Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Class 24: Islam Resurgent: The Ayyubids, The Mamelukes and the Ottomans

Assigned Reading:


I. Introduction Third part of Mediterranean world was Islam. For much of the period after its establishment, Islam was the most advanced and richest of the civilizations that emerged from classical antiquity. While Byzantium and the West were having their Dark ages, Islam was at its most glorious. Diffused civilization -Baghdad -Cairo -Cordoba Even when the Arab power declined the torch was continued by Turks and Persians. Later Islamic history is often ignored in medieval history courses. But as we shall see today it is important for a number of reasons. -The Crusades. Led to impact of west on Islam. Also Spain and Sicily. The West got much from Islamic culture. -Continuing interaction of Islamic world and West cannot be explained only by references to the time of Muhammad. -The most successful of Islamic states, the Ottoman Empire, succeed in driving Europeans out of Palestine, and destroying Byzantium. It posed the greatest threat the western Europe for centuries. It also closed off the eastern Mediterranean to much western shipping - led to a turn to Atlantic, and ultimately transatlantic trade. II. Tendency of Islamic States to Dissolve Failure of institutions, especially of transfer of power. Led to frequent civil wars. Power rests in cities - Islam is an Urban civilization -Even now, Syria is a state, but more it is Damascus controlling Aleppo and Hama. -This leads to easy fragmenting when central authority weakens, which it always did when there was a clumsy passing of power. III. Break-Up of the Abbasid Empire -Ummayads in Spain 750 -Tahirids in Khorasan 822 , then Saffarids 873 -Fatamids in Egypt - 969-1171 (Arabs - last Arab power in area. 971 - took Mecca and Medina 1021- Al-Hakim destroyed Holy Sepulcher -Buyids from 945-1055 in Baghdad- Shia -But from then on Turks, and sometimes Kurds, rule Mideast until 20th century. No more Arab rule. Bedouin back in the desert. IV. Arabs and Turks Turks a nomadic central Asian people. Convert to Islam c. 979, Employed as soldiers by Saminids in Khorasan. [Small actions, Big consequences] Seljuqs arrive 1025. Soon become a power themselves. Toghril Bey 1038-63 took Nishapur 1043 - take Isfahan, 1059 take Baghdad from Buyids Adopt Sunni Islamic cause - founds madrasas Alp Arslan 1063-72 (Mantzikert. Malik Shah 1078-92 based at Ispahan Period of Atabegs V. The Crusades in Muslim Eyes Major clash of Islam and Latin Christendom So looking at Islamic World in 1095 -Spanish Muslim certainly feeling pressure from Christians, but that was long way off from everywhere else. -In the East, Cairo was opposed to the Seljuq and the Seljuqs were based in Persia, not even Iraq. -So little initial response to Crusades. Since Malik Shah died just before crusades, the westerners faced little opposition, as Islam was undergoing a period of succession strife. -Also, Muslims did not understand the crusaders. At first thought they were Byzantine employees. -Arabs were shocked by barbarism of crusaders - e.g. at conquest of Jerusalem. This attitude of cultural superiority, fact based though it was prevented the Muslims learning anything from the Franji. E.g.. some Latins learned Arabic, but little record of Muslims learning any Western language. But, gradually, Arabs cam to see Crusaders as attackers of Muslim land. Around 1140 attitudes hardened. VI. Nur-a-din and Saladin Muslims gradually attained some unity. 1100-25 - no unity at all. Even between Damascus and Hama 1125-50 - Zengi unites Aleppo and Mosul. A Turk - atabeg of Mosul- Takes Edessa 1146 Did not used idea of Jihad 1150-75 - Nur-a-din, Zengi's son. Genuine Muslim. Did not drink. A Sunni Takes over Cairo - Khutba for Abbasid caliph - 1169\ Raise issue of Jihad against Crusaders Emphasis on idea of Jerusalem as a Holy City 1175-1200 Nur-a-din had had Egypt ruled by Shir-Kuh, a Kurd. His son was Salal-al-din - Saladin Took over Syria and Egypt after Nur-a-Din's death. New Muslim Unity. Based in Cairo. Founder Ayyubid Dynasty. Took Jerusalem 1187 So Crusaders, to an extent provoked Muslim unity. More certainly they provoked