Zayn al-Din Qaraja

Last updated

Qarāja Beg
  • al-Malik al-Zāhir [1]
  • (The Apparent King)
  • al-Malik al-Qāhir [2]
  • (The Victorious King)
Beg of Dulkadir
Coronation 1337
PredecessorPosition established
Successor Ghars al-Dīn Khalīl
Died11 December 1353
Ḏulkadiroglu Zayn-al-Dīn Qarāja at-Turkmānī [3]
House Dulkadir
Religion Islam

Zayn al-Dīn Qarāja Beg (Turkish : Zeyneddin Karaca Bey; c. 1279 – 11 December 1353) was a Turkoman chieftain who founded the Dulkadirid principality in southern Anatolia and northern Syria, ruling from 1337 to 1353. Before his ascendance, Qarāja competed with Ṭaraqlu, another local Turkoman warlord, over the administration of the northern frontier of the Mamluks. After gaining recognition from the Mamluk Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad, he became the head of a client state on their Anatolian extremity. During his rule, Qarāja grew more ambitious and clashed with various Mamluk governors who were against his expanding influence. Qarāja took advantage of the political turmoil within the Mamluks and declared independence in 1348. However, this led to his imprisonment and subsequent execution in 1353.


Early life and background

During the thirteenth century, the region around Marash in southern Anatolia was ruled by the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. The region came under the dominion of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt in 1298. Qarāja was one of the Turkoman lords, or begs, dwelling there who were granted the right to administer part of the region by the Mamluks. Qarāja founded the Dulkadirid principality around the same time the Eretnids emerged in central and eastern Anatolia, which was a breakaway state from the Ilkhanids led by the Turco-Mongol officer Eretna. [4]

Pre-Dulkadirid southern Anatolia and northern Syria Cilician Armenia-en.svg
Pre-Dulkadirid southern Anatolia and northern Syria

Qarāja likely belonged to the Bayat tribe. [5] He became the leader of the Bozok tribal confederation in northern Syria after his father died in 1310 or 1311. [5] The first mention of him in sources is thought to be from 1317, when the Mamluk Sultan Al-Nasir Muhammad granted a Turkoman lord residing in Birga [lower-alpha 1] the title emir . [6]

Rise to power

Qaraja's domains. Dulkadirids under Qaraja.png
Qaraja's domains.

Another local ruler, Ṭaraqlu Khalīl bin Tarafī, had earlier captured Elbistan from the Eretnids. In order to expand his authority over the region by pledging allegiance to the Mamluks, Ṭaraqlu sent a gift of 100 horses to the emir of Aleppo, Altunbogha, and visited the sultan in Cairo. As a response to this threat to his political presence, Qarāja sent his son Khalīl to lead an offensive against Ṭaraqlu. [7] Elbistan was captured by the Dulkadirids in 1335 [8] or 1337. [9] Ṭaraqlu's ally, Altunbogha, threatened Qarāja and demanded that he come to Aleppo. Instead, Qarāja allied himself with Tankiz, the governor of Damascus and rival of Altunbogha. Meanwhile, Qarāja faced another threat; Tashgun, another local emir backed by Altunbogha, started raiding and harassing the Dulkadirids, though Tashgun was eventually caught with the intervention of Tankiz. [10]

The Sultan finally summoned the governors, Ṭaraqlu, and Qarāja. Tankiz defended Qarāja and recommended to the sultan that Qarāja would be better able to maintain Mamluk authority over the region, insisting that Ṭaraqlu possessed no more than a thousand horsemen. [4] Al-Nasir Muhammad thus recognized Qarāja as the Emir of the Turkomans [9] and the na'ib of the lands stretching from Marash to Elbistan in 1337. [11] [12] The next year, Qarāja also captured Harpoot, Darende, Gemerek, and Gürün from the Eretnids. [13] [8]

