Baybars I (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Through military prowess, administrative skill, courage, and practical good sense, Baybars rose from slavery to become the virtual founder and most eminent representative of the Mamluk (slave) Dynasty in medieval Egypt.
Baybars I, al-Malik al-Zahir Rukn al-Din Baybars al-Salihi, was born around the year 1223 in what is now southern Russia. A member of the tribe of Kipchak Turks living on the north shores of the Black Sea, Baybars was a victim of the Mongol invasion of his native region in the late 1230’s. By the time he was fourteen, Baybars had become a prisoner of war; he was sold in the slave market in Sivas, Anatolia. Syrian merchants took him deep into the Arab world, where Baybars eventually became the property of al-Malik al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub, sultan of the Ayyubid Dynasty in Egypt.
This was a time of political fragmentation in the Arab world, following the breakup of the ʿAbbasid empire (750-1258) and the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols. Various local regimes, or principalities, had arisen in the void created by the collapse of the ʿAbbasid state. The Ayyubids in Egypt, like other territorial princes, began to rely heavily on imported Turkish slave troops for their defense. It was for this purpose that Baybars was either sold or given to the sultan.
Sultan al-Salih sent Baybars off to an island in the Nile for military training. The adolescent Turk...
(The entire section is 2765 words.)
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