Last Updated 31 Mar 2020


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The emergent of Mamluks started under Hasan Pasha's whose intent was to strengthen his personal base of power by creating a group of disciplined military and civil functionaries committed uniquely to him and not to the government at Istanbul or the Arabs of Baghdad. A page corps was formed, originally recruited from local families but later composed almost exclusively of slaves imported from the Caucasus and Georgia (Thomas Philipp, Ulrich Haarmann, 1998.

These slaves were instructed in reading and writing, but also horse-manship and swimming, a combination of martial and bureaucratic virtues making them superior to Turks and Iraqis as civil servants. Their training emphasized a sense of interdependence and "esprit de corps. " They were made to feel that they owed their privilege to their master and to the Mamluks institution. John Joseph Saunders in the “The History of the Mongol Conquests” noted that the Mamluks dominated the power elite, but as an alien force, and they were merciless to any suspected rival to their authority.

A close disciplined fraternity, and the only effective civil and military organization within the country, they provided their pashas with the power of an independent monarch. He argued, nevertheless, Mamluk pashas at no time renounced allegiance to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He went on to explain how they defended Iraq from the Wahhabis and Persians but did not create war on neighbors within the empire. They were the only Islamic dynasty that withstands the invasions of the Turks and Mongol.

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They were slave boy children captured and trained carefully groomed for life as military men. They were leaders’ corps of warrior-slaves, mostly from Turkic or Kurdish Central Asia, but also including some Christians from the Caucasus region of south-eastern Europe. They were called the Mamluks which literally mean slave. According to historians, Mamluks were young boys who were not Muslim and groomed to be Sunni Muslim soldiers( Saunders 2001). The Mamluk institution creates a lot speculation and comment among pre modern observers.

Consequently, James Waterson reported that the Mamluks are the slave warriors of medieval Islam who overthrew their masters, defeated the Mongols and the Crusaders and established a dynasty that lasted three hundred years. He continued to say that these young boys turn out to be great soldiers. Interestingly, Halperin commented that at the same time as the Islamic world was combating off Christian Crusaders from Europe, the great Muslim general Saladin conquered Egypt in 1169, founding the Ayyubid Dynasty. He also stated that Saladan and his descendants used increasing numbers of Mamluk soldiers in their struggles for power.

In fact, according Charles Halperin a researcher in the field of history commented how during this time the Crusaders controlled several small coastal principalities in the Holy Land. ” He explained that during the war the Mongols approached the Mamluks offering them an alliance against the Muslims. The Crusaders' former enemies, the Mamluks, also sent representative to the Christians offering a deal against the Mongols. ” They feared that the Mongols were a more immediate threat, the Crusader states opted to remain nominally neutral, but agreed to allow the Mamluks’ armies to pass unhindered through Christians’ occupied lands.

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Mamluks. (2017, Mar 20). Retrieved from

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