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The Mameluke-Ilkhanate war

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Mameluke-Ilkhanate war
    Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 03:49

Hello To You All

 

I wanted to write this post a long time ago however, the length of it and the lack of some sources in the beginning discouraged me. But since this is an important part of the world and the events of those years shaped things to come, writing about them is very important to clarify several misconceptions.

 

Preludue

 

The Mongols under Genghis Khan never had any intention, as far as we know from history books, of invading Muslim territories. But the incident that happened in Ortar opened the gates of hell on the Islamic world. After the fall of the Khwarezmids in their Power base of Central Asia their troops dispersed in other places in the Islamic world wrecking havoc where ever they went. Finally, they settled in Egypt where there influence and training method were the basis for the mamelukes, in a word, they established them. The Abbasid Caliphs were initially supportive of the Mongols and some historians erroneously say that it was the Caliph AN-Nasir (1158-1225) was the one who encouraged the Mongols to attack the Khwarezmids but this is not true. The alliance soon fell apart after Genghis death and his sons Tolui and Ogedei tried but with no success to invade Iraq and they were defeated by the very strong Abbasid Army lead by Jalal Uddin Al Dewedar the young and Caliph Al-Mustansirs (An-Nasir grandson) brother known as Al-Khafaji in 1238 AD. The death of Al-Mustansir in 1242 lead to a dispute among the ruling class about the one to come after him, the Sunni party (led by the Dewedar and Al-Sherani, a highly placed civil servant) chose Al-Mustasim who though a son of a concubine was the Caliphs first born while the Shiite party (led by the military commanders) wanted Al-Khafaji, the son of a free Arab women that belong the powerful Khafajah tribe in Iraq and the late caliphs brother. The Sunnis prevailed but the Caliph chose a Shiite (ibn Al-Alqami) as his Vizier. During the reign of Al-Mustasim the Army was neglected and the recruitment process became corrupt and finally when Hulegu came and had the intention of destroying the Caliphate, under the advice of Al-Alqami and consent of the Sunni Party the 100 000 strong Army as well as the reserve of 150 000 men was disbanded and only the Caliph guards (10 000) and the auxiliaries (20 000) were left. Baghdad soon fell after a short siege and though all evidence say that Al-Alqami was innocent from causing the fall of the Abbasids nevertheless he switched allegiance to the Mongols after the fall of the Caliphate.

 

The situation in Syria during those years was very bad, the sons and nephews of Saladin became independent from one another and then enemies to each other and every major city had its own dynasty, the largest were those of Mosul, Irbil, Aleppo, Hama, Hims as well as many others. Egypt was under the rule of the Mameluke military commanders who bribed themselves into office. Immediately, and before summer came, Hulegu left to conquer the rest of Islamic territories. He sacked Mosul again, besieged Mardin, besieged Amed (todays Diyarbakir) and sacked it as well as Maras, Aleppo and reached in 1259 to Damascus and took it peacefully. During those conquests he got some Ayubid princes to join him as allies against their own people. By that time the only place unconquered was Palestine and Egypt.

 

Hostilities Begin

 

The Mamelukes at that time were in a bitter conflict on who becomes the sultan. After the assassination of Turan Shah by Shajarat Al-Durr, his fathers widow, through her later husband Izz Addin Aibek (عز الدين ايبك) that was in1250. By 1259, things were so bad that one of the leader, a very religious Prince called Al-Muzaffar Qutz (المظفر قطز) took things into his hands lead a coup dtate on Al-Mansur the son of the Aibek. After that he made some arrests for leading mameluke princes as well as high public officials that were known for their corruption. He implemented strict religious policies that were to be emulated afterwards by Baibars and employed an able vizier that he gave full administrative powers. After stabilizing his rule, he sent Baibars (بيبرس) to relieve the ruler of Damascus but he failed to do so although he gained vital experience fighting the Mongols that will help him make the strategy in Ain Jalut. After the fall of Damascus Hulegu left Syria and left 3 Tumens under two Noyans, Kitubqa in Aleppo who was also the overlord and Pedra in Damascus as well as An-Nasir, the king of Hims who was an ally as well as the Cilician Armenians. With Hulegu forced to go to Qaraquram with most of the army the task of finishing the Mameluke was left to Kituqa who moved to Damascus about 4 month after taking it and 4 month before its liberation and started an oppressive policy towards muslims as well as coordinating military operations. Hulegu already sent envoys to the Mamelukes (4 men and a kid) asking them for submission, the answer that Qutz and supported by the powerful King maker Baibar was to execute the messengers in a brutal way and on the cheers of the crowds hanged their heads in Bab Zewailah which was the gate usually used to execute important people (the ottomans Hanged Tuman bay Three times their before he died). He called on the princes to show up especially the Princes of 100 the principle commanders of the Mamelukes, though popularly supported the princes refrained from participating in the campaign so he with the support of scholars publicly arrested some of the most important princes and sold them in a wild demonstration to the crowds because although independent they were still technically slaves owned by the state. After additional trouble the entire Mameluke army mobilized and moved in Ramadan towards Syria. Angered with the execution of the messengers Kitubqa called for all the Mongols that were in Syria to gather for war and asked the Armenian, Georgian and Muslim allies to supply troops and moved on to meet the mamelukes in Palestine.