a renewed emphasis on Islam in the state, and on Jihad as a good basis for stability - built on by Ottomans. Ayyubid Egypt - Main state in Area 1175-1250. Very Sunni. Cairo as an important Sunni city - now most important Arab city. VII. The Mongols As well as attacks from Christian Europe, Islam in the 13th century found itself under attack from Mongols. Mongols - Build a huge empire based on the military power of Mongol and Turkish nomads in central Asia. Had a very high view of themselves expressed in a law code called the Yasa. Aimed at World Domination. Many of the women were Nestorians - myth of Prester John. Temjin Khan - c. 1167 Genghis Khan - . b. 1161. 1206, d. 1227 1215 - took Peking 1220 - took Bukhara, 1222 Herat - 1,4000,000 killed Extreme violence - aimed to create terror Used relatives of a city being attacked at front of the army. 1230-50 - attacks on eastern Europe - the Golden Horde Extreme destruction -decline of population in China -Khorasan so devastated we lose trace of its history for 200 years. Population of eastern Islam falls dramatically [Biological unification of the World -Plague in China 1330s -In Byzantium 1347 -Iceland 1250] Mongols turn on Islam -Hulegu Khan attacks Iran and Iraq -1258 -Last Abbasid Caliph Kicked to death in a carpet. -Power in Islam moves decisively to Cairo Mongols in Iran - cover it with Buddhist temples, but later convert to Islam - as Il-Khanid dynasty. [Christians had been spared by Mongols. From Muslim viewpoint, the Christian population, with links to crusaders and to Mongols, were less tolerable from now on] VIII. Sultan Baibars and Ein Jalut It seemed no one could stop the Mongol attacks. Islam was going under. The Crusaders were by 1250 irrelevant in the face of the huge armies that were being put in the field. Salvation for Islam came from Egypt. The Mamelukes One of the most curious regimes in the world was established in Egypt after the Ayyubid dynasty collapsed in a succession crisis. - The Mamelukes 1250. Mamelukes were Turkish slaves. Often from south Russia. After the Ayyubids one of these slaves became Sultan in Egypt. His successor was another slave called Baibars. Baibars was the opposite of the chivalric Saladin. He advanced because he had no scruples. He organized an army. It was able to defeat the Mongols at Ein Jalut [Goliath's Well] in 1260. One of the decisive battles of history. This confirmed the Mamelukes as the main power in Islam outside Iran. State was dependent on Slaves. Slaves only could become sultan. A slaves children could not enter the higher ranks - new ones had to be imported constantly. The Arab population was ruled over then by a Turkish slave aristocracy. Caliphate moved to Cairo - It survived until 1516. IX. Anatolia Becomes Turkey The ultimate nemesis of the Mamelukes was developing in Anatolia. Seljuqs of Rum 1077-1307 Beylik period form 1243-1453 Idea of Ghazi - Booty important in Muhammad's time, but now - due to Sufi influence - real religious aspect. Turkish states attain legitimacy by fighting Christians. X. The Ottomans While Byzantium was having a revival, a new and ultimately final challenge was developing. The Seljuqs who had originally conquered Anatolia had collapsed by the end of the 12th century - had been based at Konya. Development of competing Turkish statelets - Ghazi ideal Turkish state nearest CP - founded by Osman 1299 -leading Ghazi state. see map. Began, c. 1300 to expand - taking over Byzantine land in the West of Asia Minor plus other Turkish states. 1352 - Turks took Gallipoli - benefited from internal civil wars in Byzantium. Soon took over all Balkans - Edirne 1363 For last century Byzantium was a city state XI. Conquest of Constantinople 1453 Mehmet II Fatih [the Conqueror] -Took over Syria, Iraq, Egypt Sulamain the Magnificent 1520 - Takes title of Caliph. Attacks Vienna twice. XII. Closing of the East to Europe Ottoman state was universalistic - refused to recognized others. It was built on opposition to Christianity, a theme which had become important in Islam after the Crusades. Europe began to look towards the Atlantic.

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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