Mulay, Mûlay, Bulay, or Molay for the Franks, was a general under the Mongol Ilkhanate ruler Ghazan at the end the 13th century. Mulay was part of the 1299–1300 Mongol offensive in Syria and Palestine, and remained with a small force to occupy the land after the departure of Ghazan. He also participated in the last Mongol offensive in the Levant in 1303. His name has caused confusion for some historians, because of its similarity with that of the contemporary Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay.
Little is known about the Mongol general, except that he took part in some Mongol campaigns between 1299 and 1303.
In 1299, the Mongol Ilkhanate ruler Ghazan marched with his generals Mulay and Samagar towards Egyptian Mamluk-controlled Syria. The Mongols successfully took the city of Aleppo, and then defeated the Mamluks in the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar, on December 23 or 24, 1299. At some point, Ghazan ordered Mulay to lead a raid through Palestine, with a tumen, a force of 10,000–20,000 horsemen. Mulay's group split off from Ghazan's army, and pursued the retreating Mamluk troops as far as Gaza, pushing them back to Egypt. The bulk of Ghazan's forces then proceeded on to Damascus, which surrendered at some point between December 30, 1299, and January 6, 1300, though its Citadel resisted. Ghazan then retreated with most of his forces in February, probably because the Mongol horses needed fodder. He promised to return in November to attack Egypt. Mulay and his horsemen returned to Damascus around March 1300, and followed Ghazan back across the Euphrates. In May 1300, the Egyptian Mamluks returned from Egypt and reclaimed the entire area without a battle.
In 1303, the Mongols, led by Ghazan's generals Mulay and Kutlushah, reappeared in great strength in Syria (about 80,000) together with the Armenians. However, they were defeated at Homs on March 30, 1303, and also at the decisive Battle of Shaqhab, south of Damascus, on April 21, 1303. It is considered to be the last major Mongol invasion of Syria.
"Ghazan, when he had vanquished the Sarazins returned in his country, and left in Damas one of his Emirs, who was named Molay, who had with him 10,000 Tatars and 4 generals."—Le Templier de Tyr 611
The Molay mentioned by the Templar of Tyre has sometimes been confused with the contemporary Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay (1244–1314). Some of this confusion was reinforced by the abundant rumors which had circulated in 1300, some of which had been placed in written form, that Jerusalem had been captured by the Mongols. The reports turned out to be false, the result of wishful thinking and poor communications between the continents. But the inadvertently false documents that resulted, when reviewed out of context, continued to fuel confusion (see Mongol raids into Palestine#European rumors about Jerusalem).
Modern historians agree that the Templar of Tyre's document does not designate Jacques de Molay, but instead designates the Mongol general "Mûlay". Earlier historians however, regularly confused the two. This confusion was further expanded in 1805, when the French playwright/historian, François Raynouard, made claims that Jerusalem had been captured by the Mongols, with Jacques de Molay in charge of one of the Mongol divisions. "In 1299, the Grand-Master was with his knights at the taking of Jerusalem." In 1846, a large-scale painting was created by Claude Jacquand, entitled Molay Prend Jerusalem, 1299 ("Molay Takes Jerusalem, 1299"), which depicts the supposed event. Today the painting hangs in the Hall of the Crusades in the French national museum in Versailles. And in the 1861 edition of the French encyclopedia, the Nouvelle Biographie Universelle, it says in the "Molay" article:
"Jacques de Molay was not inactive in this decision of the Great Khan. This is proven by the fact that Molay was in command of one of the wings of the Mongol army. With the troops under his control, he invaded Syria, participated in the first battle in which the Sultan was vanquished, pursued the routed Malik Nasir as far as the desert of Egypt: then, under the guidance of Kutluk, a Mongol general, he was able to take Jerusalem, among other cities, over the Muslims, and the Mongols entered to celebrate Easter"—Nouvelle Biographie Universelle, "Molay" article, 1861.
Some modern writers, such as the contrarian historian Laurent Dailliez (Les Templiers), the novelist of popular pseudohistory Robert Payne (The Dream and the Tomb), and various Templar-related websites, still consider that the Templar of Tyre's Molay was Jacques de Molay himself, and attribute all of Mulay's deeds, as well as rumors of his deeds, to the Grand Master.
- "611. Ghazan, when he had vanquished the Sarazins returned in his country, and left in Damas one of his Emirs, who was named Molay, who had with him 10,000 Tatars and 4 generals." Le Templier de Tyr 611. Original French: 611. Cacan quant il eut desconfit les Sarazins se retorna en son pais et laissa a Domas .i. sien amiraill en son leuc quy ot a nom Molay qui ot o luy .xm. Tatars et .iiii. amiraus."
- Demurger, p.97–99
- Amitai, p. 244
- Luisetto, p.205
- "Meanwhile the Mongol and Armenian troops raided the country as far south as Gaza." Schein, 1979, p. 810
- Demurger, p. 99 (English edition): "Ghazan left Syria under the control of the emir Mulay, whom the Templar of Tyre refers to as Molay, thereby leading to confusion with [Jacques de Molay]"
- Runciman, p.439
- Amitai, p. 247
- Schein, 1979, p. 810
- Amitai, p. 248
- Demurger, p. 158
- Nicolle, p. 80
- Original French: 611. Cacan quant il eut desconfit les Sarazins se retorna en son pais et laissa a Domas .i. sien amiraill en son leuc quy ot a nom Molay qui ot o luy .xm. Tatars et .iiii. amiraus."
- Demurger, pp. 203–204
- "Le grand-maître s'etait trouvé avec ses chevaliers en 1299 à la reprise de Jerusalem." François Raynouard (1805). "Précis sur les Templiers".
- Claudius Jacquand (1846). "Jacques Molay Prend Jerusalem.1299" (painting). Hall of Crusades, Versailles. Retrieved 2007-09-09.
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