Title: Cairo, Jerusalem, and Damascus, three chief cities of the Egyptian sultans [Electronic Edition]

Author: Margoliouth, D. S. (David Samuel), 1858-1940
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Illustrator: Tyrwhitt, Walter Spencer-Stanhope, 1859- ,
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Publication date: 1907
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Note: Illustrations have been included from the print version.

Title: Cairo, Jerusalem, & Damascus: three chief cities of the Egyptian Sultans. With illus. in colour by W. S. S. Tyrwhitt, and additional plates by Reginald Barratt.

Author: Margoliouth, D. S. (David Samuel), 1858-1940
"Of this special edition ... one hundred and twelve copies have been printed ... No. 1."
File size or extent: xiii, 473 p. incl. illus., 57 col. pl. col. front. 23 cm.
Publisher: Chatto and Windus;
Publisher: Dodd, Mead and Co.
Place of publication: London;
Place of publication: New York
Identifier: From Fondren Library, Rice University, DT 153 .M25 1907.
Publication date: 1907
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  • Tyrwhitt, Walter Spencer-Stanhope, 1859- (illustrator)
  • Barratt, Reginald, 1861-1917(illustrator)
  • Cairo (Egypt)
  • Jerusalem
  • Damascus (Syria)
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Cairo, Jerusalem, and Damascus, three chief cities of the Egyptian sultans [Electronic Edition]


[Front Cover Image]

[Spine Image]




By permission of the Hon. John Collier




The design on the side of the
binding is reproduced after a
Syrian tile of the XVIIIth
Century from a Damascus
Copyright in the United States of America, 1907,
by Dedd, Mead, and Co.


Madame,—I utilize your kindly permission
to dedicate a book to you by
offering this, in the confidence that the
work of the artists will have your approval,
whatever may be your judgment
on the text. The scenes which they
have painted, and which I have attempted
to describe, are familiar to your Highness
from childhood. In and about them
your ancestors have played a great
part, and two out of the three cities
illustrated here are indissolubly connected
with their names. It has long
been your Highness's custom to judge
with leniency and sympathy whatever
comes from this country to yours; may
the same charity be extended to this
Your Highness's humble servant,



THE task of composing the letterpress to accompany
Mr Walter Tyrwhitt's paintings of
scenes at Cairo, Jerusalem and Damascus was
offered to the present writer, an occasional visitor at
those cities, as a relief from the labour of editing and
translating Arabic texts. The chance of being associated
at any time in his life with the Fine Arts constituted
a temptation which he was unable to resist.
The account of Cairo has been based on the
Khitat Taufikiyyab Jaddiah of Ali Pasha Mubarak,
corrected and supplemented from various sources,
especially the admirable memoirs published by the
French Archaeological Mission at Cairo, and bearing
the names of Ravaisse, Casanova, and Van Berchem.
Monographs dealing with particular buildings have
been used when available, especially those of Herz
Bey: the author regrets that he has not been able to
get access to all this eminent architect's works. Of
historical treatises employed he need only mention
the History of Modern Egypt (Arabic) by his friend,
G. Zaidan, which has been of use especially for
the Turkish period.
For Chapter XI (Jerusalem) the author must acknowledge
his obligation to the works published by
the Palestine Exploration Fund, especially those by
Wilson, Warren, Conder, and Lestrange. For
Chapter XII (Damascus) he has derived much help
from the Déscription de Damas, translated, with an

excellent commentary, by M. Sauvaire of the Institut
in the Journal Asiatique, sér, ix, vols 3, 4, 5,
6, and 7.
The architectural paragraphs have been either
revised or written by Mrs Margoliouth, who has
had training in architectural drawing. The treatises
on Arabic Art of Gayet, Saladin, and Lane-Poole
have been studied with profit. The author has, however,
abstained from consulting the work of the
last of these writers on Cairo: for, owing to Mr
Lane-Poole's unique qualifications for dealing with
this subject, the perusal of his book might have involved
anyone else writing on the same theme in
Oxford, September, 1907.



Chap. I. Cairo before the Fatimides Page 1
II. The Fatimide Period 18
III. Buildings of the Fatimide Period 40
IV. The Ayyubid Period and its Buildings 49
V. The First Mamluke Sovereigns 65
VI. Nasir and his Sons 82
VII. The Early Circassian Mamlukes 102
VIII. The last of the Circassian Mamlukes 122
IX. The Turkish Period 136
X. The Khedivial Period 154
XL Jerusalem: an Historical Sketch 175
XII. The Praises of Damascus 228
XIII. Scenes from the History of Damascus 249
Appendix. The Massacre of 1860 275
Glossary 287
Index 291


Coloured Plates

The Sphinx Frontispiece
The Sentinel of the Nile Facing p. 2
Tooloon (Tulun) Mosque, Cairo 8
In a Cairene Street 12
Midan-el-Adaoui (Maidan El-Adawi) 24
Street Scene, Bab el Sharia (Bab Al-sha'Riyyah),
Old Gateway near Bab-al-Wazir, Cairo 42
Sharia el Azhar (Shari-al-Azhar), Cairo 44
Courtyard of the Mosque of El Azhar, University of
A Mosque in the Saida Zeineb (Sayyidah
Zainab) Quarter, Cairo
The Citadel of Cairo 50
An Old Palace, Cairo 58
Door of a Mosque, Cairo 64
Mosque of Sultan Baibars, Cairo 70
The Khan El Gamaliyeh (Jamaliyyah), Cairo 84
A Street near El Gamaliyeh (Jamaliyyah), Cairo 86
Mosque of Almas; Interior, Cairo 88
Minaret of Ibrahim Agha's Mosque, Cairo 90
Outside the Mosque of Ibrahim Agha, Cairo 92
Ibrahim Agha's Mosque: the Interior 94
The Washing-place, Ibrahim Agha's Mosque 96
Interior of the Mosque of Shakhoun (Shaikhun),
The Tentmakers’ Bazaar, Cairo 102


An Old House near the Tentmakers' Bazaar, Cairo Facing p. 106
Tombs of the Caliphs, Cairo 108
The Dome of El Moaiyad (Muayyad) from Bab Zuweyleh (Zuwailah), Cairo 110
A Courtyard near the Tentmakers' Bazaar, Cairo 120
Palace of Kait Bey (Kaietbai), Cairo 130
The Mosque el Ghoree (Ghuri), Cairo 132
Mosques in the Sharia Bab al Wazir, Cairo 138
A Side Street in Cairo 142
A Street Scene in Cairo 148
Sharia el Kirabiyeh or Street of the Water Carriers, Cairo 154
The Khan el Dobabiyeh (Dubabiyyah), Cairo 160
Cairo: Shari Darb el Gamamiz (Jamamiz) 164
Souk Silah, the Armourers' Bazaar, Cairo 172
The Fair, Moolid el Ahmadee (Maulid Ahmadi), Cairo 174
Morning in Jerusalem: The Dome of the Rock on the Shaded Side 176
Jerusalem: The Dome of Kait Bey (Kaietbai) Haram-es-Shereef (Sharif) 204
The Gate of the Cotton Merchants, Jerusalem 208
South Porch of Mosque and Summer Pulpit, Jerusalem 210
Dome of the Rock from Al Aksa, Jerusalem 214
Haram es Shereef (Sharif ), Jerusalem 216
Damascus from the Salahiyeh (Salihiyyah): Sunset over the City 222


House of Naaman, Damascus Facing p. 224
Tomb of Sheik (Shaikh) Arslan, Damascus 226
Walls of the City and Barada River, Damascus 228
The Hamareh (Suk Ali Pasha), Damascus 230
A Khan in Damascus 234
(I) Syrian Tile of the XVIIIth Century, from
a Damascus Mosque, (2) Syrian Tile,
XVIth or XVIIth Century, from a
Damascus Mosque
Minaret of the Bride, Damascus 238
Damascus, Minaret of Jesus 240
General View of Damascus in Early Spring 242
Traditional Site where St Paul was let down
in a Basket, Damascus
Domes of Damascus 252
The Moslem Cemetery and View of Mount
Hermon, Damascus
The Maidan, Damascus 262
Near the Maidan, Damascus 266
Line Drawings
Hezekiah's Pool 181
Tower Antonia, Jerusalem 209
Dome of the Rock, Interior 217
Summer Pulpit, Haram Area 223
THE following illustrations have been reproduced by
the courtesy of their owners:
Tooloon Mosque; In a Cairene Street; A Street Scene, Cairo; The
Mosque El Ghoree, Cairo; and Door of a Mosque, Cairo, by kind
permission of the owner, T. M. Kitchin, Esq.: and the Sentinel of the
Nile, by kind permission of the owner, M. le Vicomte R. d'Humières.


ERRATA. The titles of the two plates “Morning in Jerusalem:
The Dome of the Rock on the Shaded Side,” and “Minaret of
Ibrahim Agha's Mosque,” are incorrectly given on the plates themselves
as “Morning in Jerusalem: the Mosque of Omar on the Shaded Side,”
and “Mosques in the Sharia Bab-el-Wazir.” Where the phonetic spelling
of other titles differs in text and illustrations, the alternative titles
are given in brackets in the list of illustrations and on the tissues.


OF the Plates in this Volume the
Frontispiece and those facing
Pages 2, 8,12,50,64,132,148,174 are
the remainder after Mr WALTER S. S.
TYRWHITT, R.B.A.; the line drawings


Cairo before the Fatimides

IF modern Egypt is a doubly dependent country, tributary
to one empire, and protected by another, a few
centuries ago it claimed to be not only independent but
imperial. Its capital, Cairo, was founded when the power of
Baghdad was already declining, and for two centuries it
maintained a Caliph who contested with his Eastern rival
the possession of Syria, Palestine and Arabia. And when
in the thirteenth century the Mongol storm wrecked the
great metropolis of Islam on the Tigris, it was at Cairo that
sovereigns arose capable of rebuilding an Islamic empire,
and repelling the Mongols beyond the Euphrates. For two-and-a-half
centuries Cairo remained the capital of western
Islam, and the seat of the most powerful Mohammedan
state, sending out governors to many provinces, and recognized
as suzerain even where it did not appoint the ruler:
being itself the laboratory of a political experiment perhaps
never tried elsewhere. Its monarchs bore the title Slaves
(Mamluke), not in mock humility like the Servus servorum
, but in the plain and literal sense of the term. The occupant of the throne was ordinarily
a Turk, Circassian or Greek, who had been purchased in the market, and then
climbed step by step, or at times by leaps and bounds, a
ladder of honours at the top of which was the Sultan's
throne. A slave with slaves for ministers constituted the

court, and men of the same origin officered the army. The
talents which had raised the first sovereign to the first
place were rarely, if ever, handed on to his offspring; the
natural heir to the throne could seldom maintain himself on
it for more than a few months or years. To have passed
through the slave-dealer's hands seemed to be a necessary
qualification for royalty.
In the country which gave them their title these rulers
housed as strangers. To its religion they indeed conformed,
but with its language they were usually unfamiliar. The life
of the nation was affected by their justice or injustice, and
the wisdom or unwisdom of their policy internal and external;
but in the nation they took no root. Hence one battle
displaced them for the Ottomans, just as one battle in our
day put the country under the power of Great Britain.
Cairo then eclipsed Baghdad, to be eclipsed after two-and-a-half
centuries by Constantinople; but to the dynasty
under which it reached the zenith of its fame and power it
did not owe its foundation. That took place in the tenth
century A.D., when an army was sent to invade Egypt by
the descendant of a successful adventurer, who, claiming
to be of the Prophet Mohammed's line, had founded a dynasty
in North Africa. The place where this army had encamped,
after capturing the older metropolis, was chosen to be the
site of the new one. And it was called Victoria (Káhirah) in
commemoration of the conquest already achieved, and as an
augury of others to be won.
Those who found cities to inaugurate new dynasties ordinarily
keep near the beaten track. Cairo is but two miles to
the north of Fostat, which had been the capital of the country
from the time of the Mohammedan conquest. Its name
is the Latin word Fossalum “an entrenchment”—and it was
the camp of the conquering army which, under Amr son of
al-As, had wrested Egypt from the Byzantine empire, and


which was made the seat of government because the Caliph
of the time would have no water between his capital,
Medinah, and any Islamic city. This is why the capital of
Greek and Roman times, Alexandria, lost its pre-eminence.
Fostat itself was not far from the remains of the ancient
Memphis, and a city called Babylon, supposed to date from
Persian times.
For some time the new city kept growing by the side of
the old city without the latter losing much of its importance
or its populousness, of which fabulous accounts are given by
persons professing to be eyewitnesses. At one time it was
supposed to contain 36,000 mosques and 1,270 public baths.
A description of the fourteenth century, when it had long
been on the decline, still gives it 480 small and 14 large
mosques, 70 public baths and 30 Christian churches or monasteries.
Fostat was celebrated not only for its size, its
populousness and the wealth of its stores, but also for the
foulness of its air—for the mountains screened it from the
fresh breezes of the desert—and the carelessness of its inhabitants
with regard to the most elementary precautions of
cleanliness. Dead animals were flung into the streets and
left there; the gutters discharged into the same Nile whence
water for drinking was raised in myriads of buckets. The
cause, however, of the eventual desolation of Fostat was not
its unhealthiness, but the act of ruler of Egypt. Shawar,
nominally vizier but really sovereign, in the year 1163 having
to defend the country at once against the Franks and
against a rival from Syria, despaired of saving the double
city; so he committed the older capital to the flames. Twenty
thousand bottles of naphtha and ten thousand lighted torches
were distributed by his orders in Fostat, whence all the
population had been cleared, to be harboured in the mosques,
baths and wherever else there was space in Cairo.
For fifty days the ancient city blazed; when at last the flames

were extinguished, all that remained of the capital of the
first Moslem conqueror of Egypt was a pile of ashes.
The history of Cairo falls into five main periods: the Fatimide,
the Ayyubid, the Mamluke, the Turkish, and the
Khedivial. The Fatimides, though the first independent
Moslem dynasty both in fact and in name that governed
Egypt, had been preceded by some rulers only nominally
dependent on Baghdad. The first of these was Ahmad Ibn
Tulun, whose mosque still remains. The example of governing
Egypt for its own good with the aid of a foreign garrison
was set by this predecessor of Mohammed Ali, and
has been repeatedly followed.
The materials for his biography are fairly copious, and the
figure which emerges is like those of many Oriental statesmen—a
combination of piety, benevolence, shrewdness and
unscrupulousness. His father, Tulun, was a Turk, who had
been sent by the governor of Bokhara in the tribute to
Baghdad, to the Caliph Mamun, son of the famous Harun al-Rashid,
early in the ninth century; for at that time part of
the tribute of those Eastern dependencies was paid in slaves.
Ere long he was manumitted, and rose to a post of some
importance at the Caliph's court, which was beginning to
depend on Turkish praetorians. His son, Ahmad, the future
ruler of Egypt, was born September 20, 835. At the age of
twenty-two, after his father's death, he obtained leave to
migrate to Tarsus, a frontier city, exposed to attacks from
the Byzantines, on the chance of seeing active service and
obtaining regular pay. But his taste for theology was no
less keen than that for the profession of arms, and at Tarsus
he found opportunities for the profoundest study. At
last, however, an earnest summons from his mother decided
him to return, and he started for Samarra, where at the
time the Eastern Caliph had fixed his residence. On this
journey he got the first chance of displaying his military

capacity. The caravan, five hundred strong, to which he had
attached himself was conveying a great collection of contraband
treasures from Constantinople to Samarra. After
passing Edessa, and having reached what was supposed to
be safe ground, it was attacked by Arab banditti, whom
Ahmad succeeded in defeating, thereby rescuing the Caliph's
treasure from their hands. This act placed him high
in his sovereign's favour. Ere long a palace revolution led
to this sovereign's deposition, and Ahmad Ibn Tulun accompanied
him to exile at Wasit, in the capacity of guardian,
in which he conducted himself with modesty and
gentleness. A command from Samarra to dispatch his prisoner
was disobeyed by him; but he made no difficulty about
handing his former sovereign over to another executioner.
In the year 868 Ahmad's stepfather was appointed governor
of Egypt, and sent his stepson thither to represent him.
On September 15 he entered Fostat, the then capital of the
country, at the head of an army. His authority did not
stretch over the whole land, and the financial department,
chiefly connected with the collection of the tribute to be
sent to Baghdad, was under another official, independent of
the governor and inclined to thwart him. This finance
minister, like many of his successors, had rendered himself
unpopular by a variety of ingenious extortions, and in order
to protect his life had surrounded himself with a bodyguard
of a hundred armed pages. Ahmad excited this man's suspicion
by refusing a handsome present of money, and demanding
of him instead his bodyguard, which he was compelled
to hand over. In spite of the finance minister's consequent
endeavours to blacken Ahmad's character at court,
fortune continued to favour the deputy governor persistently.
In 869 his stepfather was executed, but the government of
Egypt was conferred upon his father-in-law, who not only
retained Ahmad in office, but placed under him those Egyptian

districts which had previously been independent of
him. By the suppression of various risings he won such a
reputation for ability and loyalty that when in 872 the
governor of Syria rebelled against the Caliph and appropriated
the Egyptian tribute, Ahmad was summoned to
Syria and authorized to gather forces sufficient to quell the
rebellion. These forces were not actually employed for this
purpose, but they were not disbanded, and Ahmad on his
return to Egypt ordered a new suburb north of Fostat to be
built for their accommodation. This suburb, which covered
a site previously occupied by Jewish and Christian burial
grounds, was called Kata'i “the fiefs,” and was divided into
streets assigned to the different classes of which the army
was formed; its area was about a square mile. It has been
remarked that each epoch in the development of the Moslem
capital of Egypt was marked by the fresh location of a permanent
camp; and the origin of Fostat and Kata'i will be
reproduced in the cases of Cairo and its citadel.
The next years were spent by Ahmad in consolidating
his power, and by various devices, not unscrupulous for an
Oriental, getting free from his enemies. Agents were maintained
by him in Baghdad to intercept communications from
Egypt directed against himself, and summary punishment
meted out to those from whom the communications emanated.
By bribes wisely administered at court he contrived that all
to whom the governorship of Egypt was offered should
decline it; and by lending money through agents on easy
terms he gained a hold on many a potential enemy. The
finance minister who had stood in his way was after a time
induced to resign his post, and Ahmad, who took it over,
released his subjects from the onerous imposts to which they
had been subjected; an act of piety for which he is supposed
to have been rewarded by luck in the discovery of treasures;
but whether these discoveries actually took place or were

fictions of Ahmad himself or his biographers is unknown.
In 876, owing to exorbitant demands made by the Caliph's
brother then occupied in fighting with a pretender who had
raised the standard of revolt in the marshes of the Euphrates,
Ahmad definitely threw off his allegiance; an army was
equipped against him, but owing to mutiny it never came
near the Egyptian frontier. In the following year Ahmad
seized Syria, and advanced as far as Tarsus, whence he
withdrew after establishing peaceful relations with the
Byzantine emperor.
To Ahmad Ibn Tulun three buildings were ascribed, of
which only one remains intact. In 873 he founded the first
hospital of Moslem Egypt: its site, in a quarter called Askar,
south west of the new quarter Kata'i, is accurately described
by the great mediaeval topographer of Cairo, by
whose time it was already ruined. According to custom, the
rents of a number of buildings were given it by way of endowment.
Patients, during their stay in it, were to be fed
and clothed at the expense of the hospital; when by eating
a chicken and a roll one of them had given evidence of being
restored to health, his garments and any money that he had
brought were returned to him, and he was dismissed. Ahmad
Ibn Tulun was a diligent visitor at his hospital until a practical
joke played by a lunatic under treatment there gave
the founder a distaste for further visits.
Another work ascribed to the same ruler is an aqueduct,
by which water raised at a well on a spur of Mount Mokattam
was brought northwards. The aqueduct, at its commencement
not more than six metres high, gradually becomes
level with the ground. The ruins of this engineering
work were identified by Corbet-Bey (to whose article in the
Journal of the Asiatic Society for 1891 we shall be indebted
for part of the description of Ahmad's Mosque), with an
aqueduct known as Migret al-Imam, commencing opposite

the village of Basatin. According to this writer the structure
of the aqueduct confirms the legend which makes it the work
of the same architect who afterwards built the Mosque, and
who, for having allowed some fresh mortar to remain on
which one day Ahmad's horse stumbled, was rewarded for
his services with five hundred blows and imprisonment. The
immediate purpose of the aqueduct was to furnish water to
a mosque called the Mosque of the Feet, which, though
renewed after Ahmad's time, seems to have disappeared. It
served, however, for a much larger community than the
keepers of the mosque, and like the rest of this ruler's institutions
was well endowed. The excellence of the construction
of the aqueduct caused it to be imitated afterwards, it
is said, without success. In 1894 a small sum was devoted
by the Committee for the Preservation of the Monuments of
Arab Art to its repair.
More permanent than either of these works has been the
Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, built during the years 877-879.
Only two mosques for public worship preceded it in
Egypt, if we may believe the chroniclers—one, the old
Mosque of Amr, the conqueror of Egypt, of which the original
has quite disappeared, though a building is still
called by its name: another, long forgotten, in the quarter
called Askar, the creation of which came between that of
Fostat and Kata'i. The people of Fostat are said to have
complained that the Mosque of Amr was not large enough
to hold all Ahmad's black soldiers at Friday service; yet
since Mohammedan potentates have ordinarily endeavoured
to perpetuate their names by the erection of religious edifices,
this motive is not required to explain the undertaking.
Mr Lane Poole has observed that the older form of mosque
consisted of an area enclosed by cloisters, which gave way
to a form less wasteful of space, when ground became valuable.
This was the design adopted by Ahmad Ibn Tulun,


but a building of the size contemplated required a vast
number of columns, such as could only be obtained by demolishing
existing churches or oratories, since the supply to
be had from ancient and disused edifices had run short; and
it was only so that the Moslem builders supplied themselves
with columns. The Coptic architect—if the legend may be
believed—hearing in his prison of the ruler's difficulty, sent
word to the effect that he could build the desired edifice
without columns, or at least with only two. He could build
with piers, and employ brick, a material better able to resist
fire than marble. His offer was accepted, he was released
and set to work.
The Mosque has been frequently represented and described,
perhaps best by Corbet-Bey in the article to which
reference has already been made. The hard red bricks of
which it is constructed are eighteen centimetres long by
eight wide, and about four thick, laid flat, and bound by
layers of mortar from one-and-a-half to two centimetres
thick, all covered with several layers of fine white plaster.
The foundations are for the most part on the solid rock; the
site being called the Hill of Yashkur, named after an Arab
tribe who were settled there at the time of the conquest of
Egypt, and employed before Ahmad's date as a trial ground
for artillery. Owing to the nature of the foundation and the
solidity of the building the whole Mosque, with slight exceptions,
has resisted the effects of time, only one row of
piers—the front row of the sanctuary—having fallen, in
consequence of an earthquake on Sunday, June 8, 1814. The
founder's desire that the edifice should survive fire and flood
has therefore been fulfilled.
Besides the use of piers instead of columns, the building
is noteworthy as exhibiting the first employment on a large
scale in Moslem architecture of the pointed arch, which is
said to be specially characteristic of Coptic architecture,

and indeed to be found in all Coptic churches and monasteries;
the builder of the Mosque had already employed them
in the Aqueduct. The arches (according to Corbet's measurements)
spring from a height of 4.64 metres from the ground,
rising at the apex to a perpendicular height of 3.70 metres
from the spring; their span is 4.56 metres, and there is a
slight return. Above the piers the space between the arches
is pierced by a small pointed arch, rising to the same height
as the main arches, and indicating that the architect was
aware of the mechanical properties of the pointed arch.
Four cloisters then—three consisting of double rows
and one of a fivefold row of piers—surround a square court,
of which the sides measure ninety and ninety-two metres,
while the whole Mosque covers an area of 143 by 119. On three
sides the whole is enclosed by a surrounding wall at a distance
of about fifteen metres from the cloisters. Various
geometrical ornaments in low relief are worked in the stucco
both round and above the arches, as they appear in the
painting, which, however, represents not such arches as
have been described, but windows in the wall of the same
type as those which support the roof of the colonnades, but
springing from engaged dwarf columns. A line of stucco
ornament of a similar type runs above the small arches over
the colonnades; the space between this and the roof of sycamore
beams is filled with wooden planks, containing verses
of the Koran in Cufic letters cut in wood and attached to
the planking. Exaggerated accounts make this frieze contain
the whole of the Koran; but Corbet-Bey's calculations
show that they could never have contained more than a
seventeenth part of the Moslem sacred book.
Two features of interest are the dome in the centre of the
court and the minaret on the north side. The central space
was originally occupied by a fountain, for ornament not for
ablution, a ceremony for which the founder had already

