In 1423, Sultan Murad II sent his correspondences with gifts to Sultan Saif al-Din Barsbay as he became the sovereign ruling the Mamluk Sultanate. Under his reign, the Mamluks of Egypt reached their greatest territorial extent and were militarily dominant throughout the region.
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The Mamluk-Ottoman relations become strong
The Mamluk-Ottoman relations became strong during the reign of Sultan Barsbay. After Barsbay’s victory in Cyprus, Murad II sent another embassy to congratulate the Mamluk Sultan. His delegates were well received and they remained in Cairo to attend the military parade and celebrations.
In 1433, Barsbay welcomed two of the Ottoman sultan’s sons in Egypt, Suleiman, and Shah Zade. In the time of Sultan Jaqmaq (d. 1453), there were embassies and gift exchanges between both sultanates.
Mamluks and Ottomans unite against the Crusaders
Jaqmaq aimed to conquer Rhodes in order to push the Crusader threat away. Rhodes was participating in a Crusade alliance against the Ottomans in the Balkans. The Mamluk Sultan decided to take serious steps in this regard after the instigation of Ottoman ruler Murad II.
After learning of the Mamluk-Ottoman correspondences in the matter of Rhodes, Jean de Lastic, Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller sent to negotiate with Murad II to renew the alliance but the Ottoman sultan refused.
After Murad II defeated the European alliance Crusaders in the Battle of Varna in 1444, he sent a gift to the Mamluk sultan which included 50 prisoners, 5 slave girls, and a huge quantity of silk. This was to show the Ottomans’ keenness to take up Islamic causes and fight the European aims in the Islamic lands.
Mamluks of Egypt react to the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople
Mamluk Sultan Inal greatly rejoiced when he received the news of the Conquest of Constantinople. He sent a congratulatory letter to Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror (Fatih Sultan Mehmed). He ordered the Egyptian cities to be decorated, especially the Medieval vibrant hubs such as markets (khans), and shops.
Lighted lanterns were set up along the streets and mosque minarets. Celebrations took place in Cairo in response to this great happiness. Sultani cannons were fired in Sultan Saladin’s Castle (also known as Qala’t al Jabal) for several days.
The Ottomans saw the Mamluks as leaders of the religious power in the region, and for this reason, the conquest of Constantinople was seen as a victory not for the Ottomans only, but for the whole Islamic world.
The Muslim conquest of Constantinople caused a lot of instability in the region as it was accompanied by land and sea military operations. This caused the collapse of the land and sea trade routes from Western Asia to Western Europe through the Black Sea, Anatolia, and the straits.
The papacy restricted its subjects from dealing with Muslims. Trade collaborations were focused on the Mamluks and Inal worked on promoting trade by increasing exceptions granted to merchants.
Delegations of the different Italian states flocked to Egypt, and the merchants spread along the Mamluk coastline after their main commercial centres were lost.
The Mamluk-Ottoman tension heightens
The continuous Ottoman victories and acquiring more lands increased their popularity in the region. As a result, the Mamluks started viewing them in a different light.
Ottoman-Mamluk relations took a new turn after the Ottomans further conquered the territories in the Balkans and started aiming at Central Asia and the Levant, to secure their trade routes, which imposed a challenge to the Mamluk borders.
In one of the visits, the Ottoman ambassador, contrary to the norm, refused to kneel to the Mamluk sultan in Cairo. The Mamluk-Ottoman tension heightened with the Ottoman conquest of Konya.
During the rule of Sultan Qaitbay, the Ottomans acquired Karamania on the southern coast of Anatolia. This was followed by Mamluk-Ottoman conflicts and confrontations over several provinces.
Qansuh al-Ghuri grieves upon Sultan Bayezid II’s death
Over the next 20 years, the complicated Mamluk-Ottoman relations would witness many ups and downs. The last Mamluk Sultan Qansuh al-Ghuri grieved upon learning of the death of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II. He even performed the prayer of absentees in Saladin’s citadel and ordered it in Cairo mosques including al-Azhar and Ibn Tuloun.
Soon, the Ottomans would expand into the Levant and then conquer Egypt under the leadership of Bayezid II’s son, Yavuz Sultan Selim I.
مفيد الزيدي، موسوعة التاريخ الإسلامي العصر المملوكي، دار أسامة.، 2009، 1-320
Othman, M. R. (1997). The Conquest of Constantinople 1453: The Visions and Strategies of Sultan Mehmed II. Journal of the Department of History, 5(5).
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Last updated on October 10th, 2023 at 06:22 pm
Natalie Mallat is an engineer with a passion for history, art and literature. As a lover of history, she is re-discovering the important elements of Islamic past with an aim of exploring vivid details about the stories and events that took place throughout the Muslim world.