Dayfa Khatun

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Dayfa Khatun (Arabic: ضيفة خاتون‎) was the regent ruler of Aleppo from 1237 to 1244 during the reign of her grandson an-Nasir Yusuf. She achieved an unprecedented measure of autonomous political influence, becoming the first Ayyubid female regent, (the second being Shajar al-Durr of Egypt) and played a major role in architectural patronage in Aleppo, being responsible for the construction of the Firdaws Madrasa.[1]

Marriage and Regency[edit]

Dayfa, the daughter of al-Adil, was married to Saladin's son az-Zahir Ghazi in 1212. Ghazi requested her hand in marriage to end the conflict between him and al-Adil.[2] When she arrived in Aleppo, she was greeted by a great ceremony and received by Ghazi, his emirs, and local notables. Ibn Wasil wrote "When she entered al-Malik az-Zahir [az-Zahir Ghazi], he arose and took several steps towards her and showed her great respect." Her marriage was instrumental in the unification and maintenance of the Ayyubid empire.[3]

Dayfa's status grew more important when she gave birth to al-Aziz Muhammad, Ghazi's son and heir to throne of Aleppo. Not much about her is recorded for the remainder of Ghazi's rule which ended when he died in 1216 or Muhammad's reign which ended when he died in 1236.[4] Dayfa Khatun is famous for building the Khanqah al-Farafira, the monastic centre of sufism in the city of Aleppo.

With the death of her son, Dayfa Khatun came to play a prominent role. Her grandson An-Nasir Yusuf was only seven years old, so a council of regency was formed, consisting of Shams ad-Din Lu'lu' al-Amini, Izz ad-Din Umar al-Majalli, the vizier Jamal ad-Din al-Qifti ad her own slave Jamal ad-Dawla Iqbal az-Zahiri.[5] The latter acted as her secretary and deputy to the regency council.[6] All decisions of the regency council had to be approved by her, and her signature was affixed to all documents it issued.[7] During her regency Aleppo was threatened from many directions by powerful neighbours, but contemporary writer all attest to her diplomatic skills in keeping Aleppo free from conflict. After her death, Aleppo's diplomatic position was never as strong vis a vis its neighbours as it was under her rule.[8]

War and Diplomacy[edit]

The period of her regency coincided with the conflict between her brothers Al-Kamil in Egypt and Al-Ashraf in Damascus. In 1237 Al-Ashraf persuaded most of the Ayyubid rulers in Syria to join a coalition against Al-Kamil, the object of which was to confine him to Egypt and assure the continued autonomy of their Emirates. However that same year Al-Ashraf died unexpectedly and although Dayfa Khatun and several other rulers renewed it under the leadership of another brother, As-Salih Ismail, the coalition was weakened by the defection of some emirates to Al-Kamil. Al Kamil sent an army into Syria and took Damascus. He intended to embark on the pacification of all the other emirates in Syria, including Aleppo, but they were spared by his death in March 1238 (Rajab 635) shortly after he took Damascus.[9]

After this Dayfa Khatun was careful to keep Aleppo our of the fratricidal wars which were the norm among the Ayyubids, turning down proposals for alliance from al-Jawad Yunus, the new ruler of Damascus, who wanted to revive the Anti-Egyptian coalition, and later from As-Salih Ismail, who succeeded him.[10] In 1240, she was able to use her neutrality in these conflicts to broker a formal declaration from the Sultan As-Salih Ayyub in Egypt, which committed the Sultan to respecting Aleppo's independence.[11]

In 1240 new threat to Aleppo emerged in the shape of the Khwarezmians who had allied themselves with As-Salih Ayyub and whom he had settled to the east of Aleppo in Diyar Mudar. For reasons which are not clear, a large Khwarezmian army of around 12,000 men crossed the Euphrates and threatened Aleppo. A small Aleppan force of 1,500 cavalry led by Al-Muazzam Turanshah was defeated in November 1240 (Rabi' II) and the city lay exposed. Fortunately a large force came up from Homs and deterred the Khwarezmians from attacking. They withdrew back across the Euphrates.[12] In early 1241 they attacked again, but the army of Al-Mansur Ibrahim of Homs once defeated them decisively, and thereafter the forces of Homs and Aleppo took control of all of As-Salih Ayyub's territories in the Jazira with the exception of Hasankeyf.As-Salih Ayyub was too preoccupied with affairs in Egypt to be able to respond.[13]

Dayfa Khatun died in 1242 (640) and the leading figure in the regency thereafter was Shams ad-Din Lu'lu' until her son An-Nasir Yusuf began to rule independently.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ruggles,D. Fairchild, ed., Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies, SUNY Press, 2000 p.18.
  2. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.155
  3. ^ Ruggles,D. Fairchild, ed., Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies, SUNY Press, 2000 p.21.
  4. ^ Ruggles,D. Fairchild, ed., Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies, SUNY Press, 2000 p.21.
  5. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.229
  6. ^ Ruggles,D. Fairchild, ed., Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies, SUNY Press, 2000 p.21.
  7. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.229
  8. ^ Humphreys, R. Stephen, Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age, University of California Press 1999, p.206
  9. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.230-238
  10. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.245-252
  11. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.266
  12. ^ Humphreys, R. Stephen, Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age, University of California Press 1999, pp. 269-270
  13. ^ Humphreys, R. Stephen, Between Memory and Desire: The Middle East in a Troubled Age, University of California Press 1999, pp.270-71
  14. ^ Humphreys, R. S., From Saladin to the Mongols, The Ayyubids of Damascus 1183-1260, SUNY Press 1977 p.287