 

The First Stage of the War

 

After taking Gaza, Qutz agreed with the crusaders that they stay neutral and disobey orders from Europe about alliance with the Mongols. He then sent an expeditionary force under Baibars to engage the Mongols and draw them into battle. Baibars defeated Pedra for the second time after Gaza forcing Kitubqa to attack against the advice of the Ayyubid princes with him. After gathering 20 000 mongols and 10 000 allies he went for Palestine. Qutz knew about his movement in the same day thanks the powerful intelligence force he had, from the 60 000 men that he had he set out with roughly 36 000. The place was chosen at Ain Jalut or Springs of Goliath and the battle was fought in the 3-4 of September 1260 at both Ain Jalut and then at Baysan. After the rout in which Kitubqa died Pedra took command, a general revolt in Damascus and Aleppo killed all the mongol garrisons and seeing that the only place for him was his allies the Armenians he went towards them with the remnants of the Mongol Army from the Battle as well as the Mongol garrisons of the cities that did not revolt. The total number was about 6000-8000 men and on their way; the people of the steppes met the people of the desert for the first time. Since the beginning of hostilities, Arabs never had direct contact with the Mongols but at al-Rastan on the way to Aleppo they met 1400 tribesmen from the Qahtani tribe of Al-Ali which still lives in that area under prince Zamil, the rout was complete non of the Mongols escaped death or enslavement except Pedra, this was in late December of 1260. Before that, the Mamelukes took Damascus on the 6th or 7th of September. Qutz directed the campaign to regain control over all Syria and southern Turkey and returned to Egypt by the 1st of October. Political differences made Baibars kill Qutz on October the 24th, gave him a state funeral and entered Cairo from the Gate of Victory on the 28th of the same month and thus, the first stage ended.

 

Al-Jassas  

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  Quote Ahmed The Fighter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 07:40
Nice article Al-Jassas the Prelude is very good but I have some questions to you to disscus.
1.do you know more information about the Mongols defeat near Arbil in 1238 A.D I checked many sources and I met a big disappointment all sources I checked mentioned it briefly.
2.I think if al-Khafaji took the Caliphate it would be harder for the Mongols to vanquish the Caliphate like they did what you think?
3.do you think Ibn Al-Alqami was a traitor and why?
 
you make a great point for me,all western sources as well as some islamic mentioned that Caliph al-Nasir was the main and the decisive factor of encouraging Mongols to attack the Khawarizmid empire but there are other story.
finally I see in you article you gave all credits to Baybers,and you Ignore Qutuz it is unfair to mehe was a great leader and by his determinaton and leadership with the big help of Baybers the Mamlukes defeated the Mongols.
 
regards.


Edited by Ahmed The Fighter - 29-Aug-2007 at 07:48
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 09:40
Hello Ahmed
 
Well, about the battle of Takrit, unfortunatly no sources mention anything specific other than it was a big victory tha kicked the Mongols out of present day Iraq until the sack happened.
 
For the Khafaji, I am certain of that, even though he was almost defenitely pro Shiite, all sunni historian even those that hate shiites agree he was the best choice because of his strength and military prowess.
 
finally, the question of Al-Alqami's real allegiance is quite tricky and honest to you, the man's actions during and after the sack are not encouraging to prove his innocence.
 