made provision elsewhere. The fountain was in a marble
basin, covered by a dome resting on ten marble columns
and surmounted by another resting on sixteen. There were
thus above the fountain two chambers, from each of which
the Muezzin could utter the call to prayer; while the roof
had a parapet of teak wood, and had on it something resembling
a sundial. The whole of this marble erection was
destroyed by fire on Thursday, September 7, 892, nine years
after the founder's death, and more than a hundred years
elapsed before it was replaced.
The original minaret begins as a square tower, above
which there is a round tower, each of which has an external
staircase, broad enough for two loaded camels to mount; to
these, in later times, two octagonal towers with internal
staircases, after the style of the ordinary minaret, have
been added. In explanation of this remarkable shape the
Moslems tell a story how Ahmad Ibn Tulun, who considered
it beneath his dignity to trifle in council, once by accident
played with a roll of paper, and to conceal his momentary
lapse asserted that he was making the model after which
theminaret of his mosque should be built. Other writers, however,
state that both the Mosque and its minaret were copied
from the great Mosque of Samarra, which in Ahmad Ibn
Tulun's time had been the metropolis of the Caliphate; and
though Samarra quickly went to ruins when the supremacy
of Baghdad had been restored, we hear something of a
wonderful minaret there, whence a view of the surrounding
country could be obtained. Corbet-Bey imagines the form
of the minaret to resemble that of Zoroastrian fire-towers;
and this suggestion seems to account for the occurrence of
the type at Samarra, which it was natural for a provincial
governor to copy. The tower was at one time surmounted
by a boat, standing by which, after the completion of his
work, the Christian architect is said to have demanded his

reward, which this time was amply accorded. The same
ornament continued till May, 1694, when it was blown off in
a gale, but it was afterwards for a time replaced.
The total cost of the building is given unanimously by
our authorities as a sum which works out at about $60,000;
and when Ahmad's subjects doubted whether this money
had been lawfully obtained, and therefore whether the
Mosque could safely be used for worship, the founder is
said to have silenced their scruples by assuring them that
it had all been built out of treasure trove—money almost
miraculously supplied by heaven's favour. Tales are told of
the magnificence of the decoration and furniture provided
for the inaugural ceremony; how it was even intended to
encircle the Mosque with a line of ambergris, that the worshippers
might always have a fragrant odour to delight
their sense. The dedicatory inscription was engraved on
more than one marble stele, and parts of one of these have
recently been rediscovered and fixed to one of the pillars of
the sanctuary, opposite the mihrab, or niche, marking the
direction of prayer. It runs as follows:
“In the name of, etc. The Emir Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad Ibn
Tulun, client of the Commander of the Faithful, whose
might, honour and perfect favour God prolong in this
world and the next, commanded that this holy, happy
Mosque be built for the Moslem community, out of legitimate
and well-gotten wealth granted him by God. Desiring
thereby the favour of God and the future world, and seeking
that which will conduce to the glory of religion and the
unity of the believers, and aspiring to build a house for
God and to pay His due and to read His Book, and to
make perpetual mention of Him; since God Almighty says,
In houses which God has permitted to be raised, wherein
His name is mentioned, and wherein praise is rendered
unto Him morning and evening by men that are distracted


neither by merchandise nor by selling from making mention
of God, reciting prayer and giving alms, fearing a
day wherein the hearts and eyes shall be troubled, that God
may reward them for the good that they have wrought, and
may give them yet more out of His bounty. And God bestows
on whom He will without reckoning. In the month
Ramadan of the year 265. Exalt thy Lord, the Lord of
might, over that which they ascribe to Him. And peace be
on the messengers and praise unto God the Lord of the
worlds. O God, be gracious unto Mohammed, and Mohammed's
family, and bless Mohammed and his family even
according to the best of Thy favour and grace and blessing
upon Abraham and his family. Verily Thou art glorious
and to be praised.”
Of the history of the Mosque after Ahmad's time some
notices are preserved. His suburb Kata'i, which contained
not only his Mosque but also his vast palace and parade ground,
was burned in 905; and as the surrounding locality
became more and more deserted, the Mosque itself suffered
from neglect. The second of the Fatimide Caliphs is said to
have replaced the fountain, which, as we have seen,
was burned soon after its erection; but the desolation of the
region reached its climax during the long reign of the
Fatimide Mustansir, and the Mosque came to be used as a
resting-place for Moorish caravans on their way to Mecca,
who stabled their camels in the cloisters. Its use as a hostel
was countenanced by the Egyptian rulers of the twelfth
century, who even provided food for those who made it their
resting-place; such persons were also declared free from the
ordinary tribunals, and told to appoint a judge of their own
to settle any quarrels that might arise.
Systematic restoration was effected by the Mamluke Sultan
Lajin, who, after murdering his master in the year 1294,
took refuge in the then desolate Mosque, and there vowed

that, if he escaped his pursuers and eventually came to power,
he would restore it. Two years later, being raised to the
throne of Egypt, he was in a position to fulfil his promise;
to which pious object he devoted a sum of about ten thousand
pounds. He rebuilt the fountain in the centre of the
court, turning it into a lavatory for the ceremonial ablution,
and his building still remains; he provided a handsome
mimbar or pulpit, of which some panels have found their way
way into the South Kensington Museum; but the inscription
which records his munificence is still there. He repaved
the colonnades and restored the plastering of the walls. He
also provided the Mosque with endowments sufficient to
support a variety of officials, including professors of the
chief Moslem sciences, and a school for children. Shortly
after his time, early in the fourteenth century, the two
minarets on the south side were built; and in 1370 the
northern colonnade was rebuilt, and perhaps the arches
which connect the minaret which has been described with
the Mosque were constructed.
Under the dominion of the Turks the Mosque was again
allowed to fall into neglect, and became a factory for the
production of woollen goods; while in the nineteenth century
it became a poorhouse for the aged and infirm, the arcades
being built up and turned into a series of cells, and the interior
profaned and desecrated in every possible way. The
poorhouse was closed in 1877, and in 1890 the Committee
for the Preservation of the Monuments of Arab Art succeeded
in removing some traces of the injuries which the
edifice had sustained, and it has ever since remained under
their care.
The period between the death of Ahmad Ibn Tulun in 884
to the foundation of Cairo in 969 was in the highest degree
eventful, but the events which it contained were of little consequence
for the subject of this book. The last days of Ahmad

were embittered by the rebellion of one of his sons, who,being
caught and imprisoned, was put to death shortly after the
accession of another son, Khumaruyah, who reigned for
thirteen years. He showed great competence both as a diplomatist
and as a soldier; he restored friendly relations between
the courts of Egypt and Baghdad, and received in fief from
the Caliph for the period of thirty years a vast empire stretching
from Barca to the Tigris. He was, however, more famous
for his magnificence than for his statesmanship or his military
skill. Wonderful tales are told of his palaces, his gardens
and his menageries; of walls frescoed at his order with
pictures of the ladies in his harem, with crowns on their
heads; of trees set in silver, and exotics brought to Egypt
from all parts; of a pond of mercury whereon was placed a
bed of air-cushions, secured with silk and silver, that its perpetual
rocking might give him the sleep which his physicians
could not procure for him save by distasteful remedies;
of the tame lion that guarded him sleeping; and of the wealth
of Egypt expended on the dowry of his daughter, sent to
Baghdad to wed the Caliph. The pond of mercury is apparently
no fiction, since it is recorded that after his day men
found the liquid metal all about the site where it had stood.
In 896 Khumaruyah was assassinated, it is said, in consequence
of some indulgence; and his sons and other successors
of his family were quite incapable of managing great
affairs. Nine years after his death Egypt was conquered by
a force sent from Baghdad, and the surviving members of
the line of Ahmad Ibn Tulun were carried captive to the
metropolis on the Tigris. Such parts of Kata'i as remained
after the fire had only the status of an annex to Fostat. Once
more the country was governed by a viceroy sent from Baghdad
with a finance minister equal to him in authority.
The weakness of the Caliphate prevented this arrangement
from working as it had worked in earlier times. Another Turk

from Farghanah, similar in a variety of ways to Ahmad Ibn
Tulun, utilized the favour of a vizier with whom he had contracted
an alliance to obtain by fraud an appointment to the
governorship of Egypt. In August 935 this person entered
Egypt as governor, having defeated other aspirants to the
office; and shortly afterwards he obtained permission from
headquarters to assume the title Ikhshid, which in his native
country stood for “king”; somewhat as in the nineteenth century
the Egyptian viceroy got from his Turkish suzerain the
right to style himself Khedive. An enterprising chieftain deprived
the Ikhshid of the provinces of Syria and Palestine by
force of arms; and his being confirmed in their possession by
the Caliph provoked such resentment in the mind of the Ikhshid
that he bethought him of abandoning the Prophet's
successor on the Tigris, and bestowing his homage on the
pretender who was founding an empire in Western Islam.
The Ikhshidi dynastywas of even shorter duration than that
of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, and left in Egypt even less to perpetuate
its name. Its founder was charged by his contemporaries with
avarice and cowardice, neither of them a quality which helps
to secure immortality.
The system of slave rule, which, as has been seen, gave
Egypt its best days, was anticipated in the interval between
the death of the Ikhshid and the accession of the Fatimides.
Of two negroes brought from the Sudan to the Egyptian
market one aspired to employment in a cook shop, that he
might never want food, the other aspired to become ruler
of the country, and each obtained his wish. Purchased for
a small sum, and passing through the lowest stages of
misery and degradation, the latter rose finally by force of
character to be the Ikhshid's first minister and general of
his forces; and on his master's death he contrived to keep
the heirs in a state of tutelage to himself, and afterwards to
seat himself on their throne; displaying throughout capacity

for the management of great affairs. Kafur, “Camphor,”
whose name of itself indicated the servile condition of its
owner, was not only master of Egypt, Syria and Arabia,
but in one respect was the most fortunate of all Oriental
sovereigns. He obtained as his encomiast the most famous
of Arabic poets, known as al-Mutanabbi “the Prophetaster,”
at a time when the poet's powers were at their ripest;
and although in consequence of a dispute these brilliant
panegyrics were speedily followed by no less brilliant and
scathing satires, the portrait of Kafur that results is more
complete and more familiar than that provided by the paid
eulogizer of any other Sultan.
It might be difficult to point out in Cairo any relic of the
Ikhshidi period, though the idea of expanding Fostat towards
the north appears to have found support while it
lasted. Kafur laid out a vast park on the eastern bank of
the Great Canal, containing a palace which formed his
favourite residence. Afterwards, when Cairo was built, this
park formed the garden of the Lesser Palace, constructed
by the second of the Fatimide Sultans. And the Tibri Zawiyah,
restored by Shafak Nur, mother of the late Khedive
Tewfik, is on the site of a small mosque built by one of
Kafur's ministers.

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The Fatimide Period

THE rights of members of the Prophet's house appeal
to all Moslems, and there have always been multitudes
among them holding that the succession
should have fallen to the sons of his daughter rather than
to the descendants of his uncle. At the time when the representatives
of the latter in Baghdad had become puppets
of foreign commanders, and the hold of Baghdad on Egypt
as well as other provinces had become so lax as almost to
be non-existent, a pretender to the succession through the
Prophet's daughter had founded a kingdom in North Africa,
which by conquest was steadily approaching the Egyptian
frontier. To the Moslem population of Egypt allegiance to
such a monarch seemed far less humiliating than to such
foreigners and slaves as had ruled over them since the fall
of the Tulunids. During the disorders that broke out after
the death of Kafur, a Jew who had been employed in some
government office, and received rough treatment from one
of Kafur's ephemeral successors, betook him to the capital
of the North African dynasty, a place called Mahdiyyah (or
city of the Mahdi), and informed the professed descendant
of Ali and Fatimah there reigning that the time was ripe
for the occupation of Egypt. On Feb. 6, 969, an army was
despatched under one Jauhar, said to be a Greek by origin,
who by July 9 of the same year had crushed all resistance,
and taken possession of the old capital Fostat. A formal
procession of the troops was made on that day through
the city, and they were quartered for the night on the plain
to the north, where on the following night the lines of the

new city were drawn. The troops, for whom the new city
was to provide a residence, numbered a hundred thousand
mounted men.
The lines of the new city were determined by the canal,
called the Canal of the Commander of the Faithful, which
ran from Fostat towards the south-east, discharging at the
port of Kulzum or Klysma. That is the dry canal (now the
route of a tram-line) which bisects Cairo from south to north,
the city having afterwards expanded on its western side, in
the direction of the Nile, whose bed has since receded considerably
in the same direction. For many centuries the
view over this canal was the favourite sight in Cairo, and
wealthy persons used to build their houses where they could
enjoy it. The eastern boundary was also a canal, called the
canal of the Red Mountain; it must have silted up at no
great length of time after the building of Cairo, and no
trace of it exists. The southern boundary of the new city
was Mount Mokattam, with the two ruined suburbs of Fostat
called al-Askar and al-Kata'i. There was also a canal
on this side, supposed to have been dug by the first Moslem
conqueror of Egypt. To the north there was no limit quite
so definite, but the line was drawn well to the south of Ain
Shams, and a canal was afterwards dug on this side also,
so that the new city had moats on all four sides.
The lines drawn by Jauhar for the walls of the new city
were found next morning to contain certain obliquities, but
his belief in the auspiciousness of the moment chosen for
their drawing prevented his afterwards rectifying them.
These obliquities were in any case very slight; the walls
when built enclosed a city that was practically foursquare,
and nearly true to the cardinal points. We shall try under
the guidance of Casanova to trace the remains of the ancient
walls and gates.
The southern wall that looked towards Fostat was pierced

by the double gate called Zuwailah about the middle, and at
the S.W. angle by the gate called Faraj (deliverance). On
the West side there was a gate called Sa'adat, after one of
the Fatimide generals who had entered the city thereby.
Two other gates were afterwards cut in this wall: one called
Khukhah (the wicket) near the bridge by which the Mouski
passes over the canal, and another the Gate of the Bridge
by which the canal was crossed at an earlier time. On the
north side there were two gates, known as Bab al-Nasr and
Bab al-Futuh (both meaning Gates of Victory). On the east
side there were also two, called Barkiyyah and Mahruk
respectively: the second of these names belongs to a later
Rather more than a hundred years later—in 1087 A.D.—it
wasfound necessary to rebuild the walls, this time with burned
bricks, the original walls having probably been of mud. This
was done by the order of the Fatimide Caliph Mustansir, and
under the direction of his minister Badr al-Jamali, commonly
called Emir al-Juyush (Prince of the Armies). The lines of Jauhar's
wall were closely followed, except that the northern wall
was extended so as to include the Mosque of Hakim, which
had been built outside the old wall. This involved the displacing
of the Nasr and Futuh Gates. The southern wall was
also displaced, so that the Zuwailah Gate was given its present
position. These three gates were, it is said, built by three
brothers from Edessa, probably Syrian Christians. An inscription
which at one time stood on the Bab Zuwailah stated
that it had been erected in the year corresponding to 1091,
whereas the Bab al-Nasr had been completed four years
earlier. The former of these two gates was regarded as a
masterpiece, unrivalled in the world for the size of its doors
and the massiveness of the towers which defended it. A legend
made the leaves revolve on pivots stuck in disks of
glass. When the Muayyad Mosque was built in 1416, these

towers were employed as the foundation of the minarets, and
much of the original construction on the side of the Mosque
was reduced. The increase of traffic with the older town led
to the wall at the side being demolished. The Committee has
done much work upon the remains of the Gate, and in 1900
brought to light part of a Cufic inscription, which is, however,
purely religious in character and contains neither the name
of the founder nor the date.
Under the vault of the arch there used to be two chambers,
of which that to the west is still in existence and communicates
with the Muayyad Mosque. These chambers were used by
the Egyptian sovereigns to watch various spectacles of which
this part of the city formed the theatre, especially the starting
and return of the Sacred Carpet (mahmil). Owing to the
populousness of the region the gate was used for a variety
of purposes which demanded publicity, notably the execution
of criminals. Processions regularly had their route
between the Futuh and Zuwailah Gates.
Eighty years later the great Saladdin finding the wall of
Jauhar in ruins resolved to repair it. His idea was to build
a single wall, which, starting from the Nile, should enclose
both Fostat and Cairo and return to the Nile. The commencement
of the wall, as planned by the great Sultan,
was from Maks or Maksim (a name derived probably from
a Roman named Maximus), the port of Cairo on the Nile,
where Hakim built a Mosque, called afterwards the Mosque
of the Gate of the Nile, or of the Sons of Anan. From this
point the new wall went directly to the Great Canal. West
of the Canal it was pierced by the Bab Sha'riyyah, still
marked on the plans, named, it is said, after a Berber tribe
encamped in the neighbourhood. Traces of the wall of
Saladdin have been discovered by Casanova at various
other points. From the north-east corner of the old wall the
northern wall was continued for some hundreds of metres,

as far as a point called Burj Zafar (Tower of Victory), a
name apparently chosen to accord with those of the gates
already piercing the north wall; the extended line after a
space went back to resume the line of the older wall, slightly
north of the Bab al-Barkiyyah. That gate was, however,
shifted to the east, as was also the case with the gate called
Bab Mahruk, while two new gates were constructed called
the New Gate and the Vizier's Gate. The southern wall,
running from the Citadel to the Nile, so as to enclose the
Mosque of Amr, had four gates, called respectively after the
Cemetery, Safa, Old Cairo and the Bridge.
Of the gates that have been mentioned three, Zuwailah,
(now usually called Mutwalli), Futuh and Nasr are fairly
well preserved; the remainder no longer exist, but their
names are preserved in the plans, and streets or spaces are
called after them. The gate which has been mentioned
above with the name Mahruk (the Burned) is said to have
been previously called the Forage-dealers’ and to have
changed its name owing to the following circumstance: On
Thursday, September 27, 1254, the Emir Aktai, who had
been planning to usurp the throne of the reigning Mamluke
Aibek, was treacherously seized by the latter and
assassinated within the Citadel. His followers, some seven
hundred in number, determined the following night to leave
Cairo and start in the direction of Syria. Finding the Foragedealers’
Gate locked, as usual at night, they set fire to it;
when the gate was afterwards replaced, it was known as
the Burned Gate.
A relic of Jauhar's work is left in the name Bain al-Kasrain
“Between the two Palaces,” sometimes given to the
Nahhasin Street. One of the general's first tasks was to
build a palace for his master, and the site selected was on
the eastern side of the great avenue which bisected the new
city. Opposite, on the other side of the avenue, were the

gardens of Kafur, also containing the palace which that
former sovereign of Egypt had occupied. The Great Eastern
Palace, as this was called, to distinguish it from the Western
Palace built by the second Fatimide Caliph, was commenced
the same night as that on which the lines of the walls were
drawn. The vast building, or series of buildings, was a city
in itself, capable of containing 30,000 persons. A high wall,
pierced with a number of gates, whose names are still preserved
in some local appellations, screened it from the gaze
of the population; and from a distance it seemed comparable
to a mountain. Dissatisfied with this great palace, the
second of the Fatimide Caliphs built himself a smaller one
opposite. It was an open rectangle, embracing a recreation
ground, which fronted the avenue “Between the two Palaces.”
These palaces, of which M. Ravaisse has endeavoured to
reconstruct the general plan, were occupied by the Fatimide
Caliphs till the fall of the dynasty. When Saladdin resolved
to put an end to it, he found, it is said, in the Great Eastern
Palace 12,000 persons, all of them women, with the sole exception
of the Caliph and his sons, and other males of the imperial
family. It was assigned by Saladdin to his ministers
to dwell in; and it speedily went to rack and ruin. This
was due to the building of the Citadel, which not only became
the residence of the ruler, but of necessity that of the
chief ministers as well.
The troops brought by Jauhar were assigned different
quarters in the new city, where they proceeded to build. On
the western side of the great avenue there were four quarters
or Harahs—called respectively after Burjuwan, the Emirs,
Jaudar and Zuwailah. Four other quarters lay to the west
of these, and between them and the canal; these were called
Farahiyyah, Murtahiyyah, Akrad (Kurds) and Mahmudiyyah.
These names are mainly taken from either detachments
of the army of Jauhar or from their captains. East of the

Avenue there were the upper and lower quarter of the
Greeks, to the north and south respectively; east of the
grand palace the quarter of the chief general; south of it
the quarters of the Dailemites and Turks; north-east of it
the quarter called after Utuf, a black captain; west of it the
Barkiyyah quarter. Other quarters were built by less fortunate
troops outside the walls.
According to the calculations of Ali Pasha Mubarak, the
length of each side of Jauhar's city was about 1,200 metres,
and the area 340 feddans,* of which 70 feddans were occupied
by the great palace, thirty-five by the garden of Kafur,
thirty-five by the two parade grounds, and the remaining 200
by the soldiers’ quarters. Between the western wall and the
canal there was a distance of thirty metres. The new walls
built by Emir al-Juyush gave the city a further extension of
sixty feddans. The addition to Cairo of the space west of
the canal towards the Nile and to the south towards the city
of Ahmad Ibn Tulun took place during the period of the
Mamlukes. Meanwhile the bed of the Nile has moved to a
distance of something like a mile and a half west of its ancient
course. The recovered land has gradually been built
over, and by these repeated extensions the area of Cairo has
reached something like six times that of the original city.
* 4,200 square metres.
The early years of the Fatimide Caliphs were disturbed
by the attacks of the Carmathians, against whom, as we
have seen, Jauhar found it necessary to fortify
Cairo with a
series of trenches in addition to his wall. In origin the
Carmathians and the Fatimides appear to have been the
same, but the sects had become divided in the course of
the century during which the former had been thriving in
the West, while the original community had been devastating
Arabia and the Eastern provinces of the Caliphate. Both
followed a system of mysticism, one part of which was to


assign rights, more or less approximating to the divine, to
the family of Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law; but
whereas the practice of statesmanship had reduced the
fanaticism of the Fatimides, their Eastern brethren were
iconoclasts and persecutors of as vehement a sort as ever
arose in Islam. At the period of the Fatimide conquest of
Egypt the leader of the Carmathians, al-A'sam, had his
headquarters in al-Ahsa on the Persian Gulf, but was in
relations with the Caliph of Baghdad, and even employed
forces nominally subject to the Caliph in wresting from
Egyptian rule Damascus and other Syrian cities. The disturbed
state of the region formerly held by the Ikhshidis
enabled the Carmathian leader to gain a series of victories,
till in October, 971, his army was encamped at Ain Shams
in the immediate neighbourhood of Cairo. The skill of the
Fatimide general was now put to a greater test than it had
to undergo when he was sent to conquer Egypt, but it
proved equal to the occasion. Sorties were organized by
him on November 19 and 20, in the second of which a severe
defeat was inflicted on the Carmathian leader, who was
compelled to retreat to al-Ahsa, finding that in consequence
of his failure he was deserted by various Arab tribes who
had gladly joined his plundering expeditions. The land
victory was followed by one over the Carmathian fleet at
Tinnis, and in Syria, too, attempts were made to shake off
the Carmathian yoke. Al-A'sam, however, had no intention
of giving way without another struggle, and the Fatimide
Caliph, whose arrival was hastened by the representations
made to him by his general concerning the Carmathian
trouble, found himself a year after his enthronement besieged
in his capital, while various Carmathian corps
ravaged lower Egypt. Al-A'sam was again compelled to
raise the siege, chiefly through the timely administration
by the enemy of bribes to some of his shifty allies.