Downfall and execution

Qarāja's ambition to become an independent ruler manifested after al-Nasir Muhammad's death in 1341 and the consequent unrest in Egypt. He tried to gain Eretna's trust in order to organize a joint campaign to take over Aleppo. Emir Tashtimur of Aleppo requested assistance from Egypt, but this proved to be futile as Cairo was facing internal power struggles. The prominent Mamluk emir Qawsun overthrew Al-Mansur Abu Bakr and installed Abu Bakr's seven-year-old brother Al-Ashraf Kujuk on the Mamluk throne. This led to Tashtimur's rebellion, who now found his situation reversed as he was pursued by the Mamluks and escaped to Eretna in the north with the protection of Qarāja. When An-Nasir Ahmad briefly came to power amidst the political vacuum and invited Tashtimur, who supported him, to Cairo for a new appointment, Qarāja escorted him there. But Tashtimur was instead jailed and executed for unknown reasons, while Qarāja swiftly returned north. [14]

Qarāja's relations with the Mamluks further deteriorated in 1343, when the Dulkadir Turkomans robbed a caravan containing Eretna's gifts to the Mamluk emir Yalbugha, though Qarāja was able to get a pardon from the sultan. [13] He led several incursions into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, looting the region and occupying Androun and Kapan in 1345. [15] [16] In 1348, gaining confidence from his victories, [16] he declared independence as Malik al-Qāhir. [17] Qarāja further joined emir Baybugha's revolt against the Mamluk state [18] and defeated Yalbugha. [17] In response, Mamluk governors of Syria and rival Turkoman tribal leaders joined forces, supposedly raising 10 to 25 thousand troops. They ransacked Elbistan as well as the nearby villages, while Qarāja fled to Mount Düldül. Two of his sons, including his successor Ghars al-Dīn Khalīl Beg, tried to fend off the Mamluk forces but were defeated and captured. [2]

Mount Duldul is located southwest of Marash. Duldul Dagi - Mount Duldul.jpg
Mount Düldül is located southwest of Marash.

In 1353, Qarāja took refuge in the court of the Eretnid ruler Giyath al-Din Muhammad, [8] but at the request of the Mamluks he was chained and sent to Aleppo on 22 September 1353, for which Muhammad was paid 500 thousand dinars. One of Qarāja's sons agreed with the Bedouin leader Jabbar bin Muhanna to attack Aleppo in order to save his father. This was unsuccessful, and further angered Sultan Salih, who demanded Qarāja's transfer to Cairo. Sultan Salih scolded him in person and kept him in the Citadel of Cairo. After being imprisoned for 48 days, he was tortured to death on 11 December 1353. His corpse was left hanging in Bab Zuweila for 3 days. [17]

Although disproven by medieval Arab historians, late Ottoman sources, such as Halil Edhem Eldem and Ahmed Arifi Pasha, popularly believed that Qarāja continued to resist the Mamluks until he died of old age at around 100 in 1378 or 1379. [19]


Qarāja had 6 sons: Khalīl, Ibrāhīm, Isā, Sūlī, 'Usmān, and Davud. [4] Ghars al-Dīn Khalīl succeeded Qarāja as the second ruler of the Dulkadirids. Sūlī was the third ruler of the Dulkadirids. Ṣārim al-Dīn Ibrahim became the lord of Harpoot [4] [20] and was appointed by the Mamluks as amīr ṭablkhāna (lit. 'amir of the band') of Damascus as a gesture of goodwill to keep his father, Qarāja, as an ally. [4] Qarāja is known to have had a brother and cousin, both of whom were given land by the Mamluk sultan in 1344 or 1345. [21]

See also


  1. historically also known as Bile, Birtha, and Birah, and in modern times as Birecik

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bahri dynasty</span>

The Bahri dynasty or Bahriyya Mamluks was a Mamluk dynasty of mostly Turkic origin that ruled the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate from 1250 to 1382. They followed the Ayyubid dynasty, and were succeeded by a second Mamluk dynasty, the Burji dynasty.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Al-Ashraf Khalil</span> Sultan of Egypt and Syria (r. 1290–1293)

