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African Kingdoms

Islamic Egypt


Islamic Egypt

Ancient Egypt of the Ptolemies had been conquered by the Roman empire and remained a Roman province for approximately six and-a-half centuries. In the seventh century AD the weakening Eastern Roman empire, which had inherited the province, lost control to the Islamic empire when the latter's fervently enthusiastic forces swept through in 639-640, taking Libya at the same time. For the next century the region was governed directly by the Umayyad caliphate to the east, restoring a situation which had existed periodically between the rise of the Assyrian empire until the division of Alexander the Great's Greek empire. Gradually, most Egyptians converted from Christianity to Islam and learned to speak Arabic (the remaining Christians becoming known as Copts), and a new capital was established in the north (modern Cairo).

Islamic Governors of Egypt
AD 640 - 750

Amr ibn al-As was a military commander who led the Islamic conquest of Eastern Roman Egypt after already having led the conquest of Syria and Palestine. He was also a contemporary of Muhammad himself, and a member of the 'sahaba', the Companions, accepting conversion in the eighth year of the new Islamic calender. Once Egypt was secured, Amr ibn al-As founded a new capital at Al-Fustat, building the Amr ibn al-As Mosque at its centre. Subsequent governors under the Rashidun caliphate and its successor, the Umayyad caliphate, had a fairly hard time in Egypt, with a variety of reasons seeing them either removed from office, killed, deserting, or dying. The Rashidun-era governors were termed amirs, which translates as general or prince but which usually meant governor. Their later Umayyad successors, from 659, were walis.

640 - 646

Amr ibn al-As

Was emir of Syria & Palestine. Secluded by Rashidun caliph.

640 - 641

The invasion of Egypt begins in the later months of 640. A victory at the Battle of Heliopolis delivers much of the country to the Arabs, but the Babylon Fortress (in the region of modern-day Coptic Cairo) has to be besieged for several months before it surrenders.

The Eastern Roman capital at Alexandria, capital of Egypt for a thousand years, surrenders a few months later and a peace treaty is signed in late 641 in the ruins of a palace in Memphis. To confirm his authority here, Amr ibn al-As is known to stamp an order with his name in 641 which orders the leaders of the local Rabbinate Jewish community against interfering with the practices of the Karaite Jews or the way in which they celebrate their holidays.

Al-Fustat was the first capital of Islamic Egypt, built by Amr ibn al-As, but most of it was deliberately burned down in 1168 and the remains were absorbed into Cairo


Egypt is briefly re-conquered by Eastern Roman forces, but their victory is short-lived. They are defeated at the Battle of Nikiou and Egypt is secured by the Arabs for good.

646 - 656

Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad

Foster brother of Uthman. Deposed by his replacement.

647 - 649

The troops of Gregory the Patrician of the Eastern Roman exarchate of Africa are severely defeated by the invading troops of the Islamic empire under the command of Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad, and Gregory himself is killed in 648. The province appears to be occupied for perhaps a year or so by the Arabs while the Roman forces hold the fortresses. In 649 the Arabs withdraw, allowing Constantinople to regain some level of control there. The country's interior remains firmly in the hands of the native Berbers, who repel any attempts to subdue them.

655 - 661

FeatureThe First Islamic Civil War is triggered when Ali ibn Abi Talib becomes the Rashidun caliph. The Sunni/Shia split in Islam is created by his rule, with Sunni Muslims counting Abu Bakr as the first legitimate caliph, while the Shi'a count Ali as the first truly legitimate caliph. For two decades around these years the civil war rages in Arabia, and Ali is assassinated in 661.


The first stages of the civil war see Rashidun Caliph Uthman ibm Affan replaced by Ali ibn Abi Talib. Soon afterwards, Uthman's foster brother in Egypt, Abdullah Ibn Sa'ad, is also deposed.

656 - 657

Muhammad Ibn Abi Huzayfa

In office for one year before he was killed.


Qays Ibn Sa'ad

In office for six months but secluded.


Malik Ibn Al-Harith

Died before he could take office.


Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr

Son of Rashidun Caliph Abu Bakr. In office for 5 months. Killed.


Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, the adopted son of Rashidun Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, had been appointed governor of Egypt. However, Muawiyah I, governor of Syria (and soon to be the first Umayyad caliph), sends his general, Amr ibn al-As and six thousand troops to take control. Ibn Abi Bakr is easily defeated, and is captured and killed.

659 - 664

Amr ibn al-As

Returned from disgrace.


Hasan, son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, is regarded as a righteous Rashidun caliph by Sunni Muslims, is recognised by only half the Islamic empire. He is challenged and ultimately defeated by Mu'awiya, the Umayyad governor of Syria. Mu'awiya ensures he has a loyal governor in Egypt, which remains under firm Islamic control.

664 - 665

Utba ibn Abi Suffyan Ibn Harb

Died in office.

665 - 667

Oquba ibn Amir al-Gahny

Removed from office.

667 - 682

Muslima ibn Makhlad al-Ansari

682 - 684

Sa'id ibn Yazid ibn al-Qama al-Azdi

Removed from office.

683 - 684

Upon the death of Yazid, his son becomes Caliph Mu'awiya II, but he seems not to be accepted outside Syria. Abd-Allah ibn al-Zubayr renews his own claim, gathering supporters from the many who are dissatisfied with Umayyad rule.

Civil war breaks out, but a rival faction under Marwan quickly proves to be superior (with support coming from Hassan ibn Malik ibn Bahdal al-Kalbi, governor of Palestine). It conquers Egypt and the renegade areas of Syria which have sided with the opposition. Ibn Zubayr is finally killed in 692 in battle against Abd al Malik.


Abd al-Rahman ibn Utba ibn Gahdam

Removed from office.

685 - 705

Abd al-Aziz ibn Marwan ibn al-Hakam

705 - 709

Abdullah ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan

Nephew. Removed from office.


The Arabic language is made the official language of the government of Egypt, beginning the long formation of Egyptian Arabic which is still the country's national language today. However, it takes until the seventeenth century before the existing Coptic language is replaced as the national language.

Coptic Church of St Mary
Whilst Arabic was selected (or enforced) as the official language of Egypt, Coptic - the language of the church, which would have been heard in the Church of St Mary at the Monastery of the Syrins at Wadi Natrun pictured here - was retained for liturgical services and remains in use today

709 - 714

Qurra Ibn Sharik al-Absi

714 - 717

Abd al-Malik ibn Rifa'a al-Fahmi

Removed from office.

717 - 720

Ayyub ibn Sharhabil

720 - 721

Bishr ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Became wali of Ifriqiyya and the Maghreb (720-728).

721 - 724

Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi



Despite being a successful governor, Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi is replaced when the new Umayyad caliph, Hisham, succeeds in Damascus. The caliph sends his own brother to govern Egypt, but the new governor swiftly proves to be a disappointment, beginning a run of poor governors.


Muhammad ibn Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan

Brother of Umayyad Caliph Hisham. Left post during epidemic.

724 - 727

Al-Hurr ibn Yusuf

Died in office.

725 - 727

The resentment of the Copts (the unconverted Christian population of Egypt) against rising taxation triggers a revolt. Two years later, in order to strengthen Arab representation, a colony of 3,000 Arabs is set up near Bilbeis.


Abd al-Malik ibn Rifa'a al-Fahmi

727 - 735

Al-Walid ibn Rifa'a ibn Thabit al-Fahmi

Removed from office.

735 - 737

Abd al-Rahman ibn Khalid al-Fahmi

Removed from office.


Abd al-Rahman ibn Khalid al-Fahmi is the latest in a string of bad governors. The Umayyad caliph, Hisham, removes him and finally decides to reinstate Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi to the post.

737 - 741

Handhala ibn Safwan al-Kalbi

Second term. Became wali of Ifriqiyya and the Maghreb (742-745).

741 - 744

Hafs ibn al-Walid ibn Yusuf al-Hadrami

Requested that he be replaced.


Hasan ibn Atahiya

Abandoned his post.

744 - 745

Hafs ibn al-Walid ibn Yusuf al-Hadrami

745 - 749

Al-Hawthala ibn Sohayl al-Bahili

Removed from office.


Al-Mughira ibn Unayd al-Fazari

Died in office.


Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan Musa ibn Nussayr

Removed from office by the Abbasids.

747 - 749

The Abbasids under Abu Muslim begin an open revolt in the Islamic emirate of Khorasan against Umayyad rule. Khorasan quickly falls and an army is sent westwards. Kufa falls in 749 and in November the same year Abu al-Abbas is recognised as caliph. The Umayyads are overthrown and massacred in the revolution, with the survivors fleeing to Iberia where they rule independently. Caliph Marwan flees to Egypt, where he is captured and killed. This signals the end of the Arab empire, but loyal Abbasid governors are installed in Egypt.

Abbasid Governors of Egypt
AD 750 - 868

The Abbasid usurpation of the caliphate saw the Umayyads deposed except in Iberia. The general, Saleh ibn Ali, pursued the fleeing Caliph Marwan II to Egypt, where the latter was captured and killed. The general also captured Fustat for the Abbasids in 750 and he handed control of Egypt and Libya to the second governor soon afterwards. A new headquarters was established at the northern edge of the capital, el Askar ('the soldiers'), but this quickly merged with the expanding city itself. Details on the governors other than their names seems to be vary sparse.


Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah

Abbasid general who conquered Fustat from the Umayyads.


As his reward for the successful conquest of Damascus and Fustat, and for disposing of the last of the Umayyad caliphs, Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah is made wali of Palestine.

751 - 753

Abu Awn Abdul Malik ibn Yazid

Second Abbasid governor of Egypt. Fled an epidemic.

753 - 755

Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah

Returned as governor from Palestine & Syria. Removed.

754 - 755

Saleh ibn Ali ibn Abdullah is the uncle of Abbasid Caliph Abdullah as Saffah, but the caliph dies in 754. Saleh's brother, Abdallah, launches a revolt in Syria against the new caliph, claiming that he himself is the rightful successor. Saleh refuses to join his brother's revolt. Instead he enters Syria to help suppress it, defeating Abdallah's governor of Palestine, al-Hakam ibn Da'ban. Abdallah is also defeated and is forced to submit to the new caliph.

Abbasid silver dirham
The silver dirham pictured here was issued during the reign of Caliph Muhammad al Mahdi (775-785), only the third of the Abbasid caliphs at their capital in Baghdad

755 - 758

Abu Awn Abdul Malik ibn Yazid

Second term of office.

758 - 759

Moussa ibn Ka'b ibn Oyayna ibn Aisha

Removed from office.


Mohammed ibn al-Aha'th al-Khoza'i

Removed from office.

760 - 762

Hamid ibn Quahtaba

Removed from office.

762 - 768

Yazid ibn Hatim al-Mohalabi

Removed from office.

768 - 772

Abdullah Ibn Abdel Rahman


Mohammed ibn Abdul Rahman

Brother. Died in office.

772 - 778

Moussa ibn Ollai ibn Rabah al-lakhmi

778 - 779

Eissa ibn Loquman al-Gomahi

Removed from office.


Wadih, Mawla of Abu Ga'far

Removed from office.


Mansour ibn Yazid ibn Mansour al-Re'ini

Removed from office.

779 - 780

Yahya ibn Daoud al-horashi

Removed from office.

780 - 781

Salim ibn Sawada al-Tamimi

Removed from office.

781 - 784

Ibrahim ibn Saleh ibn Abdullah ibn Abbas

Son of Saleh ibn Ali (753-755). Removed from office.

784 - 785

Moussa ibn Mous'ab al-Khath'ami



Asama ibn Amro al-Ma'fri

Removed from office.


Al-Fadl ibn Saleh ibn Ali al-Abbassi is sent to quell a rebellion in Egypt. He is related to the Abbasid caliphs and has previously served as wali of Damascus (766-775), adding Aleppo to that in 769, and then of al-Jazira (775-780). After defeating the rebels at al-Fustat, he is appointed governor by Musa al Hadi, son of the caliph.

785 - 786

Al-Fadl ibn Saleh ibn Ali al-Abbassi

Former wali of Damascus, Aleppo, & al-Jazira. Removed.


Musa al Hadi succeeds his father as the Abbasid caliph and relieves Al-Fadl ibn Saleh ibn Ali al-Abbassi of his position as governor.

786 - 787

Ali ibn Salman al-Abbassi

Removed from office by his replacement.

787 - 789

Moussa ibn Eissa ibn Moussa al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

789 - 790

Muslima ibn Yahia al-Bagli

Removed from office.


Mohammed ibn Zoheir al-Azdi

Removed from office.

790 - 791

Daoud ibn Yazid al-Mouhallabi

Removed from office.

791 - 792

Moussa ibn Eissa ibn Moussa al-Abbassi

Second term of office. Removed from office.


Ibrahim ibn Saleh ibn Abdullah al-Abbassi

Second term of office. Removed from office.

792 - 793

Abdullah ibn al-Mousayyeb ibn Zoheir

Removed from office.

793 - 794

Ishak ibn Soliman

Removed from office.

794 - 795

Harmatha ibn A'youn

Formerly in Palestine. Became wali of Ifriqiyya (795-797)

794 - 795

Abd al-Malik ibn Salih had been governor of the strategically critical jund Qinnasrin (c.789-793) and then of the newly-formed jund of al-'Awasim, which comprises the caliphate's border with the Eastern Roman empire. Following his appointment as governor of Damascus, he also serves briefly in Medina and Egypt, before returning to the Byzantine frontier.