Egypt was thus delivered from the Carmathians; but the
possession of Syria was not yet secured for the Egyptian
sovereigns. When the first Caliph Muizz died at the end of
975, his son and successor Aziz found himself threatened in
Syria by an enemy who had succeeded to the inheritance of
the Carmathians. This was a Turk, Aftakin, who, as commander
of a force of mercenaries which had been in the
employ of the Eastern Sultan and had mutinied, had in
the spring of 975 become master of Damascus, where by
justice and capacity he had made himself popular, and
presently found himself strong enough, with the aid of disaffected
Carmathians, to endeavour to extend his rule over
all Syria. In July, 976, Jauhar was sent by the advice of
Jacob, son of Killis (the Jew who had originally summoned
the Fatimides to invade Egypt), to deal with this new
enemy, and he besieged Damascus for two months. Aftakin
was finally persuaded by the Damascenes to invoke the aid
of the Carmathians, who were now under another chief.
The result of this alliance was that Jauhar had presently to
raise the siege of Damascus, and was soon himself shut up
in Askalon where his army suffered great privations. Jauhar
in these circumstances in some way got the ear of Aftakin,
who, against the judgement of his Carmathian colleague,
was persuaded to allow Jauhar's army to depart
without apparently having made any conditions of peace.
They were met on their return by a new army equipped by
the Caliph Aziz, who advanced with them to Ramlah,
where in the summer of 977 a fierce engagement took place,
ending in the defeat of Aftakin and the Carmathians, who
are said to have lost 20,000 men. In spite of this success, the
Egyptian Caliph was content to stave off further attacks by
the offer of a yearly tribute. Aftakin, who through treachery
was taken captive by the Caliph, was treated honourably
and even admitted to the circle of the Caliph's advisers: a

fact which is said to have so roused the jealousy of the
Vizier Jacob, son of Killis, that he caused this possible rival
to be poisoned about four years after his capture. We should
gladly try to exonerate this capable proselyte from so grave
a charge, but his career makes it improbable that he was
troubled with more scruples than Marlowe's Jew of Venice.
Still he seems to have served his Caliph faithfully, who
found him indispensable, being obliged to restore him to
office whenever he tried to cashier him, and who, on his
death in 990, fasted for three days and gave him the most
honourable interment.
The accounts that are handed down of this person's possessions
give a vivid idea of the amount which it was possible
for a minister of state to accumulate. He left jewels, coined
wealth, goods of various kinds and estates valued at about
two million pounds; his harem, containing 800 wives, came
near rivalling Solomon's; and there was a dowry of about
100,000 pounds left for his daughter. Besides this he had
followed the plan adopted by yet earlier ministers, and
destined to influence the destinies of Egypt in the future,
of forming a bodyguard, which in his case had risen to the
number of 4,000 Mamlukes; they were housed in barracks
which formed a street called Vizier Street, and even after
Jacob's death were not disbanded.
The other founder of the Fatimide Empire in Egypt,
Jauhar, survived him rather more than a year, dying at the
beginning of 992. His relations with his master continued
friendly to the end, but his ill-success in the Syrian expedition
appears to have definitely tarnished his laurels.
For several years Aziz was occupied with the conquest
of Syria, where the Hamdanide Saad al-daulah, whose
capital was at Aleppo, managed to maintain himself, and
on his death in 991 was succeeded by his son, Abu'l-Fada'il.
This sovereign endeavoured to obtain the help of the Greek

emperor against the Egyptian invaders, and such help was
readily given, since the maintenance of Antioch in Christian
hands depended on the possibility of playing off one
Moslem power against the other. Aleppo after a siege of
thirteen months by Aziz's general was set free by the timely
aid of the Emperor Basil. The plans, however, of this Caliph
were interrupted by his death in the year 996, when his son
Mansur, known as Hakim, was placed on the throne, being
eight years of age.
The practice of proclaiming minors was destined to be
followed many times, chiefly during the Mamluke dynasties,
when it usually led to the throne being seized after a few
days or months by an ambitious minister. Such a coup d'état
was suggested on this occasion to the minister Burjuwan
the Slav, who had been appointed regent by the last Caliph's
dying dispositions; but he did not consent to carry it out.
He was, however, soon involved in a struggle with his colleague,
the Commander of the Forces, which again were
divided into two camps of Moors and Syrians, including
Turks. Burjuwan succeeded in getting the upper hand, and
displacing his colleague, who was presently assassinated
by the Turks.
Burjuwan maintained his regency for about four years,
and managed affairs successfully. He recovered Syria, pacified
Damascus, and after defeating the Greeks made a
truce with their emperor for ten years. But his protégé Hakim
developed the qualities of an eastern tyrant at an early
age, and finding the restraint of Burjuwan intolerable, intrigued
with two other ministers, who assassinated him.
Hakim was at this time twelve years of age. Though compelled
to tolerate another regent, as usual the assassin of
the last, he required that all petitions should be addressed
to himself, and that the new regent should make no pretentions
to independence. Ere his thirteenth year was at an

end, he began the series of extravagant ordinances and regulations
which were continued through the whole of his
reign and have won him the title Caligula of the East. His
delight in bloodshed was utilized by his ministers for the
purpose of getting rid of rivals, but those who gratified
their resentments in this way quickly fell victims in their
turn. Thus Burjuwan's assassin survived him little more
than three years.
As this Caliph began to assert his independence, the
people of Egypt became subjected to as much cruelty and
purposeless annoyance as can ever have fallen to the lot of
any nation; though the instability of the tyrant's purpose
and the perpetual veering of his inclinations may have done
something to relieve them. At times he amused himself
with oppressing Jews and Christians, at times they were
the objects of his favour. At times he ordered that day
should be turned into night, and vice versa; at times no one
was to be allowed about after dark. Dumb animals, and
even plants, were often the object of his resentment.
One whim of Hakim's cost the Christians many churches,
for at one period he demanded that all those in Egypt
should be demolished, and he extended his iconoclasm to
the ancient and much venerated Church of the Resurrection
in Jerusalem. Jews and Christians were compelled to adopt
Islam under penalty of having to carry heavy weights
in the form of a calf or a cross. An amusement of this monster
was the hacking of young children to pieces; a remonstrance
against this cruelty cost a general who had saved
Hakim's throne his life. Viziers and other officers were
honoured, tortured or executed according to the Caliph's
In spite of the character of Hakim's rule few serious
attempts seem to have been made to rid Egypt of him.
Apparently the hatred between the Moorish and Syrian

elements in his army was so great that he could always
rely on one or other of them in the event of disaffection
spreading. Nor does it appear that any opponent of tyranny
could build on the ordinary resentment inspired by the
Caliph's acts; anyone who opposed him on the ground of
nearer descent from the prophet could perhaps get together
some allies. Two attempts to substitute a new dynasty for
that of Hakim on this principle were made by pretenders
from Barcah and Meccah respectively; the former of these
came near succeeding, but Hakim found a general capable
of defeating him. The latter was rendered innocuous by administering
bribes. The persons who joined in these revolts
were, moreover, not the sufferers from the Caliph's tyranny
but hordes of free Arabs, whose fickleness ruined any cause
that they temporarily took up. Nor can we find that Hakim's
cruelties inspired much, if any, horror in his contemporaries,
since various princes voluntarily put themselves
under his suzerainty.
Towards the end of his reign he was possessed of the
same ambition as had formerly seized Caligula—the desire
to be regarded as a god. Missionaries sprang up in Cairo
who taught the new doctrine of the divinity of Hakim, and
demanded that it should be recognized. This claim seemed
at last to rouse the submissive people of Cairo to indignation,
and several of the missionaries and their adherents
were murdered. Hakim avenged himself by again taking
the Jews and Christians into favour, allowing the forced
converts to return to their former religions, and rebuild
their churches and synagogues; and, in addition, permitting
his Sudanese troops to indulge in all sorts of excesses
with the Moslem population. At times the other troops took
the side of the populace against the Sudanese, and in the
course of the skirmishes which ensued much destruction
was wrought.

The deliverance of the people of Egypt came by the hand
of an assassin in the year 1021. All that is known is that
Hakim rode out one evening to the Karafah, or cemetery, on
an ass with a small escort, and never returned. The ass was
afterwards found in a mutilated condition, and the tracking
of footsteps led to the discovery of Hakim's clothes. The
assassination is ascribed to a sister of Hakim's, who was
indignant at his resolve to appoint a distant relation as his
successor to the exclusion of his own son. She is credited
with having organized the assault, and afterwards got rid
of the persons who carried it out. As she further had a
number of innocent persons murdered, because they refused
to acknowledge to having had a share in the assassination,
she appears to have been a worthy sister to the tyrant. The
rumour that Hakim still lived and would return at some
time was even more persistent than a similar fancy about
Nero. There are sects that still believe in Hakim's existence
and destined return. It is marvellous that they should desire
His successor, who took the name al-Zahir, was rather
more than fourteen years of age, and was put on the throne
by his aunt who, like so many Egyptian princesses, from
immemorial times, took an active part in politics. She
managed to maintain herself in the regency for four years,
during which she showed more skill in organizing executions
than in securing Egyptian rule over the provinces;
still neither she nor her nephew exercised whimsical tyranny
after the style of Hakim, except on rare occasions. Zahir
reigned in all fifteen years and eight months, and before his
death recovered nearly all Syria, which in the early years
of his reign had been the prey of a variety of usurpers.
The fourth Fatimide Caliph died of the plague in 1036;
his successor Mustansir was aged seven years at the
time of his accession, so that the real power fell to his

mother, who was a black slave, and her former master, a
Jewish curiosity dealer, named Abraham. For a time this
person, through the Caliph's mother, appointed the viziers,
among them a former co-religionist who had adopted Islam;
this person, however, found the means of getting rid of his
benefactor, and presently himself fell a victim to the resentment
of the Caliph's mother. The reign of Mustansir was
distinguished by the commencement of a bodyguard of black
freedmen, got together by the Caliph, it is supposed because,
being of the same race as his mother, their fidelity
could be trusted.
Mustansir was particularly favoured by having his cause
taken up by various adventurers in different parts of the
Moslem Empire, of whom one incorporated Yemen in the
Egyptian realm, while another even took Baghdad, and for
a time obtained recognition of the Fatimide Caliph in the
metropolis of his rival. This event, which had been caused
by dissensions in the family of the Seljukes, who at that time
were supreme in the Eastern Caliphate, was of short duration,
partly because the adventurer who had taken Baghdad
excited the envy of Mustansir's vizier, who refused further
supplies to his rival, partly because the military talents of
the Seljuek prince were equal to the emergency.
Meanwhile Egypt was troubled by the rivalries between
the Turkish and negro elements of the Caliph's bodyguard,
which broke out into open war. The result was long doubtful,
but finally was in favour of the Turks, commanded by
Nasir al-daulah. The claims of the Turkish praetorians became,
in consequence of their victory, excessive, and a
dispute arose between their commander Nasir al-daulah and
the Caliph, which ended in the latter falling completely
under the former's control, who even threatened to restore
Egypt to the suzerainty of Baghdad. This person's rule,
which ended with his assassination in 1073, was accompanied

by great misery; the palace of the Caliph was
repeatedly plundered, and its vast library partly burned and
partly handed over to pillagers; and the Caliph himself was
reduced to absolute poverty, so that his wife and daughters
had finally to flee to Baghdad to avoid starvation. It is uncertain
whether Nasir al-daulah's ambition was to become
governor of Egypt for the Abbasids, or whether he aimed at
founding a dynasty of his own. After his assassination the
condition of the Caliph did not at first better itself; in despair
he put himself into the hands of Badr al-Jamali, an
Armenian freedman who had served as Governor of Damascus
and Acre, and who had provided himself with an
Armenian bodyguard; this person accepted the Caliph's
invitation to settle the affairs of Egypt, which he began in
old Arab style by summoning all the existing officials to a
feast and murdering them. With his unscrupulousness, however,
he combined both military and administrative ability
of a high order, and by quelling rebellion everywhere and
seeing to the proper administration of justice he brought
back a fair degree of prosperity.
During the rule of Badr al-Jamali the walls of Cairo were,
as we have seen, rebuilt; but though Egypt prospered, the
Fatimides lost Syria, which was first conquered by an adventurer
named Atsiz, who went so far as to invade Egypt,
where Badr defeated him; his Syrian conquests then fell
into the power of the Seljuke Tutush, from whom Badr was
able to recover a few towns. But Damascus remained in
Seljuke hands.
Mustansir died in 1094, having reigned over sixty years,
longer than any other Oriental Caliph or Sultan. Like Khumaruyah
he appears to have displayed some ingenuity in
devising new forms of pleasure, but otherwise he exhibited
no competence. Before order was restored by the Armenian
troops, the country was devastated by the Berbers, negroes,

Turks and Syrians who formed the different corps of the
Caliph's army; Egyptian troops nowhere figure in the list.
The death of Mustansir was followed by a struggle for
the succession, in which, however, the youngest son of the
late Caliph, being supported by Badr's son and successor,
al-Afdal, was victorious; he was proclaimed with the title
Musta'li. Al-Afdal put himself into communication with the
Crusaders, and undertook to aid them in defeating the Seljukes;
and, indeed, he succeeded in retaking Jerusalem and
some other places in Syria. This was before he was aware of
the intentions of the Crusaders with regard to Jerusalem;
when that place, in 1099, fell into their hands, and the
whole population of Moslems was massacred, al-Afdal found
his dominions threatened by the Franks, and had to retire
to Egypt, leaving Syria to the invaders. By 1101 the bulk
of the towns which had had Egyptian garrisons had fallen
into their hands. The same year Musta'li died, and was
succeeded by his son al-Amir, then an infant five years old.
Al-Afdal acted as regent, and governed Egypt well for
twenty years. His attempts, however, to withstand the Franks
in Syria and in Palestine were unsuccessful, and towns
which had remained in Egyptian hands, such as Ptolemais
and Tripoli, were compelled to surrender.
In 1117 the Crusaders for the first time invaded Egypt
itself, but had to quit it the next year, having effected little.
In 1121 the Caliph, who was now of age, feeling tired of the
regent, found means to have him assassinated; his possessions
were then confiscated, and it was found that he had
enriched himself even beyond the by no means contemptible
performances of previous viziers. He was succeeded in
his office by the man who had been employed to organize
the murder, Ibn Fatik al-Bata'ihi, who had risen from the
the ranks. In 1125, he too was got rid of by the Caliph,
though only imprisoned, and the latter proceeded to govern

personally without the aid of a vizier. His rule was exceedingly
arbitrary and vexatious, and he involved himself in
much bloodshed; his end was, however, brought on, not by
the resentment of his subjects, but by fanatics of a sect who
held that his father's elder brother Nizar had been wrongly
displaced. By one of these he was assassinated in 1130.
He was succeeded by a cousin who took the title Hafiz,
and was compelled to employ as his vizier Ahmad the son of
the murdered al-Afdal and grandson of Badr al-Jamali. This
vizier enjoyed his honours for a little more than a year,
during which he had made himself detested by insolence
towards the Caliph, and an endeavour to modify the current
form of religion; like his father he was got out of the way by
assassination. According to custom an Armenian freedman
Yanis, who had organized the attack on the former vizier,
was installed in his victim's place. A year's time brought
him into conflict with the Caliph, who resorted to a subtle
form of poison to relieve himself of the vizier. Hafiz shortly
after had to deal with an Absalom in the shape of his son
Hasan, who fought pitched battles with his younger brother
and then with troops summoned to defend his father; he was
victorious and forced his father to name him successor, and
to hand over to him the reins of authority, but his conduct
quickly gave offence. He was compelled to take refuge with
his father within the palace, and a Jewish and a Christian
physician were summoned to administer poison to him; the
Jew refused, but the Christian provided what was required.
In consequence the Christian was presently executed by the
Caliph's order, and his property given to the Jew who became
sole court physician. The army, which by this time
claimed the right to make all appointments of a political
nature, gave the post of vizier to an Armenian Christian,
named Bahram, and he filled most of the subordinate posts
with Armenians, who, in spite of their religion, have frequently

formed the cabinets of Moslem rulers. His power
lasted from 1135 to 1137. An adventurer named Ridwan
then gathered an army and displaced him; his power also
lasted two years only, after which he was compelled by
Hafiz to flee from Cairo to Syria, where he collected an
army in the hope of recovering Egypt; after a variety of
adventures, combining successes and failures, he was assassinated
in 1148. The Caliph himself died in 1149.
He was followed by his youngest son Ismail, called Zafir,
who was seventeen years old at the time. In character he
was no stronger than his predecessors, and the vizierate was
seized by an ambitious governor of Alexandria, named Ibn
Sallar, who presently was murdered by his stepson, who in
his turn was installed in the dangerous office. This episode
cost the Fatimides Askalon, their last possession in Palestine,
which owing to the disputes between the rival parties
was taken by the Crusaders.
Zafir was, after a reign of four years, murdered by his favourite
Nasr, the son of the Vizier Abbas, who then proceeded
to make away with the brothers of the Caliph, and to place
on the throne his infant son, Isa, called Fa'iz. He attempted
to govern independently, but gave dissatisfaction and was
shortly compelled to flee before a South Egyptian governor,
Tala'i Ibn Ruzzik, who came with an army to Cairo and
usurped the office of vizier. The youthful Caliph, who suffered
from epileptic fits, occasioned by the violence which accompanied
his accession, died at the age of eleven in the
year 1160.
The vizier, after the ordinary custom, appointed to the
vacant Caliphate a child, cousin of the deceased, who was
nine years of age, and was given the title Adid; with him
the Fatimide Caliphate was destined to terminate. According
to the ordinary custom also the Caliph soon grew tired
of the regency of the vizier, and hired persons to assassinate


him, and as the vizier lived after the attempt on his life
long enough to avenge himself, the Caliph had the baseness
to lay the blame on his aunt and hand her over to execution.
The vizierate was seized by the son of the murdered man,
who, however, was speedily displaced by the governor of
Upper Egypt, Shawar, a man who had already figured as a
person of importance in previous reigns; who ere long had
to give way to another usurper, Dirgham, head of a corps
formed by Tala'i, whose conduct soon made his followers
wish Shawar back. The disturbed state of Egypt gave the
Crusaders an opportunity to effect a landing, do much
damage, and only retire on promise of tribute. Meanwhile
Shawar had found an ally in the Prince of Damascus, and
in 1164 returned to Egypt with an army commanded by a
general of the latter named Shirguh; after a month's resistance
Dirgham found himself deserted, and both he and his
brothers met their deaths. After the joint enterprise of Shawar
and Shirguh had been crowned with success, the two fell
out, and since Shawar did not shrink from applying for the
help of the Crusaders, Shirguh was compelled to return to
Syria. Early in 1167 he returned with an army of 2,000
picked men, with whose aid he won a decisive victory over
the united forces of Shawar and the Franks at Ushmunain
in the same year. It is in this battle that we first hear of
Saladdin, sent by Nur al-din, the Prince of Damascus, accompanying
and aiding his uncle Shirguh. After the battle
Saladdin was appointed by his uncle governor of Alexandria,
where he was presently besieged by the united forces
of Shawar and his Frankish allies. The news that Shirguh
had commenced the siege of Cairo induced the parties to
make peace, and by the end of the year Shirguh had withdrawn
to Damascus. Meanwhile a Frankish garrison was
admitted into Cairo to make sure of the tribute which had
been promised the Crusaders as the price of their assistance,

and treated the inhabitants with great harshness. The ill-content
of the inhabitants led to the summoning of Nur al-din
from Syria by the Caliph, while on the other hand a
Frankish army came from the north of Egypt and began
to lay siege to Cairo. On this occasion occurred the burning
of Fostat, which was described above. The Franks were
bribed by Shawar to retire; but Shirguh's forces were received
with joy by the people of Cairo, and in a short time
after their arrival Shawar was, at Saladdin's instance,
attacked and put to death. Shirguh, who got his place,
occupied it only two months, since in March, 1168, he fell a
victim to gluttony. After some claims being put forward by
other candidates, Saladdin was chosen to succeed him as
vizier and governor of the Egyptian Empire. Saladdin was
an earnest follower of the Sunni doctrines, on opposition to
which the Fatimide throne was based; he therefore appointed
persons of his own persuasion to the chief posts in Egypt,
and constantly reduced the sphere of activity of the Caliph.
As usual he was threatened by an insurrection, but was able
to suppress it; and with the aid of his chief, Nur al-din,
raised the siege of Damietta, which had been besieged by
the Franks with a powerful force. His further exploits in
dealing with the Crusaders are well known. At the beginning
of 1171 Saladdin finally consented to a step which
Nur al-din had been long urging on him, that of substituting
in the Friday prayer the name of the Baghdad Caliph
for that of the Fatimide Adid; and Adid, who was ill at the
time, fortunately died a few days after, and never heard of
his dethronement and the loss of the imperial title to his
family. Meanwhile steps had been taken to substitute orthodox
for Shi'ite judges, and also to found schools and colleges
where the younger generation should be brought up
in Sunnite principles. Though Adid was but twenty-one
years old at his death, he left several children, two of whom

found some partisans; but their attempts to regain the
throne were unsuccessful and disastrous to their followers.
The history of the Fatimides bears a close resemblance to
that of the Baghdad Caliphs, except that the Abbasid family
appears to have produced far more able men, and the mayors
of the palace in the latter case succeeded in founding dynasties
of some duration, unlike the ephemeral vizierates of the
Fatimide Empire. The plan of appointing infants to the
throne in order to permit the ministers a free hand will
meet us repeatedly. The results were ordinarily disastrous
to both minister and sovereign.

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Buildings of the Fatimide Period

ONE of the earliest cares of Jauhar, the conqueror
of Egypt for the Fatimides, was to build a mosque
for public worship, and this project was the commencement
of the famous al-Azhar. It took about two years
to erect, and was finished June 14, 972. It was not at first a
literary institution any more than any other mosque; all
such places had from the beginning of Islam served as
rendez-vous for savants, and places where those who undertook
to interpret the Koran or recite traditions could establish
themselves. The line between religious and secular
studies was not drawn during the early centuries of Islam;
men made circles in the mosques for the purpose of reciting
verses, or telling literary anecdotes as well as for instruction
of a more decidedly edifying character. The first mosque
ever built in Islam, that of the Prophet at Medinah, had
served a number of purposes for which separate buildings
were deemed necessary in more specializing days: it had
not only been church and school, but town hall, hospice and
hospital as well. Since politics and religion could not be
kept distinct, the mosque was the place where announcements
of importance respecting the commonwealth might
be made. The ideas connected with it in some ways resembled
those which attach to a church, in others were more
like those which are connected with a synagogue, but the
peculiar evolution of Islam furnished it with some which
those other buildings do not share.
The person who conceived the idea of turning the first
mosque of the new city into a university was the astute convert

from Judaism who had suggested to the Fatimide sovereign
that the time was ripe for the conquest of Egypt, and
had been rewarded for his advice by being made vizier.
Having been born in Baghdad in the year 930, he had come
to Egypt in 942, where he got employment in the office of
one of Kafur's ministers; in this capacity he obtained the
notice of Kafur, who promoted him from one office to another
till he became chief treasurer. In 967 he embraced
Islam, and took into his house a tutor who could give him
regular instruction in the matters which a Moslem gentleman
should know. Once vizier, he followed the example of
many who had previously held that high office, in becoming
a patron of learning and belles lettres; on Thursday evenings
he regularly held a salon in his house for the recitation of his
own compositions, but also for reunion of all the savants of
The notion, however, of Jacob, son of Killis, in encouraging
learning was somewhat deeper than that which had
inspired many other viziers. Since the Fatimide dynasty
had succeeded in virtue of its religious claims, it was
necessary to provide for its maintenance by a body of
literature comparable with that which the supporters of
the rival Caliph could display, and which enjoyed widespread
respect and authority owing to the long series of
venerated names concerned with its composition and perpetuation.
These authoritative books once provided, and
arrangements being made whereby their study could be encouraged
and maintained, no mean dam would be provided
against inundation from without. The books, therefore, he
composed himself; the University was to secure that they
should be properly studied and interpreted.
In 988, when the second Fatimide Caliph was reigning,
Jacob Ibn Killis requested his master to provide a grant
for the maintenance of a fixed number of scholars. The

Caliph Aziz assented; provisions were made for thirty-five
students, and a house adjoining Jauhar's Mosque secured for
their lodging.
Thus began al-Azhar, whose name is thought to have
been selected out of compliment to the supposed foundress
of the Fatimide line, Fatimah, honourably called al-Zahra
(the luminous), of which word Azhar is the masculine. This
year's statistics give 9,758 as the present number of students,
with 317 professors. At times the numbers of both have
been still greater. Political events led to its diversion from
its original purpose as a school of heresy to its becoming
the great centre of Moslem orthodoxy; but what circumstance
it was that enabled it to eclipse all its rivals is not
so clear. We understand why the University of Cairo should
have survived those of Spain and those of Irak. Cairo was
the metropolis of Islam when those countries could no
longer contain one, and the city to which it handed over its
headship, Constantinople, spoke a foreign tongue and not
the original language of Mohammedanism. But in Cairo itself
there were many rivals at all periods; in the period of the
later Mamlukes almost every sovereign built and liberally
endowed a college to perpetuate his name. Probably al-Azhar
superseded the others in virtue of its antiquity and
the reputation which it won. Its name was known all over
the Mohammedan world; the others scarcely got the chance
to become fashionable.
The second founder of al-Azhar was the mad Hakim,
whose madness did not prevent his understanding the importance
of learning. He himself founded three mosques,
and got together a great Library, which once occupied part of
the Eastern Palace. The purpose of this last institution was
in the main to spread the tenets of his dynasty and his own
variations of them. His deed of gift is preserved in full, and
contains a number of details as to the nature of the moneys


bestowed and the mode in which they were to be administered.
The deed contains his benefactions to his three
mosques, to al-Azhar, and to his public library or academy.
To the share of the Azhar there fell, besides books, three
public buildings in the older city; for it was the custom at
this time and long after in Egypt to settle on religious
institutions not lands, but the rents of houses or shops. The
trustees were, whenever necessary, to advertise the buildings
for hire, to keep them in good repair with the proceeds,
and to make a number of specified payments out of
the remainder. The Preacher of the Mosque was to have
seven dinars (perhaps 75 francs) a month; other sums were
to be expended on matting, glass, incense and other scents,
camphor, wax, etc., and certain sums were to be set aside for
payment of persons employed in sweeping, repairing, cleaning,
etc. Three leaders of prayer, four other religious officials
and fifteen mueddins were to have between them 556 dinars;
other sums were set apart for the hospice. Even such details
as dusters for cleaning the lamps, buckets for scouring and
brooms for sweeping were provided for by specified payments
to come out of the benefactions.
The plan of the original Mosque bore some resemblance
to that of the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, being a rectangle with
the sanctuary side wider and therefore supported by more
rows of columns than the rest; but in the case of al-Azhar
piers were not used, their place being taken by 380 columns
of different materials, marble, porphyry and granite, with
bases and capitals of different styles. Though it was frequently
restored and repaired, additions seem to have been
made only in comparatively late times. The Caliph Mustansir
is mentioned as one of its benefactors; and in the time of the
Mamluke Baibars I an Emir Izz al-din Idumir restored
walls and columns, plastered the former afresh, and repaired
roof and pavement. In 1303 it, with several other

mosques, was partly demolished by an earthquake; the
Emir Sallar undertook the restoration of what had fallen.
A fresh restoration was undertaken in the year 1360 by
Bashir the cup-bearer; he built an establishment for the
provision of drinking-water on the south side, with a school
for poor children above it. In 1382 fresh emoluments were
provided by a law that of all intestate residents of the
Mosque the property should fall to it.
From the first it had been the custom of students who
had no other lodging in Cairo to live in the Mosque, and
the spaces between the columns were more and more fitted
as dormitories for that purpose; different parts being
assigned to different nationalities, and in after times to
different sects. Various legacies were left for the maintenance
of these students, while pious persons undertook the
duty at different times of supplying them with necessaries
or luxuries. An attempt was made in the year 1415 by an
officious Kadi to turn these poor students out, doubtless
with the view of rendering the condition of the Mosque
cleaner and more sanitary; this measure had only temporary
effect, though great annoyance seems to have been
caused by it at the time. A fresh restoration took place in
the year 1495 and another in 1596; on this last occasion a
benefaction of lentils was assigned to all students for daily
consumption, and this caused a great inflow of scholars.
Ten years afterwards it was freshly paved and otherwise
repaired. Iywaz Bey, who died in the year 1724, renewed
the roof which was falling in, and since then a variety of
additions and improvements have been effected. The improvements
of Abd al-Rahman in 1777 included two minarets,
an erection of fifty marble columns containing a
school, a cistern, and a mausoleum for himself; a dormitory
for students from Upper Egypt, and a new gate of vast dimensions
made so as to introduce the Taibarsi and Akbogha


colleges within the precincts of al-Azhar. Other dormitories
or cloisters have been added for students from
Baghdad, Meccah, Hindustan, etc.
The Mosque has eight gates, of which the largest is called
the Barbers’ Gate, opposite the opening of Boxmakers’ Street;
this gate, which is double, has above it a school and a minaret.
It was erected by the Abd al-Rahman mentioned above.
The inscription on the older gate which occupied the same
site is still preserved, and is to the effect that the gate was
erected in 1469 by the Sultan Kaietbai. The remaining gates
are named after the Moors, Syrians, Upper Egyptians, etc.
The Maksurah (a kind of private pew surrounded with a
grating in which eminent personages take part in devotions)
is represented in al-Azhar by several erections; the oldest is
the work of Jauhar and extends from the Gate of the Syrians
to the Cloister of the Orientals, and is on seventy-six
pillars of white marble; it communicates with the quadrangle
of the Mosque by three doors. The second Maksurah built
by Abd al-Rahman is separated from Jauhar's by a court,
and its roof is some two metres higher than that of Jauhar.
The great university of al-Azhar has recently been accurately
described in French by M. Arminjean (L'Enseignement,
la Doctrine, et la Vie dans les Universités Musulmanes d'égypte
Paris, 1907) in a manner that leaves little to be desired,
whether in regard to the structure of the buildings, the nature
of the studies or the mode in which the students spend
their time. Two of its denizens furnished him with autobiographies,
and these give a vivid impression of the character
of a Mohammedan “University Career.” Our notion of a course
of study, limited in time, followed by a degree after which
the student ceases to be a student, must be removed from the
mind, if we would familiarize ourselves with the ways of al-Azhar—at
least the al-Azhar of all but the most recent times
—for here too it would seem that the examination system and

