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warrior-slaves (made up of Turkomans, Georgians, Circassians, and other Caucasian peoples in Egypt), which formed the guard for the rulers of the Ayyubid dynasty (1171-1250). In 1250 the command elite of the Mamelukes overthrew the Ayyubites and seized power. There were two Mameluke dynasties—the Bahrites (primarily of Turkoman origin; reigned from 1250 to 1390) and the Burjites (primarily from Caucasia; reigned from 1390 to 1517).
The Mamelukes (whose numbers varied from 9,000 to 12,000) were subordinate to 24 beys—important feudal lords who owned the best lands and state-controlled craft enterprises and received the income from customs houses. Under the Mamelukes in the 13th and 14th centuries the system of government was reorganized, the irrigation system was improved, and there was a cultural upsurge. The Mamelukes preserved the military and feudal-estate system of their predecessors.
In the 13th century the Mamelukes routed the Mongols (in a battle near Ayn Jalut on Sept. 3, 1260), pushed the Crusaders out of Palestine and Syria (1268), and inflicted a resounding defeat on the Ismaili Assassins (1273). The most notable Mameluke sultans were Aibak (reigned 1250-57), Baybars I (1260-77), Qalaun (1279 or 1280-90), Barsbay (1422-38), and Ghuri (1501-16).
In 1516-17 the troops of the Turkish sultan Selim I conquered Syria, Egypt, and Palestine, putting an end to Mameluke supremacy. After the Turkish conquest, part of the land in Egypt was left to the Mameluke feudal lords, who were obligated to pay tribute to the Turkish pasha in Cairo. The weakening of the Ottoman Empire that began at the end of the 17th century permitted the Mamelukes to reassert their power on a de facto basis. The Mamelukes were not deprived of their lands until 1808, during the rule of the Egyptian pasha Muhammad Ali (reigned 1805-48); in 1811 the Mameluke beys were executed.
REFERENCESIstoriia stran zarubezhnoi Azii v srednie veka. Moscow, 1970. Chapter 23.
Pevzner, S. B. “Ikta v Egipte v kontse XIII-XIV vv.” In the collection Pamiati akademika I. Iu. Krachkovskogo. Leningrad, 1958.
Semenova, L. A. Salakh ad-din i mamliuki v Egipte. Moscow, 1966.
Poliak, A. N. Feudalism in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the Lebanon, 1250-1900. London, 1939.
Darrag, A. L’Egypte: Sous le regne de Barsbey. Damascus, 1961.
L. A. SEMENOVA