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Arming SlavesFrom Classical Times to the Modern Age$
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Christopher Leslie Brown and Philip D. Morgan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780300109009

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300109009.001.0001

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The Mamlūk Institution, or One Thousand Years of Military Slavery in the Islamic World

The Mamlūk Institution, or One Thousand Years of Military Slavery in the Islamic World

Chapter:
(p.40) The Mamlūk Institution, or One Thousand Years of Military Slavery in the Islamic World
Source:
Arming Slaves
Author(s):

Reuven Amitai

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300109009.003.0003

From the early ninth century to the first decades of the nineteenth, military slavery was typically the primary form of military organization in regions such as Egypt, India, and the edges of Central Asia. Military slaves—also called ghulāms or mamlūks—were often the predominant element of a Muslim army and occasionally exploited their prowess and importance to achieve political influence. This chapter examines the origins of military slavery in the Islamic world and its eventual disappearance within the framework of general histories of medieval and early modern Islam. In particular, it looks at the role often played by military slaves, mostly Turks, in the history of the Middle East spanning some 1,000 years. It also considers the origins of the institution in the 'Abbāsid Caliphate of the early ninth century as well as the so-called Mamlūk Sultanate that ruled Egypt and Syria from the mid-thirteenth century until the time of the Ottoman Empire in 1516–1517.

Keywords:   military slavery, military slaves, mamlūks, Islamic world, Islam, Middle East, 'Abbāsid Caliphate, Mamlūk Sultanate, Egypt, Syria

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