European hurry are beginning to make themselves felt. The
underlying theory of the Oriental University is that there is
nothing new under the sun. It is therefore the purpose of the
teacher to communicate as accurately as possible what he has
himself learned; of the student to master it with the same
thoroughness, to leave nothing out, but never to add anything
of his own. The sciences, as they are called, of al-Azhar were
all perfected in past time—before the fall of the Caliphate of
Baghdad; what the student has to do is to acquire mastery
of the manuals in which that old learning was finally incorporated,
or some abridgement of them, or else an abridgement of an abridgement.
He may perhaps take his whole life over
accomplishing this task; in any case it will take him a number
of years. For what the Oriental learns he usually learns
very thoroughly indeed.
Next in importance to the Mosque al-Azhar among Fatimide
edifices is the Mosque of Hakim, outside the first but inside
the second wall of Cairo. Built on piers, and with brisé or
slightly pointed arches, it bore considerable resemblance
to the Tulunid Mosque, and even the minaret is not wholly
unlike that which has been described in dealing with that
building; but it has long been in ruins, certain piers and
arches only standing beside the dismantled minaret. Commenced
by the second Fatimide Caliph, it was finished by
the mad Hakim in 1012; and richly furnished and endowed
by him. The floors were covered with 36,000 square yards of
matting. In the year 1303 it was wrecked by the earthquake
which, as has already been seen, did considerable havoc to the
buildings in Cairo; it was then repaired by the Sultan Baibars,
who in addition to fresh revenues for its maintenance
appointed professors of the four schools of law to lecture in
it, and furnished endowments for scholars. In 1359 it was
restored by the Sultan Hasan who paved the whole afresh;
and an endowment of 560 feddans was added to its estates.



Nevertheless for some reason the Mosque became deserted
soon after this, and appears to have been so in Makrizi's time.
In the early part of the last century it was occupied by Syrian
artisans of different sorts, such as makers of glass lamps,
silk-weavers etc. Of the original seven gates two remained
open, the rest being walled up. For some part of the last century
it was used as an Arab museum, but even this service
to learning and religion it no longer renders.
Tala'i son of Ruzzik, of whom a short account was given
above, vizier of the last Fatimide Caliph, built a mosque
somewhat to the south of the Zuwailah Gate. Its purpose was
to harbour the head of Husain, son of Ali, hero of the Muharram
Miracle plays; this precious relic had been kept at
Ascalon, and it was feared that it might fall into the hands
of the Crusaders. The Caliph, however, refused to let it be
housed anywhere save in the Palace, and the Mosque built
for its reception remained neglected till the brief reign of
Aibek, under whom, in 1252, service began to be performed
in it. It fell in the great earthquake of 1303, but was rebuilt.
The place where the head was actually deposited is said to
be where the great Mosque of Sayyiduna Husain now stands.
A magnificent building was, immediately after its arrival,
built to hold it, and travellers of the sixth century speak with
enthusiasm of this Mashhad (or saint's grave). Marble, silk,
gold, silver and other precious materials were lavished upon
it, as if they were of no account. The Mosque was repeatedly
enlarged in the time of Abd al-Rahman Ketkhuda, and
more recently in that of the Khedive Abbas Pasha, and
afterwards in that of Isma'il. Ali Pasha Mubarak, in his account
of the Mosque, complains that an excellent plan
drawn by himself had been spoiled in the execution; in consequence
of which the building was out of correct orientation,
and by the time he himself came to be head of the
public works’ department, it could not be rectified. Its revenue

in his time—about twenty years ago—amounted to
about $1,000 yearly; and more trouble was taken there than
with any other Mosque to keep everything in a state of the
most perfect purity.
It is, of course, highly improbable that the head which it
contains really belonged to the Prophet's grandson; though
of the ultimate fate of the real head there seems to be some
doubt. Perhaps the claims of the relic to be genuine were not
more preposterous than those of the Fatimides to be connected
with the mother of Husain. Moreover, it pleased the
Fatimides to maintain the doctrine that large numbers of
the Alid family in early times found their final resting-places
in the neighbourhood of Cairo. The Sayyidah Zainab,
indeed, presumably a daughter of Ali himself, who gives her
name to a quarter of Cairo, appears to be a very late importation—later
even than the end of the Fatimide period;
but the story that another Zainab, daughter of a much later
Ali who was, however, one of the twelve Imams, was buried
in Cairo goes back probably to Fatimide times.
One more mosque dating from this period should be mentioned,
the modest building called al-Akmar, in the Nahhassin
Street. It dates from the time of the Caliph Amir, though it
has repeatedly undergone repairs and alterations. M. Herz,
the highest authority on Moslem architecture, observes that
it is the only example of a Fatimide building in which the
façade corresponds with the disposition of the edifice. Prior
to that time the façade played an unimportant part; the
small dimensions of this Mosque may have permitted the
architect to experiment. The doorway is surmounted by a
shallow niche, with fluting for ornament round it, and with
a central rosette made up of letters; the decoration, afterwards
so familiar, the stalactite, is said to appear in this
mosque for the first time.


[Back to top]


The Ayyubid Period and its

EACH dynasty that got control over Egypt founded a
new capital, ordinarily within easy distance of the
last; the dynasty established by Saladdin and destined
to control the nearer East for something less than a
hundred years did not abandon this precedent. From Cairo
itself the seat of government was to shift to the south-east,
the high ground between the city and Mount Mokattam,
where a site was found for a Citadel. The idea of such a
structure is said to have been suggested by the Crusaders’
procedure. The soldiers of the Cross, when they had conquered
a hostile country, shut themselves up in fortresses
such as their chiefs possessed in Europe, where safe from
attack they could retain and enjoy their mastery. Saladdin,
chiefly remembered in history for his successful resistance
to the Crusaders, learned from his enemies, and built himself
a fortress similar to theirs.
The selection by Saladdin or his minister Karakush of a
point dominated as the Cairene Citadel is by a mountain
has been criticized by European writers as a strategic blunder;
and defended on the ground that a fortress actually on
the top of Mount Mokattam would have been too far removed
from the city to be of much use for either protecting
the inhabitants of Cairo or keeping them in order, and
would, besides, have involved the fortification of the eminence
on which the Citadel was built, to prevent the mountain
being isolated by some enterprising enemy who chose to

occupy that intervening height. And this defence seems unanswerable.
The site of the Citadel is supposed to have originally had
the name “Cupola of the Air,” and to have directly overlooked
a parade ground established by Ahmad Ibn Tulun;
the whole place was after his time turned into a cemetery
(karafah), in which numerous mosques were erected. Here
Saladdin ordered Karakush to build a fortress, which he was
never destined to inhabit himself. His residence, when Sultan,
was the old Palace of the Viziers, and the first Sultan
who inhabited the Citadel itself was al-Kamil, who came to
the throne many years after Saladdin's death.
The Citadel in all the plans is divided into two distinct
portions: the Northern, rectangular in shape (at least on
three sides), and the South-Eastern, separated from the former
by a thick wall. Casanova suggests that the former was
what was intended in Saladdin's original plan. After the
work had made some progress, he bethought him of building
himself a palace under the shelter of the Citadel.
Access to the northern enclosure was given by a gate
called by various names, among them the Step Gate, owing
to the nature of the approach—a part of this ancient flight
of stairs was discovered and identified by Casanova. The
material for the Citadel was supplied by some pyramids near
Memphis, which Karakush had no hesitation in demolishing,
while thousands of Frankish prisoners were employed
in forced labour.
To Saladdin is ascribed the excavation of the Well of
Joseph, called, according to some authorities, after Saladdin's
own name, while others fancy it to be named after the
Patriarch, a favourite with the Moslems of Egypt. The well
was regarded as one of the wonders of engineering architecture,
and was frequently described by Arab writers. Three
hundred steps (where there is now an inclined plane) were


supposed to lead to the bottom; the well itself was in two divisions,
with a reservoir in the middle; the water was
raised by oxen in the ordinary manner, first from the well to
the reservoir, then from the reservoir to the level of the
The minister who built both the Citadel and the new walls
of Cairo is a figure of some interest. His name is Turkish,
and means “Black Bird”; he was the slave, and afterwards
the freed man of either Saladdin or Shirguh. When the
former obtained control of Cairo, Karakush was given command
of the guards of the palace where the Fatimide Caliph
still retained some shadowy authority. On the death of al-Adid
in 1171 he was still in control of the palace, and
adopted some severe measures towards the surviving Fatimides.
In 1175 he was entrusted by his master with the
double task of refortifying Cairo and building the Citadel,
while uniting all three parts of the city, Fostat, Cairo and
the Citadel by a wall. This scheme in its entirety was never
accomplished. In 1188 he was summoned by Saladdin to
Acre to settle the question whether it should be destroyed
or not; he decided for the latter alternative, was made
governor of the place, and rebuilt the walls. The next year
he had to stand a siege, and two years later, when Acre was
retaken, he was made captive to be ransomed by Saladdin.
After the death of the great Sultan he inherited the confidence
of his successor, and in 1194 was even appointed regent
during the Sultan's absence from Egypt, and on the
same Sultan's death became regent during the minority of
his son. For a post of this importance he does not appear to
have possessed the necessary qualifications, and was unable
either to maintain himself in power, or to prevent his charge
being displaced by his great-uncle, Saladdin's brother. Besides
various buildings and engineering works designed by
him, his name was perpetuated by a quarter of Cairo, Harat

Karakush, situated outside the Futuh Gate. Owing to the
vehement hatred of a scribe belonging to one of the rival
parties the memory of Karakush was blackened by a virulent
pamphlet in which he was made responsible for a string
of decisions ludicrous for their folly and injustice, so that
his name has become proverbial for the Unjust Judge. The
confidence placed in him by such a man as Saladdin is of
itself sufficient to dispose of these slanders, the piquancy of
which has caused them to survive in a marvellous fashion.
English readers who wish to know their character will find
them in a work bearing the name of A. Hanauer, called
Tales told in Palestine.
After Saladdin's death the work on the Citadel appears
to have ceased to be resumed by al-Kamil in 1207. In this
year the Sultan definitely abandoned the old Vizier's Palace
and moved into a new palace built in the southern enclosure,
while the market for horses, camels and asses was transferred
to Rumailah (sometimes called Place Mohammed
Ali), below the city; between this place and the Citadel were
built the royal stables which had a secret communication
with the Palace. In the Palace itself the Sultan constructed
a hall of justice called Iwan, a library and a mosque. A
celestial globe belonging to al-Kamil's library is still extant
in the Museo Borgia of Velletri, though the process whereby
it came into Italian hands is uncertain. None of this sovereign's
work otherwise remains.
Of the Citadel of al-Kamil nothing then is left at the
present time beyond the location of the gates, which has
never varied. Al-Malik al-Salih abandoned the Citadel of
Saladdin for a citadel on the island Raudah which he had
built. The first Mamluke Sultan Aibek returned to the Citadel
of the Mountain, but does not appear to have built there
afresh. On the other hand the enterprising Rukn al-din
Baibars built in the citadel of the mountain the “House of

Gold” with two towers, crowned by a cupola supported by
pillars of coloured marble, and further a great audience
room for the hearing of cases. The tower near the Karafah
(or Eastern) gate was by this Sultan assigned to the Caliph
as his residence; at a later period the Caliphs were removed
from the Citadel and lodged in the Kabsh Palace. The
Sultan Kala'un added a cupola on the “Red Palace,”
said to be one of the wonders of the world. It rested on ninety-four
pillars outside the peristyles. These peristyles were
frescoed with representations of the fortresses in the possession
of the Sultan, with all their natural surroundings.
He also built a house for the Viceroy, an official who acted
for the Sultan during his absence.
A greater builder than any of his predecessors was
Mohammed, son of Kala'un, known as al-Nasir; he even
added four or five new quarters to the original environment
of the Fatimide city, besides building a vast number of
bridges, canals, mosques, etc. It has been observed that the
greater number of products of Saracenic art to be found in
European museums bear the name of this Sultan, and so
emanated from his time. The Mamluke architecture dates
from him. Among the monuments that bear his name we include
those that were erected by his emirs. He so thoroughly
rebuilt the Citadel that with the exception of the actual
lines little of the work of his predecessors remained after
The Mosque of the Sultan Nasir stands in the central
court of the Citadel, and in plan is approximately square.
An arcade runs round the whole of the interior, having four
rows of columns on the east, and two upon each of the
other sides. In the centre of the eastern arcade and over
the Kiblah the pillars are replaced by ten granite monoliths
of very large size; these columns supported the magnificent
dome described by Makrizi, which fell in 1522. The dome

columns are surmounted by arches composed of alternate
red and white stones, and above these is an inscription upon
a broad wooden band, which runs round the base of the
dome. The smaller pillars of the arcades all exist, with
the exception of five on the western side, which with the
arches above them have completely disappeared. The square
pillars of rubble masonry which have taken their place are
modern work. The floor was originally paved with marble,
and the ceilings illuminated with gold. The Kiblah and the
minarets were formerly covered with green faience. It was
begun in 1318 and rebuilt in 1334.
Apparently the revenues of the mosque which were originally
very large were gradually absorbed by various governors,
and the building fell into ruin about the time of the
Turkish occupation. For a considerable period it was used
as a prison, and during the middle of the nineteenth century
was a military storehouse. High walls of rubble masonry
were built between the pillars in order to divide the space
into compartments suitable for prison or store purposes.
Shortly after the British occupation it was cleared by order
of Major C. M. Watson.
The chief work of the Sultan Nasir on the Citadel was
the Iwan, or Palace, occupying the place at present covered
by the Mosque of Mohammed Ali. It was a great hall rebuilt
by Nasir after two of his predecessors, very high, long
and wide, and containing the royal throne. A magnificent
cupola which crowned it fell in 1522. Later visitors speak
of the dome as being still supported by thirty-four columns
of marble of prodigious width and height, being at least
forty-five feet between base and capital.
Of a palace called the Parti-coloured Palace, a few remains
were left when the Mosque of Mohammed Ali was
built; in those ruins there are to be found black and yellow
stones, and the juxtaposition of these gave its name to the

building. It comprised, it is said, three palaces in one. During
the Turkish period this Parti-coloured Palace served to
give shelter to the workmen engaged in making the carpets
to be sent to Meccah. Powerful descriptions are given by
travellers of the enormous eminence on which this palace
was built, and the magnificent view of Cairo which it commanded.
The Karamaidan, though it existed from the time of
Ahmad Ibn Tulun, was to some extent the work of Nasir,
as he built a wall round it, had arrangements made for a
supply of water, and planted trees; he regularly used the
place himself as a recreation ground. Besides this he had
constructed a vast system of aqueducts for supplying the
Citadel with water.
After the time of al-Nasir the Sultans gradually abandoned
the Citadel itself and took up their abode in the lower
parts called the Hosh or “pens” and the mews.
The Sultans who reigned between the time of Mohammed
al-Nasir and the Ottoman occupation most of them did
something for the Citadel in the way of either restoration or
fresh building, without, however, seriously altering the
work of that ruler. Various inscriptions have been found by
Casanova and van Berchem which refer to these restorations.
A picture preserved in the Louvre represents the last
Mamluke Sultan but one (Kansuh al-Ghuri) sitting in the
garden which he had laid out and receiving the Venetian
In the Turkish period the Janissaries occupied the military
citadel, while the Pashas were installed in the palaces
at the foot. The grand buildings of Nasir and his successors
were allowed to fall into ruin, and indeed, according to a
French traveller of the seventeenth century, the Egyptian
Pashas were expressly forbidden by their Turkish masters
to hold their audiences in the Great Hall, lest the magnificence

thereof should inspire them with the desire to become
independent. Many beautiful marbles were removed by the
Sultans from the buildings of the Citadel and taken to Constantinople;
the Turkish conqueror of Egypt, Selim, dismantled
some of the edifices immediately. The Mosque of
Nasir being neglected, other mosques were built on the
Citadel for the use of the Janissaries, and the governors
continued to build themselves palaces thereon. Much damage
is said to have been done to the buildings which remained
on the Citadel at the time of the French occupation; but the
Citadel received a new lease of life when Mohammed Ali
built his mosque and his palace there; and though the
ruined Mosque of al-Nasir and the much-frequented Mosque
of Mohammed Ali are the only show buildings that now
remain on the Citadel, its military importance is still considerable.
We now return to a summary of the history of the Ayyu-bids,
as the dynasty inaugurated by Saladdin is called after
the father of its founder. It held the throne of Egypt for
eighty-three years, from 1169 to 1252, and consisted of nine
sovereigns; but other branches of the family ruled simultaneously,
and for some time after the power of the Egyptian
Ayyubids had fallen, in various parts of Syria and Arabia.
Perhaps during the greater part of this time Damascus rather
than Cairo would have been called the chief city of the Empire;
for Saladdin during the life of Nur al-din recognized the latter's
suzerainty, while after his death he contrived to gain
possession of his empire and to extend it by fresh conquests
in order to bring a united Islam to deal with the Frankish
invaders of the East. In the Mamluke period the governors
of the Syrian cities were the “Deputies” of the Egyptian
Sultan; but in Ayyubid times this relation did not yet exist.
Although the greater part of Saladdin's time was spent in
Syria, he found time to arrange for the construction in Cairo

of a number of buildings religious or philanthropic in character.
One of these was a College or School (madrasah) in
the neighbourhood of the grave of al-Shafi'i, known as the
Imam, or founder of an orthodox system of Law. Provision
was made in this School for teaching that great jurist's doctrine,
it being of importance that facilities should be provided
for bringing Egypt back to orthodoxy after so many years
of Fatimide government. This college was of enormous size,
equal according to one enthusiastic visitor, to a town; the
site on which it was built had previously been a prison. Saladdin's
successor apparently made some additions, but in
Makrizi's time it was in ruins, and in 1761 Abd al-Rahman
Ketkhuda, whose name has already met us in connexion with
al-Azhar, pulled down what was left of it, and built on the
site the present Mosque of Shafi'i. Another prison which had
occupied part of the old Fatimide Palace was turned by him
into a hospital; and—a yet greater innovation—a house
called after a former owner Sa' id al-Su' ada, west of the old
Avenue of the Two Palaces, was turned into a hospice
(khanagah) for poor ascetics. At a latter time, as we shall
see, the ideas of mosque, school and hospice all became
confused; but in Saladdin's time they were still distinct, and
the appurtenances of a mosque, a minaret, a pulpit and a
washing place, were added to the hospice in much later times.
It also served as a final resting-place for many of the saints.
A visitor to Cairo in Saladdin's time has in his diary left
us his impressions of the place—the Spaniard Ibn Jubair.
The Citadel and the surrounding wall had been begun in his
time; and the intentions of the Sultan in the matter were well
known. What interested him most in the city or its neighbourhood
was the great number of mausoleums containing the
remains of members of the Prophet's house, men and women,
companions of the prophet, jurists and saints. Over the sanctuary
which contained the head of Husain he is ecstatic; he

confesses that no words can give an adequate description of
its magnificence. But he has a good deal to say too of the
arrangements of Saladdin's School and especially his Hospital;
with its separate establishments for men and women,
with beds provided with coverings, all under the management
of a custodian with a staff of assistants; while hard by is an
asylum for the insane, who too have their comfort thoroughly
studied, but whose windows have to be secured with iron
gratings. No detail in his description is more striking than
the apparently speedy recovery of Fostat from its ashes. The
traces of the great fire were indeed apparent, but building
was proceeding continuously.
Saladdin died in Damascus at the beginning of March 1193;
he had made Egypt once more nominally dependent on
Baghdad, but had in reality substituted a new dynasty for
the effete Fatimide family, whose Palace he had ruined. The
reign of his son and successor was disturbed by family disputes,
which for a time were settled by the division of Saladdin's
empire; one son (Aziz) retaining Egypt, while another
(Afdal) reigned in Syria. The former, however, had to submit
to the direction of his uncle Adil, who at the death of Aziz
after five years’ reign, was easily able in 1199 to supplant his
infant son.
The reign of Aziz is notable in the history of Cairo for the
commencement of a residential quarter on the west bank of
the Great Canal, the site of European Cairo of our time.
Ibn Jubair speaks with great admiration of the embankment
of the Nile by Saladdin, of course before the river had
shifted its bed towards the west. The region west of the
Bab al-Sha'riyyah and north of the present Ezbekiyyeh
quarter was at that time a plantation of date-palms; the
Sultan Aziz, in the year 1197, ordered these palms to be cut
down, and an exercising ground to be laid out where they
had stood. This proceeding led to the adjoining land being


parcelled out and built on. The now fashionable region
further south was not occupied till Mamluke days. Eight
months of the preceding year are said to have been occupied
by this prince in a futile attempt at treasure-hunting in the
pyramids of Gizeh; after a time it was known that the cost
of undoing the ancient builders’ work was greater than the
value of the expected treasure.
The Sultan Adil, like his brother Saladdin, spent little
of his time in Egypt, where he appointed as his deputy his
son, called al-Kamil. We have seen how this sovereign completed
the Citadel which his uncle had begun. The transference
thither of the seat of government led to the south and south-east
of Cairo becoming fashionable and populous.
The Sultan Kamil gave his name to the Kamiliyyah
School, in the Nahhasin Street, built by him in the year
1225; it was long known as the House of Tradition (dar al-hadith),
and was said to be the second edifice with that
title, the first being one built in Damascus. From its erection
perhaps we are to infer that orthodox books of Tradition
were not yet studied in al-Azhar. Like so many of these
pious edifices a fanciful account had to be given of the
source of the funds employed in its elevation. The workmen
who dug the foundations were fortunate enough to discover a
golden image, which, molten down, served to defray all expenses!
In Mamluke times it got crowded out by a number
of religious and educational edifices erected in the immediate
neighbourhood, and in Makrizi's time instruction in
Tradition had already ceased to be given in it, and it was
turned into an ordinary mosque.
Kamil's successor Adil II reigned only two years; he was
superseded by his brother Salih, called also Najm al-din
Ayyub, who reigned nine years (1240-1249). His reign was
notable for several events.
Like previous sovereigns he took to purchasing slaves of

various nationalities, suitable to form a bodyguard, and at
first housed them in the Citadel or in Cairo itself. Like the
old Praetorians of Baghdad, their disregard for the rights of
ordinary citizens made them a source of annoyance to the
populace; and just as one of the Baghdad Caliphs had built
a city Samarra to keep his praetorians at a distance from
the metropolis, so the Sultan Kamil built a fortress on the
Island of Raudah to hold his Mamlukes. These troops thence
got the name Bahris, i.e., Mamlukes of the Nile or Sea, as
the Arabs ordinarily call the river of Egypt. The site of
these barracks was chosen not only with a view to the comfort
of the Cairenes; with vessels at their disposal the Mamlukes
were constantly ready to descend the Nile in case of
a Frankish invasion. Our chroniclers regale us with a story
how a party of deserters from the fortress of Raudah came
in the desert across an abandoned city, with streets and
houses and cisterns containing water that was sweeter than
honey; green marble was the material chiefly used in the
construction of the town. Coins were found in some of the
shops, with legends in an ancient script; the archaeologists
to whom they were shown read thereon the name of Moses,
on whom be peace! Like the cities of the Takla-makan
desert which have been unearthed in our day, it had been
covered with sand; at times, however, the winds uncover
such buried habitations of men, and this had occurred in
the year 1244, when the Mamlukes deserted; another wind
then covered the city as it was before, and those that looked
for it could not find it.
The erection of the barracks on the Island of Raudah led
to the building of more houses on the western bank of the
Great Canal; and the Bab al-Khark (of which the name
survives as Bab al-Khalk) formed the head of the avenue
which led from the city to the new fortification. The heaps
of ruins which are to the left of the traveller from Cairo to

