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How Many Miles to Babylon?Travels and Adventures to Egypt and Beyond, From 1300 to 1640$
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Anne Wolff

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780853236580

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846313295

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The Mamluk Rulers of Egypt

The Mamluk Rulers of Egypt

(p.14) Chapter 1 The Mamluk Rulers of Egypt
How Many Miles to Babylon?
Liverpool University Press

The Mamluks were a military elite who came from the Eurasian steppes to settle in Egypt. Their military prowess, which was instrumental in defeating the Mongols and Christian invaders, earned them respect. When Europeans arrived in Egypt in the fourteenth century, the Mamluk slave sultans were already well established as rulers of Syria and Egypt in the Cairo citadel, a fortress built during the time of Saladin. From 1250 to 1390, they consisted primarily of the Bahris, who were then succeeded by the Burjis (or Circassians until 1517). The Mamluk regime was an autocratic government of former Christian or Mongol slaves who had been bought by merchants as adolescents for existing Egyptian Mamluks. At the end of the fifteenth century, traditional military training in the Mamluk sultanate declined, while firearms, successfully used by the Ottoman Turks, began to proliferate. The Mamluks refused to embrace the new technology and continued to rely on their old military skills based on cavalry, resulting in their defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during a battle in 1517.

Keywords:   Mamluks, Egypt, Ottoman Turks, sultans, Syria, Bahris, Saladin, Burjis, slaves, firearms

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