Al-Ashraf Salāh ad-Dīn Khalil ibn Qalawūn was the eighth Bahri Mamluk sultan, succeeding his father Qalawun. He served from 12 November 1290 until his assassination in December 1293. He was well known for conquering the last of the Crusader states in Palestine after the siege of Acre in 1291. While walking with a friend, Khalil was attacked and assassinated by Baydara and his followers, who was then killed under the orders of Kitbugha.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Al-Nasir Muhammad</span> Sultan of Egypt

Al-Malik an-Nasir Nasir ad-Din Muhammad ibn Qalawun, commonly known as an-Nasir Muhammad, or by his kunya: Abu al-Ma'ali or as Ibn Qalawun (1285–1341) was the ninth Mamluk sultan of the Bahri dynasty who ruled Egypt between 1293–1294, 1299–1309, and 1310 until his death in 1341. During his first reign he was dominated by Kitbugha and al-Shuja‘i, while during his second reign he was dominated by Baibars and Salar. Not wanting to be dominated or deprived of his full rights as a sultan by his third reign, an-Nasir executed Baibars and accepted the resignation of Salar as vice Sultan.

Ala ud-Din Timurtash was a member of the Chupanid family who dominated politics in the final years of the Ilkhanate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beylik of Dulkadir</span> Turkish principality in Anatolia, between 1337-1522

The Beylik of Dulkadir was one of the Anatolian beyliks established by the Turkoman clans Bayat, Afshar, and Begdili after the decline of Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eretnids</span> Turkish Beylik in Anatolia, between 1335-1381

The Eretnids were an Anatolian beylik that succeeded the Ilkhanid governors in Anatolia and that ruled in a large region extending between Caesarea (Kayseri), Sebastea (Sivas) and Amaseia (Amasya) in Central Anatolia between 1328 and 1381. The dynasty was founded by Eretna, an officer of Uyghur origin in the service of Ilkhanid governors of Anatolia. Although short-lived, the Beylik of Eretna left important works of architecture. The name of Eretna may be derived from Sanskrit word Ratna "Jewel" or Tuvan (Turkic) "Ertine" (эртине) "treasure, jewel, value, esteem, appreciate, dignify, treasure, cherish".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mamluk Sultanate</span> State in Egypt, Hejaz and the Levant (1250–1517)

The Mamluk Sultanate, also known as MamlukEgypt or the Mamluk Empire, was a state that ruled Egypt, the Levant and the Hejaz from the mid-13th to early 16th centuries. It was ruled by a military caste of mamluks headed by the sultan. The Abbasid caliphs were the nominal sovereigns. The sultanate was established with the overthrow of the Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt in 1250 and was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. Mamluk history is generally divided into the Turkic or Bahri period (1250–1382) and the Circassian or Burji period (1382–1517), called after the predominant ethnicity or corps of the ruling Mamluks during these respective eras.

Sayf ad-Din Tankiz ibn Abdullah al-Husami an-Nasiri better known simply as Tankiz was the Damascus-based Turkic na'ib al-saltana (viceroy) of Syria from 1312 to 1340 during the reign of the Bahri Mamluk sultan an-Nasir Muhammad.

Ala al-Din Eretna was a Mongol officer of Uyghur origin in the service of Timurtash, the Ilkhanid governor of Anatolia. He later became the last Mongol governor of Anatolia himself and forged his own principality and dynasty, the Eretnids.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ala al-Dawla Bozkurt</span>

Alā al-Dawla Bozkurt Beg was the ruler of the Dulkadirids from 1480 to 1515.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Qawsun</span>

Sayf ad-Din Qawsun ibn Abdullah an-Nasiri as-Saqi, commonly known as Qawsun was a prominent Mamluk emir during the reigns of sultans an-Nasir Muhammad, al-Mansur Abu Bakr and al-Ashraf Kujuk.