Old Cairo belong to a period when several causes led to
this being a fashionable quarter.
Relics of buildings by this Sultan exist in the shape of a
mausoleum and a school, both in the old avenue between
the two palaces. Their site is where part of the ancient
Eastern Palace stood, and indeed included the famous gate
of the palace called Bab al-Zuhumah, supposed to be named
after the “odour of cooking.” On May 16, 1242, the demolition
of the older structure commenced, and in two years
time the school was ready. Chairs were provided in it—for
the first time—for the four orthodox systems of Law, and
this principle continued to be followed in the colleges built
by Egyptian Sultans, though it appears to have been in the
first Mamluke period that a Sultan cynically confessed that
the public maintenance of four systems was to give the
sovereign the better chance of getting his rulings authorized.
The practice of having these separate systems taught
in annexes to the four liwans or cloisters gives such buildings
a shape approximating to the cruciform.
Architecturally, Herz Bey tells us, the College of the Sultan
Salih is of interest for the development of the façade. In
the Fatimide period the façade began to be ornamented by
a niche over the door, which served no other purpose than
that of decoration. In the Mamluke period it develops into
a series of windows. The College of Salih offers the earliest
example of the introduction of a window, whereby the niche
is given a definite purpose. In the façade of the mausoleum
of the same sovereign the niches extend to the full height
of the wall.
The building originally consisted of two schools, separated
by a long passage to which access was given by the gate
under the minaret; this was of iron, ornamented with a
marble slab, bearing the name Salihiyyah. Each of the
schools consisted of an open court, surrounded by four

cloisters. Of the southern school nothing now remains except
the façade. Of the northern there remains the western
cloister and part of the wall belonging to the eastern. The
old passage has now become a street.
This school was at times used as a court of justice. We
have a record of a scene occurring in the year 1521, in the
early days of Turkish rule, when on the occasion of festivities
in Cairo, owing to the victories of the Sultan Sulaiman,
some Christians who had got drunk in honour thereof and
indulged in unseemly language were taken there to be tried.
Two of the judges decided that though they might not be
executed they ought to be scourged for drunkenness; two
other judges raised a protest against this, and thereupon
the mob interfered, and nearly stoned the judges. A party
of Janissaries rushed to the rescue, seized the Christians,
and cut two of them in pieces; a third turned Moslem, and
so with difficulty saved his skin. The remains of the murdered
Christians were then burned by the fanatical mob,
who tore down beams from the shops for the purpose.
The mausoleum of the Sultan Salih, which adjoins his
school, is the first of a series of mosque-tombs built for
themselves by the Egyptian Sultans, as though the air
which had inspired the erection of the Pyramids were still
suggesting some similar ideas. It was built seven years
later than the school, to the northern section of which it is
attached by an opening made in the wall of the western
cloister. The influence of the west is, Herz Bey tells us, exceedingly
apparent in this mausoleum.
The Sultan Salih died in Mansurah, whither he had gone
after the seizure of Damietta by the Crusaders under St
Louis, in order to organize a force to deal with the invader.
He had gone thither while suffering from an ulcer, believed
to be his punishment for the murder of his brother and predecessor
on the throne. According to a custom of which most
monarchies furnish illustrations, his death was concealed

until his son Turanshah, then at Hisn Kaifa, was safely seated
on the vacant throne; the widowed queen meanwhile
undertook the management of affairs: it was given out that
the Sultan was still ailing, physicians continued to pay
their visits and report on his progress, and despatches continued
to be issued in his name. Turanshah's reign began
brilliantly, owing rather to the valour and skill of the Emir
Rukn al-din Baibars with the Mamlukes, than to his own.
The Christian fleet was destroyed, and the retreat of the
Crusaders cut off. The French King was himself taken
prisoner, to be released afterwards for a great ransom. Damietta
itself was restored to the Egyptian Sultan, and lest
it should again harbour an invader, utterly destroyed. All
that was left of it for the time was a group of fishermen's
huts. But Turanshah offended the Mamlukes of his father
by preferring his own satellites above them, and committed
the still greater error of underrating the ability of his
father's widow Shajar al-durr, who proved a formidable
adversary. This woman, reviving the traditions of old Egyptian
and Ethiopian queens, replied to the threats of her
stepson by organizing a conspiracy among his father's servants.
An assault was made upon him at a banquet given
at Mansurah. From the sword he fled into a wooden refuge,
soon to be devoured by flame; and thence he flung himself
into the water, where he was ultimately dispatched. His
reign lasted forty days only, and with its end the Ayyubid
period practically closed.
The great relic of the Ayyubid period is then the Citadel;
from the time of Saladdin till the nineteenth century the
history of Egypt centres round that of the fortress which
commanded Cairo. The religious importance of the Ayyubid
dynasty is also very great. By restoring Moslem orthodoxy
in Egypt, they fitted that country to serve as the headquarters
of Islam during the centuries which elapsed between
the fall of Baghdad and the consolidation of the power

of the Ottomans. They made Cairo the University of Islam,
and that position it holds to this day. Politically they accustomed
the people of Egypt to government by aliens and
Turks, taking on therein a tradition which had commenced
before the Fatimide dynasty had begun.
Historically their importance otherwise is to be found in
the fact that they bore the brunt of the Crusades; to recover
the cities which the Frankish invader had taken was the
problem which they had to face, and before the dynasty was
over this problem had practically been solved. The founder
of the line, Saladdin, towers far above the others; the admirable
biography of him by Mr Lane Poole enables the general
reader to estimate him aright. When he first took part in
affairs there was a prospect of Egypt being annexed to the
Frankish Empire, and indeed we find the Franks in actual
occupation of Cairo. Aided partly by circumstances, such as
the dissensions of the Frankish chiefs, and the want of suitable
successors to the throne of Jerusalem,but chiefly through
his own ability as a statesman and general, Saladdin was
able to reconquer Jerusalem, and so write the death-warrant
of the Frankish occupation of the nearest East. Al-Kamil
was, by the invasion of Egypt in the years 1218 to 1221,
brought into greater straits than Saladdin had been. But
the loss of Damietta, after its long and heroic resistance,
was compensated in the following year by the Sultan's well-planned
and successful resistance to the Crusaders’ expedition
against Cairo, which ended in the Franks being
driven from Egypt. The Sultan on the occasion of his brilliant
victory showed that the chivalrous spirit which sheds
a halo round the memory of Saladdin was in his nature too.
The heroism of his successor Salih is sufficiently indicated
by the circumstances of his end. Few, if any, of the dynasties
of Islam have in so short a time brought to the front so
many capable rulers.


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The First Mamluke Sovereigns

AFTER the murder of Turanshah the Emirs accepted
the government of the woman who had organized the
coup, and she was enthroned in the same style as male
sovereigns, except that a curtain separated her from the
ministers who kissed the ground as their act of homage. To
the rule of infants the Islamic peoples were accustomed; but
it was to them a great rarity to hear the preachers in the
mosques name after the Caliph “the wife of the Sultan Salih,
the Queen of the Moslems, the Protectress of the world and
of the faith, the screened and veiled Mother of the deceased
Khalil”—for in that name she chose to reign, since her own
name, “Pearl-tree,” too obviously suggested the slave-girl—both
male and female slaves being commonly called after
In spite of her eminent qualifications for the sovereignty,
she could not long resist the popular objections to a woman
holding such a post; and the Caliph himself sent from Baghdad
to tell the Egyptians that if they had not among them
a man qualified to be Sultan, they might apply to him, and
he would send them some one. After three months’ sovereignty
she consented to a compromise whereby she abdicated,
only, however, to continue to rule as the wife of Izz
al-din Aibek, whom she had employed as chief minister.
This person had originally been a slave purchased by the
Sultan Salih, and enrolled in the force of Raudah Island,
presently manumitted and promoted to high office.
The praetorians were, however, not yet accustomed to
seeing one of their number Sultan: they clamoured for a

member of the Ayyubid family. Aibek, perhaps by the direction
of his wife, sent for such a person, a youth of tender
years, who agreed to be joint Sultan with Aibek, the names
of both figuring on coins and being recited in the public
prayer; but the husband of Shajar al-durr was resolved to
be sole master, and utilized the treasures at his disposal for
the purchase of armed men. When sufficiently strong, he
entrapped one of the leaders of the opposition in the Citadel,
had him assassinated and his head flung to his friends in
the Rumailah Place. The rest of the opposition fled into
Syria, among them two men, afterwards prominent as
Egyptian Sultans, Baibars and Kala'un. The Ayyubid prince
was then imprisoned, and Aibek reigned alone.
He now considered himself strong enough to displace his
wife, Shajar al-durr, and sent to solicit the hand of a daughter
of Badr al-din Lulu, prince of Mausil. This proceeding
was followed by violent recriminations on the part of the
ex-Queen, to escape which Aibek abandoned the Citadel
and went to reside in the new quarter called Luk, which, in
consequence of the innovations of al-Aziz and al-Kamil was
springing up between the Great Canal and the Nile. Shajar
al-durr contrived, however, by various blandishments to allure
him back to the Citadel, where she had arranged that five
of her Byzantine eunuchs should murder him in his bath.
The tragedy was not yet finished. Aibek had left a son,
Ali, by another wife, whom Shajar al-durr had forced him to
put away when she raised him with herself to the throne. This
son, having his father's praetorians at his command, handed
his stepmother over to the tender mercies of his mother, who
ordered her handmaids to beat the fallen Queen to death with
their shoes. She was then stripped, dragged by the feet, and
flung into a ditch, where she remained unburied three days.
At the end of this time she was taken out and interred in
the mausoleum which she had built for herself, and which

still exists between the Mashhads of Sayyidah Nafisah and
Sayyidah Sakinah. M. van Berchem shows by the evidence
of an inscription—in modern letters, but doubtless copied
from an older one—that this mausoleum must have been
built after Shajar al-durr had become queen, but before she
married Aibek; for among her official titles she is there
called Mother of Khalil, but not wife of Aibek. The present
building is modern, being a restoration dating from the year
1873. It also contains the tomb of one of the shadowy
Caliphs, of whom we shall hear more. Her death took place
April 15, 1257: she had ascended the throne May 14, 1250.
Aibek is said to have destroyed the barracks built by his
predecessor on Raudah Island, and to have cleared away
many dwellings in the parts of Cairo that stretch from Bab
Zuwailah to the Citadel, and westward to the Bab al-Luk.
He built a college in Old Cairo called Mu'izziyyah, after his
title Malik Mu'izz.
The new Sultan, who had dealt such vengeance on his
stepmother, was eleven years of age: a regent had to be appointed,
and a Mamluke of his father, named Kotuz, was
chosen. The next year Baghdad was taken by the Mongol
Hulagu, who now threatened to advance westward; and just
as it had been the business of the Ayyubids to arrest the
progress of the Crusaders, so it became that of the Mamluke
dynasty to check this more terrible enemy. A council was
held at which the chief jurist of the time declared that the
occasion called for a man, and not a child, to be at the head
of affairs; and on Nov. 4, 1259, Ali, called al-Mansur, son
of Aibek, was deposed, and the regent installed Sultan in
his place. Such events were destined to occur with great
frequency during this dynasty, and the fate of the deposed
monarch was ordinarily unenviable. In some cases, as that
of Ali, it was lifelong imprisonment: sometimes it was
honourable banishment, and more frequently still it was

execution. For a man to whom allegiance had once been
sworn could generally be suspected of harbouring designs
against his successor.
The command of the forces was given by the new Sultan
to Baibars al-Bundukdari, an officer who was credited with
much of the merit of the great victory over Louis IX. Almost
immediately after the enthronement of Kotuz there arrived
a missive from Hulagu couched in the style of Sennacherib
of old; and by tremendous efforts, coupled with ruthless
extortions, an army was equipped and despatched to
Syria to meet the Tartars. On Sept. 3, 1260, a battle was
fought at Ain Jalut, in which the victory remained with the
Egyptians. This was presently confirmed by another victory,
and Kotuz not only repelled the Mongol invasion, but secured
for Egypt the suzerainty over the whole of Saladdin's old
empire. But on his triumphant return to Egypt, he was attacked
and slain by the Emir Baibars, who approached the
Sultan ostensibly to kiss his hand for the present of a slave
girl. Since the officers decided that Baibars, by way of
compensation for this act, should be made sovereign in
his victim's stead, it is probable that the assassination was
the outcome of a widespread conspiracy. The contemporary
biographer of Baibars, who fills pages with eulogies of his
master's virtues, can only say of this act that there happened
what did happen. The date is given as Nov. 21, 1260.
Baibars reigned for seventeen years, and showed great
capacity as both a warrior and administrator, though
utterly unscrupulous in his dealings. He re-established
in theory, as we have seen, the Caliphate of the Abbasids by
recognizing the claim of one Abu' l-Kasim Ahmad to be the
heir of the Baghdad potentates, and installing him in the
Citadel as Caliph with the title Mustansir. Mustansir then
proceeded to confer on Baibars the title Sultan, and invest
him with all Islamic lands and any lands that might afterwards

become Islamic by conquest. The address in which
this shadowy Caliph instructs Baibars in his duties is a curious
document. It appears that Baibars at one time intended
to restore his Caliph to Baghdad, and to equip him with a
force which might have been sufficient to enable him to reconquer
that capital. But he was advised in time not to make
his creature powerful enough to become his master, and sent
with him so small a force that he was easily defeated and
slain by the troops of the Mongol governor of Baghdad. After
his death a substitute was speedily found in another person
who claimed descent from the Abbasid family: but this Caliph
remained in Cairo, and, though one of his successors was
actually Sultan for a few days, the greater number of these
Egyptian Caliphs served no other purpose than to confer
legitimacy on their Mamluke masters.
The reign of Baibars was spent largely in successful wars
against the Crusaders, from whom he took many cities, notably
Safad, Caesarea and Antioch; the Armenians, whose
territory he repeatedly invaded, burning their capital Sis; and
the Seljucids of Asia Minor. All these were to some extent
the allies of the Mongols. He further reduced the Isma'ilians,
better known as the Assassins, whose existence as a community
lasted on in Syria after it had practically come to an
end in Persia. He established friendly relations with some of
the Christian powers of Europe, e.g. the Emperor of Constantinople,
the King of Naples, and the King of Castile.
He made Nubia tributary to Egypt, thereby extending Moslem
arms further south than they had been extended by any
earlier sovereign.
He was, as has been noticed, the first sovereign who acknowledged
the equal authority of the four orthodox systems
of law, and appointed judges belonging to each of them in
Egypt and Syria.
Two buildings in Cairo commemorate the reign of the Sultan

Baibars, whose title was at first al-Kahir, and afterwards
al-Zahir. One of these is a disused mosque at the end of
the Zahir Street, which leads out of the Faggalah. The materials
employed for this building were largely taken from the
Crusaders’ Castle at Jaffa, which was seized by him on March
7, 1268, by surprise, he being supposed to be at peace with
its governor. The building materials, including columns and
marble slabs, were piled on a vessel and conveyed by water
to Cairo. The site selected for the mosque was the exercise-ground
named after Saladdin's minister Karakush. The cupola
over the Kiblah (or mihrab) was in imitation of the cupola
over Shafi'i's à the doorway was copied from the door
of his own school (madrasah) which had already been built.
Ali Pasha has been able to produce few notices of the fate
of this great building—which Baibars does not appear to
have ever intended for his own mausoleum—before the time
of the French expedition, when the invaders turned it into
a fortress. The place was then desecrated and various dwellings
erected within and around it. In Mohammed Ali's time
a military bake-house was instituted inside the old mosque:
this was removed in the time of Isma'il Pasha, but has been
renewed since the British occupation. Three inscriptions that
still remain have been published by M. van Berchem, in
which the name, date and titles of the founder are preserved.
An interesting title is that of “Copartner with the Commander
of the Faithful,” by whom the Abbasid is meant, whose installation
at Cairo constituted one of Baibars's masterstrokes.
These Mamluke Sultans seem to have been quite ready to
acknowledge their original status; and one of the adjectives
employed as a title of the founder means that he was the
freedman of the Ayyubid Sultan Salih.
The same Sultan was also the founder of a school (madrasah)
called the Zahiriyyah, which used to be in the Nahhasin
Street, forming part of the ancient avenue “Between


the two Palaces.” This was erected in 1263, when the Sultan
was in Syria, on the site of part of the old Fatimide Palace
called the Golden Gate. It had four liwans, one for each
school of law, according to the system already prevailing;
it was furnished with a rich library, and beside it was built
a school for instructing poor orphans in the Koran. The
buildings in the space between the Zuwailah and Faraj
Gates (outside the city) were settled on the madrasah, which
was to be supported by their rents. In Makrizi's time it had
been superseded by the numerous other institutions of the
same kind which had been erected in the neighbourhood;
till 1870 some ruins still remained; but in 1874 they were
almost entirely removed, owing to the cutting of a new
street to the Bait al-Kadi. One of the doors in finely wrought
bronze was discovered by M. van Berchem in the French
Consulate-general, whither it had been taken apparently
at the time when the ruins were cleared away. It bears an inscription
with the name of the Sultan, and a date in somewhat
later style.
One chronicler credits Baibars with rebuilding al-Azhar
“after it had been in ruins since the time of Hakim,” but
this must be a gross exaggeration. He also built a bridge
over the Great Canal, long famous as “The Lions’ Bridge,”
so called after some stone lions with which it was adorned,
and which were put there because the animal figured on the
Sultan's coat of arms. This bridge was near Sayyidah Zai-nab,
and was of great height. The great builder Mohammed
al-Nasir replaced it by a bridge that was lower and wider,
not, Makrizi states, because there was anything the matter
with it, but because this Sultan envied any architectural or
engineering glory enjoyed by his predecessors. Baibars also
restored the barracks on the Island of Raudah, and compelled
his bodyguard to establish themselves there.
The Bab al-Luk quarter also, we are told, received an

access of population owing to the policy of the Sultan in
welcoming Tartar colonists. Quite at the beginning of his
reign emissaries, sent by him into Syria to discover the
plans of Hulagu, found a detachment of Mongols who were
anxious to seek the protection of the Egyptian Sultan, being
in number about a thousand horsemen with their families.
On Nov. 11, 1262, these refugees were given a public reception
by the Sultan, who had ordered houses to be built for
their habitation in the region that has been mentioned, and
the welcome granted to these Mongols with the promotion
that was speedily accorded them in the Sultan's service led
to many more of their brethren following their example. An
exercise-ground was laid out in the same region, and there
every Tuesday and Saturday the Sultan rode to play ball.
The origin of the name Luk appears to be quite obscure;
the grammarians try to show that it means land originally
submerged, but afterwards recovered, a description which
would suit this part of Cairo accurately.
Another quarter that grew up in Baibars's time was in the
region between Sayyidah Zainab and the Nile, and another
in the region yet further south, adjoining the river, called
Dair al-Tin, or Clay Monastery, where brick-kilns had previously
occupied the ground.
The character of Baibars is one of great psychological
interest, and in some ways resembles that of Napoleon. His
victories, like Napoleon's, were won by his great rapidity of
movement: he went from Egypt to Syria and Syria to Egypt
in times that constituted records for that age. Where his
personal ambition was concerned, he appears to have recognized
no moral obligations. The indictment against him
drawn up by the German historian Weil leaves a most
painful impression on the reader. Perfidy and cunning can
nowhere be better illustrated. Apparently, however, the
Moslem world of those days, owing to the terrible catastrophes

which it had undergone, could not easily be shocked;
and we find that the murder of Turanshah with which his
career commenced, horrified the imprisoned Crusaders much
more than Turanshah's subjects; and the calmness with
which the people of Egypt permitted Baibars to seat himself
on the throne of the meritorious Sultan whom he had
assassinated could not easily be paralleled either in earlier
or later times. That such a man as Baibars should have
been a founder of religious edifices is not surprising; what
astonishes us more is that he appears in many ways to have
led a blameless life, and to have sincerely interested himself
in the reformation of public morals. The growth of Cairo
in his time was largely due to the scrupulousness with which
he looked after the administration of justice. His services
to Islam in repelling the Mongols and bringing the Frankish
kingdom established by the Crusaders to the verge of extinction,
were very great; and, probably, the elaborate hierarchy
of officials which characterizes Mamluke times was
at least in part due to his genius for organization.
On July 1, 1277, Baibars died and was buried in Damascus.
He was succeeded by an incompetent son, Barakah
Khan, otherwise called al-Malik al-Sa'id, who soon became
involved in disputes with both his provincial governors and
his bodyguard in Egypt. M. van Berchem identified a
mosque in the old street Khurunfush, which had been built
by the maternal uncle of the Sultan, of whom we read that
he was imprisoned for ten days for the offence of representing
to the Sultan's sister that unless he acted with greater
prudence he would lose his throne. This mosque was in ruins
when the Swiss archaeologist first saw it, and has since been
displaced by a café. Sa'id himself is said to have built a
bath, but of this there appears to be no trace.
Sa'id found first a mentor and presently a dangerous
rival in the Emir Kala'un al-Alfi, who was in command of

the Syrian forces, and had been promoted and highly
trusted by Baibars. The Queen-mother endeavoured to
mediate between them, but, though treated with respect,
she succeeded only partially, and after some negotiations
Kala'un marched against Cairo, and besieged the Citadel
in the Sultan's absence. Kala'un permitted the Sultan to
join his besieged adherents, in order thereby to get him
more easily into his power. The Sultan found himself unable
to stand a siege, and was soon induced to abdicate, on condition
of being allowed possession of Kerak, a city which
played a rather important part in Mamluke times as a refuge
for deposed sovereigns. There shortly afterwards he
died of a fall from his horse.
Kala'un did not at first venture to proclaim himself
sovereign, thinking it safer to make an infant brother of
Sa'id nominal Sultan. His confederates, however, represented
to him that this arrangement would lead them into
danger, since the bodyguard of Baibars would probably
group round the son of their former chief and eventually
oust the usurper. To this argument he yielded, and allowed
himself to be installed as Sultan on November 18, 1279.
An Under-secretary of State, who has left us a biography,
or rather panegyric of this Sultan, gives an account of an
interview that proceeded the proclamation. He had already
taken possession of the Palace of the Sultan Sa'id on the
Citadel, and had opened a window in the Great Hall, where
he sat to discharge his duties as regent: He commanded me,
says the Under-secretary, to write out the names of a number
of earlier kings—doubtless with the view of selecting a
suitable name. The Under-secretary refused to make out
such a list in the palace of a king who was reigning, and
could not be prevailed upon to do so until all the ministers
were assembled: so great was his fear of being an accomplice
in a coup which might after all fail. When the ministers

were all present, the Under-secretary made out his list; and
Kala'un selected the name Mansur as his royal title. He
had been manumitted from slavery thirty-three years before.
His first years of sovereignty were occupied with troubles
in Syria, where a governor of Damascus rebelled; and
though this rebellion was crushed in the spring of 1280, the
disaffected Syrians entered into relations with the Mongols,
who repeatedly invaded and ravaged the country, but were
defeated by Kala'un in a great battle under the walls of
Homs on October 30, 1281.
During his residence in Damascus Kala'un had been
cured of the colic by remedies prepared at the hospital that
had been founded there by the Sultan Nur al-din. Kala'un
resolved to provide his Egyptian capital with a similar institution,
and the name of this still remains in the Muristan
(an abbreviation of the Persian word Bimaristan) or hospital
in the Nahhasin Street. The name is ordinarily made to include
three buildings, the hospital, the school and the
mausoleum of the Sultan, which lay behind the others. The
building which they replaced belonged originally to the
daughter of the Fatimide Sultan Aziz, and when taken over
by Kala'un was in the possession of an Ayyubid princess,
to whom the Emerald Palace, part of the ancient Fatimide
Palace, was given in exchange. The Fatimide princess had
been served in it by 8,000 slave girls (if Oriental figures are
to be trusted)—a statement which indicates its size. A story
similar to that connected with the Tulun Mosque was excogitated
to conceal the source whence funds had been supplied
for covering the expense. The workmen when digging the
soil fortunately discovered sealed boxes containing jewels
and coin in sufficient quantities to defray the whole. The
reason for this fiction was that great violence had been used
by the contractor in employing forced labour for the building.
All the artisans, we are told, in Cairo and Fostat were

