Al-Adil Kitbugha

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Dominion of Bahri Mamluks ( red )

Kitbugha (Arabic: كتبغا ) (Royal name: al-Malik al-Adil Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha Ben Abd-Allah al-Mansuri al-Turki al-Mughli ( Arabic: الملك العادل زين الدين كتبغا بن عبد الله المنصورى التركى المغلى)) ( d. 1297, Hama ), was the 10th Mamluk Sultan of Egypt from December 1294 to November 1296.


Turco-Mongol soldiers.

He was originally an ordinary Oirat-Mongol soldier in the Ilkhanid army of Hulagu. He was taken prisoner during the First Battle of Homs in 1260.[1] He was purchased by Qalawun and became one of his Mamluks then later Qalawun manumitted him and granted him the rank of Emir.[2]

During the reign of Qalawun's son Sultan Al-Ashraf Khalil he was arrested and released.[3] In 1293, after the assassination of Al-Ashraf Khalil, Kitbugha became the vice-Sultan and regent of Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad and with Emir Sanjar al-Shuja'i he was the actual ruler of Egypt as Al-Nasir Muhammad was only 9 years old.[1][4] But Kitbugha had rivalry and bad relation with al-Shuja'i who was an Al-Nasir's Vizier. al-Shujai with support of the Burji Mamluks planned to arrest Kitbugha and assassinate his Emirs, but Kitbugha was informed about al-Shuja'i's plan by a Tatar named Qunghar. Kitbugha sieged the Citadel with support of Genghis-Khanites and Shahrzuri Kurds.[1][5] but he was defeated by the Burji Mamluks and had to flee to Bilbays [6] where he stayed until he returned to Cairo and sieged the Citadel again after his Emirs defeated the Burjis. Kitbugha Sieged the Citadel for seven days with daily bloody clashes with the Sultani Mamluks and al-Shuja'i supporters. Many of al-Shuja'i's Emirs walked over to Kitbugha. The Emirs of Kitbugha informed the mother of Sultan Al-Nassir Muhammed that the dispute is between them and al-Shuja'i and not with her son so she locked the gates of the Citadel and thus al-Shuja'i became trapped in his house outside the Citadel and more of his Emirs deserted him and walked over to the side of Kitbugha. al-Shuja'i, who was not popular among the Egyptians,[1] was killed while he was on his way to the citadel to talk about the dispute. When the gate of the Citadel was unlocked Kitbugha and his Emirs went in. Kitbugha's followers who were imprisoned by al-Shuja'i were freed and many Burji Mamluks who supported al-Shuja'i were either arrested or removed from the Citadel. al-Shuja'i's properties in the Levant were seized and his deputies there were arrested.[7]

The Burji Mamluks, about 300, who were removed from the Citadel by Kitbugha rebelled and went on rampage in Cairo. These Mamluks, named al-Mamalik al-Ashrafiyah Khalil ( Mamluks of al-Ashraf Khalil ) were enraged because Hossam ad-Dain Lajin who was involved in the murder of their benefactor Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil showed up in Cairo but he was not arrested and punished.[1] But the Ahrafiyah Khalil were defeated and many of them were killed and executed.[8]

Rise to power[edit]

Kitbugha was a regent and the actual ruler of Egypt. Al-Nasir Muhammad, being a child, was merely a nominal Sultan. After the murder of Vizier al-Shuja'i, Kitbugha became more powerful and was convinced by Lajin - who knew that the Mamluks of Khalil and later Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammed himself will revenge the Killing of Sultan Khalil - to depose the Al-Nassir and take the power over.[9][10] After the defeat of the Burjis who rebelled, Kitbugha assembled the Emirs at his office and told them : " The system of the Kingdom has been undermined. There can not be respect while Sultan Al-Nasir is young ". The Emirs agreed and they decided to replace Al-Nasir Muhammed with Kitbugha. Al-Nasir Muhammed was dethroned and removed with his mother to another section of the palace and later to Al Karak . Kitbugha was installed as Sultan, he took the royal name Al-Adil. He made Lajin his vice-Sultan.[11]

The Oirats[edit]

