all of Morocco and eliminating the Almohad caliphate which had ruled over much of North Africa for the previous 150 years During the twenty eight years of his reign Abu Yusuf Yaʿqub finished the job begun by his predecessor and established Marinid predominance throughout Morocco However he was unable to reestablish Moroccan authority either in the central and eastern Maghreb or over Islamic Spain as the Almohads had done Like his brother Abu Yusuf accepted the nominal sovereignty of the Hafsids of Tunis in order to establish religious legitimacy for ruling Morocco The Hafsids claimed to be the true successors of the Almohads and to have remained faithful to the original doctrines of Almohad founder Ibn Tumart Since the Hafsids were far ...

Article

tenth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, came to power in the aftermath of the long and largely peaceful reign of his father, Abu Saʿid Uthman (r. 1310–1331). The greatest builder of the Marinids, Abu al-Hasan constructed mosques in Fez and Tlemcen, as well as madrasas in numerous Moroccan cities and a hospital in Fez. The accomplishments of his reign are chronicled in a history written by his secretary, Ibn Marzuq, making Abu al-Hasan the best known of the Marinid sultans.

With Marinid power firmly established in Morocco Abu al Hasan sought to expand the dynasty s influence first in southern Spain and then throughout the Maghreb His attempt to reconstitute the former Almohad Empire though seemingly successful at first proved to be disastrous in the long run Abu al Hasan s reign ended with his eastern possessions in rebellion and his son Abu ʿInan usurping his power in ...

Article

Stephen Cory

eleventh sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, claimed the sultanate by rebelling against his father, Abu al-Hasan ʿAli, in 1348 while the latter was fighting a rebellion in Tunisia. Reassembling his forces in Algiers, Abu al-Hasan faced off against a larger army led by Abu ʿInan in 1349. Following a crushing defeat, Abu al-Hasan retreated to the desert town of Sijilmasa, where he was welcomed by the tribal leader Ouenzemmar. But his ally soon abandoned him when Abu ʿInan’s troops descended upon Sijilmasa, so Abu al-Hasan fled to Marrakech. There, he recruited supporters from among Masmouda Berbers and local Arabs. In May 1350 the army of Abu al Hasan battled the forces of Abu ʿInan near the Umm al Rabia River where Abu ʿInan was again victorious After being rescued by one of his soldiers Abu al Hasan was provided refuge among the Hintata peoples of the High ...

Article

fourth sultan of the Moroccan Marinid dynasty, took over leadership in the aftermath of a significant military defeat in 1244 when his predecessor Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Haqq was killed. Ibn Khaldun states that Abu Yahya divided Morocco between the Marinid clans, assigning each a specific portion of land in perpetuity, even before he conquered the country. With this motivation, the leading families of the Marinid alliance increased the number of troops that they contributed to the army, thus augmenting their forces for the struggle against the Almohads, the de jure rulers over Morocco.

The Almohads had allied with the Banu Asker a dissident Marinid clan along with Yaghmurasan chief of the Banu ʿAbd al Wad rulers of Tlemcen But at a critical moment these forces switched sides and joined the Marinid army against the Almohads who were then defeated in battle The Banu Asker then submitted to Abu Yahya while ...

Article

Aybak  

Allen J. Fromherz

first Mamluk Sultan of Egypt in the Bahri line of Mamluks, or slave rulers. His name is also given as Al Malik al Mu’izz Izz al Din. Although he ruled for a short seven years from 1250 to 1257, Aybak’s rule built the system of military slave rulership that characterized government in Egypt for centuries. Originally known as Turkmani, he spoke Turkish as his native tongue. He had been bought from the region of Turkish-speaking tribes hundreds of miles form Cairo. Slave soldiers from these lands were favored over conscripted troops from Egypt because of their distance from local political and tribal obligations.

Creating a disciplined army that was expressly subject to the Sultan however resulted in a military that knew no loyalties except its own when the Sultan fell out of power It was almost inevitable that these foreign regiments would eventually not only serve the ruler but ...

