al-Ashraf Shaban

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Copper fils from the time of al-Ashraf Shaban

Al-Malik al-Ashraf Nasir ad-Din Shaban (II.) Ibn Husain ( Arabic الملك الأشرف ناصر الدين شعبان بن حسين, DMG al-Malik al-Asraf Nāṣir ad-Dīn Šaʿbān b. Ḥusain ) was Sultan of the Mamluks in Egypt from 1363 to 1377 .

The reign of the Emir Yalbugha

Al-Ashraf Shaban, who was put on the throne by the powerful Emir Yalbugha after the deposition of Sultan al-Mansur Muhammad II in May 1363 , was the ten-year-old grandson of Sultan al -Nasir Muhammad . Yalbugha's position of power, which he had already held under the two previous rulers, was based primarily on the large number of his Mamluks, of whom he owned between 1,500 and 3,000 - much more than the Sultan himself. Yalbugha was, however, not a cultivated emir like Shaychun or Sarghitmisch , but an unpredictable and brutal man who had one of his mummy tears out when the latter contradicted him. The generation of Mamluks he brought up through brutal discipline was to occupy key positions in the empire as governors and military commanders until the first years of the Circassian Burjiyya sultans . Many of these Circassians, including the later Sultan Barquq , were probably recruited by Yalbugha.

Economic and military conflicts with Christians

From 1361 to 1366 Yalbugha held the office of Atabak al-Asakir (Commander in Chief of the Army) and was able to subdue the Bedouins in Upper Egypt and Nubia again. However, he failed completely in this function as “protector of the empire” when he was unable to repel the attacks of the Crusaders of Cyprus . As early as the 1340s, Christians and Muslims had been fighting over control of trade and ports in the eastern Mediterranean. Above all, Cyprus and Egypt fought for control of the south and south-west coast of Asia Minor , especially of the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia , where not only wood, iron and white slaves, but also spices and silk were handled. In 1337 the Mamluks even temporarily conquered Sis , the capital of this empire, and in 1355 the ports of Tarsus , Adana and Massisa . In addition, in 1355 and 1361 the Mamluk sultans concluded new trade agreements with Venice , which further weakened Cyprus' position in the Levant trade. Since Peter I of Lusignan's accession to the throne as King of Cyprus in 1359, however, the island's ties with Armenia have become ever closer. The conflict between Christians and Muslims was also stoked outside of the official contacts: while Turkish pirates, supported by the Mamluks, brought Christian ships into the eastern Mediterranean, Christian ones attacked Muslim ships from their bases in Cyprus and Rhodes and searched the coast of the Mamluk Syria home. All this, and probably also the fact that he had been Titular King of Jerusalem since 1360 , induced Peter I to send his fleet together with the Knights of St. John from Rhodes against Alexandria and to plunder and destroy the city in the worst possible way. Alexandria, politically insignificant and popular mainly as a place of imprisonment for disgraced emirs, but still lively as a trading center, had not yet recovered from the aftermath of the plague epidemic of 1347 when the Crusaders conquered and ruled the city on October 10, 1365 Caused massacres. The governor, a middle-ranking emir, was on the Hajj and Yalbugha in Cairo was reacting too slowly, believing the news of the attack was a ploy to lure him away from the capital and then overthrow him in his absence. The flooding of the Nile, which had not yet receded, additionally delayed the advance of the slowly assembled relief troops. In the meantime, however, the Crusaders had failed to take the bridge over the Canal between Alexandria and the Nile, and so they withdrew after a week of looting. However, the war dragged on for a few years. Cypriot ships attacked Latakia and Tartosa (1367), Tripoli , Sidon and Beirut , as well as the Cilician ports of Ayas and Bodrum , which were also under Mamluk control, and Alexandria again in 1369. As a result, not only were the fortifications of Alexandria repaired, an Egyptian fleet built and a higher-ranking emir installed as governor of the city, but there was also increased persecution of Copts in Egypt and Maronites in Lebanon .

Shaban's reign after Yalbugha's death

View of the eastern corner of the madrasa-mausoleum complex of the sultan's mother Chawand Baraka (d. 1372), in which Shaban II was buried

A year after the attack on Alexandria, Yalbugha was killed (1366) by one of his own Mamluks, who no longer wanted to endure the brutal treatment by his master, which was probably also not unjust to Sultan al-Ashraf Shaban. Four years later, after Peter I had also died in 1369, a peace was made between Cyprus and Egypt (1370) and in 1375 the Mamluks even succeeded in conquering Armenia, which was annexed and henceforth jointly administered by a Mamluk governor and a local vassal prince. After Yalbugha's death, al-Ashraf Shaban had taken over his Mamluken, which strengthened his position. Despite the conquest of Cilicia and the renewed boom in trade with Venice, Egypt suffered further setbacks, both economically and militarily, due to an insufficient flood of the Nile in 1374 and a subsequent famine and pulmonary plague epidemic. The plague also dangerously thinned the ranks of the elite soldiers, which meant that their positions had to be replenished with newly recruited Mamluks. In terms of foreign policy, the Mamluk Sultanate in the province of Aleppo was threatened both by a Bedouin uprising (1368), which ended with the murder of the Mamluk vice-regent there, and by repeated incursions from the north by Turkish tribes.

In the 1370s al-Ashraf Shaban's power and reputation grew: In view of the above-mentioned problems, he developed into an energetic and even popular sultan, because he acted sensibly and competently and was also pious. So he had a magnificent tomb madrasa built for his mother, who was just on a pilgrimage and Chawand (Lady) Baraka, who was widely revered for her kindness, generosity and beauty . The building of Umm as-Sultan Schaban , located today in the so-called “southern Islamic quarter” of Cairo, is one of the most attractive of the entire Mamluk era and was later to serve as the final resting place of its builder (and his son Hajji II ). In 1377 the Sultan himself planned a pilgrimage to Mecca and prepared everything necessary for his absence. Nevertheless, the former Mamluks of Yalbughas were able to take this opportunity to put on a coup in March of the same year and take the Cairo Citadel . Shaban was captured shortly afterwards and strangled. One of the prominent conspirators was the Circassian Mamluk Barquq , who had been imprisoned for a period after Yalbugha's death before becoming a sultan himself five years after al-Ashraf Shaban's assassination, thus establishing the Burji dynasty . First, al-Mansur Ali II and al-Salih / al-Mansur / al-Muzaffar Hajji II were supposed to ascend the throne in 1377 and 1382 (and again in 1389), two sons of Shaban II.


  • Doris Behrens-Abouseif: Cairo of the Mamluks. A History of the Architecture and its Culture. Tauris, London et al. 2007, ISBN 978-1-84511-549-4 , pp. 218-219.
  • Robert Irwin : The Middle East in the Middle Ages. The Early Mamluk Sultanates 1250-1382. ACLS History E Book Project, New York NY 2008, ISBN 978-1-59740-466-2 , pp. 144-149.
predecessor Office successor
al-Mansur Muhammad II Sultan of Egypt ( Bahri dynasty )
al-Mansur Ali II.