Abd al-Malik ibn Salih

Son of Saleh (750). Former wali of Damascus.


Abdullah ibn al-Mosayyeb al-Abbassi

In office for 10 months.


Abdullah ibn al-Mahdi al-Abbassi

In office for less than a year.

796 - 797

Moussa ibn Eissa ibn Moussa al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

796 - 797

Oubeidullah ibn al-Mahdi al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

797 - 798

Ismail ibn Saleh al-Abbassi

In office for less than a year.


Ismail ibn Eaissa al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

798 - 803

Al-Layth ibn al-Fadl

Removed from office.

803 - 805

Ahmed ibn Ismail ibn Ali ibn al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

805 - 806

Abdullah ibn Mohammed al-Abbassi

Removed from office.

806 - 808

Al-Hussein ibn Gamil

Removed from office.


Malik ibn Dalhem al-Kalbi

Removed from office.

809 - 827

This period is marked by instability within Egypt, promoted by conflict between various interests within the Islamic empire. That instability continues throughout the century.

Harun al Rashid silver dirham
Shown here are two sides of a silver dirham which was issued during the reign of Abbasid Caliph Harun al Rashid (786-809), a reign which at its end saw internecine strife within the Islamic empire


Al-Hassan ibn al-Takhtakh

Removed from office.

810 - 811

Hatim ibn Harthama ibn A'youn

Removed from office.

811 - 812

Gaber ibn Asha'th al-Ta'i

Forced out of Egypt.

812 - 813

Abbad ibn Mohammed ibn Hayyan

Removed from office.

813 - 814

Al-Mottab ibn Abdullal al-Khoza'I

Removed from office.


Al-Abbass ibn Moussa ibn al-Abbassi

814 - 815

Al-Mottalib ibn Abdullah al-Khoza'i

Forced out of Egypt.

815 - 816

Al-Serri ibn al-Hakam

In office for 6 months until his troops revolted against him.

816 - 817

Soliman ibn Ghalib ibn Gebril al-Bagli

In office for 5 months until his troops revolted against him.

817 - 820

Al-Serri ibn al-Hakam

Second term of office.

820 - 822

Abu al-Nassr



Obeid Allah ibn al-Serri

Brother. Removed from office by his successor. Rebelled.

822 - 826

Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Mazid al-Shibany

Removed by the rebellion of his predecessor?

826 - 827

Abdullah ibn Tahir ibn al-Hussein is sent to Egypt, where he successfully ends an uprising led by Obeid Allah ibn al-Serri, the fallen former wali. After a brief tenure in office in Egypt, he gains the governorship of Khurasan following the death of his brother. On the way, in 829, he stops the Khurramite Babak, and is then ordered to Khurasan by the Abbasid caliph to put down the Kharijites, finally arriving in 830.

826 - 827

Abdullah ibn Tahir ibn al-Hussein

Former wali of Syria. Removed. Became Tahirid emir of Khorasan.

827 - 829

Some records show the position of governor remaining vacant for two years as the post and its responsibilities becomes unworkable. It seems that Eissan ibn Yazid al-Gloudi is officially governor, but may not be able to take or fully hold onto that office.

827 - 829

Eissan ibn Yazid al-Gloudi


Omair ibn al-Walid



Mohammed Ibn Omair


829 - 830

Eissan ibn Yazid al-Gloudi

Second term of office.

830 - 831

Abd Waih ibn Gabla / Abdoweya

Removed from office.

831 - 832

The Turkic general, 'Afshin', is more accurately Ḥaydar ibn Kāwūs, afshin (ruler) of the city of Ustrushana in Samanid-administered Sogdiana. He puts down a joint Arabic-Coptic rebellion, and the Arabic families lose power for good. Suddenly Egypt and its governors are able to experience a semblance of stability.

831 - 832

Essa Ibn Mansour

Removed from office by his successor.

832 - 834

Kider / Quaidar Nassr ibn Abdullah

Son of Abbasid Caliph Abdullah al Ma'mun.


Mozzaffar ibn Quaidar


834 - 839

Moussa ibn Abi al-Abbass

839 - 841

Malik ibn Quaidar

841 - 843

Ali ibn Yahia al-Armani

Armenian. Removed from office.


Ali ibn Yahia al-Armani, 'the Armenian', is given command of the caliphate's border in Cilicia, facing the Eastern Roman empire. He is the first emir of Tarsus known to exercise near-independent authority, as the Abbasid caliphate declines in authority. He briefly returns to office in Egypt in 849.

843 - 847

Eissa ibn al-Mansour

848 - 849

Harthama ibn al-Nadr al-Gabali


Hatim ibn Harthama ibn al-Nadr

849 - 850

Ali ibn Yahia al-Armani

Second term of office. Removed from office again.


Isshac ibn Yahia ibn Mo'az


Khout Abdul Wahid ibn Yahia

852 - 856

Anbassa ibnn Isshac al-Dabbi

Removed from office.

856 - 867

Yazid ibn Abdullah al-Tourki

Non-Abbasid governor. Removed from office.

866 - 867

The first Turkish governor in Egypt, Yazid ibn Abdullah al-Tourki, had been appointed as part of the succession arrangements of Abbasid Caliph Ja'far al Mutawakkil. He survives in office despite there being three successive caliphs during the period, but Egypt is becoming more and more unstable. A rebellion is triggered around Alexandria by Jabir ibn al-Walid, and he enjoys broad local support. The rebellion spreads across the Nile delta region and the Turkish garrison at Fustat is defeated. Yazid is removed from office in 867.

867 - 868

Mozahim ibn Khaqan

Non-Abbasid governor. Died in office.


Ahmed ibn Mozahim ibn Khaqan

Non-Abbasid governor. Died in office.


Azgour al-Torki

Non-Abbasid governor. Unseated by his Tulunid replacement.

867 - 868

The Saffarid emirs oust the Tahirids in Khorasan in 867, while Venice defeats the empire at Taranto. Suddenly the Islamic empire is looking a little shaky and, to cap its problems, in the following year the Tulunids secure the independent control of Egypt.

Tulunid Governors of Egypt
AD 868 - 905

During a period of uncertainty within the Islamic empire, the newly-assigned Tulunid governor of Egypt assumed independent control of the country. Ahmad ibn-Tuluh, who was the first fully independent ruler of Egypt in over eight hundred years, built one of the oldest monuments in Cairo: the ibn Tulun Mosque. Despite their independence, the Tulunids never openly proclaimed their removal of Egypt from the caliphate. Eventually, the dynasty fell victim to the brief revival of Abbasid power at the beginning of the tenth century.

868 - 884

Ahmed ibn-Tuluh / Ahmad ibn Tulun

Established himself as an independent governor of Egypt.

877 - 878

Abbasid troops are sent against Ahmed because he has failed to send enough tribute to Baghdad. Defeating them, the following year he invades and captures Palestine and Syria.

Tomb of Ahmed ibn-Tuluh in Cairo
The tomb shown here in Cairo is that of Ahmed ibn-Tuluh, one of only two strong rulers during the country's fairly unsettled Tulunid period, the other being his son, Khumarawayh

884 - 896




Benefiting from a well-trained army, a stable economy, and an efficient bureaucracy, Khumarawayh is able to achieve further military gains, including the capture of areas of northern Iraq. Unfortunately, his military efforts weaken that stable economy for future rulers.


After Khumarawayh's death, the emirs who succeed him are weak and ineffective, allowing their slave-soldiers to take control of the day-to-day running of the emirate.


Jaysh / Abu l-Ashir

Son. Deposed by the military commanders.

896 - 904


Brother. Killed trying to invade the Abbasid caliphate.

904 - 905

Shayban / Shaiban

Surrendered to the Abbasids.


The Tulunids are weakened by this stage following years of mismanagement of the country. Harun's botched invasion of the Abbasid caliphate has triggered a response. Egypt is invaded and Shayban retreats to Fustat where he surrenders on 10 January 905. The Tulunid dynasty of governors and semi-independent rulers is ended and loyal and obedient Abbasid governors are installed.

Abbasid Governors of Egypt
AD 905 - 935

The Abbasid caliph regained direct control of Egypt with a successful invasion of the weakened Tulunid emirate and the surrender of the last Tulunid emirs on 10 January 905. The Abbasids placed loyal governors in the capital to maintain day-to-day control of the country. Again, as with the previous period of Abbasid Governors, details on them seems to be vary sparse.

905 - 910

Eissa al-Noushari

First restored Abbasid governor (wali).

910 - 915

Abu Mansour Tekin

914 - 921

Egypt is invaded for the first time by a Fatamid force sent by Caliph al-Mahdi Obaidallah, who has established himself at Kairawan. His son successfully captures Alexandria in 919, and it takes repeated influxes of reinforcements from Baghdad to finally free the country in 921.

Old Cairo
The Fatamid conquest of Egypt in 969 finally established the dynasty as the most powerful single Islamic force, and it immediately established a capital at the new city of Cairo (the pyramids are visible in the distance)

915 - 919

Zaka Al-A'war

920 - 921

Abu Mansour Tekin

Second term of office.

921 - 923

Hilal ibn Badr

923 - 924

Ahmed ibn Keghlegh

924 - 933

Abu al-Mansour Tekin

Third term of office.

933 - 935

Abbasid control of Egypt proves to be short-lived when the country falls under the control of the Mameluke dynasty of Turkic governors who are allowed to rule in a semi-independent manner.

Mameluke Dynasty of Ikhshidite Amirs in Egypt
AD 935 - 969

Mamelukes (or Mamluks) were originally Turkic soldiers who had been captured in war and recruited into the armies of Islam. They became more important over time simply because they became indispensable in maintaining control. The Mameluke Ikhshidite (or Ikhshidid - Persian for 'prince') emirs began the process of drifting out of Abbasid control again under the Turkic slave soldier, Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid, former wali of Syria (896-933). At its greatest extent, the emirate included Palestine and Syria, but then it found itself trying to stop the triumphant Fatimids, ultimately unsuccessfully.

935 - 946

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid

Turkic Mameluke slave soldier and governor.


Egypt loses control of Syria to the Hamdanids of Aleppo.

Buto (Tell El Farain)
Egypt's waning power and the continual fighting for its control was carried out amongst the ruins of four thousand years of civilisation and previous empires

946 - 961


961 - 966


966 - 968

Kafur al Labi / Abu al-Misk Kafur

Vizier and effective ruler following the death of his master.

968 - 969



A weakened Egypt is removed from Abbasid control and is ruled by the North African Fatamids following their capture of Cairo. They also gain Damascus.

Fatamid Caliphate of Egypt (& Viziers)
AD 969 - 1174

The Fatamids of Tunisia were considered to be descendants of Ali ibn Abi Talib (Rashidun caliph in 656-661) and his wife, Fatima, daughter of the Prophet Muhammed. They began their rise to power amongst the Kutama Berbers of eastern Algeria during the Rustamid imam period and soon founded a capital at Mahdia. From there their rise was swift, taking Morocco in 926 and Mameluke Egypt in 969.

They retained control of much of North Africa (and Palestine) because they were seen as the last unifying force in the Islamic world, but their brutal rule of Egypt soon created conflict. The first of the Fatamid rulers, Al Mahdi Obaidallah, also claimed the title of caliph in direct opposition to the Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad, and Egypt would emerge as their battleground (his caliphate is sometimes shown as carrying his name - the Obeidia dynasty).

(Additional information from the Historical Dictionary of the Ismailis, Farhad Daftary, and The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, Farhad Daftary, and The Coptic Encyclopaedia, Vol 4, André Ferré (Ed).)

969 - 976

Jawhar al-Siqilli

Fatamid general in Egypt. Viceroy (969-972). Regent (979).


In the same year as they capture Egypt and Palestine, the Fatamids build the beginnings of al Kahira (modern Cairo) to serve as a royal residence. The following year they build the great mosque of Al-Azhar, named after the Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Fatima Al-Zahra'.

The Fatamids control Egypt directly, as governors, and also exercise power through their viziers, who are listed in this section. Their tenuous hold over Palestine leads to over half a century of near-constant violence there.

Fatamid dinar
A Fatamid dinar, minted in Egypt in 970, which expresses the dynasty's Shi-ite beliefs in opposition to the powerful Sunni Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad

976 - 991

Ya'cub ibn Killis / Yaqub

First Fatamid vizier. A Jew who 'embraced' Islam.


Ibn Killis is followed by six viziers in as many years during the reign of Caliph Al Aziz.



Unknown Fatamid vizier.



Unknown Fatamid vizier.



Unknown Fatamid vizier.



Unknown Fatamid vizier.



Unknown Fatamid vizier.

995 - 996

Isa bin Nasturus / Nestorius

Fatamid vizier. Coptic Christian. Dismissed and later executed.


The period of relative stability enjoyed by Damascus since the city's recapture in 977 now comes to an end with the death of Fatamid Caliph al Aziz and the succession of al Hakim. The governor of Damascus, Magu Tegin, is abandoned by his own ally while attempting to enter Egypt in support of Barjawan and his seizure of the post of vizier.

996 - 997

Abu Al-'Ala' Fahd ibn Ibrahim

Fatamid vizier. Coptic Christian. Assassinated.

997- 1000


Fatamid vizier. Seized power and executed by Caliph Al Hakim.


During the next short period, and especially during the reign of Caliph Al Hakim, there are more than fifteen viziers or wasitas (another term for the same position). Their powers are limited following the misuse of office by Barjawan, and most apart from Al-Hussain and Ali bin Falah are from the lower classes, not military people. Records detailing them are few in number, but most of them appear to be raised by the changeable caliph only to be executed some days, weeks or months later.