The Oirats arrived in Egypt

An important event that took place in 1296 during the reign of Sultan Kitbugha was the arrival in the Levant of a large group of Oirat,[12][13] Turco-Mongol refugees who were led by Turghai, the son-in-law of Hulagu Khan.[14][15] They fled to the Levant from Ghazan. While a part of the Oirat group was received warmly in Cairo by Kitbugha and was resided at the Cairene district of al-Hisiniyah,[16] another part was sheltered in the coastal towns of the Levant. The Oirats were not Muslims, but after they intermarried with Egyptian emirs and later with Egyptian commoners, they converted to Islam and merged with Egyptian society.[17][18] However, as Kitbugha was himself of Mongol origin, his extraordinary generosity towards the Oirats made many emirs suspicious about his motives,[19][20] and was one of the factors that led to his downfall later.[21]


During the reign of Kitbugha, Egypt and the Levant were struck by shortages in water and food in addition to epidemic that caused the death of many people in Egypt.[22][23] Kitbugha was not popular among the Egyptians who regarded him as an ill-omen Sultan [24] Also, the Egyptian were not pleased with Kitbugha's generosity towards the Oirats who were not Muslims while they, the Egyptians, were suffering from high prices of food and economical hardship.

While Kitbugha was in Damascus the Emirs decided to get rid of him. The Emirs went to Kitbugha and met him while he was on his way to Egypt. Kitbugha was angry of Bisari who was a prominent Emir and accused him of corresponding with the Mongols. Fearing that Kitbugha would arrest Bisari, the Emirs,[25] among them Lajin, carried arms and went to the Dihliz [26] of Kitbugha and clashed with his Mamluks.[27] A few Mamluks of Kitbugha were killed and injured. Kitbugha left the Dihliz from the back passage and fled to Damascus on a horse, accompanied by five of his Mamluks. The Emirs were not able to catch him. Lajin was throned as the new Sultan of Egypt. Kitbugha took refuge inside the citadel of Damascus but at last he resigned and recognized Lajin as the new Sultan saying: "al-Sultan al-Malik al-Mansour ( Lajin ) is one of my Khushdashiya.[28] I serve him and I obey him. I will stay inside the Citadel until the Sultan decide(s) what to do with me". Kitbugha left Damascus to Sarkhad.[29] He ruled two years and 17 days.[30]

In 1299 while Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad was on his way to Syria with the Egyptian Army to encounter the invasion of Mahmud Ghazan, some Oirats conspired with some Mamluks of the Sultan to kill the vice-Sultan Salar and the Ostadar [31] Baibars al-Jashnakir who were the actual rulers of Egypt in order to bring Kitbugha back to power, but the attempt failed and the conspiring Oirats were severely punished (see Al-Nasir Muhammad ). After the defeat of Al-Nasir Muhammad's army at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar, Kitbugha fled to Egypt and served Salar. After Ghazan left Syria Kitbugha became the deputy of Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad in Hama,[32] where he died in 1297. He was described as short, brown-skinned man with short beard.[33]

Coins of Al-Adil Kitbugha[edit]

During the reign of Sultan Kitbugha, in 1295 and for the first time in Egypt, it was decided that coins must be weighted before being exchanged for goods or services. Thus the value of the coins was based on its weight and not on its quantity.

The names and titles of Al-Adil Kitbugha on his coins were : al-malik al-Adil, al-Sultan al-Malik al-Adil, al-Sultan al-malik al-Adil Nasir al-Umah al-Muhamadiyah Zein al-Donya wa al-Din (al-Sultan al-Malik al-Adil the Promoter of the Muhammadan Nation adorner of temporal world and faith ) and al-Sultan al-Malik al-Adil Zein al-Donya wa al-Din al-Mansuri Qasim Amir al-mu'minin ( The sultan king al-Adil adorner of temporal world and faith the Mansuri sharer of the Emir of the faithful ). al Mansuri means related to Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun. The Emir of the faithful was the title of the Abbasid Caliph.[34]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Al-Nasir Muhammad
Mamluk Sultan
Succeeded by