Muzaffar ad-Din Musa ibn Muhanna was the amir al-ʿarab in Syria and lord of Salamiyah and Palmyra under the Mamluks in 1335–November 1341. He was the chieftain of the Tayyid clan of Al Fadl, having succeeded his father Muhanna ibn Isa. Musa maintained close relations with Sultan an-Nasir Muhammad and cooperated with him during Muhanna's defection to the Mongol Ilkhanate and later during his own reign. In return for Musa's support and supply of noble Arabian horses, an-Nasir Muhammad granted substantial, high-income iqtaʿat (fiefs) in Syria.

Malik Arslan, was the seventh bey of the Beylik of Dulkadir. He was the third son of Suleiman of Dulkadir.

Sayf al-Dīn Salār al-Manṣūrī was the viceroy of the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad during the latter's second reign (1299–1310). As a boy he was taken captive at the Battle of Elbistan in 1277 and became a mamluk of the emir al-Salih Ali and eleven years later by the latter's father Sultan Qalawun. Salar distinguished himself in his training as a skilled horseman among other mamluks of the Mansuriyya faction. He was promoted to the rank of ustadar (majordomo) by his friend, Sultan Lajin in 1299. After participating in Lajin's assassination later that year he effectively became the strongman of the sultanate alongside Baybars al-Jashnakir. Despite tensions and incidents between their respective factions, Salar and Baybars avoided direct conflict throughout their power-sharing arrangement. Salar continued as viceroy when Baybars acceded as sultan in 1309 after al-Nasir Muhammad stepped down and exiled himself. After Baybars was deposed in 1310, al-Nasir Muhammad returned to power and Salar was consequently imprisoned and starved to death. His sons and grandsons became middle-ranking emirs of al-Nasir Muhammad and his successors.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Giyath al-Din Muhammad</span> Sultan of Eretnids

Giyath al-Din Muhammad was second ruler of the Emirate of Eretna.

Ghars al-Dīn Khalīl Beg was the second ruler of the Turkoman Dulkadirid principality, reigning from 1353 to 1386.

Shaban Sūlī Beg, also known as Sevli Beg, was the third ruler of the Turkoman Dulkadirid principality, ruling from 1386 to 1398.

Ṣadaqa Beg was the fourth ruler of the Turkoman Dulkadirid principality, ruling from 1398 to 1399. He rose to the throne after his father Sūlī Beg was assassinated and the Mamluks issued him the manshūr, the diploma to rule. However, Ṣadaqa was quickly deposed and forced out of Elbistan by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who allowed Ṣadaqa's cousin and rival Mehmed to be the new ruler.

Nasir al-Din Mehmed Beg was the fifth ruler of the Turkoman Dulkadirid principality, ruling from 1399 to 1442. He was installed by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I, who forced his cousin and rival Ṣadaqa out of Elbistan.


  1. Bosworth 1996, pp. 238.
  2. 1 2 Alıç 2020, pp. 85.
  3. Kaya 2014, pp. 83.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Venzke 2017.
  5. 1 2 Alıç 2020, pp. 84.
  6. Yinanç 1988, pp. 9.
  7. Kaya 2014, pp. 86–88.
  8. 1 2 3 Sinclair 1987, pp. 518.
  9. 1 2 Kaya 2014, pp. 88.
  10. Yinanç 1988, pp. 11–12.
  11. Oberling 1996, pp. 573–574.
  12. Har-El 1995, pp. 40.
  13. 1 2 Kaya 2014, pp. 87.
  14. Yinanç 1988, pp. 12–13.
  15. Toursarkisian 1897, pp. 29–30.
  16. 1 2 Merçil 1991, pp. 291.
  17. 1 2 3 Alıç 2020, pp. 85–86.
  18. Merçil 1991, pp. 313.
  19. Alıç 2020, pp. 86.
  20. von Zambaur 1927, pp. 159.
  21. Venzke 2000, pp. 412.