Battle of Marj al-Saffar (1303)
The Battle of Marj al-Saffar in context of the Mongol offensives in the Levant, 1299–1300
Previous Mongol-Muslim conflict
Nearly 40 years later, the Ilkhan Ghazan
, once again invaded Syria, retaking Aleppo in 1299. Ghazan defeated Mamluk forces at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar
that same year, and Damascus quickly surrendered to him. After sending raiding parties as far south as Gaza, Ghazan withdrew from Syria.
Events just before the battle
In 1303, Ghazan sent his general Qutlugh-Shah
with an army to recapture Syria. The inhabitants and rulers of Aleppo and Hama
fled to Damascus
to escape the advancing Mongols. However, Baibars II
was in Damascus and sent a message to the Sultan of Egypt to come to fight the Mongols. The Sultan left Egypt with an army to engage the Mongols in Syria, and arrived while the Mongols were attacking Hama. The Mongols had reached the outskirts of Damascus on April 19 to meet the Sultan's army. The Mamluks then made their way to the plain of Marj al-Saffar
, where the battle would take place.
The battle commenced on 2 Ramadhan 702 in the Hijri
calendar, or April 20, 1303. Qutlugh-Shah's army was positioned near a river. Hostilities began when Qutlugh-Shah's left wing attacked the Mamluk's right wing with his brigade of 10,000 soldiers. The Egyptians reportedly suffered heavy casualties. The Mamluk center and left wings under the command of the emirs Salar and Baibars al-Jashnakir, together with their Bedouin
irregulars, then engaged the Mongols. The Mongols continued their pressure on the right flank of the Egyptian army. Many of the Mamluks believed that the battle would soon be lost. The Mamluk left flank, however, had remained steady.
Qutlugh-Shah then went to the top of a nearby hill, hoping to watch the victory of his forces. While he was issuing orders to his army, the Egyptians surrounded the hill. This led to heavy, bitter fighting, and the Mongols suffered many casualties on the hill. The next morning, the Mamluks deliberately opened their ranks to allow the Mongols to flee to the river Wadi Arram. When the Mongols arrived at the river, they were able to receive reinforcements. However, while the Mongols were taking on badly needed supplies of water for themselves and their horses, the Sultan was able to attack them from the rear. The subsequent fighting, which lasted until noon, was vicious. By the next day, the battle was over.
According to the medieval Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi
, after the battle, Qutlugh-Shah
reached the Ilkhan Ghazan at Kushuf, to inform him of the defeat of his forces. It was reported that Ghazan, upon hearing the news, had gone into such a rage that it resulted in a nose bleed.
Messages were sent to Egypt and Damascus to tell of the victory, and the Sultan went to Damascus. While the Sultan was in Damascus, the Mamluk army kept chasing the Mongols as far as Al-Qaryatayn
. When the Sultan returned to Cairo, he entered through the Bab al-Nasr
(Victory Gate) with chained prisoners of war. Singers and dancers were called from all over Egypt to celebrate the great victory. Castles were decorated and the celebrations lasted many days.
- ^ Kurkjian, p. 206
- ^ Mazor, p. 123
- ^ Waterson, p. 210
- ^ Mazor, p. 123
- ^ Waterson, p. 210
- ^ Mazor, p. 124
- ^ Kadri, Sadakat (2012). Heaven on Earth: A Journey Through Shari'a Law from the Deserts of Ancient Arabia ... macmillan. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-09-952327-7.
- ^ Al- Maqrizi , Al Selouk Leme'refatt Dewall al-Melouk
- ^ Quatremere, vol II, Translation.
- Boyle, J. A. (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 5 The Saljuq and Mongol Periods.
- Kurkjian, Vahan M. (2008). A History of Armenia. Indo-European Publishing. ISBN 9781604440126.
- Mazor, Amir (2015). The Rise and Fall of a Muslim Regiment: The Mansuriyya in the First Mamluk Sultanate, 678/1279-741/1341. Bonn University Press. ISBN 978-3-8471-0424-7.
- Waterson, James (2007). The Knights of Islam: The Wars of the Mamluks. Greenhill Books. ISBN 978-1-85367-734-2.
Last edited on 25 April 2021, at 20:21
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.