Article

Barquq  

Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian sultan, was the first of a new dynasty of Mamluks or “slave” sultans of Egypt. Purchased in Crimea, Barquq, whose full name was al-Malik al-Zahir Sayf al-Din Barquq, was a Circassian. The previous series of Mamluks, starting with Baybars, were Kipchak Turks. Bought as a slave soldier, Barquq quickly rose through the ranks of the Burji regiment of soldier slaves. Unlike the Bahri regiment that supplied previous sultans, the Burji regiment had their barracks near the dungeons (burj of the citadel in Cairo It appears that Barquq s father a man of some stature named Anas may have willingly given his son up for sale In fact after Barquq came to power he invited his father to come to Cairo and join his court Indeed Anas would have been pleased to learn that his son was first purchased by the powerful marshal of the army Yalbogha al ...

Article

Allen J. Fromherz

fourth of the Bahri dynasty of Mamluk sultans of Egypt, was born a slave. His full name was al-Malik al-Zahir Rukn al-Din al-Salihi al-Bundukdari. Although his date of birth is uncertain, most scholars agree he was born around 1233 far away from Egypt in the steppes of the Kipchak Turkish nomads. Before being purchased by the sultan, he took the name of his first immediate master, a relatively minor character named Aydakin Bundukdar. After demonstrating exceptional qualities as a youngster, Baybars was purchased by the Ayyubid sultan and successor to Saladin, Malik Salih. He started as only one of many fellow Kipchak slaves who served the Ayyubids. In fact, there were so many Kipchak soldiers in Egypt that it stimulated the creation of Kipchak-Arabic dictionaries such as the thirteenth-century Codex Cumanicus Soon after being purchased by Malik Salih he would have been subjected to the code of strict military ...

Article

Kurt J. Werthmuller

sultan of the Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt and Syria during the time of the Fifth and Sixth Crusades (r. 1218–1238), was born in Syria as Muhammad Ibn al-ʿAdil. He was the son of the sultan al-Malik al-ʿAdil I (r. 1200–1218), nephew of the famed Muslim conqueror Saladin, and father of his immediate successors al-Adil II Abu Bakr (r. 1238–1240) and al-Salih Nijm al-Din Ayyub (r. 1240–1249). While his early life remains obscure, al-Malik al-Kamil (an honorific title meaning “the perfect king”) entered public life in 1208 when his father al Malik al ʿAdil then sultan of the Ayyubid lands appointed him to serve as governor of Egypt This post clearly made a tremendous impact on the young prince who quickly completed work on Saladin s citadel which loomed above Cairo and moved his family into residence there While the interests of most of the Ayyubid family revolved around ...

Article

Ness Creighton

ninth Mamluk sultan of Egypt, was born in Cairo at Qalʿat al-Jabal to a mother of Mongol origin. He was the youngest son of Sultan Qalawun. He is also known as al-Nasir Muhammad (al-Malik al-Nasir Nasir al-Din Muhammad ben Qalawun). One of his brothers would come to be Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil, who would reign from 1290 until his assassination in December 1293 Upon his brother s death al Nasir was installed as sultan while still a child with Zayn ad Din Kitbugha as regent and Emir Sanjar al Shujaʿi as vizier As such al Nasir was only nominally considered the ruler with Kitbugha and al Shujaʿi acting as the major political forces and rulers of Egypt during this time This was complicated by the fact that the two men were fierce rivals and their conflict would lead eventually to the Burji Mamluks with whom al Shujaʿi was allied planning ...

Article

Qalawun  

Allen J. Fromherz

, sultan of Egypt (r. 1279–1290), was the fifth of the Mamluk sultans of Egypt and Syria. His full name was Al-Malik Al-Mansur Sayf al Din Qalawun al Alfi. Known for his military campaigns, he inherited many of the policies of his predecessor Baybars I.