Hulegu was going to attack Baghdad and sack it either Al-Alqami asked him or not, Mongke gave strict orders and he had to obey. Also, non of the principal Persian historians, like Al-Juwainy (جويني) or Rashid Addin (رشيد الدين فضل الله), who were both Sunni and officials with Hulegu said anything (at least to my knowledge) about such thing and this is why I say he was innocent from bringing the Mongols and I hope that our Iranian friends who have access to Farsi books could tell us more. The one Muslim that every source agree that he bitterly hated the Caliphate and wanted it destroyed and was the most likely reason for what happened was Nasir Addin Al-Tusi the mathematician and the reason is the Al-Alqami himself was murdered afterwards in dubious circumstances. Only God know the truth.
 
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 09:42
Oh, also I forgot to mention that dewedar's first name is Mujahid Al-din not Jalal and the Al-Tusi was the chief astronimer at Hulegu's court. 
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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 10:09
Nice post Al Jassas. I printed a copy and will take a closer look.
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  Quote DayI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 17:21
some typo's you made (qaraqorum desert and kitbuqa) but overall its a good post, shukran.


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  Quote Ahmed The Fighter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 17:25
 exactly Al-Jassas,no one of the Historian mentioned that in his book as well who accused him after that like Al-Dhahbi were anti-shiites.
I am not here to defend him but as you said there are no clear evidences to prove his crime.
ther is no tricks my friend,thanks for the response.
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  Quote Seko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2007 at 20:45

Good post Al Jassas. You even have some of the palace intrigue down. Perhaps more detail into the initial animosity between Qutuz and Baibars would add to the drama. You also mentioned that at al-Rastan the people of the steppes met the people of the desert for the first time. Perhaps you forgot to remember the Battle of Talas much earlier in 751 in present day Kazakhstan. That was when Abbasids met up with the Tang Chinese. The steppe Turgish, whom had fought with the Arabs before and Chinese steppe allies, Karluks were involved at Talas. The Karluks actually changed sides in battle setting up the Chinese for the fall.

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  Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2007 at 01:16
Great post Al-Jassas,
After taking Gaza, Qutz agreed with the crusaders that they stay neutral and disobey orders from Europe about alliance with the Mongols

As I understand it, the Kingdom of Jerusalam sided with the Mamlukes, and offered to send troops, although Qutuz rejected them. While Antioch fought on the side of the mongols. Each of the Crusader kingdoms had separate policy.

As for meeting with the steppe peoples, Desert Arabs and Mongols had surely met before then, Isa bin Mahana and his Bedouin Tribe fought along side the Mamlukes at Ain Jalut if I remember correctly.
Ignoring that Turks are also Steppe peoples.
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2007 at 03:47
Actually, from the sources I have the pope specifically ordered the crusaders to ally themselves with the Mongols, the terrible sack of crusader strongholds of Tyre and Beirut (both under lordship of the KoJ) was just too much, politically it was expedient to support the Mamelukes who under Qutz will tolerate the existance of the crusaders for a much longer period.
 
As for Bedouins, Isa ibn Muhanna was at the Battle of Hims not Ain Jalut and all the forces in Ain Jalut were mamelukes. There were small confilcts before that battle between bedouins and Mongols but due to the harsh climte the Mongols never went after Bedouin raiders in the desert because it will kill their horses, once under Hulegu, 3000 men were sent to avenge a big raid that took thousands of cattle from the army, no one came back alive to tell the tale.
 
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2007 at 06:25

The Second Stage of the Conflict

 

