Armenian Mamluks


Mamluk meaning “owned”, an Arabic designation for slave soldier, refers to a famous military caste in medieval Egypt that played an instrumental role in the Muslim world. The Mamluk Sultanate famously beat back the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut and fought the Crusaders, effectively driving them out from the Levant by 1291 and officially in 1302 ending the era of the Crusades.

The Armenians made up a significant portion of the Egyptian slave army known as Mamluks, rising to the ranks of prominent leaders in the Muslim world. The Fatimids of Egypt bought among others, many Armenian slaves, who formed the bulk of their military and often their administration [1]. The powerful vizier Badr al-Jamali, for example, was a mamluk of Armenian origin [2]. As were his descendants (Al-Afdal and others).

Badr al-Jamali (1015-1094) was a vizier and prominent statesman for the Fatimids under the Caliphate and Imamate of Al-Mustansir. Ethnically an Armenian, he was…

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