1000 - ?

Al-Hussain bin Jawhar

Fatamid vizier. Given more limited powers.

1010 - 1012

Abu al-Khayr Zur'ah

Son of Isa bin Nasturus. Fatamid vizier. Died naturally.

fl 1013

Ali bin Falah

Fatamid vizier.

fl 1017


Fatamid vizier.

1017 - 1020

One of Caliph Al Hakim's viziers, a certain Darazi, claims that the caliph is an incarnation of God. To the caliph's Egyptian subjects, this is the last straw. They are shocked by the vizier's announcement and begin to make fun of their slightly mad caliph. The growing dispute between al Hakim and the populace results in the breakout of a rebellion in 1020. The Fatamid caliph sends troops to put down the unrest and even burns the city of al Fustat.

Al-Azhar Mosque
Construction of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo was started by the Fatamids in 970 and the completed building was dedicated in 972, as depicted in this print



Son of Isa bin Nasturus. Fatamid vizier. Executed after 4 months.

1028 - 1045

Ali bin Ahmad Jarjarai / al-Jarjara'i

Fatamid vizier. Hands cut off in 1013 for disloyalty.

1045 - ?

Ibn al-Anbari

Fatamid vizier.

? - ?

Abu Mansur Sadaqa

Fatamid vizier.

1049 - 1058

Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Yazuri

Fatamid vizier. Died.

1058 - 1072

With the execution of al-Yazuri, factional fighting and disorder follows, with a rapid succession of ineffective viziers, about forty of them, while the Fatamid state undergoes a period of decline, accompanied by the breakdown of civil administration, chaos in the army, and the exhaustion of the public treasury.

1060 - 1072

Tension in Fatamid Cairo has been slowly growing over the course of the century due to the caliphate's policy of organising military units based on ethnic background. While this policy has generally been effective in military terms, its effect on the political sphere has been more disruptive, pitching Berber factions against Turkic factions. In the 1060s, Egypt suffers a series of droughts and famines, and the delicate political balance breaks down completely. Turkic and Nubian troops fight openly while the Berbers chop-and-change according to circumstance. Eventually, the Turks seize most of Cairo and hold the caliph to ransom while the Berbers and Nubians are loose in the countryside.


Desperate to resolve the ongoing situation in Cairo, Fatamid Caliph al Mustansir recalls General Badr al-Jamali, governor of Acre and Palestine (and former of governor of Damascus in 1063). He successfully puts down the various rebel factions, clearing out much of the Turkic presence at the same time. However, the caliphate has been seriously weakened by the revolt. Badr al-Jamali becomes the first military vizier of the caliphate (the 'viziers of the sword', with powers much the same as the magistri militum of the late Western Roman empire, and they dominate the caliphate in much the same way as the late Roman emperors had been dominated). The military viziers become the heads of state in all but name, with the caliph reduced to the role of figurehead.

1072 - 1094

Badr al-Jamali

First Fatamid military vizier. Former governor of Syria & Palestine.


Following the death in the same year of Fatamid Caliph al Mustansir and his strong general, Badr al-Jamali, a series of weak caliphs sit on the throne and struggle against their viziers to see who will dominate. The Fatamids are crucially compromised by this internal power struggle.

1094 - 1121

Al-Afdal bin Badr al-Jamali Shahanshah

Son. Fatamid military vizier. Murdered.

1121 - 1125

Al-Ma'mum / Al Mamn

Fatamid military vizier. Crucified in 1128.


King Baldwin II of Jerusalem is captured by the Ortoqids in northern Syria. In his absence the kingdom is governed by the constable of Jerusalem, Eustace Grenier, and the Fatamid military vizier, Al-Ma'mum, spies an opportunity to capture the coastal stronghold of Jaffa. Launching his attack from Egypt, Al-Ma'mum's force is intercepted by Crusader troops, at the Battle of Yibneh (or Yibna), close to the Fatamid coastal fortress of Ashkelon (Ascalon). The battle is short and decisive, with the Fatamid fleet also being destroyed by the Venetians, and the Fatamid threat is virtually ended for the next thirty years.

1125 - 1130?

After the imprisonment and crucifixion of Al-Ma'mum, Caliph Al Amir does not appoint any further viziers, preferring to run things directly. His death in 1130 allows a new vizier to be appointed, probably that same year by the new caliph, Al Hafiz.

1130? - 1132


Fatamid military vizier. Killed by Caliph Al Hafiz. Armenian.



Eldest son of Fatamid Caliph Al Hafiz. Died after 2 months.



Brother. Revolted and was put to death by Al Hafiz.

1135 - 1137


Fatamid military vizier under Al Hafiz. Christian Armenian.


Bahram's pro-Armenian policies provoke a military revolt led by Ridwan, the new governor of Gharbiyya. Bahram is forced out of office, and after the failure of his own revolt in Qus, he is granted permission by Caliph al Hafiz to retire to a monastery where he remains until 1139. Then al Hafiz recalls him to al Kahira (Cairo) and entrusts him with the responsibilities of the vizierate, without officially appointing him to the post, until his death in 1140.

1137 - 1139


Fatamid military vizier under Al Hafiz. Removed from office. Killed.

1139 - 1140


Restored Fatamid military vizier under Al Hafiz. Died.

1140 - 1149

Ibn Masal Najm Al-Din Salim

Fatamid military vizier. Killed by Al-Adir after about 50 days.


The son of an Ortoqid officer in the service of the Fatamids, as governor of Alexandria, Al-Adir assembles his troops and marches on al Kahira (Cairo). He kills the serving military vizier and imposes himself on Caliph Al Zafir as his new vizier.

1149 - 1153

Al-Adir bin al-Salar Abu L-Hasan 'Ali

Fatamid military vizier. Murdered by Abbas.

1153 - 1154

Abbas bin Abi'l-Futuh

Fatamid military vizier. Murdered Caliph Al Zafir. Killed.

1154 - 1161

Tali ibn Ruzzik / Russik

Fatamid military vizier. Regent to Caliph Al Faiz. Assassinated.

1161 - 1163

Russik ibn Tali

Son. Fatamid military vizier. Killed by Shawar.

1163 - 1164

Russik is killed when Shawar revolts and enters al Kahira (Cairo). Shawar assumes the office of vizier, and his new ally, Dirgham, is appointed sahib al-bab (grand chamberlain). Dirgham revolts later in the same year, driving Shawar out of al Kahira. Shawar re-invades Egypt with a force supplied by the Zangid ruler, Mahmud Nur ad-Din, and after several battles Dirgham is defeated and killed. Shawar is restored to his post.



Fatamid military vizier. Overthrown by Dirgham.

1163 - 1164

Al Dirgham bin Amir bin Sawwar

Fatamid military vizier. Killed by Shawar after 9 months.

1164 - 1169


Restored Fatamid military vizier.


Shortly before this year, the Fatamids agree a deal with King Amalric I of Jerusalem for the price of two hundred thousand gold pieces to protect them from the Sunni Muslims. But this first attempt to capture Egypt ends in a stalemate between Crusaders and Sunnis and both agree to withdraw. Amalric returns and massacres the population of the Nile Delta city of Bilbeis on 3 November 1168. This act unites the Egyptians and their capital undergoes dramatic change as a result. The original Islamic capital of al Fustat is deliberately burned down by its own vizier to prevent it from falling into Crusader hands. The newer city of al Kahira is protected by walls, and takes over fully as the country's capital. Later known as Cairo it gradually absorbs the remains of Fustat (which now exist as part of Old Cairo). The Crusaders advance to the new city and place it under siege.

Baldwin III of Jerusalem
Amalric I's immediate predecessor, Baldwin III, was one of the key Christian leaders who were involved in the Second Crusade, although one of its first acts was a failure in front of the walls of Damascus


The formal career of Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (or Saladin), begins when he serves on the staff of his uncle, Asad ad-Din Shirkuh, the military vizier under Nur ad-Din of Aleppo and Damascus. They are involved in a race with the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem to conquer Fatamid Egypt. On 2 January 1169, the Crusaders retreat from their siege of the walls of Cairo and evacuate the region, allowing Shirkuh to take control as vizier under the Fatamids. Shirkuh and his nephew found the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt (although not, at this stage, an independent one).


Asad ad-Din Shirkuh

Fatamid military vizier. Died.

1169 - 1171

Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (Saladin)

Fatamid military vizier. Founded the Ayyubid dynasty.

1171 - 1174

The caliph dies, ending Fatamid rule of Egypt and leaving the country in the control of Saladin, under the suzerainty of Mahmud Nur ad-Din of Damascus. The latter's death in 1174 allows Saladin to assert his full control over Egypt, becoming the first Ayyubid sultan.

Ayyubid Sultans of Egypt
AD 1174 - 1252

One of the greatest commanders of the Crusader period, Saladin was the former vizier of Fatamid Egypt. His new domain was also known as the sultanate of Ayyubia and, because he was a Kurd by birth, as the sultanate of Kurdia. After creating himself the first Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, Saladin was able to use the country as his base of operations. From there he was able to occupy Damascus and other Syrian towns, although Egypt remained his headquarters. Then he defeated and drove the Crusaders from Jerusalem, and set up his sons and relatives in several subsidiary lines within Ayyubid territory, in Aleppo, Damascus, Diyar Bakr (taken by the White Sheep in 1402), Hamat, Hims, and Yemen. Most of these were ended by 1260 by the Mamelukes, or they fell to the Mamelukes following the Mongol invasion of Mesopotamia. The line in Hamat was a little more durable, only falling to the Mamelukes in 1332, and the line in Diyar Bakr, with some interruptions, survived until conquest by the White Sheep Turks in the later fifteenth century.

Although originally ruling from Egypt, Saladdin spent the last years of his life fighting in Syria and Palestine and was buried in Damascus, next to the Umayyad mosque. The Ayyubid family still survives in modern Lebanon and retains Saladin's sword.

1174 - 1193

Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub (Saladin)

Former vizier and now sultan. Also ruled Damascus (1183-1186).


The kingdom of Dongola enters a sharp decline, due in part to increased Bedouin attacks after these tribes people have been pushed south by the Ayyubids.

The Citadel in Cairo
Saladin set about building the famous citadel in Cairo soon after taking power, though it would not be finished until fourteen years after his death, in 1207

1182 - 1183

Saladin leaves Egypt to fight the Crusaders of Outremer in Syria, never to return to the seat of his authority. The following year he conquers Damascus and Aleppo from Sinjar, although it appears that Sinjar itself retains some level of independent local rule.


Damascus is ruled by an Ayyubid relative as a subsidiary state. Saladin attempts to take Mosul in the same year but is unsuccessful.


The Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem is defeated by Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. Although the other captured nobles are ransomed, all of the captured Knights Templars and Knights Hospitallers are executed. Thousands of Christian prisoners are marched the four hundred miles back to Cairo, where they are forced to work on extending the city's fortifications and building the Citadel. Saladin then besieges Jerusalem itself, before coming to peace terms with its defenders. The city is evacuated by the crusader knights.

1193 - 1198

al Aziz Uthman (Imad ad Din)

Son. Inherited Egypt.


After several raids against the inept al Afdal at Damascus, his brother, al Aziz Uthman, loses patience and allies himself with another brother, az Zahir. Together they attack Damascus and end al Afdal's reign. Their popular uncle, al Adil, gains Damascus in his place.

1198 - 1200

al Mansur (Nasir ad Din)


Al-Malik al-Adil I manages to acquire territory between his sultanate in Damascus and in Mesopotamia, before he also overthrows al-Mansur and rules in Egypt too.

1200 - 1218

al Adil I (Sayf ad Din / Safadin) / Abu Bakr

Brother of Saladin. Ruler of Ayyubid Damascus (1196-1201).

1202 - 1204

The Fourth Crusade witnesses the capture of Constantinople by Crusaders in the employ of Venice, causing the first break in the line of Eastern Roman emperors.

1218 - 1238

al Kamil I (Nasir ad Din)

Son. Ruler of Ayyubid Damascus (1238).


Sinjar is fully conquered by the Ayyubids, ending whatever independence it may have enjoyed up to this date. Sultan Al-Mu'azzam Isa of Damascus has become obsessed with destroying Crusader fortifications. Between 1219-1220 he dismantles much of Jerusalem in pursuit of this aim, in the process driving away much of the city's Jewish community.

1228 - 1229

The Fifth Crusade hits the region and Jerusalem is ceded to the Christians at Acre while the Ayyubids squabble amongst themselves. For allowing Jerusalem to fall into Christian hands, al-Kamil is vilified by many Muslims, but it brings peace with the Crusaders.

From the moment of his accession in 1227, al Nasir II of Damascus has faced opposition from his uncle, al Kamil I. The latter attacks him, taking Jerusalem (before handing it over to the Christians) and Nablus. Appealing to another uncle, al Ashraf, the ruler of Harran, al Nasir is betrayed when both uncles team up. Damascus is besieged between late 1228 and June 1229, when it falls. As agreed, al Kamil takes Palestine and al Ashraf gains Damascus and the north, acknowledging his brother as overlord. Al Nasir is compensated with the emirate of Kerak in the Transjordan.

1234 - 1240

Al Kamil sends his son, the future as Salih II, to Damascus, removing him from the succession in Egypt after suspecting him of conspiracy in alliance with the Mamelukes. His uncle, as Salih Ismail, soon expels him from Damascus, and he flees to the Jazira, where he becomes allied to forces from the former emirate of Khwarazm.