The defeat at Ain Jalut was not trivial as some might think; it was a catastrophe and the message that Hulegu sent to Kublai after the news came of the defeat in Syria proves that (mentioned in  Abdessalam Fahmis book History of Mongols in Iran). Kublai gave his blessing to Hulegu to establish the Ilkhanate after the battle but the Golden horde in coordination with the Mamelukes who were in yet again internal conflict after the assassination of Qutz attacked Hulegu before he could do anything. When things became calm on the front with Bereke Khan Hulegu began preparations for invasion when he died in 1264. Meanwhile, after Baibars firmly established himself in power he began a military and administrative reform period that continued until he was ready to attack the Mongols. These reforms included rebuilding all major castles, reorganizing the army and intelligence services (news came on a daily basis to the Cairo Castle) and lowering taxes and strengthening the treasury. The lull in the fighting however did not continue and the Mamelukes did not see the Mongols fighting and stay idle, they immediately were in a long and brutal conflict with the crusaders that included taking back most of the Lebanese coast as well as the great castle of Krak de Chevalier amongst other places. The first ally of the Mongols to take the wrath of the Mamelukes was Hethum I the king of Cilicia who had a large contingent of Mongols. Baibars first attacked the Armenian strongholds north of Tripoli under the leadership of Qalawoon. After some fighting here and there a large campaign under the leadership of prince Qalawoon crushed the Armenians and Mongols at Dier Basak (دير بساك) near Antioch on the 24th of Aug 1266 and killed one of Hethums sons and captured another. Adana, Tarsus and Al-Musaysah were sacked and 40 000 people captured and endless heads of cattle so much so that a cow was sold for 2 dirhams (a soldier at that time got 100 dirhams a month) and no body bout it because it was too expensive (Al-Maqrizi). Baibars agreed to free Hethums son after sever penalties and concessions to the Mamelukes giving them wood, Iron and several strategic locations, this was the second campaign against the Mongols and their allies. The first one that I forgot to mention was when Baibars found a descendent of the Abbasids, made him Caliph and sent him to retake Bsghada without giving him any Mameluke soldiers. The campaign was defeated and the Caliph killed. Baibars agreed to put another Caliph on the condition that he remains a puppet to the Mameluke Sultan.

 

The third campaign of this stage was when the Europeans were thinking seriously of a crusade and exchanges between the pope and Abaqa were well known to Baibars who just defeated Edward I of England in his little crusade of 1270-71, at that time the Mongols launched a surprise attack on the Mamelukes coinciding with that crusade that reached as far as northern Hims but refrainded from facing Baibarss huge army. Knowing the Leo III of Cilicia and the Rum Seljuqs would jump into the wagon of any Mongol invasion Baibars launched a preemptive strike on March 1275 against him crushing them with minimal losses and immediately after that he turned towards the mongols who rushed under Abaqa to help their allies only to be crushed at Elbistan then claimed to be Sultan of the Seljuqs, entered Caesarea (Kayseri) mongst other cities and then withdrew to Antioch waiting. Abaqa seeing the rotten dead bodies of the Mongols in Elbistan was so angry that he literally sacked all Muslim cities that he ruled from Kaleka (Erzurum) to Caesarea killing over half a million people but he never attacked Baibars who was near at hand nor Baibars did the same. The two armies soon dispersed, Baibars was poisoned and Abaqa died but a conflict was looming near and business was Far from Settled.

 

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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2007 at 14:31

 

The Third Stage of the War

 

 During the previous stage, the struggle was not confined to the campaigns above although they were the major ones, the Mamelukes raided as far as Azerbaijan itself while the Mongols reached as far as Damascus. After Baibars and Abaqa did wht they did in 1276-77, each one was waiting for the other to make the move. But the move did not happen except for minor skirmishes that were all in favor of the Mamelukes. The death of Baibars and the subsequent unrest and the problems back home delayed the encounter. By December 1279, the Mamelukes were under the rule of Qalawoon (Qalawun). This very prominent and excellent general has been involved in military operations against the Mongols since Ain Jalut. He was so trusted by Baibars that he was given large military commands. After taking command, he started some measurements to gain popular support as well as to secure his rule. However, another prominent Mameluke prince did not approve of the move and so, Sunqur the Fair (or the Blond), the second most powerful man in the kingdom and a veteran of many campaigns as well as a good military commander and politician, proclaimed himself Sultan on the Levant and even minted coins and did some administrative work; this was in April of 1280. The differences evolved naturally into outright civil war in which Sunqur allied himself with Abaqa who immediately launched a huge military campaign to finish the job of his father. Sunqur was defeated by June of that year. The first attack launched by the Mongols in coordination with Leo III was at the cities near Leo. Aintab (Gaziantep), Aleppo and other cities were sacked with brutal force but little civilian casualties (they were already evacuated). The Mongols returned for the season (they usually fought during the rainy season when there is plenty of grass, usually from Nov. to early May) but the Qalawoon gathered his strength, set things straight with the crusaders and moved to Damascus with 50 000 men by the summer of 1281. Sunqur, who was abandoned by most of his princes because his alliance with Abaqa, decided to return after some exchanges with Qalawoon encouraged by the fact that some of his allies (Isa ibn Muhanna for instance) were pardoned. In early September, Abaqa moved in and with 50 000 mongols and 30 000 allies, mostly Armenians but also Georgians, Persian and Turks, and Mongke Temur lead the army to Hims (Homs) where the Mamelukes camped and where Sunqur came and pledged allegiance to Qalawoon and was given command of the left flank. 44000 mongols were concentrated at the heart of the army and the rest of the allies were divided on either flank while Qalawoon was with the Heart and Al-Mansur the ruler of Hamah was to lead the right flank with the Bedouin Arabs under Isa ibn Muhanna. Without much detail about the battle that occurred on Oct 30 1281, the left flank of the Mameluke was defeated and dispersed while the right flank under the leadership of Isa penetrated deep into the heart and crushed the left flank of the Mongols and nearly killed the commander Mongke. The Mongol right flank retreated after reaching to Homs because it was too far from the field. On their way back they were attacked and seeing the general defeat fled to the north. Immediately after the victory, a general offensive was ordered against the Mongols and their allies and Abaqa left to Hamadan in Iran where he died shortly on April of 1282. Qalawoon soon enjoyed a stable front against the Mongols and he went on to finish his project of finishing the crusaders and thus, the third stage finished with one of the greatest battles in History.

