Prof. Dr. Marcel Erdal
J. W. Goethe-University Frankfurt/M,   09. 06. 2004, 18:00, Turm-AfE 2702
Translation from German in to English: Fehmi Altın


German        English        Turkish

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

I would like to speak in one's lecture of the most thrilling and perhaps also very special structures of the history, the Circassians participated which and glorious have written capital. First, goes around the Circassians period of the Mamluken Empire which ruled in Egypt in Syria and in Palestine for several centuries. How it came to that well that absolute power performed Circassians elite in the fourteenth and in the fifteenth century over these Arabian areas? Saying briefly we want to try this here.

The north western Caucasus in which the Circassians people have lived for prehistoric period was run down by the Mongol Hordes in the early thirteenth century. The Mongolian Empire which contained everything between Peking and Poland and between Siberia and the Persian golf disintegrated into several partial states shortly after the death of Genghis Khan. The empire of the Golden Horde then resulted for the Caucasus in the complete East-European room, in west Siberia and in today's west Kazakhstan and altogether northern; on the other hand, in Iran and in east Anatolia this set empire the Il-hane against that southern the Caucasus. Mamluken’s state, which had established itself in the complete east of the Mediterranean Sea between southeast Anatolian and Egypt also was set against the Il-haniden but allied with the Golden Horde against this.

Mamluk is in Arabic 'slave'; there was slave trade in the Orient into the Ottoman time. The Ayyubies-Dynasty which ruled in Egypt formed a large their army by import of non-Muslim boys, their army since the ninth century mainly from non-Muslim Turks from Central-Asia and the Ottomans formed their elite units like also the Abbasies with capital in Baghdad from children from Balkan families in much later time. Muslims were not allowed in principle to be traded as slaves. Slaves of many peoples, e.g. Mongols and Chinese, Greek and Russians, Armenian and Osseten, reached Egypt and Abaza read. The two largest slave groups were the members of Turkish-kiptschakischen Peoples from Ukraine from today's south Russia or the north Caucasus and the Circassians. Their heathendom, their physical suitability, their faithfulness and their purposefulness made the hard and primitive conditions allegedly under which these peoples lived the Turks and the Circassians the most sought-after soldiers.

This was the social and economic conditions in the room between the Ukraine and the Caucasus so much, the families often handed in their own children both instead of tax and because they couldn't feed them themselves at that time. The Mongols used their campaigns for collecting slaves mainly; also otherwise kidnappings very often took place between the ethnic groups because earned sums the slaves great. In the Middle-East, the life of Mamluk slaves often got much better than in their old native country because the Islamic was the most progressive society of the world at that time. You reached after they were brought up to be Muslims in the barracks in which they were brought up to be elite soldiers in extremely Spartan way. Most Mamluken were released at a certain time and the most talented under them could to the highest positions do in the empire reached; So one could Mamluk be a very big chance of the to who.

Turkish Military slaves weren't only fetched by the Ayyubies to Egypt and the Abbasies to Iraq; there were they also in large numbers at the Samanies in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and east Iran and at the Guriden in north India. The Central-Asian Turks seized the power in these two states now; so the state ruled over by Turkish elite resulted for the Ghasnavies by the year 1000 and at 1200 the Sultanate of the slave kings of Delhi. In Egypt the Mamluken got particularly strong between 1250 and 1260 that them first, then beat the shamanist Mongols of the Il-hani Empire and saved the complete Islamic world through this the Christian Crusades. Like in the two states mentioned above, this way the slaves imported to Egypt also came to the power.

The Egyptian Mamluken were an elite which only dealt with aggressive things and didn't mix with the local people; increasingly more new Mamluken were fetched here from the south East European steppe and no Arab women were married either.

The Mamluk-Army was organized after ethnic membership in different barracks; the kiptschakischen Turks belonged to the regiment of the Bahriyya, the Circassians belonged to the regiment of the Burciyya, this at 1280 of the Sultan Kala'Un was founded. Within the first 130 years of the state, exactly the half of the mamlukischen power, the Kiptschak-Turkish Faction was at the power. The different regiments were competing namely under each other. The Circassians were very dreaded of the other Mamluken because they were alleged for ambitious and tended to the power over

The competition ended in favour of the Circassians when the Circassians Sultan Barkuk attained the power and ruled over for 17 years in 1382. At that time, the purchase kiptschakischer slaves had already decreased anyway since the much kiptschakischen Turks had already gone in to the Islam; the empire of the Golden Horde which became less reliable source for the supplying of slaves through this to one disintegrated at that time, too. Mamlukenreich was only bought now Circassians through which these elite were strengthened still further. The Circassians were very solidarity under each other and appointed members of their people to all offices. So Al-Kalqaschandi wrote in the year 1412 that most commanders and soldiers were Circassians at his time and that only very few Turks had been left.

Being is interesting the royal Successions at the Circassians period: It was hardly ever bequeathed by the father on his physical son; mostly, it went from the gentleman on his released slave who was then followed by his released slave. The conquest of Cyprus in 1426 has to be mentioned to military actions. The Circassians Mamlukenreich was often threatened after were of by the Ottomans which swallowed its vassal states in Elbistan, Diyarbakir etc. at first and also completely incorporated it at the end themselves. The another one, the Safawies were in Iran and a more thirdly the Portuguese who attained a position of power in the Indian ocean and threatened Domination of the Mamluken in the Spice-Trade to that one of this time another enemy. The Ottoman Sultan Selim I. conquers Syria and Egypt in the year 1517. Through this the power of the Circassians Mamluken came to an end. However, their administrative and military structures were continued approximately that is also under the Ottomans up to the eighteenth century; then the recruitment of Circassians from its native country went on and disappeared after and after, too. The Circassians also had become Muslims and could be no more slaves in principle by then.

I thank you for the attention, which you have given to this topic, which comes as ours from a completely different society.