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11 - The regime of the Circassian Mamlūks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

Carl F. Petry
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Illinois
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Summary

The regime of the Circassian Mamlūks, or the “state of the Circassians” as contemporaries called it to distinguish it from the state of the Turks, formed a bridge between Egypt’s most brilliant medieval period and the beginning of the sixteenth century which we, in Europe, see as the beginning of modern times. The use of the ethnic criterion to designate this period shows that the change in the origin of the dominant class had been felt to be a major factor that had to be taken into account in explaining the political evolution. It might also be thought that this change did not explain every aspect of an ongoing process, some results of which were maintained under the Ottoman administration.

The general development

First we shall consider the major phases of this lengthy period (1382–1517), summarizing only briefly the military confrontations and international relations which, while not the subject of this chapter, cannot be overlooked when interpreting internal political changes. Four major phases of varying length are apparent.

This first period saw the restoration of the Mamlūk state under the amīr al–Malik al-Zāhir Barqūq (1382–1389). Barqūq, who contrived to impose his exclusive authority from 1378, under the sultanate of the two sons of al–Malik al–Ashraf Sha‘bān (al–Malik al–Mansūr ‘Alī and then al–Malik al–Sālih Hajjī, whose atābak he was and whose mother he had married) acceded to the sultanate as Qalāwūn had done in former times. Save for a break when he would have to accept the return to the throne of his ousted ward (in 1389–90), he would wield power until his death in 1399.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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