1237 - 1238

Just months after the accession of as Salih of Damascus, al Kamil sends a force to besiege the city. It falls in 1238 and as Salih I is removed from power. Al Kamil governs the district personally before his sudden death.

1238 - 1240

al Adil II (Sayf ad Din)

Son. Ruler of Ayyubid Damascus (1238-1239). Overthrown.


Ismail, the former as Salih I of Damascus, initially supports as Salih II Ayyub. The latter begins to strongly encourage Ismail to join him at Nablus so that they can embark on a campaign to snatch Egypt from al Adil II. Instead, Ismail gains support from the Ayyubid princes of Hama, Homs, and Kerak, and captures Damascus in September. Ayyub is abandoned by his troops, captured, and handed over to an Nasir Dawud. The pair quickly decide to attack Egypt themselves, gaining it in 1240, so that Ayyub becomes sultan.

1240 - 1249

as Salih II Ayyub (Najm ad Din) / Malik Saleh

Brother. Ruler of Ayyubid Damascus (1239, 1245-1249). Murdered.


As Salih II Ismail of Damascus is quickly reconciled with an Nasir Dawud after the latter has fallen out with Ayyub. Together they decide to curtail Ayyub's ambition to conquer further Ayyubid territories. In July, Ismail reaches an agreement with Jerusalem so that the Crusaders will protect southern Palestine from Ayyub's possible attacks.

The price is high, though, as he is forced to cede all of the land west of the Jordan (won by Saladin in 1187), including Gaza, Jerusalem, and Nablus, along with his own fortresses at Hunin, Safad, and Tiberias. He is denounced throughout the Arab world for his actions.

1244 - 1245

Ayyub allies himself with the former emirate of Khwarazm against Ismail of Damascus. At the Battle of La Forbie, they defeat Ismail and Ayyub is able to reclaim the sultanate for himself. He also now rules Palestine again, re-establishing full Islamic control there despite a concerted attempt by the Latins to stop him. The following year, Ayyub defeats Khwarazm itself for failing to recognise him as its overlord.

Shah Taj al-Dunya Arslan
The shahdom of Khwarazm formed part of greater Persia until its conquest by the Mongols and, by the thirteenth century, it was fully imbued with Islamic culture and influence

1249 - 1250

al Muazzam (Turan-Shah Ghiyat ad Din)

Son. Ruler of Ayyubid Damascus (1249-1250). Overthrown.


The Ayyubid emirate of Kerak is annexed by Egypt, but by this time the Ayyubids have already lost the Hejaz and Yemen, and parts of Mesopotamia.


Following a siege, Aleppo is captured and destroyed by the Mongols while al-Muazzam is commanding there. Although the defenders are allowed to live, the sultan does not rule again. Instead, Muazzam is overthrown in Egypt by the generals of Salih II following the occupation of Damietta by St Louis IX of France. The act effectively destroys Ayyubid control of Egypt, despite several attempts by an Nasir II to recover it from Damascus.


Shajar ad Durr

Widow of Najm ad Din. Seized the throne.

1250 - 1252

al Ashraf II (Muzaffar ad Din)

Nominally until 1254 but no effective power in Egypt.

1250 - 1252

In 1250, Shajar ad Durr seizes the sultanate with the support of her Mameluke slave-soldiers, led by Aybak. Eighty days later, she marries Aybak in order to secure the full support of her subjects, before abdicating in her husband's favour, passing all control of the sultanate over to him. Al-Ashraf II serves as a figurehead for a short time. The Ayyubids survive in Damascus, but only briefly. Following that loss, only the principality of Hamat remains in Ayyubid hands (until 1341).

Mameluke Sultans of Egypt (Bahri Dynasty)
AD 1252 - 1390

The sultanate of Egypt was effectively seized from the Ayyubids by the Mameluke slave-soldier, Aybak. His marriage to Shajar ad Durr and her subsequent abdication gave him sole control over Egypt - albeit for just seven years. With the destruction of the Abbasid caliphate at Baghdad in 1258, a puppet caliphate was set up at Cairo, controlled by these Mameluke Bahris (or Bahriyya). They were descended from Kipchak Turkish tribes which invaded the Near East in two major waves in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Some of them were taken into service by Egypt and were called 'mameluke' or 'mamluk', meaning 'owned man' or 'slave'. One group of these mamelukes were called Bahri because these soldiers were initially housed in a castle on the island of Roda on the Nile, called bahr ('sea') in Egypt.

The Bahri dynasty defined the art and architecture of the entire Mameluke period. Prosperity generated by the east-west trade in silks and spices supported the generous patronage of the Mamelukes. Despite periods of internal struggle, there was tremendous artistic and architectural activity, developing techniques which had been established by the Ayyubids and integrating influences from different parts of the Islamic world. Refugees from east and west contributed to the momentum.

(Additional information from A Brief History of Egypt, Arthur Goldschmidt, and from External Link: Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.)

1250 - 1257

Aybak al Turkumani

First of the (usually) Turkish Bahris. Assassinated.


Sultan an Nasir II Yusuf of Damascus attacks Egypt with a superior army, made up of units from Aleppo, Hama, and Homs, and elements of the personal forces of Saladin's two surviving sons. Despite numerical superiority, the Syrian force suffers a shock defeat at the hands of the Mameluke Bahris, and Yusuf is forced to return to Damascus to retain control of Syria. So begins a decade of warfare and political manoeuvring which achieves no advantage for either side.

Mameluke troops
These Mamelukes aided Shajar ad Durr in seizing the Ayyubid sultanate of Egypt and establishing a Mameluke sultanate with Aybak al Turkumani


Al Ashraf II, the last of the Ayyubid sultans, is removed from his position as figurehead, and Aybak takes full control.

1253 - 1259

Qutuz al Muizzi

Vice-sultan. Seized the throne in 1259.

1257 - 1259

Al Mansur Ali I

Son of Aybak. Overthrown.

1259 - 1260

Al Mansur, himself a figurehead, is deposed in a coup which is led by the Mameluke strongman, Qutuz. The latter does not last long before he too is overthrown by the former Syrian Mameluke who himself left there following a disagreement with the sultan of Damascus, after the latter had refused to countenance his planned invasion of Egypt.

1259 - 1260

Qutuz al Muizzi

Former vice-sultan (1253-1259). Assassinated.

1260 - 1277

Baybars I al Bunduqdari

A Kipchak Turk.


A Mongol army marches on Aleppo and it quickly falls (within a week). This time, most of the inhabitants are killed or sold into slavery and the Great Mosque and the defensive Citadel are razed. When the army arrives at Damascus the city surrenders immediately as Yusuf has already fled to Gaza. Samaria is captured, with the garrison of Nablus being put to the sword, and Gaza is taken. Yusuf is captured and killed while a prisoner, but Baybars sends a Mameluke army which inflicts a defeat on the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut. Damascus is freed five days later and within a month most of Syria is in Baybars' hands.


Baybars sets up the Abbasid caliphate at Cairo, following its destruction in Baghdad. The caliphs are little more than his puppets, although they do still hold some semblance of spiritual authority. The first of them, Abdul Qasim Mustansar, co-finances a swift retaliatory attack against the Mongols, and he apparently heads the attack himself alongside General Malik Zahir (Baybars' deputy ruler). Unfortunately he is either killed in battle or lost during the chaos when Egypt's forces are repulsed. The only other survivor of the Baghdad massacre of 1258, Abul Abbas Hakim, is recalled from his place of refuge in Halab.


Sultan Baybars mobilises a large army of his highly professional troops to counter an expected thrust by the Mongols. That attack never comes so, never one to waste a good war, Baybars turns his attention to the kingdom of Jerusalem. However, weak as they are, the Crusaders still have their powerful line of forts and their holy military orders.

Baybars deploys the full force of his Mameluke military machine in front of the fearsome castle of Arsuf, a little way to the south of Caesarea, and it takes three days of hard fighting for the castle to fall. The surviving defenders are paraded through the streets of Cairo with a cross around their necks, and the castle is demolished so that it can never again be used by the Crusaders.


Baybars continues his campaigns against the Christian kingdoms, three years after destroying Jerusalem's castle at Arsuf. Antioch, the first major conquest made by the First Crusade in 1099, now falls to Baybars in just a day. Once his troops have access, the city's gates are barred from within so that no one may escape, and the Christian population is massacred. The message is clear. The Crusaders will not be returning to Antioch.

Coptic Hanging Church in Egypt
Despite having been an Islamic state since 640, Egypt was still home to some of the earliest Christian churches, such as this, the Coptic Hanging Church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary


Unable to take the greatest of the Crusader fortresses by force, Baybars uses negotiation with the Knights Hospitallers to recover the Krak de Chevaliers after 162 years of Christian occupation.


A Mameluke army under the command of Malik Zahir is claimed to conquer Sudan. This is an uncertain time for Sudan, with few records to back up any such claim, but King David II of the Sudanese kingdom of Dongola is indeed forced to flee a Mameluke attack. Whether this attack is a definitive conquest is much harder to say, but it is viewed by Arab sources as a great victory.

1277 - 1279

Al-Said Baraka / Berke Khan



Salamish / Suleymish / Solamish

Brother. Sent into exile at Constantinople for being a child ruler.

1279 - 1290

Qalawun al Alfi

Kipchak Turk and father-in-law to Baraka.

1280 - 1281

Sunkur al-Ashkar leads a rebellion from Damascus against Sultan Qalawun al Alfi. The sultan defeats it but the following year is faced with a Mongol invasion of the region through Homs under the leadership of Abaqa Khan of the Il-Khan dynasty in Persia. Fortunately the threat is overcome after the bloody Second Battle of Homs produces no clear outcome.


Following a siege by Qalawun al Alfi, the Crusader county of Tripoli falls.

1290 - 1293

Al-Ashraf Khalîl

Son. Assassinated by Turks.


Al-Ashraf Khalîl completes his father's work in taking the Crusader stronghold of Acre. Its fall signals the end of Outremer.


Baydara al-Mansuri

Became new vice-sultan to Muhammad I.

1293 - 1294

Al-Nasir Muhammad I

Son of Qalawun al Alfi. Aged 9 at accession. Deposed.

1293 - 1294

Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha

Regent and the true power in Egypt.


Not content with being regent to the nine year-old sultan, Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha counters an attempt to remove him from office by deposing the sultan and seizing the throne for himself.

1294 - 1296

Zayn-ad-Din Kitbugha

Former regent. Deposed by his vice-sultan.

1296 - 1299

Lachin / Lajin al Ashqar / Lajin al-Askhar

Former vice-sultan in Damascus.

1299 - 1309

Al-Nasir Muhammad I

Seized back the throne.

1299 - 1303

The Il-Khan ruler, Mahmud Ghazan, marches on Syria, taking Aleppo. He is joined there by his vassal, King Hethoum II of the kingdom of Lesser Armenia. Together they defeat the Mameluke Bahrids of Egypt and Damascus at the Battle of Wadi al-Khazandar on 23 or 24 December.

The Bahrids are pushed back into Egypt and Damascus quickly falls to the invaders. The Il-Khans then withdraw, perhaps due to a lack of supplies.

The attack is renewed in 1301, but it degenerates into a scattering of inconclusive battles and politicking. In the end, Ghazan's forces are defeated by the Mamelukes of Egypt at the Battle of Marj al-Saffar in April 1303 and withdraw, never to return.

1309 - 1310

Baybars II al Jashnakir (Burji)

Sultanate imposed on him. Stepped down in favour of Muhammad.

1310 - 1341

Al-Nasir Muhammad I

Restored again.


Now fully secure on his throne, Muhammad institutes sweeping changes and reforms in order to expel those who had conspired or sided against him and to wipe out corruption.

In 1314 he abolishes the post of vice-sultan and increases aggression against the Dongola kingdom, forcing its collapse. Egypt's interference also sees Arabic speech and religion gradually seep into Nubia over the course of the century.

Nearby Alodia also fades and collapses around the same time. This decline is largely undocumented, but the former state appears to split into as many as nine separate regions or petty kingdoms (according to reports by Mameluke emissaries).

Church of the Granite Columns, Old Dongola
The 'Church of the Granite Columns' remained in use during Nubia's golden age and decline, but following the collapse of the Dongola kingdom, the entire city fell into decay and ruin


The death of Al-Nasir Muhammad leads to instability within the sultanate. There is a constant stream of successors over the following fifty years, with fifteen holders of the sultanate and none of them lasting more than fourteen years (and that one, Al-Ashraf Shaban II, being something of a long-lasting exception). Disorder descends on the provinces.


Al-Mansur Abu Bakr


1341 - 1342

Al-Ashraf Kujuk / Kuchuk



Al-Nasir Ahmad I


1342 - 1345

Al-Salih Ismail


1345 - 1346

Al-Kamil Shaban I


1346 - 1347

Al-Muzzafar Hajji I


1347 - 1351

Al-Nasir Hasan



The Black Death comes to Egypt and the Levant causing great loss of life and further weakening Egypt's empire. The position of the sultans becomes increasingly fragile, and it is competing Mameluke factions which begin to wield increasing power from behind the throne.

1351 - 1354

Al-Salih Salih


1354 - 1361

Al-Nasir al Hasan

1361 - 1363

Al-Salih Muhammad II

1363 - 1377

Al-Ashraf Shaban II

Grandson of Al-Nasir Muhammad I.


Al-Ashraf Shaban II, who has ruled independently as an adult since 1366, is overthrown and killed. The rebellious Mamelukes who are responsible for the deed replace him with his seven year-old son. When the boy dies at the age of twelve, he is replaced by his younger brother.

1377 - 1382

Al-Mansur Ali II

Son. Mameluke puppet.


Al-Salih Hajji II

Brother. A minor, and another puppet. Dehtroned.


Around this time Emperor Dawit I of Ethiopia raids into Egypt as far as Aswan before being persuaded to return home by the Christian patriarch of Alexandria. Egypt's continuing destabilisation is only worsened by this incident, and in the same year Al-Salih Hajji II is dethroned.

Control of the sultanate is secured by Barquq, a Circassian general, or emir, who has been consolidating his growing power since the coup of 1377. He attempts to secure his position as sultan by placing many of his own family in positions of authority.

1382 - 1389

Barquq al Yalburghawi

First of the (usually) Circassian Burjis.


Two Mameluke governors rebel in Egypt's empire: Mintash, governor of Malatya, and Yalbogha al-Nasiri, governor of Aleppo. They secure Syria and march on Cairo. Barquq attempts to escape, but he is captured and sent to al-Karak. The successful governors restore Hajji to the throne, who now assumes the reignal name of al-Mansur.

1389 - 1390

Al-Salih Hajji II al-Mansur

Restored. Deposed by Barquq.


Hajji's position is far from stable, and when fighting develops amongst the Mameluke factions in Cairo, Barquq's supporters overcome the others and Barquq is able to return to Cairo in February 1390. The Burji dynasty is born.

Mameluke Sultans of Egypt (Burji Dynasty)
AD 1390 - 1517

The Burjis were of Circassian descent, but once they had dethroned the ruling Bahri sultans and secured their own position, they endured a stormy relationship with power. The reignal lengths for each sultan were often short, plagued by behind-the-scenes politicking and power-plays. The dynasty's founder, Barquq, also made an enemy of the powerful ruler of Persia, Timur, which cost him a great deal of time and effort in needless warfare in Syria. In the end, the lack of Burji unity cost them, because they were unable to match the increasingly powerful Ottomans in securing territory.

The Burji sultans followed the artistic traditions which has been established by their Bahri predecessors. Although the state was faced with its greatest external and internal threats in the early fifteenth century, including the devastation of the eastern Mediterranean provinces by Timur, as well as famine, plague, and civil strife in Egypt, the patronage of art and architecture resumed. Mameluke textiles and carpets were prized in international trade. In architecture, endowed public and pious foundations continued to be favoured.

(Additional information from the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911), and from Histoire, opposition, politique et piétisme traditionaliste dans le Ḥusn al Muḥādarat de Suyûti, Jean-Claude Garcin, Annales Islamologiques (in French, 1967), from Some Observations on the 'Abbāsid Caliphate of Cairo, Peter Malcolm Holt, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London, 1984), from The Encyclopaedia of Islam: New Edition, Peter Malcolm Holt, (1993), from The History of Islam (Vol 2), Akbar Shah Najeebabadi (Revised Edition), and from External Link: Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.)

1390 - 1399

Barquq al Yalburghawi / Berkuk

Restored. Secured throne as founder of the dynasty. Died.

1399 - 1405




Abd al Aziz

Died in custody.

1405 - 1412

Nasir-ad-Din Faraj

Restored. Dethroned and executed.


Nasir-ad-Din Faraj is accompanied by Abbasid Caliph al Mustain Billah on his campaign against the rebellious amirs (governors) of Aleppo and Tripoli. Faraj is defeated, perhaps unexpectedly, at Lajjun on 25 April 1412 and the sultanate is plunged into a leadership crisis. Caliph al Mustain is captured by the rebels and, after a great deal of discussion about who should be proclaimed sultan in Faraj's place, they chose Caliph al Mustain himself. Faraj is formally deposed, and al Mustain takes his place on the understanding that he remains caliph if he is deposed as sultan.

Burji coins
The coins pictured here are typical of those which were issued by the Mameluke Burjis in Egypt during a little over a century of rule, although their control was far from certain and extended barely beyond Egypt itself at times


al Mustain Billah

Current Abbasid caliph (1406-1414). Ruled for 6 months.


Nawruz al-Hafizi receives the Syrian provinces and al Mustain returns to Egypt with two prominent nobles, Shaykh al-Mahmudi and Baktamur Djillik. Shaykh immediately begins to isolate the sultan and, when Baktamur Djillik dies on 15 September, Shaykh is able to put his plans of usurpation into action.

He has himself recognised as sultan on 6 November 1412, assuming the title of al-Mu'ayyad Sayf-ad-Din Tatar I. With some time for reflection, al Mustain formally abdicates and is held in the citadel until he is also deposed as caliph by Shaykh, on 9 March 1414, and replaced by his brother, al Mutadid II.

1412 - 1421

al-Mu'ayyad Sayf-ad-Din Tatar I

Deposed his predecessor. Died.


al-Muzafar Abu al-Saadat Ahmad II



Tatar II


1421 - 1422

Muhammad III



Egypt is attacked by the kingdom of Cyprus. Unable to capture the island, Egypt nevertheless forces the Cypriots to acknowledge the overlordship of Sultan Barsbay.

1422 - 1438




Jamal ad-Din Yusuf


1438 - 1453

Chaqmaq / Jaqmaq



Fakhr-ad-Din Uthman


1453 - 1460

Inal al Alai al Zahiri

Former governor of Gaza. Resigned due to illness. Died.


Abbasid puppet caliph, al Qaim, supports a Mameluke mutiny against Sultan Inal, the former governor of Gaza (in 1428-1433, which includes Palestine). The mutiny is quickly put down and al Qaim is removed from office.

1460 - 1461

al-Mu'aid Shihab ud-Din Ahmad III


1461 - 1467




Yalbay / Bilbay

Dethroned, imprisoned, and died.

1467 - 1468



1468 - 1496

Qayit Bay al Zahiri

Abdicated in favour of his son.

1480 - 1504

During this period, following the capture of the Nubian kingdom of Alodia by Abdullah Jamma and the founding of his Abdallab empire, Nubia is entirely Islamicised. By 1504, no Christian kingdoms exist in the region.

Nubian Church fresco
The Christian church in Nubia was extinguished by the creation of the Abdallab empire, leaving frescoes such as this to be later saved by museums

1496 - 1497

Muhammad IV

Son. Deposed.

1497 - 1498

Qansawh I

Fled the country.


Muhammad IV

Restored. Assassinated.

1498 - 1500

az-Zahir Qansuh al-Ashrafi


1500 - 1501

al-Ashraf Janbulat



Tuman Bay I

Deposed and executed.

1501 - 1516

Qansawh II al Ghawri

Killed in battle.

1515 - 1517

The Ottoman sultan begins a war against Egypt which ultimately sees the latter conquered. Sultan Qansawh II al Ghawri is killed on 24 August 1516 at the Battle of Merj Dabik. Syria is immediately captured.

1516 - 1517

Tuman Bay II

Captured by the Ottomans and executed.


Mameluke Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Syria (an Egyptian Mameluke possession) are conquered by an army which is led in person by Sultan Selim I. The Mamelukes continue to hold some control as vassals, under the overview of Ottoman Governors, while the puppet Abbasid caliph, al Mutawakkil III, is transported to Constantinople by Ottoman Sultan Selim I Yavuz. The sultan is later credited with assuming the caliphate himself, while some sources state that he is named as Caliph al Mutawakkil's heir apparent, probably with the caliph having very little choice in the matter.

Ottoman Governors of Egypt (Egypt Eyalet)
AD 1517 - 1768

The Circassian Burji Mamelukes had enjoyed a somewhat stormy relationship with power in Egypt since they had seized control from the Bahri sultans in 1390. They seemed to spend more time dethroning one another in their search for power than they did in furthering the search for wealth for the Ottoman empire as a whole. In the end the Ottoman ruler, Sultan Selim I, was forced to reconquer Egypt by force to be able to restore hegemony over the country. So important was the task that he led the invading army in person and saw to the rearrangement of Egypt's ruling elite, leaving only when he was satisfied that proper order had been restored.

Following this, the Burjis still retained some control of Egypt as its ruling class, although they were now vassals of the Ottomans. The real day-to-day power was wielded by the Ottoman-appointed governors, or walis. Khair Bey was the first of these, created sultan of Egypt by Selim I for his help in reconquering the country, and all subsequent governors also held this title despite being subservient to the Ottoman sultan (at least in name - the fact was often quite variable). To the south of Egypt, the Funj sultanate of Sinnar skilfully negotiated its way out of further Ottoman conquest, securing its own borders in the process.

An eyalet was a province of the Ottoman empire, which was loosely administered from its centre in Constantinople. Eyalets were further sub-divided into livas and sanjaks, both being terms for districts. A senior pasha (of three 'tails' or feathers mounted on a ceremonial staff) usually commanded an eyalet, while a junior pasha (of one tail) commanded a district. Each pasha could command with absolute authority in the sultan's name, not being required to report back for orders except in the more extreme circumstances. In practice this often led to assumptions of increasingly independent power and declarations of independence from Constantinople.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Cambridge History of Africa: From c.1050-c.1600, from The Sudan Handbook, by Derek A Welsby, from the Encyclopaedia of African History: Volume 1 A-G, from Europe and the Historical Legacies in the Balkans, Raymond Detrez & Barbara Segaert (Eds, PIE Peter Lang 2008), from The Cambridge History of Egypt, M W Daly & Carl F Petry (Cambridge University, 1998), from Acre: The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian City, 1730-1831, Thomas Philipp (Columbia University Press, 2001), from Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae, B-C, M Sharon (Vol 2, BRILL, 1999), from Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae, G, M Sharon (Vol 4, BRILL, 2009), and from External Links: A Handbook of Asia Minor, Vol 1: General (US Naval Staff Intelligence Department, 1919, available via Archive.org), and World Statesmen.)

1517 - 1522

Khair Bey / Khair Bek / Hayir Bey

Ottoman general. Formerly in Aleppo. Governor of Egypt. Died 1552.

1520 - 1521

Following the death of Ottoman Sultan Selim I and the accession of his successor, Suleyman I the Magnificent, Governor Djanbirdi al-Ghazali of Damascus rebels. He seeks to restore Mameluke suzerainty over Syria and goes so far as to declare himself sultan. Hama, Hims, and Tripoli join his rebellion, but both Khair Bey and Shah Esmail of Iran refuse to support him. Eventually, the Ottomans destroy both him and his army.

Ottoman coin
The Ottoman conquest of Egypt saw an influx of coins from the now-dominant Anatolian empire, with this example being issued during the reign of Suleyman I the Magnificent (1520-1566)

1522 - 1523

Çoban Moustafa Pasha

Died 1529 en route to the Siege of Vienna.


Kouzlagah Pasha

Removed from his post.


Hain Ahmed Pasha

Declared Egypt independent. Captured and executed.


Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha

Ahmed's rival. Enacted reforms after the rebellion.

1524 - 1536

Hadim Suliman Pasha

Hungarian eunuch. Benefactor of Daoud Pasha (1538).


Divane Khissru Pasha

1536 - 1538

Hadim Suliman Pasha

Second term of office.

1538 - 1549

Daoud Pasha

Died in office.


Lala Moustafa Pasha

Acting governor. Became Ottoman grand vizier in 1580.

1549 - 1554

Ali Pasha Smiz 'the Fat'

Became Ottoman grand vizier in 1561.

1554 - 1556

Dukakinzade Mohamed Pasha

Executed for violations against Sharia laws.

1556 - 1559

Iskander Pasha

Died 1571.

1559 - 1560

Sofu Hadim Ali Pasha

Died in office.

1560 - 1563

Kara Şahin Mustafa Pasha

Begetter of the Ridwan dynasty of governors of Gaza.


The Ridwan family become the most prominent of Palestine's Arabic families, dominating the governorship in Gaza. The dynasty founder, however, Kara Şahin Mustafa Pasha, serves in a number of governorships which has the effect of spreading family influence far and wide across all of Palestine.

1563 - 1566

Müezzinzade 'Sofu' Ali Pasha

Killed at the Battle of Lepanto against Venice and allies in 1571.

1566 - 1567

Mohamed Pasha

Formerly governor of Yemen. Assassinated.

1567 - 1568

Koca Sanan Pasha 'the Great'

Left Egypt to command invasion of Yemen. Later in Cyprus.

1568 - 1571

Garkas Pasha

Successor. Fairly obscure.


Arranged by Pope Pius V, the 'Holy League' of the Papal States, Spain, and Venice routs the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto. This is considered to be a great naval victory, one that is made even more sweet by the killing of the Ottoman admiral, Müezzinzade 'Sofu' Ali Pasha, former governor of Egypt (1563-1566).

Battle of Lepanto 1571
European victory at the Battle of Lepanto was considered the saviour of Europe itself from the advancing Ottoman threat, shown in this 1640 oil by Andries van Eertvelt (1590-1652)

1571 - 1573

Koca Sanan Pasha 'the Great'

Second term of office.

1573 - 1575

Hussein Pasha Boljanić

Later governor of Damascus (1582). Died 1594/1595.

1575 - 1580

Hadim Massih Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier. Died 1589.

1580 - 1583

Hadim Hassan Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier. Died 1598.

1583 - 1585

Damat Ibrahim Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier. Died 1601.

1585 - 1587

Koca Sanan Pasha 'the Great'

Third term of office. Also in Damascus. Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1585 - 1587

The third and final term of office of the capable Koca Sanan Pasha appears to coincide with him also being governor in Damascus in 1586. He has also served once as Ottoman grand vizier (and earlier as governor of Cyprus), and does so a further four times between 1589 and his sudden death to natural causes in 1596. He is sometimes accused of helping fellow ethic Albanians at the expense of other Ottomans.

1587 - 1591

Kara Üveys/Ouis Pasha

Died in office.

1591 - 1595

Hadim Hafiz Ahmed Pasha

Previously governor of Cyprus (1578). Later in Bursa. Died 1613.

1595 - 1596

Kurd Mohamed Pasha

Later governor of Aleppo (1596).

1596 - 1598

Mohamed Pasha el-Sharif

Later governor of Damascus (Emin Mehmed Pasha, 1599).

1598 - 1601

Khedr / Hizir Pasha

1601 - 1603

Yavuz Ali Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1603 - 1604

Ibrahim Pasha

Cracked down on army corruption. Murdered by his own troops.


Constant changes in Egypt's government - not least the practice of rotating the holder of the office of pasha - and attempts to prevent extortion by the armed forces seem to have resulted in a loss of control over those armed forces. Mutinies are becoming common, and it is one of these which witnesses the murder of the incumbent pasha, Ibrahim. His head is mounted on Cairo's Bab Zuweila gate, earning him the epithet maktul, meaning 'the slain'. Several years of instability are experience after this event.

Cairo's Bab Zuweila gate
Cairo's Bab Zuweila gate, which dates at least as far back as the tenth century AD, was heavily reconstructed in the 1990s to make it more appealing for tourists, presumably long after the last of the severed heads had been removed

1604 - 1605

Hadim Mehmed/Mohamed Pasha

Second term of office. Unable to put down the rebellion.

1605 - 1607

Yemenli Hassan Pasha

Unable to put down the rebellion.

1607 - 1611

Öküz Mehmed/Mohamed Pasha Moamar

Named 'Kul Kiran' ('Slavebreaker'). Restored order.

1607 - 1610

Mehmed Pasha is appointed governor of Egypt specifically to put an end to the ongoing rebellion by the country's troops. He uses strong-arm tactics to restore order, ending the process of tulba, the protection 'tax' which had been demanded by troops of the country's farmers. District governors who had allowed the practice are executed, but the situation reaches a state of near-civil war in 1609 before proper order is restored in 1610.

1611 - 1615

Mohamed Pasha Sadafi

Later governor of Rumelia (1617), Sivas (1617), & Budin (1624).

1615 - 1618

Nişancı Ahmed Pasha

Head of Janissaries (1615).

1618 - 1619

Lefkeli Moustafa Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier.


Gaafar / Cafer Pasha

Former governor of Yemen.

1619 - 1620

Moustafa Pasha Hamidi

Removed from office.

1620 - 1622

Mere Hussein Pasha

Dismissed during severe Nile flooding. Later Ottoman grand vizier.


Biber Mohamed Pasha

Dismissed after 75 days.

1622 - 1623

Silahdar Ibrahim Pasha

Accused of keeping payments to the sultan.


Moustafa Pasha Qurah/Kara

Officially replaced after only 5 months.


Despite only being in office for five months after taking over somewhat acrimoniously from Ibrahim Pasha, Moustafa Pasha is officially replaced by Ali Pasha. The army rebels, demanding its customary bonus when a new governor is appointed. They make it clear that if the sultan does not wish to pay a bonus every time a new governor is appointed then they will welcome back Moustafa Pasha and Ali can clear off back to Constantinople.


Çeşteci Ali Pasha

Forced to retreat to Constantinople due to a troop rebellion.

1624 - 1625

Moustafa Pasha Qurah/Kara

Second term of office. Executed 1628.

1626 - 1628

Bayram Pasha

Pursued Moustafa for losses incurred by the treasury.

1628 - 1630

Tabanıyassi Mehmed Pasha

Became Ottoman grand vizier in 1632.


Koca Moussa Pasha

A rapacious administrator. Deposed by the army.

1631 - 1632

Khalil Pasha

Led an impartial and prosperous administration.


Khalil Pasha sends out an expeditionary force to the Hejaz to retake Mecca from Yemani tribesmen. Under Al-Mu'ayyad Muhammad, the Yemenis are fighting the Ottomans because they wish to create an independent Zaidi state in Yemen.

The Ka'ba
As one of the most important locations to all of Islam, whomever controlled Mecca had power and influence, and gaining it would aid the Yemeni cause

1632 - 1635

Bekeirgi Pasha

Dismissed and executed.

1635 - 1637

Hussein Pasha

Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1637 - 1640

Sultanzade Mohamed Pasha Gawan

Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1640 - 1642

Nakkaş Moustafa Pasha

Not entirely in control of his subordinates.

1642 - 1644

Mansour / Maksud Pasha

Former wali of Diyarbekir. Overthrown by army. Executed by sultan.

1644 - 1646

Ayub Pasha

Restored order in Egypt.

1646 - 1647

Haydar Mehmed Pasha

Oversaw a period of renewed chaos in Egypt.


Mostarli Moustafa Pasha Sanari

Dismissed for negligence in a peaceful Egypt.

1647 - 1649

Mohamed Pasha

Not shown in all lists. Deputy governor?

1649 - 1650

Tarhoncu Ahmed Pasha

Good financial manager. Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1650 - 1652

Hadim Abd El-Rahman Pasha

Dismissed, and jailed by his successor for his debts.

1652 - 1656

Khasky / Haseki Mehmed Pasha

Former governor of Damascus (1649). Later in Baghdad & Aleppo.

1656 - 1657

Halici Damadi Moustafa Pasha

1657 - 1660

Şehsuvarzade Gazi Mohamed Pasha

Put down a rebellion but later imprisoned.

1660 - 1661

Gürcü Moustafa Pasha

Defeated troop rebellion to restore Şehsuvarzade Gazi.

1661 - 1664

Melek Ibrahim Pasha

Governed with a stronger hand than many recent peers.

1664 - 1667

Silahdar Omar Pasha

Later wali of Baghdad (1677), Diyarbekir (1688), & Erzurum.

1667 - 1668

Şişman Ibrahim Pasha 'Sufi'

'The Fat'. Died in office.

1668 - 1669

Qurah Qash Pasha

1669 - 1673

Katkhuda Pasha

1673 - 1675

Canpuladzade Hussein Pasha

1675 - 1676

Cebeci Ahmed Pasha

Violently put down a rebellion. Imprisoned by his troops.

1676 - 1680

Abd El-Rahman Pasha

Former governor of Baghdad (1673). Later in Bosnia (1680).

1676 - 1680

As well as serving at various times as governor of Egypt, Baghdad, and Bosnia, the Albanian-born Abd El-Rahman Pasha also has a spell as governor in Ottoman-occupied Hungary in 1684, with his capital at Buda on the Danube. This is the very year that a new Holy League is formed by the Europeans with the intention of expelling the Ottomans from Hungary. The attack which hits Buda not only dislodges the Ottomans, in 1686, it results in Abd El-Rahman's death.

Ottoman janissaries
The janissaries were infantry units which formed the Ottoman sultan's bodyguard and household troops, but they also sometimes played a role in deciding who sat on the throne - unfortunately neither they nor the sultan came to Buda's rescue in the name of the empire

1680 - 1683

Osman Pasha

Of Bosnian extraction.

1683 - 1687

Hamza Pasha


Katkhuda Hasan Pasha

Later governor of Baghdad (1687).

1687 - 1689

Damat Hassan Pasha

Of Greek extraction. Reappointed in 1707.

1689 - 1691

Sarhoş Ahmed Pasha

Died in office.

1691 - 1695

Hazinedar Moralı Ali Pasha

1695 - 1697

Çelebi Ismail Pasha

Deposed by his own troops.

1697 - 1699

Kesici Hussein Pasha

Acting governor installed by the troops.


The Treaty of Karlowitz is signed on 26 January 1699 at Sremski Karlovci (now in Serbia). This brings to a conclusion the Austro-Ottoman War of 1683-1697 which had witnessed the defeat of the Ottomans at the Battle of Zenta. The Ottoman advance in Europe is stopped in its tracks, and is even partially reversed for the first time. This allows Austria to rise as a dominant player in European politics. Khan Salim of the Tartars resigns his position following the treaty's signing while Austria takes permanent control of Transylvania.

1699 - 1704

Muhmmad (Qara) Pasha

Previously governor of many sub-provinces.


Baltacı Suleiman Pasha

Appointed, but did not assume office.

1704 - 1706

Muhammad (Rami) Pasha

Former grand vizier, & governor of Cyprus (1704). Died 1706.

1706 - 1707

Delek 'Ali Pasha


The Mameluke beys have increasingly been gaining in power and influence. The precise chain of events which leads to this state of affairs is obscure thanks to a lack of detailed records from Egypt in the later part of the seventeenth century, but the fact that the beys retain office for many years - often until death - while the governors (pashas) are routinely replaced after just a few years certainly helps. Right now two main Mameluke factions exist - the Qasimites and the Fiqarites - and the pasha does his best to sow the seeds of enmity between them.

By the start of the eighteenth century the previously docile Mamelukes were beginning to reassert themselves in Egypt, constantly challenging the Ottoman governor and one another in their search for internal dominance

1707 - 1709

Damat Hassan Pasha

Second term of office. Later Ottoman grand vizier.

1709 - 1710

Moralı Ibrahim Pasha

Jailed, exiled to Sinop, pardoned, then in Aleppo (1714).

1710 - 1711

Khalil (Khosej) Pasha

In Bosnia, Erzurum, Van, Basra, & Sidon. Overthrown.

1711 - 1714

Wali / Veli Pasha

Former governor of Bosnia (1707).

1714 - 1717

Abdi / Abdallah (Heupruluzade) Pasha

Ended insurrection by a religious fanatic.

1717 - 1720

Delek 'Ali (Kiaya) Pasha

Second term of office. Oversaw peaceful period, but still executed.

1720 - 1721

Rajab / Recep Pasha

Dismissed from office.

1721 - 1725

Muhammad (Nishanji) Pasha

Effectively caused a Mameluke civil war.

1724 - 1730

The Mameluke shaykh al-balad is assassinated due to the machinations of the pasha, Muhammad Pasha. This allows the head of the rival Mameluke faction to succeed him. He in turn is driven from office and returns with an army. Battles ensue, but he is drowned in the last of them. His main opposition, Dhu-'l-Fiqar, takes over but is assassinated in 1730.

1725 - 1726

'Ali Muraly Pasha

Later in Anatolia (1718), Aleppo (1719), and others.

1726 - 1727

Muhammad (Nishanji) Pasha

Second term of office.


Abdi Pasha

Second term of office.

1727 - 1729

Abu Bakr Pasha

Son-in-law of Ottoman Sultan Mustafa II.

1729 - 1733

Abdallah (Heupruluzade) Pasha

Second term of office.

1733 - 1734

Muahmmad (Silahdar) Pasha

Faced a claimant to be a prophet.


Abu Bakr Pasha

Second term of office. Became Ottoman grand vizier.

1734 - 1741

'Ali (Hakimzade) Pasha

Deposed by his own troops.

1741 - 1743

Hatibzade Yahya Pasha

Later governor of Rumelia (1746), Anatolia (1749), and others.

1743 - 1744

Muhammad Sa'id Pasha

Faced a riot by his own troops.

1744 - 1748

Muhammad (Ragib) Pasha

Deposed by his own troops.

1748 - 1752

Ahmad Pasha

Appointed, did not take office. Replaced after 1 week.


Muahmmad Melek Pasha

1752 - 1755

Hassan ash-Sharawi


Ibrahim Bey, extremely powerful head of the Mamelukes, is murdered after a very stormy period in office alongside his chief ally and co-conspirator, Ridwan Bey. His successor is Ali Bey, a figure who will play a vital role in Egypt's history in the 1760s. Ridwan Bey is subsequently killed in one of many disputes in this rather stormy political period.

Ibrahim Bey
The murder of Ibrahim Bey in 1755 (shown here), the powerful head of the Mamelukes, allowed Ali Bey to step into his shoes and lead the country towards the end of rule by Ottoman governors

1755 - 1756

'Ali (Hakimzade) Pasha

Second term of office.

1756 - 1757

Sa'id ad-Din Pasha

Former governor of Aleppo (1750), Baghdad (1762), and others.

1757 - 1760

Muhammad Sa'id Pasha

Second term of office.

1760 - 1762

Mustafa (Bahir Keuse) Pasha

Former Ottoman grand vizier. Executed in 1763.

1762 - 1765

Ahmad Pasha

1765 - 1766

Bakr Pasha

1766 - 1767

Hamza (Silahdar Mahir) Pasha

Deposed by local emirs.


Muhammad Melek Pasha

1767 - 1768

Muhammad (Raquim) Pasha

Deposed by Ali Bey of the restored Mamelukes.


Muhammad (Diwitdar) Pasha

Appointed, but probably did not take up post.


The Mameluke beys seize power in Egypt, turning the tables on their Ottoman-appointed overlords for the first time in two and-a-half centuries. Ali Bey al-Kabir and the Mameluke beys depose the Ottoman governor, stop paying tribute to the sultan, and Ali Bey has his own name stamped on coins. Thereafter his successors remain de facto rulers of the country.

