The Late Mamlūk Transition of the 1380s: The View from the North Caucasus

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John Latham-Sprinkle

Sprinkle J.L. (2022) The Late Mamlūk Transition of the 1380s: The View from the North Caucasus. Al-Masāq Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean.


This article argues that the transition between the early and late Mamlūk Sultanate in Egypt in the 1380s was partially caused by political developments in the Northwest Caucasus. The transition from “Turkish” to “Circassian” mamlūk dominance was facilitated by the rise of new princely elites in the Northwest Caucasus during the bulqaq civil wars in the Ulūs of Jochi (Golden Horde) (1359–1381). These new elites justified their rule through their access to the wider Mediterranean world and its material products. With the end of the bulqaq, these princes lost access to the imperial centres of the Ulūs of Jochi, important sources of these prestige goods. In order to maintain their position in the Mediterranean market, they increasingly raided, enslaved and sold other Northwest Caucasians, which led to a rise in the number of Circassian slaves becoming available in Egypt and Italy.

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Al-Masāq Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean