The Battle of Marj Dabiq and the fall of the Mamluks

The Battle of Marj Dabiq and the fall of the Mamluks

The Battle of Marj Dabiq 1516

Mamluk-Ottoman conflict

  • The Ottomans began to emerge as a rising power in the region since the first half of the fourteenth century and when the Banu Osman state was established, the Ottomans took the city of Prusa in Asia Minor as their capital.

  • Over time, the young state began to expand until it captured the entire region of Asia Minor and the victories of the Ottomans culminated in the success of Fatih Sultan Mehmed ( Mehmed II ) in the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 AD.

  • The Egyptian-Ottoman relations were initially characterized by a policy of affection and Alliance, where the Mamluks and the Turks allied against the Portuguese threat to the Mamluk sovereignty in the Red Sea, as well as the Mamluk State allied with its Ottoman counterpart against the Mongol raids led by Timorlank and the remnants of the Crusaders, but the tension between the two states soon escalated, especially with the approach of the borders of the Ottoman state with the Mamluk possessions.

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  • The relationship between the Ottoman and Mamluk States was initially a relationship of affection and alliance, as evidenced by the participation of the Mamluk and Ottoman fleets in the Portuguese war, and differences began to surface with the beginning of the confrontation between Sultan Selim I and Shah Ismail Safavi, Sultan of Persia, as each sought to ally with the Mamluks to confront the other.

  • Each of them sent their ambassadors to Sultan qansuh Al-Ghouri asking him for an alliance, but Shah Ismail warned qansuh of the danger of Selim I to his king and explained to him that their lack of alliance would enable Sultan Selim to single out one by one and eliminate him, especially with his signing of the truce with the Europeans, while Sultan Selim urged Sultan qansuh to ally against the enemies of religion from the Shiite apostates, warning him of the ambition of the Safavids towards Aleppo and the Levant.

  • When he did not receive a response from the qansuh, he resorted to warning him about the future of the Safavids as a veiled threat to him, and when Sultan Selim marched towards Persia, he sent Ala Al-Dawla, Prince of the Turkmen dynasty, asking him to help him in the Safavid war, Ala Al-Dawla apologized to him, citing his old age and falling under the protection of the Mamluks, but after the departure of the Ottoman army, Ala Al-Dawla's forces attacked the rear of the Ottoman Army ( historians disagree about whether this happened by order of the qansuh or not ).

  • However, qansuh sent a letter of thanks to Ala Al-Dawla, demanding that he continue to skirmish with Sultan Selim I.
  • Sultan Selim responded to this with a letter sent to Sultan qansuh informing him of Ala Al-Dawla's deed, Sultan qansuh replied to him that Ala Al-Dawla was disobedient. Since then, Sultan Selim has been lurking in the Mamluk Sultanate and people realized that both of them bear evil to the other.

Before the battle

Sultan Qansuh al-Ghawri

  • Qansuh tried to calm the matter between him and Sultan Selim after his decisive victory in the Battle of jaldiran 1514 AD, so he offered to mediate peace between him and Shah Ismail, but Sultan Selim aggravated the treatment of the messengers and reprimanded them.

  • Sultan Selim gathered his ministers and army commanders and reminded them of the act of Ala Al-Dawla, subject to the Mamluks, and the Mamluks refused to cooperate with them in the Safavid war, so his opinion settled on declaring war on the Mamluks, on the condition that he sent a letter to Sultan qansuh offering him to enter Sultan Selim's will.

  • The purpose of the letter was to drag qansuh Al-Ghouri into the war. At that time, Sultan qansuh made a big political mistake by treating the delegation harshly and insulting them in retaliation for what happened with his delegation earlier, instead of trying to repair the relationship between him and Selim. Sultan qansuh sent a large army out of Egypt to inspect his troops in Syria and to be ready for any Ottoman move.

  • While Sultan Selim at the head of his army left Istanbul for the Levant. After qansuh learned of Selim's departure to meet him, he sent a message to Jan Bardi Al-Ghazali and to Homs to gather his forces with the Emirs of the Chouf and Lebanon and meet him at the plain of Marj Dabiq

  • The governor of Aleppo, Khayr Bey, was in contact with the Ottomans and persuaded him to betray Khayr Bey on a promise to rule Egypt , and although the consul received two warnings about Khayr Bey's betrayal ( one of the warnings was from Prince Sibay, the ruler of Damascus personally), he ( according to the opinion of Jan Bardi Al-Ghazali, Khayr Bey's old friend ) refused to punish him so as not to distract the Princes ' hearts before the battle.

Army strength

The Ottomans Army
  • The Ottomans came out with a huge army of approximately 125 thousand fighters with 300 cannons and a large number of carbines ( primitive rifles ) The army consisted of The forces of Al-qabuquli: they are composed of infantry and Sawaris, the basic nucleus of the Ottoman army and State forces: the state forces were diverse, and their most prominent forces were: Al-Azab ( infantry ) divisions, the agenji (attackers) divisions, and the Timar (supporting forces) divisions and Selim left his son Suleiman as his deputy in Istanbul.
  • The number of Mamluk forces is not specified, although it is estimated at five thousand fighters from Egypt in addition to the armies of the Levant Emirates ( from 10 to 20 thousand at the latest ) . The consul left his nephew Tuman Bay as his deputy over Egypt.

Events of the Battle of 1516

Ottoman Sultan Selim I

  • The two armies lined up and skirmishes began between them, and soon the Mamluk cavalry made a lightning attack on the Ottoman soldiers, shaking them and disturbing their ranks.

  • Where the Archers of the Mamluk cavalry attacked the bayariq campaign of the Ottomans and then turned to attack the musket and carbine rifle campaign, and the Mamluk soldiers surrendered and showed courage until Selim I thought of renewing the truce after the heavy losses that befell his army, but the powerful artillery strikes had gone the Mamluk attacks in vain.

  • Qansuwah Al-Ghuri was leading the army from his horse when Khair Bey, the governor of Aleppo and the commander of Al-Maysara, suddenly sided with the Ottomans and not only that, but claimed that Sultan qansuwah Al-Ghuri was killed, so the Mamluks were shaken after their ranks were exposed, their numbers were few and their morale collapsed after the rumor of the Sultan's death and the attacks of the jalban Mamluks ended in nothing.

  • The Ottomans intensified their bombardment of the Mamluks with cannons, which the Mamluks did not care about like the Ottomans, the losses increased among the Mamluks, the soldiers began to falter and flee, the army broke up, the Ottomans won and killed large numbers of Mamluk soldiers, and his sniper Al-Ghouri was killed during his withdrawal, Sultan qansawa did not find a body and it was said that one of his officers cut off his head and buried it so that the Ottomans would not recognize it.

Battle results

Tuman Bay
  • The victory of the Ottomans in this battle opened the door to enter Damascus, so Selim I easily entered it and began to prepare for the invasion of Egypt and the elimination of the Mamluk state after he tightened his control over the Levant.

  • In Egypt, the Mamluks installed Tuman Bay as Sultan and began to prepare to repel the Ottomans, but their laziness, inaction and betrayal of some of them ensured the fall of the state and their defeat in the Battle of Ridaniya 1517 and then the Ottoman takeover of Egypt.

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