compelled to work at this and nothing else, no other orders
in either city being allowed to be attended to while it was
being erected. Passers-by were compelled to stop, or if
mounted to descend from their horses and carry stones, and
in order to supply materials, buildings in the Island of
Raudah were pulled down. Besides this it was generally
supposed that the Ayyubid princess had been turned out of
her palace against her will; though Makrizi observes about
this that no resentment could justly be felt for the robbery
of the Ayyubids, who themselves had robbed the Fatimides.
It would seem, however, that the mode in which the transformation
of the building was carried out gave great offence,
and means had to be devised to allay the agitation. The
arrangements when the hospital was complete were said to
be superior to those of any similar institution. It was to be
open to any number of persons for any length of time,
whether male or female, bond or free. Separate wards were
assigned to different diseases; arrangements were made for
the treatment of out-patients as well as in-patients; and
medical courses were to be given for the benefit of students
who “walked the hospital.” From the rents which were settled
upon it, amounting to a million dirhems, a whole staff
of officials, including bed-makers, male and female, were to
be paid; and materials of various sorts required for the compounding
of drugs were liberally supplied. Arrangements
on a similar scale were made in connexion with the school,
the orphanage and the sepulchral cupola which was to be
the Sultan's own resting-place; fifty readers of the Koran
were employed to recite the Sacred Volume in turns without
ceasing day or night; and a library was, as usual, added
to the foundation. Van Berchem shows by the evidence of
inscriptions that the hospital took five months, the mausoleum
four months, and the school three months to build: a
fact which agrees with what we are told of the violent

methods employed by the contractor for hurrying on the
work. The date of the completion of the whole was August,
The scene which is described as taking place after the
completion of the buildings gives us an idea of the liberty
of speech permitted at this time in Egypt, which we could
scarcely have gleaned from the history. The jurists declared
prayer in such a place unlawful. The chief ecclesiastical
authority of the time long refused to preach an inaugural
sermon, and when at last he consented to do so, it contained
some bitter reproaches levelled both at the Sultan and the
minister who had been entrusted with the work of erection.
Even the principal finally appointed to the new institution
expressed his opinion of both quite freely before he accepted
the post.
The hospital remained in use for many centuries, and received
benefactions from Ezbek, after whom the Ezbekiyyeh
is named, and also from some of the Turkish Sultans. It
appears to have fallen into neglect at the time of the French
occupation, and never afterwards recovered. A school of
Malekite law still remains. In the earthquake of 1303 a
minaret was damaged, but was immediately afterwards restored
by that great builder, the Sultan Nasir, who also
placed the railing round the Sultan Kala'un's tomb. That
Kala'un should have set about building his Mosque-mausoleum
so soon after his accession to the throne shows how
quickly the idea of such a form of monument, which was
originally quite alien to Islam, had taken root.
Two obelisks now in the British Museum, covered with
hieroglyphics, were found by the French in the school of
Kala'un, and sent off to France. The vessel by which they
were conveyed was captured by an English man-of-war,
which brought the obelisks to England.
The conversion to Islam of the Ilchan (the title by which

the Mongol ruler of Baghdad was known) and the consequent
troubles in the Mongol Empire led to a cessation of hostilities
between Egypt and the Ilchanate, through the Mongol rulers
did not cease to agitate in Europe for a renewal of the Crusades
with little result. Kala'un did not at first pursue any
career of active conquest, though he did much to consolidate
his dominions, and especially to extend Egyptian commerce,
for which purpose he started a system of passports enabling
merchants who possessed them to travel with safety through
Egypt and Syria and as far as India. After the danger from the
Mongols had ceased, he directed his energies towards capturing
the last places in Syria that were still occupied by
the Franks. In 1290 he planned an attack on Acre, but died
(Nov. 10) in the middle of his preparations. During the greater
part of his reign he took one of his sons as associate
in the government, and indeed left him to take care of
Egypt, while himself absent in Syria; on the death of his son
Musa, in 1288, he associated with himself his son Khalil who
was his successor. The Under-secretary has preserved a very
elaborate set of instructions given by Kala'un to his viceroy
for the conduct of affairs during his absence. The pigeon-post,
the telegraph of the time, was to be organized so as to convey
to headquarters early tidings of the rising of the Nile;
and great trouble was to be taken to see that all bridges and
embankments were in good order. The viceroy must also see
that every patch of ground in which cultivation was possible
should be cultivated.
The viceroy's first business, we read in one of these sets of instructions,
when he returns to the Citadel after bidding his father
farewell and Godspeed on one of his warlike expeditions,
is to look carefully after the disaffected Emirs who happen to
be imprisoned in the Citadel, to see that they are properly fed
and clothed, and that if any of them are ill, they should receive
proper medical attendance, and by fair promises to endeavour

to win their loyalty. Great care is to be taken that the
gates of the Citadel are properly guarded, and indeed the
Eastern or Cemetery Gate is to be kept locked the whole time
of Our absence. The municipal authorities are to keep special
guard on such parts of both cities as are likely to be rendezvous
to evil-doers: such places are in particular the Nile-bank,
the Cemeteries, and the Ponds, i.e. the Elephant's Pool, the
Abyssinian's Pool and some others now dried up. At night both
cities should be patrolled and the Dispensaries locked up; and
especially certain public halls in the Husainiyyah quarter, called
Halls of Chivalry (ka'ât al-futuwah) which were frequented
by turbulent persons. All persons practising astrology are to
be inhibited, and their instruments seized, while the public are
to be warned to place no confidence in their arts. The judges
appointed to settle religious questions are to sit in the liwans
of the various schools every day, Fridays not excepted, both
morning and evening, and are to avoid all mutual rivalry.
The provincial governors are to be perpetually reminded that
no one must be allowed to get more or less than his fair share
of Nile water. The viceroy is advised not to ride out much,
and when he does so to keep to the highway, only to admit
to his neighbourhood persons in whom he has complete confidence;
and when in the course of his promenades petitions
are handed to him, to see that justice is done to the petitioners.
Kala'un appears to have built barracks on the Citadel
for the large numbers of guards whom he purchased,
whilst still retaining some on the Island of Raudah: the
former class came to be entitled the Mamlukes of the Tower
(Burjis), and when Kala'un's dynasty was overthrown that
which succeeded it was called by that name. The native
historians praise him for giving the Mamlukes a less
hideous uniform than they had previously been compelled
to wear. The old uniform had included a dull blue cap, the
hair being allowed to grow in long tresses which were tied

up in a bag of red or yellow silk; the tunics were fastened with
a buckle of leather and brass, to which were attached great
bags of black leather, containing a wooden spoon and a
long knife. Kala'un abolished this eccentric attirc, and
adorned his officers with fur and velvet.
He was succeeded by his son Khalil, who carried out his
father's policy of driving the Franks out of Palestine and
Syria, and proceeded with the siege of Acre, which he took
(May 18, 1291) after a siege of forty-three days. The capture
and destruction of this important place was followed by the
capture of Tyre, Sidon, Haifa, Athlith and Beyrut; and
thus the nearer East was cleared of the Crusaders.
Acre was utterly destroyed by Khalil, and its fine buildings
came to be a quarry for building materials. Khalil's
brother Nasir, who reigned after him, got thence the marble
doorway of his school; it had originally adorned a church
in Acre. Others were used by Khalil himself for edifices
which he caused to be constructed in Damascus and elsewhere.
His own tomb, to which a school was once attached,
in the Sayyidah Nefisah region, was built before this event,
and while he was associated with his father, who is named
in the epitaph with such titles as are assigned only to living
sovereigns. Close by is the tomb of his stepmother, the
mother of his brother Salih, who had originally been appointed
to succeed.
The triumphal entry of Khalil into Cairo after his return
from the holy war must have been one of the most glorious
processions in which Moslem Sultan ever figured. “He
entered at the Nasr Gate, and went across the City, the
Emirs walking before him, while the Viceroy carried the
parasol with the bird over his head, and the caparisons were
shaken before him; and when he arrived at the hospital,
he turned his horse, and went to visit his father's à
after which he rode up to the Citadel, and distributed decorations.”

The name Saladdin which was one of his titles of
honour, while he reigned under the name of al-Ashraf, had
not been given him in vain. Yet it does not appear that he
shared with his illustrious namesake the qualities which
have rendered the latter a type of chivalry. And the glory
of having achieved what his predecessors for two hundred
years had vainly striven to accomplish, is said to have
turned his head.
The career of the Conqueror of the Franks was brought
to an abrupt conclusion at the beginning of the fourth year
of his reign (December 12, 1293). In the disputes between
his favourite Ibn Sa'lus and his Viceroy Baidara, he took
the part of the former, and the Viceroy, who appears to
have peculated on a tremendous scale, organized a conspiracy
against his master. Baidara and his party fell upon
the Sultan when he was hunting without escort at Tarujah,
near Damanhur; they killed and mutilated him, and proceeded
to elect Baidara Sultan in his place, after the precedent
set in the time of Baibars. But thirty years of orderly
government had changed men's ideas on this subject; the
ministers and guards of the murdered Sultan met the assassins
on the left bank of the Nile, as they were returning to
Cairo, and routed them. Baidara was himself killed, and
the avengers of al-Ashraf regaled themselves in primitive
and savage style on his liver. But the corpse of the victim
remained three days in the desert, and was gnawed by
wolves before what was left of it could be taken up and deposited
in the mausoleum that had been built none too soon.

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Nasir and his Sons

THE younger son of Kala'un, who was now placed
on the throne, had the singular fortune of reigning
three times, being twice dethroned. He was first
appointed Sultan on Dec. 14, 1293, when he was nine years
old, and the affairs of the kingdom were undertaken by a
Cabinet, consisting of a vizier, a viceroy, a war minister, a
prefect of the palace and a secretary of state. Three of these
five were destined to enjoy ephemeral sovereignty; the first,
Sanjar al-Shuja'i, though never a sovereign, is known to
history as the general employed by the Sultan Khalil in his
wars against the remnant of the Franks. According to the
historian, he aspired to be Sultan, and went so far as to offer
a price for the head of any follower of the Viceroy Ketbogha:
the latter got together a force, defeated the Vizier's troops
in the Horse-market between Cairo and the Citadel, and besieged
his rival, who had retreated into the fortress. The
Queen-mother then addressed the besiegers from the wall
of the Citadel, and asked what they wanted: the reply was
the deposition of the Vizier. To this the Queen-mother assented,
and the Vizier's fickle followers turned against him
and beheaded him. A man carried his head out to the besiegers
in a silk wrapper. “What have you there?” asked
the guardian of the gate, an adherent of the fallen Vizier.
“Hot bread, to show them that they are not likely to starve
us out,” was the reply. The head was then carried round the
city; and since it was this Vizier who had organized the forced
labour in connexion with the building of Kala'un's Hospital,
the Cairenes paid the carriers money to let them have

the head in their houses to beat it with sandals. The conqueror
Ketbogha assumed the reins, and after a short
time, was strong enough to depose the infant Sultan, whose
first reign was eleven stormy months. The new Sultan was
a Mongol, who had been taken prisoner by Kala'un in one
of his battles.
This Sultan's reign was rather less than two years, and
was clouded by famine and pestilence. The occasion of his
absence was seized by his viceroy, Lajin, who, after the murder
of Khalil, had hidden in the Mosque of Ahmad Ibn
Tulun, and afterwards been promoted by Ketbogha, to oust
his benefactor and master. During Ketbogha's time the
population of Cairo was increased by a fresh colony of Mongols,
who settled in the Husainiyyah quarter, to the north
of the Futuh Gate; while in the south, overlooking the
Elephant's Pool, some building was occasioned by the Sultan
laying out an exercise-ground, as a substitute for that
which Baibars had selected at the Bab al-Luk. This exercise-ground
soon had to give way to a palace, built by the
Sultan Nasir.
Lajin himself fell a victim to a conspiracy of the praetorians
when he had reigned two years and two months. The
murderer was almost immediately executed by a commander
who returned to Cairo the day after the event; and the Emirs
decided on the recall of al-Nasir, then in exile at Kerak.
Feb. 11, 1298, was the day on which he commenced his second
term of sovereignty.
M. van Berchem has discovered some curious vestiges of
the quick succession of rulers in the school of the Sultan
Nasir, which is to the north of the mausoleum of the Sultan
Kala'un. An inscription contains the contradictory statement
that it was built by the Sultan Mohammed al-Nasir in
the year of the Hijrah 695, when, in fact, Ketbogha and not
al-Nasir was reigning. Apparently then—and this is asserted

by the archaeologists—the school was begun by Ketbogha,
and had risen as high as the gilt band on the façade, when
Ketbogha was dethroned. Work on the school was resumed
when Mohammed was restored and then apparently the
old date was allowed to stand, while the name of the sovereign
was altered—perhaps in virtue of a theory similar to that
by which the reign of Charles II is supposed to have commenced
at the death of Charles I. M. van Berchem accounts
for the date of completion, 703 A. D., which seems to
involve a longer time than might reasonably have been
occupied by a moderate sized edifice (supposing indeed that
building was continuous)—by the supposition that it suffered
from the great earthquake of the year 702, and had to
be rebuilt a year or two after its actual completion. Its
doorway was regarded by Makrizi as one of the wonders of
the world. It was of white marble, of great beauty and extraordinary
workmanship, having come originally from one
of the churches at Acre. Inside the gate there is a cupola,
smaller than that built by the Sultan's father, where his
mother and one of his sons lie buried, he himself lying near
his father.
This earthquake commenced in August, 1303 A. D., and
shocks were felt for twenty successive days. Great damage
was done in Alexandria, where the returning wave, which is
a phenomenon often accompanying great earthquakes, inundated
a considerable portion of the city. On Thursday,
the 23rd of the month Dhu'l-Hijjah, says Makrizi, at the
moment of morning prayer, the whole land shook; the walls
were heard to crack, and terrible sounds proceeded from the
roofs. Pedestrians were compelled to bend down, men on
horseback fell off their mounts. The people imagined that
the sky was coming down. All the inhabitants, men and
women, rushed out into the streets. The terror and haste
was such that the women did not wait to veil their faces.



Houses tumbled down, walls split, the minarets of the mosques
and the schools were overthrown, many children were
prematurely born. Violent winds arose, the Nile overflowed,
and tossed such boats as happened to be on the bank to the
distance of a bowshot. Presently the water withdrew, and
left these vessels with broken anchors high and dry. The
inhabitants, driven by fright out of their houses, took no
thought of what they had left inside. They were entered by
robbers, who seized whatever they chose. The owners passed
the nights in tents, which were set up from Boulak to
Raudah. Only Thursday night was spent in the mosques
and chapels by crowds imploring the mercy of God.
Of edifices that were damaged by the earthquake—which
left fallen bricks or other traces of itself in the doorway of
every house—Makrizi enumerates the mosque of Amr, the
mosque al-Azhar, the mosque of Salih situated outside the
Bab Zuwailah, the school of Kala'un, which lost its minaret,
and the mosque of al-Fakihani, which underwent the same
disaster. Forty curtains and twenty-seven towers belonging
to the wall of Cairo fell. Cairo and Fostat were left in such
a condition that anyone who saw them might have supposed
that they had been sacked by an enemy.
To the second reign of the Sultan Nasir belongs the
Mosque of Jauli, removed by a couple of hundred metres
from the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. It contains two domed tombs
of the Emirs Sanjar and Salar, both celebrities of this period.
The inscription published by van Berchem gives the date of
construction as 703. The mosque, of which the shape is unusually
irregular, occupies 780 square metres. In one of the
many apartments which it contains for the use of Sufis (or
ascetics) there is, says Ali Pasha Mubarak, a square blue
stone, of which the greater portion is buried in the soil, and
in which there is a hole. Piles, it was supposed, could be
cured by the sufferer placing in this hole some olive oil; he

then sat in the hole a quarter-of-an-hour, after which he
would anoint himself with the oil, and his cure would be
effected. When the Pasha wrote, he could speak of three
tombs, of which, however, one was unknown. The Emir
Salar was Viceroy when he built this monument, and held
this post for eleven years. By domineering overmuch over
his master, al-Nasir, he caused the Sultan, in the year 1308,
to retire from the sovereignty for a second time. When al-Nasir
returned for the third time, Salar resigned his office,
and was at first treated honourably by the Sultan, but was
presently seized and starved to death in prison, where he
is last heard of trying to eat his shoes. As Viceroy, he enjoyed
a revenue of 100,000 dirhems a day; and a pretended
report of the treasures found in his house at the time of his
arrest gives the items discovered day by day, thus:
Sunday: Nineteen Egyptian quarts of emeralds;
Two Egyptian quarts of rubies;
Two-and-a-half quarts of jacinths;
Six boxes of gems for rings, diamonds and others:
and so on, the figures getting more and more fabulous.
The task of arresting him had been committed to the other
occupant of this mausoleum, Sanjar al-Jauli, who also obtained
leave to bury his friend Salar after his death from
starvation. This person, after filling other offices, was governor
of Gaza and Southern Palestine for a number of years;
he was then recalled and imprisoned for eight years by al-Nasir,
after which time he was released and given office at
the Cairene Court. During the ephemeral reigns that followed
on the death of Nasir, he played an important part.
In his governorship of South Palestine he distinguished
himself by numerous works of public utility; he rebuilt Gaza,
and founded mosques, hospitals and schools, both there and
in other important cities of his province. Unlike his friend,


he died in his bed in Cairo, and was honoured with a solemn
When, in 1308, the Sultan Nasir abdicated and took refuge
in Kerak, his place was taken by the Emir Baibars (called
the Jashangir, which properly means the taster) who had
been one of the Cabinet which had governed for him
at his accession. His reign lasted not quite a year, in
which he rendered himself odious by punishing with barbarous
cruelty numbers of the common people who were
guilty of singing a comic song in which he was lampooned.
A monument of this ephemeral sovereign exists in the
monastery called Rukniyyah (after his official title Rukn
al-din) or Baibarsiyyah, in the Jamaliyyah Street. The dervish
who should have no home but the Mosque was a natural
object for the bounty of pious founders, and about 400 A.H.
the custom arose of building places where they could carry
on their devotional exercises undisturbed. The earliest place
of the sort built in Cairo was, as has been seen, the work of
the great Saladdin, and the ascetics seem to have done fairly
well in it at first: each man was to have daily three pounds
of bread, three pounds of meat with broth, sweets once a
month, a provision of soap, and forty dirhems yearly for clothes.
In time the revenue of Saladdin's hospice proved insufficient
for this outlay, and great troubles arose. The hospice of Baibars
II was the second of its kind in Cairo. Its site is where the
ancient palace of the Fatimide viziers stood. Originally it
had three windows facing the street, of which one was a
famous window brought from Baghdad by that Basasari who
defeated the Abbasid Caliph Ka'im, and for the moment rendered
the metropolis of the East subject to the heretical
Caliphate of the West. This part of the place was left unchanged
when it was transferred to its religious purpose.
The windows were afterwards removed, and shops substituted
in order to furnish rentals for the maintenance of the institution

when, owing to the failure of the Nile, the ordinary revenues
were cut off. It was begun by the Emir before his brief
reign, during which it was completed, but he was compelled
to flee before the inaugural ceremony could take place; and
when Nasir returned he closed the hospice, and it remained
empty for nineteen years, when the same Sultan reopened
it. The inscription which remains contains traces of this
chequered history, which van Berchem with his usual skill
has succeeded in enucleating. A story perhaps less apocryphal
than others dealing with buried treasure is to the effect
that a friendly Emir informed Baibars when he commenced
building that there was a store of rich marble under part of
the ancient Fatimide palace, which, when discovered, had
been left undisturbed and ready for use: that Baibars made
use of this information, had the marble unearthed, built his
hospice, mausoleum, and military asylum with part of it, and
stored the remainder in the hospice where Makrizi declares
that it remained till his own time. The hospice was to hold
400 ascetics, the asylum 100 decayed soldiers: the mausoleum
was for himself, and thither his body was ultimately brought,
probably, after the reopening of the establishment. According
to Makrizi the workmanship was so sound that no repairs
were required for a century and a half.
In 1892 the Committee found that the state of decomposition
to which the walls had come must speedily lead to the
total ruin of this monument and preventive measures were
taken. The marble with which the walls were still clothed
proved that this rich ornamentation at one time rose to the
height of more than 3.60 metres. Slabs of coloured marble
alternated with slabs of mosaic. Many had fallen and others
owing to the moisture of the walls were about to follow them.
If Baibars II had permitted the exiled Sultan to remain
quietly at Kerak, he might have retained his throne: but
by sending threatening and extortionate letters he compelled


Nasir to invoke the feeling of loyalty to his father Kala'un
that slumbered in the breasts of his former subjects, especially
in Syria. They invited him to resume the sovereignty,
and Baibars had to retreat precipitately, being followed out
of his capital by the hisses of the mob. He was granted a
provincial governorship, but before he could reach it, was
arrested by order of Nasir, and strangled with a bowstring.
Nasir's third reign lasted from 1309 to 1340, and was
prosperous in most ways. The Sultan developed a great
taste for building and similar operations, and some of the
work done by him on the Citadel has already been noticed.
A work of another sort was the Nasiri Canal which he had
dug: in a mode not unlike that which was used in much
later times for the excavation of the Suez Canal. This
Canal started from the Nile in the Kasr al-Ain region,
and after a long course mainly northward, discharged into
the Great Canal near the Mosque of Baibars. Its purpose
was, it is said, to convey goods to the buildings erected
near the new exercise-ground laid out by the Sultan at
Siriacos; but it was also used for pleasure parties and processions,
and many mansions were built along its banks.
Probably more buildings remain from the time of this
Sultan than from any of his predecessors. Such are the
mosques of the Emir Husain in a street leading out of the
Mohammed Ali Boulevard in the direction of the Bab al-Khalk:
of the Emir al-Malik Jaukandar in the Husainiyyah
quarter: of the Emir Almas in the Place Hilmiyyah: of the
Emir Kausun (most of it destroyed when the Mohammed
Ali Boulevard was constructed); of the Emir Beshtak in
the Jamamiz Street, entirely renewed in the year 1860 by
the brother of the Khedive Isma'il: of the Emir al-Maridani
near the Mihmandar Mosque, in the Tabbanah quarter,
leading from the Zuwailah Gate to the Citadel, which also
dates from a late period of Nasir's reign: and of the Lady

Maskah near the Mosque of the Shaikh Salih to the south
of the Mabduli Street. The lady who founded this last
mosque was a slave of the Sultan, who rose to the office of
manageress of such matters as were entrusted to the women
of the palace, such as the etiquette of weddings, the education
of the royal children and the organization of various
ceremonies. The foundress records in the dedicatory inscription
that she had visited both Meccah and Medinah. All the
Emirs mentioned in this list were persons of mark in Nasir's
reign. The Emir Husain was also the builder of a bridge
and a wicket called after his name, to enable people to
come from Cairo to his mosque. The Emir Sanjar, who was
governor at the time, objected to a hole being made by a
private individual in the city wall. When the Emir Husain,
nevertheless, obtained leave from the Sultan to make it,
and boasted of his victory to Sanjar, the latter persuaded
the despot that Husain meant treason, and Husain was
sent away to Damascus.
The Mosque of Kausun was built by an architect from
Tabriz, who modelled the minarets on those of a Tabriz
edifice: the founder appears to have come there to Cairo as
a trader in the escort of one of Nasir's brides; and is said to
have sold himself—a somewhat unusual proceeding—into
the service of the Sultan, and once enrolled, to have advanced
rapidly. Like Joseph of old he presently sent for his relatives,
and gave his sister to the Sultan, who married him to his
daughter. On the Sultan's death he was left in charge of
the royal children, and met with his end in an attempt to
secure the power to himself by maintaining infants on the
throne. One of the minarets fell, carrying with it a large
part of the mosque, in the year 1800, apparently being exploded
by the French; the other minaret was destroyed in
1873 when the Boulevard Mohammed Ali was cut.
The Emir Beshtak was a famous builder, and among


other achievements erected himself a palace in the main
avenue of Cairo, facing that of his rival Bisri, both so splendid
that the avenue could once more be called Between the
two Palaces, as it had been called in the days of Fatimides.
The remains of the palace are on the right of the Nahhasin
Street, the actual entry to them being in the lane which leads
to the School of Sabik al-din. M. van Berchem has discovered
the fragment of an inscription belonging to it, which, however,
contains neither date nor name. His mosque was built
in a place occupied by Franks and Copts, “who committed
such atrocities as might be expected of them.” When the
call to prayer resounded from the minaret, they were overawed
and left the neighbourhood.
A bath erected by the same person is to be found at the
opening of the lane which bears his name, opposite the southwest
corner of the ruined Mosque Mir-Zadeh. The interior
is said to belong to a later date: but the exterior is thought
by Herz Bey to be still as it was built by the Emir, and it is
of importance for the history of the development of the
This Emir died in 1341, the year after Nasir. He was one of
those ministers who under the Mamluke Sultans acquired fabulous
wealth. A conversation is recorded between him and anther
mosque-builder, the Emir Kausun, in which the latter
declared himself disqualified for the Sultanate as having once
sold leather; whereas Beshtak was disqualified as having
sold beer. It is characteristic of Egypt that it was considered
a degradation for a man in high office to know
the language of the country. Beshtak, therefore, though
knowing Arabic well, would never talk to his servants except
through a dragoman. His object in life was to obtain
the governorship of Damascus, and with this he eventually
was invested, but was executed before he could enter upon


