Al-Na!?ir MW:iammad (1294), another of Qalawful’s sons, became
sultan, his reign lasting until 1340 with several short usurpations by
Amirs Kitbugha (1295), Lajin (1297) and Baybars II al-Jashankir
(1309). Despite this, his long reign was marked by security and
prosperity for Egypt. and economic ties were strengthened
with European states and treaties made with the Mongol states.
In the 40 years following the death of Sult. al-Na!?ir Mii.J::iammad
there was a series of eleven sultans, all his sons or relatives. They were
mostly ineffectual, incompetent, or unbalanced, and of the two who
did show some ability for government Isma91 ( 1342) died of grief after
the execution of his brothers Al).mad I and Kujuk, while al-l;lasan
(1345 and 1347) was imprisoned and probably murdered. The power
was in the hands of the amirs who indulged in ferocious internecine
conflicts. But external relations during this period were tranquil
with trade flourishing and virtually no enemies to threaten the


(1382-151’1). In 1382 the sultanate was seized by
BarqU.q, a Burgi mamliik from the citadel, and it was the Circassians
from this barracks who were to rule Egypt for the next 140 years. But
another threat appeared from the E. In Persia, Timur (Tamerlane), an
amir of the Khan, had usurped the Khanate and was harrying lands far
from Persia, first to the E, but by 1387 his troops were on the borders of
Syria. Timiir was kept at bay by Barquq, but during the reign of
Barquq’s son Farag (1399) he sacked Damascus in 1400. Fortunately
Timur turned E again, but in Egypt the campaign had been paid for by
heavy taxes and the stable administration was shattered. This was
followed in 1403 by famine and plague. Once again the economy
srarted to deteriorate.
After the death of Farag, the open sultanate was filled for six
months by the cAbbasid khalif, al-Mustacin, who was usurped by
Mucayyad Shaykh (1412). He pushed back the frontiers in Syria, but at
further expense to the economy and the imposition of state trade
monopolies. After his death in 1421 there were three sultans within a
year, a sign of the great struggles that went on among the amirs for
succession, but the next sultan, Barsbay (1422), was a strong character. His relations with the new power in the N, the Ottomans, were
generally friendly, although there was trouble in the NE with the
· Turkomans. Egyptian influence increased and her sea power was
supreme in the Eastern Mediterranean while trade expanded in the
Indian Ocean. All this, however, was not enough. State monopolies
increased and production dropped, raising the cost of living. These
trends continued for the next hundred years, though it was a period of
relative peace and cultural vitality.


There were few remarkable sultans during this period but Qaytbay
(1468–1498) was ~n exception. Under him there was a revival,
although his building programmes threw a great burden on the
economy. But several vital factors were leading towards a crisis. The
Portuguese had found their way into the Indian Ocean providing
Europe with a direct route to S Asia and the spice trade and, by the of Sultan Qan!?uJ::i al-Ghawri (1501), they were powerful enough to
penetrate far into the Red Sea. The Ottomans, under Salim I, were
engaged in a war with the Ismacil, Safavid Sultan of Persia. Both sides
were casting covetous eyes on the territory of Syria. Qan!?fil:i led an
army to observe the outcome of the war which the Ottomans won,
next turning towards the Mamliik territories in Syria. Qan!?