Road leading to Western Wall 521.
(photo credit: Shmuel Bar-Am)
Some time in the ninth century, the caliphs who ruled Baghdad created a monster.
That’s when they began seizing promising young teens who belonged to nomadic
Turkish tribes, converted them to Islam and trained them in the art of war. So
successful were the young Mamelukes (meaning “belonging to others”) that they
were given positions of power both in the royal court and in the army. From
there, it wasn’t difficult to turn the tables on the despots who had kidnapped
them from their homes and turn them into fighting machines. In 870, this
military elite seized control of Egypt and later conquered most of the Middle
East.Although they didn’t last long as rulers, Mameluke soldiers
continued to retain their importance over the centuries. And in 1250, after a
new group of elite warriors had gained control in Egypt, they continued into
Mesopotamia, Syria and Israel. Their general was Baybars, who had been sold as a
slave at the age of 19 to the sultan of Egypt and trained in military
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>