Maridani is better known by the name Altinbogha. He
was one of the Emirs who took a great part in the troublesome
times that followed on the death of Nasir, and appears
to have played a double game with Kausun; and eventually
he was sent into exile as a provincial governor in Syria,
where he died. In constructing his mosque he took material
from the Mosque of Rashidah, erected by Hakim. Originally
it was isolated on all sides; at a period unknown,
though not distant, a house was built contiguous to the
north-west façade. The surface occupied by it is said to be
2,664 square metres: originally it consisted of an uncovered
court surrounded by four liwans. At present only the eastern
liwan remains, containing relics of finely-executed mosaics.
The enumeration given by the archaeologists of the public
works carried on in Cairo under the Sultan Nasir is very
lengthy. It includes canals, embankments, pools, palaces,
exercise-grounds, and indeed every branch of the architect's
and engineer's art. The security produced by a long and
prosperous reign led to a rise in the value of land, which
accordingly was everywhere about the city cut up into building
plots. Owing to the number of buildings erected, says
Ali Pasha, Cairo became continuous with Fostat, and the
two came to be one city: from the Tabar Mosque to the
Vizier's Garden south of the Abyssinians’ Pool, and from
the Nile bank at Gizeh to Mount Mokattam all was covered
with houses.
In the year 1320, which fell near the middle of this Sultan's
reign there was a great conflagration in Cairo, which
was attributed by the populace to the Christians. On May
19 of that year a number of churches in various Egyptian
cities had been destroyed by the Moslems: their fanaticism
was constantly aroused by the invasion of the public offices
by Christian secretaries, who for clerical work were always
found more competent than Moslems. The incendiarism


which followed, and which had for its objects buildings in
the Citadel as well as the city, was attributed to the
resentment of the Christians, and it is asserted that the
Coptic patriarch did not deny that his co-religionists were
concerned in it. The Sultan, who himself favoured the
Christians, did his utmost to prevent violent reprisals; but
popular feeling was too much for him, and Moslem indignation
found vent in a series of highly oppressive enactments.
Anti-Christian feeling ran so high that for a time
Christians who wished to appear in the streets disguised
themselves as Jews; to show themselves in Christian attire
was dangerous, while to be caught in Moslem attire meant
certain death. From the fact that these intolerant edicts had
constantly to be re-enacted, we may reasonably infer that
after a very short time they fell into abeyance. Whether
there was any truth in the ascription of this incendiarism
to the Christians cannot be easily determined. In the reign
of Baibars I a similar event had occurred, and the Sultan
determined to make a pyre of all the Jews and Christians
that could be found. Some pious persons bargained with
him to redeem these victims at so much per head, and the
Sultan made a considerable sum by the transaction.
Nasir was succeeded by no fewer than eight of his sons.
The son Abu Bakr, to whom he at his death on June 7, 1341,
left the throne, was able to maintain himself on it for a few
months only, being compelled to abdicate on Aug. 4, 1341,
in favour of his infant brother Kuchuk: the revolution was
brought about by Kausun. This person's authority was soon
overthrown by a party formed by the Syrian prefects, and
on the following Jan. 11, Ahmad, an elder son, was installed
in his place, though he did not actually arrive in
Cairo till Nov. 6, being unwilling to leave Kerak, where he
had been living in retirement. After a brief sojourn in Cairo
he speedily returned to Kerak, thereby forfeiting his throne,

which was conferred by the Emirs on his brother Isma'il.
This Sultan was mainly occupied during his short reign
with besieging and taking Kerak, whither Ahmad had
taken refuge, and himself died August 3, 1345, when another
son of Nasir, named Sha'ban, was placed on the throne.
Sha'ban proved no more competent than his predecessors,
being given up to open debauchery and profligacy, an example
followed by his Emirs: fresh discontent led to his being deposed
by the Syrian governors, when his brother Hajji was
proclaimed Sultan in his place. Hajji was deposed and killed
Dec. 10, 1347, and another son, Hasan, who took his father's
title, proclaimed. Hasan's rule was slightly less ephemeral
than that of his predecessors, for he remained in power till
August 21, 1351, and though then deposed, he received a
fresh lease of sovereignty three years afterwards, which he
retained for six years and a half, when he was finally displaced.
During this reign Egypt was visited by the Black Death,
which is said to have carried off 900,000 of the inhabitants of
Egypt, and to have raged as far as Assouan. The result was
to reduce Cairo to the proportions which it had attained before
the time of the Sultan Nasir. The plague was followed
by a famine, due to the wholesale destruction of the agricultural
population, and of their beasts, for these were attacked
by a simultaneous epidemic.
Some of the Cairene monuments date before Hasan's resumption
of the sovereignty. One of these is the Mausoleum
of the Sultan Kuchuk, who was dethroned in 1342, and
strangled three years later. It forms part of the Mosque of
Ibrahim Agha, of which the present volume contains several
illustrations. Ibrahim Agha was not the founder of the mosque,
but its restorer: its founder was the Emir AK Sonkor,
of whom three inscriptions remain. The mosque is note-worthy
for the tiles which cover the walls in parts to a


height of four metres. The Emir who built it was a celebrity
of the reign of Nasir, during which he was governor of a
number of Syrian cities: finally he was made viceroy in
Egypt itself. The last scene in which he figures is one in
which he plays rather a courageous part; when the sixth of
Nasir's successors came to the throne and desired to have
him arrested, he drew his sword and tried to attack the Sultan's
person: he was, however, overcome in time and strangled
the following day. This was six weeks after the mosque had
been inaugurated. Much of the property of the mosque was
in Aleppo, and when after the death of the Sultan Barkuk
the Syrian governors revolted, the revenues accruing to the
mosque were stopped, whence many of the institutions connected
with it fell into abeyance. Apparently, however, they
were afterwards restored, or else the properties in Cairo
settled upon it rose greatly in value, since Ali Pasha gives
them at a very high figure. The restoration was executed in
1650, during the Turkish period, and Ibrahim Agha's tomb was
built two years afterwards, when Abdal-Rahman was governor
of Egypt. An inscription to the left of the Kiblah states
that on the night of Friday, July 14, 1463, the Prophet was
seen standing and praying on the spot.
The two tombs in the Mosque are those of the founder and
the restorer. Our artist lingered over it because it is situated
in an old street, and the surrounding buildings have not
lost the flavour of antiquity. Due North of it there is a sebil
or fountain also instituted by Ibrahim Agha. A pond roofed
over, the roof being on marble pillars, was placed inside this
mosque in the year 1422, the materials being taken from the
Mosque of the Ditch which was pulled down for the purpose,
having been long disused. The person who was responsible
for this proceeding had the name Toghan.
One or two more monuments belong to the period of the
Sultan Hasan, besides the magnificent building that bears his

name, and claims to be one of the great mosques of the world.
Such is the Mosque of the Emir Shaikho, with a monastery
facing it, to the west of the Rumailah Place. This part of
the city is outside the old square of Jauhar, and in the region
called of old Kata'i: various houses were bought by the
founder of these two edifices, and pulled down to make room
for it. He was one of the temporary rulers of Egypt who rose
from honour to honour, and at one time is said to have received
from his various estates the sum of 200,000 dirhems
daily. He perished, finally, at the hand of an assassin, a man
who, being denied the promotion for which he had petitioned,
revenged himself by a murderous assault on the
Emir. The Mosque was built in the year 1349, and a company
of Sufis at the first maintained there; six years afterwards
the Hospice was built on the opposite side of the road,
and special residences provided there for the ascetics who
were transferred thither from the Mosque. Nevertheless, the
object and the external appearance of the two buildings
being very similar, it has often been a matter of doubt which
was meant to be mosque and which hospice. The inscription
on the front entrance of the Hospice is couched, M. van
Berchem observes, in the language of the Sufis or ascetics,
and care is taken therein to avoid the pompous titles which
the Emir who founded the building could have claimed. Indeed,
the Hospice seems to have been built by him in an
access of religious fervour, such as would be accompanied
by self-abasement. He was buried in his Hospice with great
pomp, the ceremony being conducted by the Sultan Hasan
himself; and nature, to exhibit her sympathy with the people
of Cairo in their bereavement, produced a slight earthquake,
and equally strange, a shower of rain, though it was summer.
At the time of the final downfall of the Mamluke dynasty,
when Tumanbai was attacked by the Sultan Selim,
the former took up his headquarters in the Hospice of


Shaikho: fire was accordingly set to the building by the
Ottomans, and a considerable part of it burned down. The
preacher of the mosque was brought before the Sultan Selim,
who at first determined on his execution, but afterwards
thought fit to pardon him. The mischief that had been
done was then speedily repaired. A restoration of both
Mosque and Hospice is recorded for the year 1816.
The great monument of this time, however, is the Mosque
of the Sultan Hasan, on the right hand of the Boulevard
Mohammed Ali, at the end which looks towards the
Citadel. It covers an area of 8,525 square metres; a magnificent
gate situated at the north angle gives access to a
vestibule covered by a dome, which rests on a crown of
stalactites. Turning in a south-east direction, after a détour,
we reach the Court of the Mosque. The middle of this is occupied
by a fountain. In front is the great Liwan, with
the prayer-niche, are the pulpit and the dikkah: to the left,
the right and behind, three other oratories. The site had been
formerly occupied by the house of the Emir Yelbogha. The
Mosque was begun in the year 1356, and took three years to
build, 20,000 dirhems being each day devoted to the cost of
the operations. The Sultan would have desisted from the
undertaking when he learned to what the expense would
amount, had it not been that he regarded it as unworthy of
a Sultan of Egypt to desist from an enterprise that had been
once begun. The chief court measures sixty-five yards by
sixty-five; the great dome was thought to have no rival in
any Islamic city, and the marble of the pulpit is of unequalled
beauty. Originally the architect had planned four minarets:
one, however, that had been erected over the portal fell, in
the course of building, burying under it some three hundred
persons: the Sultan therefore contented himself with the
two that are still standing.
The Mosque of the Sultan Hasan plays a more important

part than any other in the political history of Cairo; for owing
to its proximity to the Citadel and to its enormous size, it
could be regularly employed as a counter-citadel, and on the
occasion of any civil war, it was usually so used by the force
which aimed at dislodging the inmates of the Citadel itself.
The Sultan Barkuk destroyed the perron in front of the
mosque as well as the staircases which led up to the minarets,
and blocked up the front door. A side door was opened
in one of the law-schools, which, as usual, surround the
main court, to enable worshippers to enter and use the
mosque; but the means of ascending the roof and the minarets
were taken away. The bronze door, which was regarded
as of unrivalled beauty, was afterwards purchased for a comparatively
small sum by the founder of the Muayyad Mosque,
which alone rivals it in importance. In 1421, in the reign of
Barsbai, the innovations of Barkuk were cancelled; the
perron, minaret staircases and the original entrance were restored
and a bronze door was introduced in place of that
which had been removed. This portal seems to have been
again closed in the year 1639, and reopened 150 years later.
Of the two minarets erected by the founder, the eastern fell
in the year 1659, and was rebuilt on a smaller scale than the
original. The cupola of which Makrizi speaks so admiringly
collapsed in the following year, and it was replaced by the
existing dome under the government of Ibrahim Pasha. The
account of the condition of the building given in the report
of the Committee for 1894 is exceedingly gloomy. Since then,
large sums have been spent in effecting a worthy restoration.
Ali Pasha gives at length the document in which various
properties were settled on the Mosque by the Sultan and
here as in the case of al-Azhar the most trivial details were
provided, and money lavished on each. A couple of physicians
with a surgeon were appointed to treat such of the
officials or students as were invalided; provision was made


for a number of orphans to be educated and fitted out when
they reached maturity: and in the list of religious and other
officials we find specialization carried to an extent previously
unknown. These vast revenues have for the most part
disappeared. In Ali Pasha's time the whole institution possessed
a hundred and fifty pounds a year, which was devoted
to the payment of salaries and partly to upkeep and repairs.
Twenty-two years after the completion of the Mosque,
which took place two years after the founder's death, his tomb
was erected and inscribed; it is thought that the exact spot
where he lay may have been then unknown.
After the second dethronement and subsequent murder of
the Sultan Hasan a son of his dethroned brother Hajji was
proclaimed; but on May 29, 1363, this Sultan also was deposed
on the ground of incompetence, and his place given
to another grandson of Nasir, Sha'ban, who at the time was
ten years old. His reign was rather longer than that of his
predecessors, and it was not until March 15, 1376, that he
was murdered by the Mamlukes, for refusing a largess of
money which they demanded. To the right of the street
leading to the Citadel there is to be found the mosque of this
Sultan, the founder's inscription dating from the year 1369.
It contains a wonderful plenitude of titles, among which the
most remarkable is that of “master of the Isma'ilian fortresses
and the Alexandrian frontiers.” The conquest of the Assassins,
who played so ominous a part in Oriental politics, was an
achievement of which the Sultan Baibars was justly proud;
the remnant of the sect were, however, under the protection
of the Egyptian Sultans, and every now and then they were
required to supply persons ready to discharge the function
which won them their former fame. The mention of Alexandria
is due to the fact that in 1365 the King of Cyprus thought
fit to make a raid on Alexandria which he took and sacked;
his success was only momentary, for an Egyptian army was

speedily sent to the relief of the maritime capital, and the
Franks fled with their plunder before it arrived. The Sultan,
however, decided to garrison Alexandria with a stronger force
than before.
The popular name for this Mosque is “the Sultan's
Mothers”; or “Queen Barakahs,” to whom it was dedicated
by the Sultan. The meaning of such a dedication probably
is that the Sultan assigned to her the merit that he had
acquired by the foundation. She was afterwards buried under
the cupola. A tomb that by popular tradition is supposed
to contain the Queen's remains is shown by an inscription
to belong to a princess Zahrah, whose name the chroniclers
do not appear to know. The Sultan himself is said to repose
in this mosque, though his corpse went through some vicissitudes
before it reached its final resting-place. After his
assassination it was thrown into a well, whence it was
presently rescued to be interred near the sanctuary of the
Sayyidah Nefisah; a slave transferred it thence to the
mosque that bears his mother's name.
The Mosque or School of the Emir Al-Jai contains the
grave of the minister after whom it is named, and who was
the husband of the Princess Barakah. After the death of the
Queen he disputed with the Sultan her son over the succession
to her property, fought some battles, and being compelled
to flee from Egypt was drowned while attempting to cross
the Nile on horseback. His body was fished up by divers
and was interred in the mosque which he had built, north
of the Mosque of the Sultan Hasan. As usual copious
revenues were settled upon it, and courses instituted for
two of the orthodox schools of law.
After the murder of this Sultan an infant son of his named
Ali was set on the throne, and eventually the highest offices
in the state came into the hands of two praetorians, Barakah
and Barkuk, of whom the latter ere long succeeded in ousting

the former, and usurping the Sultan's place. On May 19,
1381, when the Sultan Ali died, his place was given to an
infant brother Hajji; but on November 26, 1382, Barkuk set
this child aside, and had himself proclaimed Sultan, thereby
ending the Bahri dynasty, and commencing that of the
Burjis or Circassians.


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The Early Circassian Mamlukes

THE reign of Barkuk, who was the first of the
Circassians to displace the family of Kala'un, was
exceedingly troublous, since many of the Emirs
aspired to do as he had done. Indeed, after seven years
he was actually compelled to abdicate and allow his
predecessor Hajji to be restored to the throne under the
tutelage of another Emir, Kerak being, as usual, the place
of retirement for the ousted sovereign. Before this calamity
he had taken care to perpetuate his name by a mosque or
school in the ancient Nahhasin Street, between the Hospital
of Kala'un and the Kamiliyyah School. It is called the New
Zahiriyyah, to distinguish it from the foundation of the
Sultan Baibars I, who also bore the title Zahir; only in the
case of Barkuk it is said to have been taken with the signification
“midday ruler,” because he happened to be proclaimed
Sultan at midday, whereas his predecessor had meant
nothing more definite by it than “conqueror.” This building,
which has a right to the names mosque, school and hospice
—since it was originally intended to harbour a number of
Sufis—is remarkable for the long corridors and large vestibules
which have to be traversed before arriving at the main
court; for the arcades which, set at an equal distance from
the north and south walls of the court, divide it into three
portions; and for the coloured marbles which to a height
of six metres cover the wall which contains the Kiblah.
The tomb which adjoins the building is thought to contain
the remains of a daughter of the Sultan who died in infancy
in 1386, before the completion of the building; at a later


period the remains of different members of his family were
brought together and buried in the same spot. He himself,
of course, lies in the vast mausoleum built for him in the
desert by his son Faraj. The Minbar is the gift of the Sultan
Jakmak, who reigned from 1438 to 1453; a door plated with
bronze, which originally belonged to some part of the institution,
was at one time in the possession of an Armenian
dealer in the Mouski.
Owing to the ever-increasing popularity of al-Azhar, the
lectures which were originally to have been given in this
building have long ceased; but this, says Ali Pasha, is the
case with the greater number of the schools and colleges
founded in Cairo. Indeed, it is clear that far more of these
buildings were erected than bore any relation to either the
spiritual or educational needs of the people. Sultans and
Emirs thought this the proper line for them to follow, and
in founding schools and hospices merely did as others
had done.
To Egyptians Barkuk is a monarch of interest, as having
abolished the old “bank-holiday” with which the Coptic
New Year's Day was celebrated. The description which the
historians give of it resembles the English bank-holiday in
some particulars, while it has some features which we do
not attempt to reproduce. “On that day the rabble of Cairo
used to gather together at the doors of the great; the Master
of the Ceremonies used to make out receipts for large sums,
and any magnate who refused to pay them had to endure a
volley of abuse. A picket would be stationed at his door, and
refuse to leave it till he had paid the sum assigned him by
the Master, which was taken from him by violence. The lazy
crowd would stand in the streets and besprinkle each other
with dirty water, throw raw eggs in each other's faces and
interchange missiles of mats and shoes. All the streets were
blocked and traffic stopped. Houses and shops were all

locked up, and any person found in the market, whatever
his eminence or station, would be rudely accosted, besprinkled
with dirty water, pelted with raw eggs and buffeted
with shoes. Neither buying nor selling was permitted, and
the people drank wine and committed other improprieties
in places of public recreation. The brawling that ensued led
to the loss of many lives.” A more pleasant feature of the
celebration was that people sent each other presents of fruit
—pomegranates, almonds, quinces, apples, dates, grapes,
melons, figs, peaches, pots of chicken jelly, barrels of rosewater,
trays of Cairene sweets.
Barkuk, whose name means Apricot, and had to be banished
from the fruiterers’ vocabulary so long as he reigned,
made a sort of alliance with the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid, and
incurred the wrath of his enemy the terrible Timur Lenk, who
at this time was desolating the East. In order that there might
be no truce, he proceeded to murder the envoy of the Mongol
world-conqueror—a proceeding which at this time was normal
in Oriental diplomacy. The great encounter with Timur,
however, was postponed until the following reign.
A monument of the time of Barkuk is the school of the
Emir Inal al-Yusufi, south of the Bab Zuwailah. The inscription
which records the name of the founder is on the
neighbouring fountain, and is of interest, according to van
Berchem, as being the earliest example of a poetical distich
inscribed on a fountain, to which in later times there were
many parallels.
The founder was a celebrity of the time, who held various
offices and enjoyed many honours. He figures on the stage
first about the time when Barkuk was aiming at the sovereignty.
Being in command of an army corps, he seized the
Citadel, and endeavoured to maintain it in the Sultan Hajji's
name, but was outwitted by Barkuk, who got into the fortress
by a secret door. He was afterwards able to secure

Barkuk's favour, and was appointed to the governorship
of various cities in Syria; this mode of employment constituting,
as indeed it still does, an honourable form of banishment.
As governor of Aleppo he took the side of Barkuk
against Yelbogha, who in the year 1389 raised the standard
of revolt, but was defeated and imprisoned. Nor was he released
till Yelbogha, who for a time had obtained the mastery
in Cairo, had been expelled by another Emir Mintash,
and this Emir was in his turn overthrown by Barkuk, who
again resumed the sovereignty. His mosque was commenced
in 1392 and finished the next year, after the founder's death.
His body, which had been temporarily interred outside
Cairo, was then brought to the resting place which he had
prepared for it.
The uncertainty which attached to the post of Sultan apparently
had at this time the rather remarkable effect of
making the rival usurpers more lenient and forgiving towards
each other. Barkuk, when caught by his enemy Yelbogha,
had been honourably treated, and though condign
punishment had been threatened to anyone who harboured
him, the person found guilty of this act was, in fact, praised
and rewarded. When Barkuk in his turn got Yelbogha in
his power, the restored Sultan gave him an honourable
place in the court at which he had for a time been virtually
To the time of Barkuk belongs the Khan Khalili, now a
famous and familiar place of merchandise. Its site is that
part of the ancient Fatimide Palace where the Caliphs used
to be buried. Chaharkas, master of the stable to Barkuk,
becoming possessed of the site, had the remains of the Fatimide
Caliphs exhumed, and carried on asses’ backs to the
Barkiyyah Gate, where they were flung on dunghills, this
being his mode of showing his contempt for dead heretics:
an act of fanaticism for which, if Makrizi may be believed,

he was afterwards punished by being allowed to remain
naked and unburied outside the walls of Damascus.
When Barkuk died in 1398, according to the custom that
had so often proved disastrous, his son, Faraj, a lad aged
thirteen, was appointed his successor under the guardianship
of two Emirs. In the three years that followed the
Egyptian dominions in Asia were in consequence swallowed
up partly by the Ottoman Sultan, and partly by the terrible
Timur, whose demand for homage was granted in 1402 by
the Egyptian government, when the princes who had sought
refuge from the world-conqueror in Egypt were also delivered
up. The death of Timur in the beginning of 1405
restored Egyptian authority in Syria, which, however, became
a rendezvous for all who were discontented with the
rule of Faraj and his Emirs, and two months after Timur's
death was in open rebellion against Faraj. He succeeded
indeed in defeating the rebels, but was compelled by insubordination
on the part of his Circassian Mamlukes to
abdicate, when his brother was proclaimed Sultan in his
place. This brother was, however, deposed after two months,
and Faraj, who had been in hiding, was recalled. Most of
his reign was occupied with revolts on the part of Syrian
governors, which he repeatedly visited Syria in order to
quell. Among the leaders of the rebels was Shaikh Mahmudi,
afterwards Sultan in Egypt, with the title Muayyad.
Owing to the disturbance and misgovernment the population
of Syria and Egypt is said to have shrunk in the time of
Faraj to one-third of what it had been before, and the Sultan
violated Moslem sentiment not only by debauchery, but
even more by having his image stamped on coins.
The reign of Faraj, though politically disastrous, is perpetuated
in Egypt by several notable buildings. One of
these is the school of the Emir Jamal al-din Yusuf in the
Jamaliyyah Street. It is sometimes called the “Suspended


Mosque,” a name given to any such building to which there
is access by a flight of stairs. The place was originally a
store. When the Emir began to turn it into a mosque and
school, he utilized materials purchased by him for a trifling
sum from the Sultan Hajji, who for a time displaced Barkuk,
and which had formed the furniture of the mosque of
the Sultan Sha'ban on the Citadel. The sums settled on
teachers and pupils in this school seem to have been specially
handsome—300 francs a month for each of the former, and
thirty with rations for each of the latter. The teachers at
al-Azhar have to be contented still with pay on the latter scale.
This generosity had, however, been provided by gross extortion.
Moreover by a method adopted by many in Egypt
the interest on the benefactions was settled on the founder's
family in perpetuity. Before the Mosque was completed, the
Emir Yusuf was imprisoned and executed by the Sultan, who,
as usual, confiscated the property. His first idea was to destroy
the new building; but being warned by the legal authorities
that such an act would leave a painful impression
on the people, he preferred the alternative of appropriating
it, and having his own name inscribed instead of Yusuf's.
This was therefore carried out. The name of the Sultan Faraj
was placed at the summit of the walls which bound the central
court, on the chandeliers, carpets and ceilings. However,
the name of Faraj no longer appears there, nor indeed
in the solitary inscription round the court which is the only
inscription that remains. It would appear that after the death
of Faraj the brother of the founder succeeded in recovering
control of the institution, with possession of the benefactions,
and he probably had the name of Faraj removed. The document
in virtue of which this brother had got possession of the
institution was afterwards demonstrated to be a forgery, and
the control was restored to the court official who by the will
of the first founder was to have charge of it.


