Arabic: ‘az–zāhiri rukn ‘ad-dīn baybars ‘al-bunduqdārī
(1223?-1277) Mamluk sultan 1260-1277.
Baybars, a man of unique qualities, was able to rise from the inferior position of a common slave to become the ruler over Egypt. As a military leader he accomplished Egypt’s enormous military achievements, established good relations with numerous other states, sending ambassadors to states like the Byzantine Empire and Sicily, and he signed commercial treaties with Christian kings in Spain.
Baybars’s great ideal was Saladin, and he conducted a zealous holy war against the remaining Christian strongholds in the Middle East. In order to accomplish this, he rebuilt all the citadels and fortresses in Syria that had been destroyed by the Mongol invasion. He also built an advanced military infrastructure, with new arsenals, warships and cargo vessels.
Moreover, Baybars effectively united Syria and Egypt as one state. Through this, he was more capable of surpressing the double threat of Mongols from the east and of the Crusaders already established along the Middle Eastern coast. Baybars also secured less threatening fronts in the West and South. Military expeditions were sent into Libya and Nubia, with him as the commander in many cases.
On the homefront, he was active in building the infrastructure of the state. Canals were built in Egypt, harbours were improved, and he even established a postal service between Cairo and Damascus that required only 4 days for delivery. He also built mosques, and appointed chief justices of all the 4 schools of Sharia.
1223?: Born north of the Black Sea in a tribe of Kipçak Turks.
1240’s: Captured by Mongol warlords with their invasion of Baybars’ home region. He is sold as a slave to Egypt, where he ends up in the possession of the Ayyubid sultan. He is trained as a soldier, and soon impresses others with his outstanding abilities. When he returns to the sultan’s court, he is appointed commander of his bodyguard.
1250 February: Leads the Ayyubid army against the Crusaders of Louis 9 of France at Mansura. The Crusader army is crushed, and Louis captured, and later released for a large ransom.
— May: Baybars’ men has the new sultan killed. The Ayyubid dynasty is soon replaced with a dynasty where Mamluk (slave) officers represent the actual power.
Early 1250’s: Because he angers the new Mamluk sultan Aybak, Baybars has to flee to Syria together with other Mamluk officers.
1260 September: Baybars and the other exiled officers are welcomed back to Egypt by the new sultan, Qutuz.
— October: Baybars kills Sultan Qutuz by stabbing a sword in his neck. The motivation is pure self-interest to become sultan. His goal is realized when the old emir Aqtay immediately appoints him the new sultan.
1261: Baybars make a descendant of the Abbasid Caliphate dynasty of Baghdad the new caliph, but now in Cairo. This caliph was formally the head of the Muslims, but Baybars saw to it that no power left his own hands. By reestablishing the caliphate, the sultanate of Baybars was legitimized.
1265: Attacks the Armenian kingdom, where a large numer of the cities are conquered, including the capital Sis. Many of the Armenians are killed, and he takes alltogether 40,000 captives.
— Captures the town of Arsuf, forcing the Knights Hospitallers to leave. Moreover, he occupies the Christian towns of Atlit and Haifa.
1266 July: Takes control over the town of Safed which had been in the hands of the Knights Templar.
1268: Takes control over Jaffa, without meeting any resistance.
— May: Conquers Antioch after a few days. Most of the inhabitants are murdered, and the city is destroyed.
1271: Baybars’ army seizes the strongholds of the Assassins.
1273: The Assassin fortresses fall to Baybars, and the members are either killed or replaced.
1276: Seizes the city of Caesarea which was Seljuq territory.
1277: Baybars drinks a cup of poison that was not intended for him, and dies in Damascus, where he was buried.