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ibn Taghri, Sultanante of al-nasir Muhammed.
  2. ^ (Al-Maqrizi - Al-Khitat Al-Maqiziyah, p. 388/vol.3) - (Ibn Taghri, Sultanante of al-nasir Muhammed)
  3. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p.218 & p.222 /vol.2
  4. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p.249/vol. 2
  5. ^ Shahrzuriyah were Kurds who escaped from Mesopotamia after the Turco-Mongol invasion. During a battle between Al Karak and Sultan Qutuz they deceived al-Malik al-Mughith king of Al Karak and walked over to the Egyptian side. ( Al-Maqrizi, p500/vol.1 )
  6. ^ Bilbays, also spelled Bilbeis or Bilbis, town, southeastern al-Sharqia Governorate in the eastern Nile Delta , Lower Egypt , northeast of Cairo. - ( Encyclopædia Britanica, p.15/vol. II)
  7. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp.252-255/vol.2
  8. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp.259/vol.2
  9. ^ Ibn Taghri, Sultanante of al-Nasir Muhammed.
  10. ^ First Kitbugha refused the advice of Lajin but he became convinced after Lajin warned him that later when Al-Nasir Muhammed is old he will punish him as he was also involved in the murder of Al-Nasir Muhammed's brother Al-Ashraf Khalil. - (Ibn Taghri, Sultanante of al-nasir Muhammed.) ( See also Al-Ashraf Khalil )
  11. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 275/vol.2
  12. ^ The Oirats were about 10,000 persons with horses and cattle. (Ibn Taghri, Sultanate of Kitbugha )
  13. ^ Oirats, in Arabic Uyratiya.
  14. ^ According to Abu al-Fida’, Turghai was the husband of the daughter of Mangu Timur the son of Hulagu. - (Abu al-Fida’, year AH 695)
  15. ^ In 1262, during the reign of Sultan Baybars many Tatars from the Golden Horde tribe escaped from Hulagu to Egypt and were followed later by other Tatars. Baybars welcomed the Tatars and employed them in the army. They had their own army unit, which was called al-Firqah al-Wafidiyah (the arrivals' troop). Throughout the Mamluk era, the Wafidiyah (Arriving Tatars) were free men and the Mamluk system did not apply to them. Baybars settled the Tatars in Cairo and gave them various official posts. The largest group of Tatars immigrated to Egypt in 1296 during the reign of Sultan Kitbugha, who was himself of Mongol origin. They resided at the district of al-Hisiniyah in Cairo and many of their women married Mamluk emirs. (Shayyal, vol. 2, p. 144)
  16. ^ Also spelled al-Husayniyya. The district still exist in present-day Cairo.
  17. ^ Al-Maqrizi, vol. 2, p. 266
  18. ^ Shayyal, vol. 2, pp. 144–145
  19. ^ Shayyal, p.145
  20. ^ Al-Maqrizi, al-Khitat al-Maqriziyah, vol. 3, pp. 32–36
  21. ^ Shayyal, vol. 2, p. 145
  22. ^ Al-Maqrizi described the era of Kitbugha as following: "His days were the worst days with high prices, epidemics and death " - (Al-Maqrizi, p.260/vol.2)
  23. ^ According to Al-Maqrizi the epidemic caused the death of 127.000 persons. - (Al-Maqrizi, p.268/vol.2)
  24. ^ When the palace servants heard that kitbugha took power a kitchen servant exclaimed: " This is an ill omen ! This is an unlucky day ! ". The words of the servant spread around and were repeated by all the people. - ( Al-Maqrizi, p. 260/vol.2 )
  25. ^ the Emirs who attacked Kitbugha's Dihliz included Lajin, Bisari, Qara Sunqur, Qabjaq and al-Haj Bahader. - ( Al-Maqrizi, p.273/vol.2 )
  26. ^ Dihliz, royal tent of the Sultan which he uses during his travels and battles
  27. ^ Mamluks of kitbugha were called al-Mamalik al-Adilyyah referring to Kitbugha royal name Al-Adil.
  28. ^ Khushdashiya ( خشداشية ) :Mamluks belonging to the same Amir or Sultan.
  29. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp. 277-278/vol.2
  30. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 274/vol.2
  31. ^ Ostadar ( أستادار ), supervisor of the royal kitchen and everything connected to the food and drink of the Sultan.
  32. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 326 and p.329/vol.2
  33. ^ Satō, p. 106
  34. ^ Mahdi, p. 100


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