 

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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Oct-2007 at 18:12
Hello to you all
 
It has been a month since I last osted in this thread, I want some feedback since there are a couple of post left in this series, so what do you think?
 
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  Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Oct-2007 at 07:40

The Fourth Stage of the War

 

The previous stage ended with the death of Abaqa Ilkhan and the coming of the only Muslim son of Hulegu khan, Ahmed Tekuder. His rule was approved by his uncle Kublai despite some serious opposition because of his faith and his lifting of restrictions on Sunni muslims and establishing peace with the Mamelukes. Qalawoon was so confident with Tekuder that he turned against the crusader states and ended them one by one. However, things were not going well with Tekuder, already refusing to obey the Yasa and replacing it with Sharia, employing muslims in high administrative positions and ending Buddhist privileges increased his unpopularity with the Mongols who were eager to take revenge from the Mameluke for all the humiliations and thus encouraged by the political climate, Arghun, Tekuders nephew revolted and defeated his uncle who was abandoned by his troops and killed him, the first time a civil war took down a legitimate mongol leader with the blessing of the nobility, that was in 1284. From that year until his death, Arghun tried his best to forge a grand alliance with the pope and crusader states to end Egypt, but he failed and until his death in 1291, the same year crusaders were finally kicked out from Islamic territory, the most enthusiastic mongol Ilkhan for war never lead a campaign against the Mamelukes. For the Mameluke, the situation was not that rosy, already they have started to recruit Circasians instead of Turks in their corps. The first of the Circasian princes came to leadership position and this was not a good omen. Qalawoon died in 1289 and left the kingdom to his son Al-Ashraf Khalil. To the mamelukes who were not very keen on seeing a hereditary post of Sultan this was temporarily accepted because the mongol and crusader danger, fully know to the Mamelukes because of their excellent espionage network, was present. The fall of Acre was the signal to start yet another power struggle. Khalil was killed and loyal princes announced his brother the child Al-Nasir as the legitimate heir while others disobeyed and after one year he was ousted (1294) only to be returned for the second time (1298) to lead efforts to end the Mongols. He was ousted for the last time in 1308 only to return in the next year and preserve his throne till his death in 1341. Throughout that period the civil war was distructive but when ever Mongols came they united. Gaykhatu and his successor Baydu were not ready to confront the Mamelukes but after a brief civil war a new and very powerful ruler came, Ghazan khan (1295) and with stability taking hold again in Egypt (1298), the largest and the most important campaigns of the war happened.

 

Al-Jassas ibn Murrah

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  Quote andrew Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13-Oct-2007 at 15:46
Very interesting thanks Al Jassas! I don't think many people today realize how important it was for the Mameluks to keep North Africa safe and inevitably release the Middle East from the bondage of the Mongols.
 
One of the biggest macrohistorical wars to ever take place.
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  Quote IanZonja Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Oct-2018 at 06:20
the Ilkhanate was forced to abandon its campaign against the Mamluks in order to concentrate on the war against the Golden Horde. The break-up of the Mongol Empire resulted in more conflicts like this, and, as a consequence, the Ilkhanate was not able to expand further westwards

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The Ilkhanate of Persia
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