Mameluke Beys of Egypt
AD 1768 - 1811

The Mamelukes had once been mighty in Egypt, Libya, and Syria (an Egyptian Mameluke possession) before losing them all to the Ottomans in 1517. The Mamelukes continued to hold some control as vassals, under the overview of Ottoman Governors, while the puppet Abbasid caliph, al Mutawakkil III, was transported to Constantinople by Ottoman Sultan Selim I Yavuz. The sultan was later credited with assuming the caliphate himself, while some sources state that he was named as Caliph al Mutawakkil's heir apparent, probably with the caliph having very little choice in the matter.

By 1768 the Mamelukes had long been vassals of the Ottomans, with their governors wielding the true power. But then the tables were turned by Ali Bey and the Mameluke beys seized back power in Egypt. Ali Bey al-Kabir deposed the Ottoman governor, stopped paying tribute to the sultan, and had his own name stamped on coins. He even managed to seize Syria, albeit briefly. Thereafter his successors remained de facto rulers of the country, although they would always be opposed by the Ottoman walis who would continue to be appointed by the Ottomans. Ali Bey himself was born an Abkhazian Georgian. Having been kidnapped and brought to Cairo in 1743 he was sold as a slave into the Mameluke ranks. By 1762 he occupied a senior position and was able to start agitating towards a restoration of Mameluke power. The Ottoman governor, Raquim Mehmed Pasha was deposed in 1768 and Ali Bey assumed the position of acting governor (kaymakam) in his place. His successors occupied the same position, despite refusing to accept the authority of the official Ottoman governor.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Abd Al-Rahmann Al-Jabarti's History of Egypt, 'Abd al-Rahman Jabarti, Thomas Philipp, & Moshe Perlmann (Franz Steiner Verlag Stuttgart,1994), from Ottoman Wars 1700-1870: An Empire Besieged, Virginia H Aksan (Routledge, 2013), from Travels Through Syria & Egypt, Constantin-François Volney (Translated Edition, 1787), from The Islamic world in decline: from the Treaty of Karlowitz to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Martin Sicker (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001), from Acre: The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian City, 1730-1831, Thomas Philipp (Columbia University Press, 2001), from Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae, B-C, M Sharon (Vol 2, BRILL, 1999), and from Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae, G, M Sharon (Vol 4, BRILL, 2009).)

1768 - 1772

Ali Bey al-Kabir

Son of a Georgian monk. Deposed Ottomans. Killed in 1773.

1768 - 1771

Ali Bey deposes the Ottoman governor and assumes full control of Egypt. The payment of annual tribute is stopped and, in 1769, Ali Bey has his name struck on coins. This is the equivalent of publicly proclaiming Egypt's independence from the empire. The following year he gains control of the Hijaz and in 1771 briefly occupies Syria having defeated the governor there, Uthman Pasha al-Kurzi. In effect he has recreated the former Mameluke state.

Mameluke acting governor of Egypt Ali Bey al-Kabir
Ali Bey al-Kabir seized control of Egypt in 1768 and ruled (disputably) for four years until he was deposed by his own chief general following a successful campaign in Syria

1771 - 1772

The Ottomans have become alarmed at Ali Bey's victories and have deliberately stirred up mistrust of him. In June 1771, Abu'dh Dhahab, the commander of Ali Bey's troops in Syria, refuses to continue to fight against the Ottomans. When he turns on Ali Bey in 1772, the latter is removed from power to be replaced by Abu'dh Dhahab himself. Ali Bey is killed in Cairo in 1773, although the assertion that he retains the governor's office in an unbroken fashion between 1768-1772 is disputed.


Human Abu Yusuf

Leader of Hawwara Arabs and de facto ruler in Upper Egypt.

1773 - 1775

Muhammad Bey Abu'dh Dhahab

Ali Bey's usurper general. Died 1775.

1775 - 1777

A triumvirate is formed between Murad Bey, the military governor, Ibrahim Bey, the civilian governor, and Yusuf Bey, the head of the Mecca pilgrims. Together they control Egypt even in the face of the appointment in this year, 1775, of Izzet Mehmed Pasha as the Ottoman governor of Egypt. In 1777, Izzet Mehmed Pasha is ordered to step down in favour of Isma'il Bey, although it takes him until 1778 to obey that order.

1777 - 1778

Isma'il Bey

Supported by the Ottoman sultan. Sole ruler.

1778 - 1786

Murad Bey

Military governor and now joint ruler. Restored in 1790.

1778 - 1786

Ibrahim Bey

Civilian governor and co-ruler. Restored in 1790.

1786 - 1790

Murad Bey and Ibrahim Bey have governed for almost a decade despite the Ottomans continuing to insist that their official governor is obeyed. They have already spent a proportion of their time suppressing Ottoman-inspired attempts at unrest and insubordination but, in 1786, they are driven out of Cairo by an Ottoman general named Kapudan Pasha.

A new Ottoman triumvirate is formed to govern the state which consists of Isma'il Bey (military governor), 'Ali Bey Defterdar, and Hasan Bey. The return of Murad Bey and Ibrahim Bey in 1790 deposes the triumvirate.

1790 - 1798

Murad Bey

Restored to replace the triumvirate. Ousted in 1798.

1790 - 1798

Ibrahim Bey

Co-ruler. Restored to replace the triumvirate. Ousted in 1798.

1798 - 1799

Republican France invades Egypt under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, in the hopes of creating a corridor to Britain's possessions in India. His battles against the Mamelukes fatally weakens them, and temporarily drives them into Upper Egypt.

After winning the Battle of Shubra Khit on 13 July 1798 and the Battle of the Pyramids on 21 July 1798, Napoleon immediately sets off for Syria and Palestine, which he attacks between February and June 1799. A defeat at Acre forces him to abandon the adventure.

Napoleon's invasion of Egypt
Napoleon's invasion of Egypt spelled the end of power for the Mameluke beys, although to the French themselves it was little more than a sideshow in Napoleon's bold attempt to capture British-dominated India by land


Murad Bey

Agreed peace terms with the French but died of bubonic plague.

1800 - 1801

Ibrahim Bey

Restored under British protection but replaced by Elfi Bey.

1800 - 1801

Nasih / Nasuh Pasha

Ottoman wali in opposition to the Mamelukes.

1801 - 1803

The French are driven out of Egypt by the British. The Mamelukes and the Ottoman walis continue a guerrilla fight for independence, now against Britain and the Ottoman sultans. The British pull out in 1803, focussed on holding India and opposing Napoleon's power in Europe. The walis continue to oppose the remaining kaymakams (acting governors) in Egypt. With the latter having suffered casualties during the French invasion, they are easier to manage now and Kucuk Hussein Pasha is able to secure his hold on power in Egypt as the official Ottoman representative.

1801 - 1802

Kucuk Hussein Pasha

Ottoman wali, the first to fully govern Egypt since 1768.

1802 - 1803

Elfi Bey

Kaymakam in opposition to the walis.

1802 - 1803

Khusrau / Koca Hüsrev Pasha

Ottoman wali. Deposed by the Albanian mercenaries.

1803 - 1804

Ibrahim Bey

Kaymakam in opposition to the walis.


Taher / Tahir Pasha

Ottoman kaymakam and Albanian commander. Beheaded.


Khurshid Pasha

Ottoman wali.


Khurshid Pasha had been appointed mayor of Alexandria after the French evacuation in 1801, and now he is named wali (governor). With the help of Britain's diplomatic representative, he begins attempts to remove Muhammad Ali, the new commander of the Albanian troops (after Taher Pasha's death)  who are becoming a serious threat to the authority of the wali.

Napoleon visits the pyramids
The short-lived French conquest of Lower Egypt allowed Napoleon Bonaparte to visit the pyramids and some of his more scientifically-minded officers to discover archaeology which had been lost to Europeans since the fall of the western Roman empire

1803 - 1804

'Ali Pasha Jazairli

Ottoman wali.


Othman al Bardeisy / Osman Bardisi

Ottoman wali and Mameluke commander.

1804 - 1805

Khurshid Pasha

Ottoman wali for the second time. Forced out of office.

1805 - 1806

Khurshid Pasha introduces Delhi (madmen) troops from Syria in an attempt to reduce the influence of Muhammad Ali. Ali wins them over to his side and has himself named governor of Egypt in May 1805. Khurshid is forced to abandon his post and Ottoman Egypt is effectively under the control of Ali, with the weakened Mamelukes unable to exploit the situation. Instead, a treaty is negotiated in 1806 after several Mameluke defeats of Ottoman troops. Muhammad Ali is supposed to be removed and Egypt commanded entirely by the Mamelukes, but again, Mameluke weaknesses prevent this from happening.

1805 - 1811

Muhammad Ali Pasha

Ottoman wali. Became Khedive of Egypt.


After arranging a coup on 1 March in which most of the leading Mamelukes are murdered, Pasha Muhammad Ali takes full control of Egypt. Surviving Mamelukes flee southwards, entering Nubia, where they set up a slaving centre at Dongola within the Funj sultanate of Sinnar.

House of Muhammad Ali in Egypt
AD 1811 - 1953

Muhammad Ali seized a weakened Egypt from the Mameluke sultans by tricking them into attending a celebration of the declaration of war against the Wahhabis of Arabia. Once there, most of them were murdered. A general massacre of Mamelukes throughout the country followed. Muhammad Ali's position as wali, or Governor, became hereditary, and his descendants ruled Egypt thereafter, albeit under the nominal authority of the Ottoman empire at first. Despite this they continued to increase their power, becoming viceroys in 1867, sultans in 1914, and kings in 1922. In fact, so weak was Ottoman authority that Muhammad Ali himself ruled in almost complete independence, styling himself khedive (viceroy) of Egypt.

In rather more ordinary circumstances, Muhammad Ali was born in Kavala in Macedonia, the second son of an Albanian family which originated from Korçë in Albania. His father was a tobacco and shipping merchant named Ibrahim Agha, who also served as the Ottoman commander of a small unit in Kavala. As a young man, Muhammad Ali showed promise as a tax collector, and was promoted to second-in-command of the Kavala Volunteer Contingent of Albanian mercenaries which was sent to re-occupy Egypt following General Napoleon Bonaparte's withdrawal. The expedition landed at Aboukir Bay in spring 1801, and it took Muhammad Ali very little time to recognise the fact that Egypt was there for the taking.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Sir Hamilton Gibb (Brill, 1954), from The Ottoman Empire: A Historical Encyclopaedia, Mehrdad Kia (two volumes), and from The Founder of Modern Egypt: A Study of Muhammal 'Ali, Henry Dodwell (Cambridge University Press, 1967).)

1811 - 1849

Muhammad Ali Pasha

Ottoman governor of Egypt from 1805. Khedive (viceroy).

1818 - 1822

Upon the request of the Ottoman sultan, Muhammad Ali occupies Arabia to crush the growing Saudi power there and retake Makkah and Madinah in the Hijaz. He does so in a merciless campaign which ends with the siege of Diriyya. Arabia is temporarily occupied by the pasha's forces. However, the garrisons in Arabia are unable to prevent the rise of a new Saudi state.

Muhammad Ali Pasha
The Ottoman wali, Muhammad Ali Pasha, saw the opportunity provided to him by the weakened Mamelukes and seized control, founding his own royal dynasty which ruled Egypt until 1953 (oil on canvas by Auguste Couder, 1840)

1820 - 1822

Ismail, son of Muhammad Ali, is sent to conquer Sudan, which he does in relatively short order, destroying the Funj sultanate of Sinnar in the process. He retains initial supreme command of the conquered Sudan before making way for subsequent military commanders. A governor-generalship is eventually established in order to control the country in Egypt's name.

1825 - 1827

Ordered by the Ottoman empire to send a fleet to Greece to put a stop to the efforts being made for independence there, Muhammad Ali's troops secure most of the country in 1825. A fleet of ships made up of Russians, French, and British arrives and sinks the Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827, ending Egyptian participation in the war.


Damascus is annexed by Ibrahim Pasha between May and June on behalf of Muhammad Ali Pasha, and subsequently operates on an autonomous basis. The Ottomans retain only nominal suzerainty in the region.

1838 - 1843

Muhammad Ali re-occupies Arabia, transporting the head of the al-Saud family to Cairo and installing a vassal ruler. However, in 1843 the Saudi are able to re-establish their own independent power.


Age has taken its toll on Muhammad Ali Pasha. However, his son Ibrahim is also declining, having suffered from increasing rheumatic pains and tuberculosis. Muhammad Ali has already secured the agreement of the Ottoman sultan that his family will continue to rule Egypt as his successors, but by now he is too weak and debilitated to govern in his own right.

The terminally-ill Ibrahim takes over and lasts a further four months before predeceasing his father. Muhammad Ali is too ill himself to be told of the death. Ibrahim is succeeded by his nephew, Abbas, and Muhammad Ali lingers only a few months more before dying.


Ibrahim Pasha

Son. Governed in his father's name. Predeceased his father.

1849 - 1854

'Abbas Hilmi Pasha I

Nephew. An unpopular ruler. Murdered.

1854 - 1863

Muhammad Sa'id Pasha

Son of Muhammad Ali Pasha.


Construction on the Suez Canal is started by the British who already have a substantial presence in the country. They had been one of the few external powers allowed in Egypt during the reign of Abbas I, completing the Alexandria-to-Cairo railway in that time.

1863 - 1879

Isma'il Pasha 'the Magnificent'

Nephew. Khedive (viceroy) 1867-1879. Removed. Died 1895.