Like most Mamluk Sultans, Qalawun was purchased as a slave in a region north of the Black Sea. He was sold to the Mamluk, or slave soldier, named al-Saki, for one thousand dinars, hence his sobriquet “al-Alfi,” or “one (purchased for) a thousand” in Arabic. After passing through several owners and completing his military training, Qalawun was manumitted and given the title of amir, or prince. He witnessed the overthrow of the Ayyubid dynasty after the death of Turan Shah in 1249 Once the servants of the Ayyubids the Mamluks took control in the name of order and stability Aybak the first Mamluk ...

Article

Saladin  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

ruler and founder of the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria and famed Muslim conqueror who decimated the Crusader Army of Jerusalem and recaptured the city of Jerusalem in 1187, was born in Tikrit, Iraq. Also known as Salah al-Din, his personal name was Yusuf al-Malik al-Nasir Ibn Ayyub. He was the younger son of the Kurdish governor Ayyub Ibn Shadi, in the service of Imad al-Din Zangi, the first Muslim commanders to begin the long process of turning back some of the victories of the First Crusade; Ayyub presided over the regions of Tikrit and Baalbek and eventually the prestigious city of Damascus in 1146, where Saladin spent much of his childhood and for which he retained a lifelong affection.

We know relatively little of Saladin s youth largely because his various biographers and contemporary chroniclers were only interested in his renowned exploits as a general and ...

Article

Shauna Huffaker

ruler and sultana of medieval Egypt, was a Turkoman slave imported to Egypt at an unknown date and age. Shajarat al-Durr would briefly succeed her husband as ruler of Egypt because of her own political agility combined with the disarray of the fading Ayyubid dynasty and fortuitous deaths and assassinations of other key competitors for power. She came to be part of the household of the Ayyubid sultan al-Salih Ayyub, who reigned from 1238 to 1249 and rose to become his favorite concubine and the mother of his son al Khalil Medieval Egyptian historians record that during the sultan s life Sharajat al Durr s influence was not restricted to family concerns and that the sultan consulted her on affairs of state She bore the sultan a son after which he married her significantly elevating her status and power Al Salih was away in Syria and already in ill ...

Article

Stephen Cory

Almoravid sultan. Although technically not the last Almoravid sultan (his brother Ishaq survived him as sultan for a couple of years), his death functionally brought an end to the Almoravid sultanate in 1145. A capable leader, both administratively and militarily, Tashfin became sultan when the Almoravid decline was already substantially advanced. Despite his best efforts, Tashfin was unable to halt the collapse of the Almoravid regime.

Tashfin was the son of ʿAli ibn Yusuf the second Almoravid sultan The Almoravid movement had arisen in the Saharan desert under the inspiration of the religious teacher ʿAbd Allah ibn Yasin who had been recruited to teach orthodox Islam to the Sanhaja Berbers in the early eleventh century Under the stern direction of Ibn Yasin the Sanhaja were molded into an efficient fighting force that burst forth from the desert fired by zeal to enforce a strict version of Maliki Islam upon ...

Article

Stephen Cory

was founder of the Zanata Berber Zayyanid dynasty and leader of the Banu ʿAbd al-Wad people, which ruled over portions of modern Algeria from the mid-thirteenth to the early sixteenth centuries. Although not as well known as their cousins, the Marinids, who ruled Morocco during roughly the same time period, the Banu ʿAbd al-Wad built a sophisticated capital in Tlemcen, whose cultural life, scholarship, and architecture are said to have rivaled that of the Marinid capital in Fez.

Yaghmurasan’s political fortunes arose as Almohad power declined in the central Maghreb. Following their 1212 defeat at Las Navas de Tolosa in southern Spain the Almohads began to lose control over their North African empire As central governance weakened the Almohads were replaced by regional Berber allies the Almohads were Berbers as well who were increasingly able to exercise independent authority the Hafsids in Ifriqiya present day Tunisia the Marinids in ...