The Suez Canal is opened, greatly increasing the economic and strategic importance both of Egypt and Sudan. Britain buys the khedive's share in the canal in 1875 (official recognition of the elevation from wali to khedive had been recognised by the Ottoman sultan in 1867).

1872 - 1876

Isma'il conquers South Sudan between 1872-1874. The eventual intent is to fully unite Egypt and Sudan as one single state under Egyptian rule. However, a further annexation of 1875 leads to a state of (largely inactive) war with Ethiopia. The Egyptians are defeated and driven back in the first two battles, Gundet in 1875 and Gura in 1876, after which actual hostilities cease.

1879 - 1892

Muhammad Tawfiq Pasha

Son. Khedive. Used to replace his uncooperative father.

1881 - 1882

The Sudanese revolt under the leadership of the Mahdi against the Egyptian administration under Tawfiq. In the following year Tawfiq appeals for help to the increasingly dominant British presence in the country, and they take the opportunity to effectively occupy Egypt in 1882. Tawfiq now rules under the 'guidance' of the British special commissioner.

General Gordon Pasha
The siege of Khartoum began in 1884 when the Mahdist forces surrounded the city, shortly after the arrival of General Gordon as shown here - but the Mahdi's victory would be short-lived

1889 - 1893

The Sudanese Khalifa's general, Abd ar Rahman an Nujumi, attempts an invasion of Egypt, but Egyptian troops under British command defeat him in battle at Tushkah in 1889. The failure of the invasion destroys the myth of the general's invincibility and several subsequent defeats are inflicted on Sudanese forces.

1892 - 1914

Abbas Hilmi Pasha II

Son. Khedive. Died 1944.

1896 - 1898

The British appoint Major-General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener to lead an expedition from Egypt into Sudan in order to quell the Mahdi's uprising once and for all, secure the Nile, and prevent other European forces from making their own claims on the war-torn country. His campaign culminates in the Battle of Omdurman on 2 September 1898 in which the Mahdists are defeated by European firepower and organisation.


Following the 1898 defeat of Sudan, an agreement is reached which establishes Anglo-Egyptian rule there. Sudan is run by a governor-general who is appointed by Egypt with British consent.

1914 - 1922

With the Ottoman sultan siding with Germany and Austria-Hungary at the start of the First World War, Khedive Abbas Pasha II is removed from office by the British and the country becomes a British protectorate. This act severs the four hundred year-old link between the Ottomans and Egypt and introduces a period of Anglo-Egyptian closeness in its place. The pro-British uncle of Abbas, Husayn Kamil, is chosen as the country's next head of state, but as Egypt no longer looks to the Ottomans for guidance, Husayn becomes a sultan in his own right. He and successive sultans continue to press for a united Egypt and Sudan, which has long been one of their major aims, but their attempts to increase their power are continually blocked by Britain.

1914 - 1917

Husayn Kamil

Uncle. First sultan of Egypt as an independent entity.

1917 - 1936

Ahmad Fuad I

Brother. Sultan (1917-1922). King in 1922.

1936 - 1952

Faruq / Farouk

Son. Deposed by military coup. Exiled to Switzerland. Died 1965.

1948 - 1949

On the day following the proclamation of the creation of the state of Israel, the neighbouring Arab states of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria attack, prompting the start of the Arab-Israeli War. Saudi Arabia sends its own military contingent to support the Egyptians. The war lasts for a year before a ceasefire is agreed.

The Green Line is established - temporary borders which can be generally agreed by all sides. Egypt gains the Gaza Strip while Jordan controls East Jerusalem and the West Bank region, but an estimated 700,000 Palestinians have been expelled or have fled their homeland, mostly to enter southern Lebanon or Jordan.

Conversely, the position of the large Jewish Diaspora community in Egypt has become increasingly precarious. The 1945 anti-Jewish riots in Cairo have been a particularly dangerous low point. Following the war's conclusion around twenty thousand Oriental Jews leave Egypt to return to Israel.

1952 - 1953

A group of army officers known as the 'Free Officers' overthrow King Farouk. They declare Egypt a republic during the Egyptian Revolution, led by Muhammad Naguib and Gamal Nasser, the first presidents of the republic. The king is forced to officially abdicate in favour of his infant son and then accept exile.

King Farouk
King Farouk (right) was deposed by a military coup in 1952, led by the so-called 'Free Officers' who used his son as a puppet to legitimise their control of the country

1952 - 1953

Ahmad Fuad II

Son. Deposed and exiled to Switzerland. Retained claim.


The pretence of retaining the young King Fuad II on the throne in order to remove a pretext of intervention by Britain is no longer needed. Parliamentary rule is instigated, and the country is headed by a president who remains a senior member of the military.

Modern Egypt
AD 1954 - Present Day

With its focus always being along the route of the Nile, for the most part the modern Arab Republic of Egypt retains its ancient borders. It is bordered to the west by Libya, to the south by Sudan, and on the east by Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel (along with the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza). The capital is at Cairo, the country's largest city, with the ancient city of Memphis and the pyramids of Giza lying very close by.

FeatureEgypt boasts one of the world's oldest civilisations. With the Sahara Desert abruptly increasing in area around 4000 BC, there was an influx of people towards the Nile and a substantial population increase. This generated great and very sudden advances in craftsmanship and technology which culminated in the working of copper, stone mace heads, and ceramics. The first ancient Egyptian walled towns appeared at Naqada and Heirakonpolis (circa 3300 BC), and one of the first kings of this pre-dynastic Egypt united the whole Nile valley as a single kingdom around 3400 or 3100 BC. Following almost unbroken indigenous rule for about two and-a-half millennia, Egypt was governed by outsiders - notably the Persians, the Greek Ptolemies, and then the Roman empire.

Egypt remained a Roman province for approximately six and-a-half centuries, until the weakening Eastern Roman empire lost control to the Islamic empire when the latter's fervently enthusiastic forces swept through in AD 639-640. For the next century the region was governed directly by the Umayyad caliphate to the east, restoring a situation which had existed periodically between the rise of the Assyrian empire until the division of Alexander the Great's empire. Gradually, most Egyptians converted from Christianity to Islam and learned to speak Arabic (the remaining Christians becoming known as Copts), and a new capital was established in the north (modern Cairo).

Gradual fragmentation of Islamic rule resulted in Egypt once again becoming the master of its own destiny, although the Islamic countries generally started to fall behind the energetic European states in terms of mastery of the world. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 overthrew the king (its initial aim) and eventually abolished the monarchy, replacing it with a republic. The monarchy had been seen to be corrupt (a common complaint in the region at this time) and pro-British, but the replacement was a series of military generals ruling the country. They assumed power without free and fair elections and made sure that opinion polls and future elections were always heavily balanced in their favour. With the formation of the republic in 1954, the last ruler of the house of Muhammad Ali, the infant Fuad II, was no longer required and was brought to Switzerland to live with his similarly-exiled father. He retained his claim to the joint throne of Egypt and Sudan, and successive claimants to the throne are shown below with a shaded background.

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Allan Rousso and the John De Cleene Archive, from Washington Post (Bombings at Yemeni mosques kill scores (21 March 2015), Saudi Arabia launches strikes in Yemen as rebels advance (26 March 2015), Egypt poised to join offensive (27 March 2015), In Yemen, crisis, risk of wider war (28 March 2015), and Saudi Arabia says it is scaling back Yemen campaign (22 April 2015)), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Egypt's Sisi sweeps to third term (The Guardian).)

1952 - 1954

Muhammad Naguib

Military president and leader of the Egyptian Revolution.


The pretence of retaining the young King Faud II of the house of Muhammad Ali on the throne in order to remove a pretext of intervention by Britain is no longer needed. Parliamentary rule is instigated, and the republic of Egypt is headed by a president who remains a senior member of the military. The first president, Naguib, is quickly sidelined, and Gamal Nasser takes over in 1954 as chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. In 1956 he becomes president.

1954 - Present

Ahmad Fuad II

Last king of the house of Muhammad Ali in Egypt. Exiled.

1954 - 1970

Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein

Born 1918. A military president. 'Leader of the Arabs'.


Sudan gains independence from Egypt, but just two years later General Abbud leads a military coup against the civilian government which is elected that year.

In the same year, Israel occupies the Sinai peninsula as part of its efforts against Egypt in the Suez Crisis. While its objectives are achieved as part of an agreement with France and Britain, Israel is pressured into withdrawing by the United Nations and even more especially by the USA, which fails to support any of its allies in this affair.

UN peacekeepers are positioned in the Sinai to act as a buffer between Israel and Egypt. Immediately after this point, migration spikes in Egypt's Jewish Diaspora, leaving an increasingly small community of Oriental Jews behind it as it heads to Israel.

Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Nasser
Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Nasser after announcing the nationalisation of the British Suez Canal Company in 1956, sparking a major international crisis

1958 - 1961

Syria and Egypt agree upon the creation of the United Arab Republic, whereby the two countries merge. The agreement lasts until a coup in Syria causes it to secede.


Amid ever-increasing tensions and acrimonious relations with Israel, Egypt expels the UN peacekeepers from the Sinai and announces a partial blockade of Israel's access to the Red Sea. Expecting further military action, several Arab states begin to mobilise their troops.

Israel sees this as reason enough to launch a pre-emptive attack against Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, triggering the Six Day War. Jordan loses the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a third of the kingdom, while Israel also gains the Golan Heights and the ancient region of Bashan from Syria, and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, and also temporarily occupies the Sinai peninsula for a second time.

1970 - 1981

Muhammad Anwar El Sadat

Born 1918. Military officer and dictator. Assassinated.


Under the leadership of yet another military leader - Anwar El Sadat - the United Arab Republic of Egypt is re-titled the Arab Republic of Egypt, a name which it retains today.


The Yom Kippur War (alternatively known as the Arab-Israeli War of 1973) sees the combined forces of Egypt and Syria simultaneously attack Israel during its highest holiday. Jordan does not actively participate in the conflict as it is still licking the wounds suffered in 1967. The Syrian army is held and repulsed by the Israelis while the Egyptian armies take longer to pin back. The war ends in an imposed ceasefire, supported by the USA (backers of the Israelis) and Soviet Russia (supporting the Arab forces) as tension rises between the two superpowers.


Following a round-up of Islamists who are opposed to his signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, Anwar Sadat is assassinated by an undiscovered unit of Jihadists within the military. The wounded Vice-President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak (in the post since 1975) is hustled away from the scene of the shooting by security guards and becomes president while still a member of the military. He remains in the post indefinitely, unelected.

1981 - 2011

Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak

Born 1928. Air Force officer and dictator in all but name.


The First Gulf War is triggered when Kuwait is occupied by Iraq. A United Nations coalition army is assembled in Saudi Arabia under the control of the USA to force them out, and Egyptian soldiers are some of the first to land in Saudi Arabia to show Arab support for Kuwait.


The 'Madrid Conference' is organised to reignite the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The conference is the result of eight months of shuttle diplomacy by the US secretary of state. attended by Israeli, Egyptian, Syrian, and Lebanese delegations, as well as a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. For the first time, all of the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict have gathered to hold direct negotiations, an historically unprecedented event.


During a wave of popular protests against his dictatorial rule which start in January, Mubarak announces he will not seek 're-election' in September. The protests are triggered by a similar wave of action in Tunisia which ousts a deeply unpopular government there. Protests are also subsequently triggered in Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Syria and Yemen. By 11 February, the pressure for Mubarak to resign is too strong to resist, and he steps down, handing power to the higher military council of the armed forces which is headed by the defence minister, Hussein Tantawi.

During the uprising, little thought is given to a restoration of the Egyptian monarchy. The exiled King Ahmad Fuad II himself lives in Switzerland following marriage, the birth of his three children, and divorce in Paris. His son and heir, Prince Muhammed Ali, remains in Paris where he works in the property market.

The pyramids have survived almost five thousand years of dynasties, empires, and sultanates, and today stand as the most instantly recognisable symbol of modern Egypt

2011 - 2012

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi

Military chief of the higher military council. Removed in 2012.

2011 - 2012

Cairo's Tahrir Square witnesses violence in November as security forces clash with protesters who have been accusing the military of trying to keep their grip on power. In December a new national unity government is headed by Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri.

Islamist parties emerge in January 2012 as the victors of drawn-out parliamentary elections. Egypt now has a democratically-elected president as its head of state - its first since independence - but he is Mohammed Morsi of the highly controversial Muslim Brotherhood. One of his first acts is to remove Tantawi from his post as defence minister.

2012 - 2013

Mohammed Morsi

President. Muslim Brotherhood. Removed from office.

2013 - 2014

Morsi's hold on power is brief and divisive. Popular street protests against the hardline Islamist leader have been met with violence from security forces and political strife in the country has steadily been increasing.

In July 2013 the army has finally had enough. Morsi is removed from office amid mass public demonstrations for him to quit (and is later imprisoned for twenty years). In December the Muslim Brotherhood is declared to be a terrorist organisation following a bomb blast in Mansoura which kills twelve people. Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi wins the presidential elections in May 2014.

2014 - On

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Former general. Manipulated system for a third term.


On 26 March, Egypt joins the regional coalition against the Houthis, sending warships to the coast of Yemen. Saudi Arabia amasses 150,000 troops along the Yemeni border while Bahrain begins providing air forces to the anti-Houthi coalition, and Sudan prepares to join the coalition.

Muhammad Ali, Prince of the Sa'id

Son of Ahmad Fuad II and heir. Born 1979.

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