The great Mausoleum in the cemetery called the Tombs
of the Caliphs which is named after Barkuk is the work of
the Sultan Faraj. The popular ascription is so far right that
Barkuk is actually buried in the mosque, and that the
building was ordered by that Sultan though achieved by his
son. The inscriptions which it contains furnish a series of
dates from 1398 to 1483, the earliest being that on a marble
column in front of the Sultan Barkuk's tomb in the north
Mausoleum, which, however, merely records the time of his
death; the latest being that of the Sultan Kayetbai, on the
marble pulpit in the sanctuary of the monastery. Barkuk's
tomb was not finished till nine years after his death. Other
persons buried in the building are his son Abd al-Aziz whose
short reign interrupted that of Faraj; a “young man,” probably
a son of Faraj, who himself died at Damascus; and
one of his daughters, the princess Shakra.
The so-called Tombs of the Caliphs occupy a cemetery first
used in Fatimide times, when Badr al-Jamali, a famous personage
of that period, erected himself a tomb north of the
hill on which the Citadel was afterwards built. The region
became popular and fashionable for this purpose. The fact
of various saints being buried there was probably what suggested
to Barkuk to have his Mausoleum in the same place. He
died without having commenced to build it; his son set about
the filial duty at once, and it took twelve years to complete.
Another monument of the Sultan Faraj is a school, called
by the modest name Zawiyah (literally “Cell, “) a little to
the south of the Bab Zuwailah. It is usually known as the
Zawiyat al-Duheshah, the latter word signifying Hall or
Court. Over it are rooms the rental of which was settled on
the school. The school or mosque itself has a kiblah of
coloured marble. Close by it is a fountain with a maktab, or
school for the young above it, also the foundation of the same



The causes of the frequent change of rulers from the time of
Barkuk to the end of the Circassian dynasty are not always
intelligible; in the case of Faraj they appear to have been
notorious incompetence displayed at a period when the
Moslem world was confronted in the person of Timur with
an enemy who threatened to exterminate it. His career was
closed by a general revolt of the Syrian Emirs, who defeated
him at the battle of Lajun in May, 1412. A document was
drawn up by the judges at the command of the victors declaring
Faraj a murderer and debauchee who was unfit to
reign; and that there might be no jealousy between the two
Emirs who were chiefly responsible for his downfall, they
agreed to install as Sultan the Caliph Musta'in while the
two Emirs were to have separate spheres of influence. More
than a century and a half, then, since the termination of Abbasid
rule in Baghdad, a descendant, or at least a professed
descendant of the imperial family was given something more
than a nominal position at the head of the chief Moslem state.
He did not apparently much believe in his good fortune; and
before investiture as Sultan stipulated that, if he were forced
to abdicate, he might resume his nominal dignity of Caliph.
This stipulation turned out to be very necessary, although it
was not observed; at the end of less than six months the
Emir to whom Egypt had fallen, Shaikh Mahmudi, desired
the title as well as the rights of Sultan, and easily obtained
a declaration from the ecclesiastical authorities that a man
of business was wanted at the head of affairs. The Abbasid
was therefore deposed from his Sultanate, and soon after was
deprived of the title Caliph also. Naturally the new Sultan
had to fight the colleague whose sphere of influence was to
have been Syria, and who refused to recognize any overlord
but the Caliph. But Shaikh Mahmudi, now called the Sultan
Muayyad, appears to have been a capable general, and in the
course of several campaigns he reduced Syria to complete

subjection, captured his rival Nauruz, “who had been to
him more than a brother and reposed his head on the same
pillow,” and sent his head to be exposed on the Bab Zuwailah.
With the Bab Zuwailah this Sultan was otherwise connected,
for he had in the time of Faraj been imprisoned in
the Shama'il gaol, which adjoined it. To commemorate his
imprisonment and subsequent promotion, he determined to
erect on the site of this prison a mosque which should bear
his name, in fulfilment of a vow that he made when confined
therein and suffering from the vermin which infested the
place. The mosque was commenced three years after his
elevation; no forced labour was employed over the construction,
all workmen being honourably remunerated; only the
marble slabs and columns were taken from a variety of older
buildings which had to be pulled down. In two years’ time
the eastern liwan was finished, and the Friday prayer was
celebrated there. Before this the Sultan had endowed the institution
with a rich library, taken from the old library of the
Citadel, and so perhaps containing some volumes that had
once belonged to the Fatimide collection, to which a certain
Barizi, whose house at Boulak the Sultan was in the habit
of visiting, added 500 volumes to the value, we are told, of
10,000 dinars, securing to himself and his descendants by
this gift the office of librarian. In order to find place for the
lavatory some dwellings were purchased and demolished
by the vizier, whose own foundation will next be mentioned.
The minarets of the new mosque were built on the flanking
towers of the Bab Zuwailah; one of them, soon after erection,
was found to be out of the perpendicular, and its demolition
was ordered by the architect. In the course of this
operation a stone fell and killed one of the passers-by, in
consequence whereof the gate was closed for thirty days,
‘the like whereof had not happened since Cairo was built.’
The cupolas which cover the graves of a daughter of the


Sultan, buried before the first service had been held in the
mosque, and the Sultan himself with his son Ibrahim, were
finished at different times, both after 1421, the year of the
Sultan's death.
The story of this Ibrahim throws a painful light on the
builder of the mosque and its first librarian and preacher.
The year before the Sultan's death he became so infirm that
when he wanted to move he had to be carried on the shoulders
of his slaves. The preacher told him that the army
were tired of a paralysed Sultan, and were turning their
regards to his strong and gallant son. The best plan, he
suggested, was to get rid of this rival by poison. The advice
was followed; but on the following Friday the Sultan came
to hear a funeral sermon preached over his victim in the
mosque which contained his remains. The preacher, with
the view of diverting suspicion from his master, delivered
an affecting discourse, telling how the Prophet late in life
had himself lost a son of the same name, Ibrahim, and
quoting the affecting and noble words of grief and resignation
with which the founder of Islam bore the blow. What
was intended to clear the Sultan's fame was regarded by
him as a reproach; he determined then to get rid of the
preacher by the same means as had carried off his son, and
invited him to a meal, from the effects of which he died in
a few days’ time.
The mosque rises about five metres above the level of the
street; in the time of Isma'il Pasha the whole building with
the exception of the wall containing the Kiblah was in
ruins. During his government it was restored, and various
repairs have at different times been executed by order of
the Committee. An inscription in the sanctuary records some
restorations done by order of Ibrahim Pasha, son of Mohammed
Ali, and some are recorded as having been executed
under a yet earlier Ibrahim Pasha, who governed

Egypt as viceroy for the Turks at the end of the sixteenth
The partial destruction of the mosque must have taken
place after 1826, when a plan was made—published in Coste's
Illustrations of Cairene Architecture—which represents all
four cloisters as complete. The work done under Ibrahim
and Isma'il Pashas must have been inadequate, since the
plan of 1890 shows only the sanctuary, or south-east, liwan
as standing, with the rest in ruins. The work done by the
Committee in 1890 and later consisted in restoring the sanctuary
and rendering it fit for public worship, repairing the
great perron by which the mosque is entered, and completing
the minarets.
Two years before the erection of this wonderful edifice a
school was built in the ancient region Between the Two
Walls, sometimes called the Fakhri School after its founder
Fakhr al-din, Vizier of the Sultan Muayyad, but better
known as the “Girls’ School.” Its founder had an unenviable
reputation: “He combined the tyranny of the Armenians
with the cunning of the Christians, the devilry of the
Copts and the injustice of the tax-gatherers, being by origin
an Armenian, and trained among the other three classes
mentioned.” He at one time had to flee to the Kan of Baghdad,
but found means to regain the favour of the Egyptian
Sultan, who had in him a convenient instrument for the
extortion of money from his subjects. In 1852 it was restored
by a wife of Mohammed Ali, but has since undergone further
To a competent ruler Orientals, and perhaps not they
only, are willing to forgive much: and the judgement which
they pass on the Sultan Muayyad is on the whole exceedingly
favourable. They admire his skill in music and versification,
his taste for the fine arts, which undoubtedly is exemplified
in his Mosque, and his keen knowledge of men.


There lies in the Muayyad Mosque one more member of
its founder's family, his son, Ahmad, who reigned after him,
if a suckling can be said to reign. His story is rather tragical.
Muayyad's praetorians demanded that a son of his should
reign over them; and the surviving son was eighteen months
old. He was proclaimed sovereign in his nurse's arms, and
injured for life by fright at the beating of the drums. The
Emir who was to govern for him married his mother so soon
as he decently could, and hurried him off to Syria, there to
quell one of the rebellions that had by this time become
normal on such occasions. By the most ruthless executions
he succeeded in quelling it; and when he had quelled it he
at once divorced the queen-mother, deposed her son, and
sent him to Alexandria where dangerous persons were
ordinarily imprisoned. There nine years later he was carried
off by plague. But the queen-mother had not been Muayyad's
wife without learning some of the secrets of empire. Before
the usurper reached his capital, he knew that there was poison
in his veins; and after three months’ reign he went to join
his victims. “God be pleased with him!” says the historian
—truly a marvellous wish.
Another ephemeral child's reign and a series of palace
intrigues ended in the throne being occupied in 1422 by a
powerful ruler, Barsbai, who took the title Ashraf, less ruthless
in his ways than his predecessors, yet not unwilling to
use poison when convenient. His reign lasted from 1422 till
1438, and was on the whole a peaceful time for Egypt, though
twice while it lasted much of the population was swept away
by plague. In a census made during this reign, on the occasion
of a new tax being introduced, it was found that the
total number of towns and villages in Egypt had sunk to
2,170, whereas in the fourth century A.H. it had stood at
10,000. Barsbai began shortly after his usurpation to build
his monument, which is called Ashrafiyyah, after the title

by which he reigned. It is situated where the street of the
same name crosses the Rue Neuve. Its site was occupied
by a number of stores, of which the rents were settled on
another mosque; these were pulled down, but that there
might be no sacrilege, other rents were substituted for them.
The construction was confided to a certain Abd al-Basit,
who occupied important posts in both this reign and the
last; he was in Muayyad's reign manager of the trust funds
which provided the covering for the Ka'bah sent yearly to
Meccah, and keeper of the royal wardrobe; Barsbai made
him inspector-general of the army, and relied in most things
on his advice. In Muayyad's reign he had himself built a
School or Hospice in the Khurunfush quarter, opposite the
palace of the Sayyid al-Bekri.
The Mosque of Barsbai consists of two large and two small
liwans—a characteristic of the later period of mosque construction,
due to the fact that of the four orthodox systems
of law only two retained their popularity in Egypt. No
columns are employed in it; and it belongs to the class called
Suspended, as there is an ascent to it by a flight of steps.
Ali Pasha tells us that it is largely used by students of al-Azhar
in preparing their lessons, owing to its size and the
clean condition in which it is kept, and, of course, its proximity
to the great University. A mueddin who once was drunk
when he performed his sacred duty dreamed that the Prophet
whipped him with the kurbash; he woke and finding on his
person the weals resulting from the blows, repented of the
wickedness of his ways. For many years the helmet of the
King of Cyprus was suspended over the door. For one of
Barsbai's titles to the gratitude of the Egyptians was that
he avenged the repeated raids of the Cyprians on Alexandria
by sending to Cyprus a fleet which burned Limasol, and
another which took Famagusta, while a later expedition
succeeded in taking the King of Cyprus captive, who was

brought to Cairo, and presently released for a ransom of
200,000 dinars, on condition of acknowledging the suzerainty
of the Egyptian Sultan and paying him tribute. An inscription
going along the sanctuary and the western liwan about
the middle of the wall, contains the deed of settlement on
the Mosque, which has been reproduced with an ample and
exhaustive commentary by van Berchem. The benefactions
as usual took the shape of rents on buildings for the most
part, but some of them were in the form of lands. The deed
also gives a list of other settlements made by the same
Sultan both on his heirs and on other pious institutions.
This is the last building mentioned by the great Cairene
topographer, Makrizi, whose work was begun in the reign
of Muayyad, and finished in the fourth year of Barsbai.
Few cities in the world have been so exhaustively described
as Cairo is by this writer, who also composed a history of the
Mamluke dynasty up to his time, and a biographical dictionary
of persons who had lived in Egypt. His book on
Cairo has been the basis of all archaeological studies connected
with Moslem Egypt; and the French Archaeological
Mission has provided students with a translation of it.
In the cemetery to the east of Cairo the Sultan Barsbai
built himself a mausoleum and a hospice. The latter has disappeared;
the former exists, but has undergone some alterations.
In the ruins of the latter a lengthy inscription has been
discovered, detailing the revenues settled by the Sultan on
these institutions; it is rather remarkable that two of this
Sultan's foundations should contain such deeds which are
somewhat rare. The present deed contains provision for the
maintenance of certain other tombs besides the Sultan's;
among the buildings furnishing rentals are some shops at
Bab al-Luk. These inscriptions, Ali Pasha observes, by no
means had the effect contemplated by their author, which
was to render the settlements inalienable, and the foundations

regularly maintained; they were overtaken by decay,
as others were.
The last years of Barsbai were clouded by the decay of
the Sultan's mental faculties, leading him to reproduce the
part played of old by Hakim. He enacted that no woman
should appear in the streets at all; the layers-out of corpses
had to apply for a special badge from the magistrate before
they could discharge their duty. The animosity against dogs
that at one time seized the Prophet of Islam also found its way
into this Sultan's bosom; they were banished from Cairo to Gizeh,
and a reward offered to all who arrested one of these
animals. Wrongs done to women and dogs perhaps evoked
little resentment in the minds of the Egyptians; but the Sultan's
eccentricity also assumed a homicidal turn, and his
death was probably a relief to his subjects.
He left as successor a son fourteen years of age, who was
almost immediately displaced by a minister, Jakmak, originally
a freedman of the Sultan Barkuk, and sixty-seven
years of age when he usurped the throne. And, indeed, the
Palace revolutions which regularly followed on the death of
a Sultan in this period, succeeded in fairly often putting
into power a man of ripe experience, and free from the vices
associated often with heirs-apparent. The dethroned lad made
an attempt to escape from his honourable quarters in the Citadel;
he dressed himself as a kitchen boy, bore a tray on his head,
begrimed his face, and went out in the company of the cook, who
rated him in suitable style. But the unfortunate lad had no
plan in his head of the course to be pursued when he had
escaped, and so waited about in Cairo until he was retaken.
The early days of Jakmak were distinguished by a Servile
War, reminding the reader of his Roman history; five hundred
blacks fled from their masters, crossed to Gizeh, and
there set up a state and a Sultan of their own. This attempt
ended as the Roman Servile Wars ended; the slaves were

captured and sent off in dhows to the markets of the now
powerful Ottoman Empire.
The time of this Sultan was also marked by persecution
of Christians and Jews, involving the destruction of many
Christian churches. As the chronicles represent the matter,
this persecution was caused by the Sultan's desire to enforce
total abstinence; and, of course, the win trade was in the
hands of these two communities. If the Sultan heard of any
of his praetorians being intoxicated, he would banish him,
cut off his allowance and confiscate his property. A strict
search was made into all houses, and wherever any liquor was
found it was poured away.
Some monuments are left of Jakmak's reign. One is the
Mosque of the Emir Tangri Bardi, called also the Mosque
of Mu'dhi, in the Salibah Street. It consists, says Ali Pasha,
of two liwans with a covered court between them; this area
is illuminated by a skylight. A white cupola covers the tomb
of the founder, an Emir who held high office, but owing to
his surliness was known by the title, “the Public Nuisance,”
which the alternate name of the founder of the Mosque signifies.
His disagreeable conduct was finally the cause of his
death at the hands of his Mamlukes.
A more important personage of this reign was the Kadi
Yahya (the Arabic for John), whose mosque is by the Bridge
which takes the Mouski over what was once the Great Canal.
Its founder had the high office of Mayor of the Palace, and
underwent repeatedly exile and torture, finally dying of the
latter, when at the close of his long life he was drawn from
his retirement by the Sultan Kaietbai, and bastinadoed in
the hope that treasure might be extorted from him. Of his
mosque, Herz Bey observes that it is of the model belonging
to the latest period of the Circassian Mamlukes. Its dimensions
are small, its shape cruciform, the north and south liwans
are reduced, the minaret is at the point most in view,

the Mausoleum is at the south-east, and is surrounded by a
small school.
The name of Jakmak himself is commemorated by a
mosque in the Salibah region, and a school, of which only
the façade is preserved, in a street between the Mouski and
the Boulevard Mohammed Ali.
Jakmak tried to perpetuate his dynasty by a plan which
has often proved successful—abdicating in favour of his son,
who, being nineteen years of age, might reasonably have
been competent to reign. And, indeed, he commenced by
administering tortures to various Emirs from whom he hoped
to extort money, in a manner worthy of an older man. The
money was required for the usual largess demanded by the
praetorians on a new sovereign's accession; and little of it
being forthcoming, his minister of the works thought of the
by no means new expedient of debasing the coinage to make
a little go a longer way; a proceeding which so exasperated
those whom it was meant to cajole, that a new Sultan was
immediately elected, under whom the revolted praetorians
besieged the son of Jakmak in the Citadel, and ere long
starved him into surrender. Though at first imprisoned, the
dethroned Sultan lived not only to be released, but to return
to the Citadel, not, indeed, as monarch, but as the honoured
guest of one of his successors.
The succeeding Sultan Inal tried to secure the succession
to his son by appointing him, so soon as he was himself
sovereign, to high office in the State; but he had to retract
this step, which provoked jealousy. Since it was the custom
of each succeeding Sultan to imprison numerous suspects,
but to release many of those whom his predecessors had
incarcerated, possibly there were always many to whom the
continuity of a dynasty was undesirable, for some persons
are likely to have been interested in those who pined in
captivity. Yet it would be unsafe to draw any inferences from

ordinary communities to these regiments of freed slaves torn
violently from their homes in youth and spending their
whole lives as garrison amid an alien population. The
Janissaries would form the nearest parallel to them; but
then the Janissaries did not furnish the sovereign, nor
ordinarily the ministers.
This Sultan—whose reign lasted from 1453 to 1460, and
whose year of accession was noteworthy because in it Cairo
was decorated to celebrate the taking of Constantinople by
the Ottomans, who before another century had passed were
to be masters of Egypt also—like his predecessor
perpetuated his name by a school, mosque and monastery in the
cemetery that already contained some noble monuments of
the kind. The whole set of buildings is surrounded by a wall
which encloses various spaces, covered and uncovered. The
mausoleum was commenced by the founder when he was
still a minister only, two years before he ascended the throne,
and is said to be the only example of a monument begun
by a minister and ended by the same man as sovereign.
Some of his children appear to have been buried in it before
his accession, and steps were taken to alter the inscriptions
in order to make them accord with his regal titles. After he
had become Sultan, he decided on enlarging his former
scheme by the inclusion in it of a vast monastery or hospice,
the numerous cells of which, though deserted, count, says
van Berchem, among the most curious relics of Egyptian
Sufism. The historians record the festivities with which the
inauguration of the monastery was accompanied; and the
dedicatory inscription, without naming, makes an allusion
to Jamal al-din Yusuf, director of public works at this time,
who oversaw the building of this monument, and indeed is
said to have supplied the necessary funds. We have already
met with this personage, suggesting tampering with the coinage
as a financial expedient. At a later period he suggested,

and with some difficulty carried through, an expedient
of the contrary sort, the restoration of pure metal; a proceeding
which cost many persons the third of their fortunes, though
its beneficial results were speedily felt.
How many persons took advantage of the numerous hospices
for religious retirement we cannot say; besides those
which have met us as connected or identical with mosques,
there was a humbler sort called Takiyyeh or Ribat, and a
building of this sort, founded by Inal, still exists in Cairo,
though only three of those mentioned by Makrizi have left
any traces. Some of these institutions were for female ascetics,
the greater number for male. The Moslem notion of asceticism
or sainthood by no means excludes marriage; yet it is likely
that most of those who passed their lives in these retreats
were, when they entered, near the end of their worldly careers.
The account given of the Sultan Inal personally is more
than usually favourable. He shed no blood, except in judicial
executions, and he lived with one wife. On the other
hand, he was so ignorant that he had to sign public documents
with his mark, being unable to read or write.
An event occurred in this reign which illustrates the
relations between Sultan and Caliph. The solitary duty of
the latter was, as we have often seen, to give legitimacy to
the title of the former; and in the uncertainty as to the result,
when there was a variety of pretenders to the throne, the
Caliph's course was not easy to steer. The Caliph who had
invested Inal, having espoused his cause before his rival had
been defeated, considered himself afterwards insufficiently
rewarded and took up with another pretender. The pretender
was defeated, and Inal then demanded that the Caliph should
divest himself of his office. “I divest myself of the Caliphate,”
he then exclaimed, “and I also divest Inal of the Sultanate.”
This proceeding alarmed the audience, not seeing
an exit from the deadlock. A courtier easily found one.


Having divested himself first, he observed, the ex-Caliph
no longer had the power to divest anyone else. He ought to
have begun with the Sultan, if he had meant the act to be valid.
The sufferings of the civil population are said to have been
very great in this reign, notwithstanding the benevolence of
the Sultan. Where the sovereign's right was based entirely on
force, and had absolutely no root in the loyalty of the subjects
or their hereditary affection, it was his natural policy
to furnish himself with a bodyguard of which the members
solely looked to him; the freedmen of an earlier sovereign
could not be trusted, as such loyalty as they were capable
of feeling would have for its object, at least in part,
the heirs of their former master. The accession of each
usurper therefore either threw out of work, or left in dangerous
idleness, a great number of mercenaries who had no
affection for the Egyptian populace, while introducing a
fresh supply in the service of the new Sultan whom he could
not venture by violently repressive measures to offend. The
result was a succession of riots, in which shops were looted
and peaceful passengers robbed without any possibility of
obtaining redress.
The successor of Inal, his son Ahmad, who came to the
throne in 1460, his father having abdicated in his favour
some time before his own death, was a favourite of the
Egyptian people, and endeavoured to repress the evils
which have been stated. He apparently trusted too much to
the loyalty of his father's freedmen and slaves, who as soon
as they saw that he intended to govern for the good of his
subjects, turned against him. They sent to the Governor of
Damascus, offering him the Sultanate; but, in their impatience
to get rid of Ahmad, could not wait for his arrival,
and appointed the commander of the forces, Khushkadam,
as stopgap. Naturally the stopgap refused to make way for the
person whose deputy he was meant to be, and retained his place.

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The Last of the Circassian Mamlukes

KHUSHKADAM, the thirty-eighth Sultan of the
Mamluke dynasty, is said to have been in origin a
Greek slave, but the name which Arab writers use
for “Greek” does not give much information, since it is applied
to all residents in Asia Minor or Turkey in Asia, and
indeed the Ottoman Sultan is by Arabic authors of this
period called the King of the Greeks (Rum). His reign is
noteworthy for the commencement of the struggle between
the Ottoman and the Egyptian Sultanates, which finally
led to the incorporation of Egypt in the Ottoman Empire.
This began with a quarrel over the succession in the principality
of Karaman, where the two Sultans favoured rival
candidates, and the Ottoman Sultan Mohammed supported
his candidate with force of arms, obtaining as the price of
his assistance several towns in which the suzerainty of
the Egyptian Sultan had hitherto been acknowledged. Open
war did not, however, break out between the two states in
Khushkadam's time. His reign of six years is not otherwise
of consequence for the development of either Egypt or Cairo,
though he, as usual, built himself a mausoleum.
His death was followed by the accession successively of
two ephemeral usurpers, after whom there came another
great sovereign in the person of Kaietbai, who occupied the
throne for the lengthy period of twenty-seven years (1468-1495).
Much of his time was spent in struggles with Uzun
Hasan, Prince of Diyarbekr, and Shah Siwar, chief of the

Zulkadir Turcomans. He gave grave offence to the Ottoman
Sultan, Bayazid II, by entertaining his brother Jem, who
afterwards took refuge in Christian Europe, and was poisoned
by Pope Alexander VI. In the war which ensued the
troops of Kaietbai were successful, and after they had repeatedly
defeated the Ottomans, peace was made in 1491,
when the keys of the towns which the Ottomans had seized,
were handed back to the Egyptian Sultan.
Kaietbai was a builder on about as great a scale as the
Sultan Nasir, and extended his operations far beyond Cairo;
he erected edifices on a costly scale at Meccah and Medinah,
Jerusalem and elsewhere. The Citadel and the parts of
Cairo in its neighbourhood were, if we may believe the
chroniclers, practically rebuilt in a more magnificent style
than before by this Sultan, and he founded a whole series
of mosques in different parts of his capital, on the island
Raudah, in the Kabsh, and in the great cemetery which
already contained so many of these monuments. Apparently
the revenues of the country must have been wasted on these
costly schemes, and the State treasury was regularly during
his reign in an exhausted condition. The historians, however,
turn their attention to his piety rather than to his extravagance,
and surround his person with the romance attaching
to a saint. Before his accession to the Sultanate was ever
thought of, pious persons had the fact revealed to them.
When a plague was raging in Cairo, some one dreamed that
the Prophet's servant averted the destroying angel from
Kaietbai's person. He told Kaietbai of this vision, and the
future Sultan wisely bade him conceal it. Another person
saw in a dream a pomegranate tree with a single fruit upon
it, which Kaietbai hastened to pluck. He told Kaietbai that
this was a sure omen of his sovereignty, but was rebuked by
the future Sultan when he ventured to narrate the vision. In
a vision which the Sultan himself saw when he went on

pilgrimage he was informed by the Prophet that he was
one of the saved.
Many of the great monuments of Cairo underwent some
form of restoration by his care, such as the Mosque al-Azhar,
that of Sayyidah Nefisah, that of Amr Ibn al-As, the tomb of
al-Shafi'i, the Meidan of the Sultan Nasir and many more.
The chief architectural monument of his reign, which also
marks the highest point to which art was carried in the
days of the Circassian Mamlukes is his mosque in the cemetery
now called “The Tombs of the Caliphs.” “Everything
that is to be found separately in the other temples is united
in this with incomparable talent,” says Gayet. “The bold
gateway is surmounted by trefoil arch; to the left the facade
is pierced by the windows of a fountain [sebil] and a school.
Those of the fountain are closed with grilles of network, to
the right is an octagon minaret with a square base ornamented
with rosettes.The back wall of the sanctuary is pierced
by two double windows, separated by a rose window, also
in glass. This arrangement is reproduced in the sepulchral
hall. The octagonal dome of the latter is of incomparable
grace,” etc. The building embraces a school, a fountain, a
school for children, a mausoleum and as usual a hospice for
Sufis, though this last has disappeared. German travellers
visiting Cairo in 1483 were enthusiastic over the beauty of
this mosque which had then been completed nine years.
These travellers-whose accounts are reprinted by M. van
Berchem-were greatly struck by the noise made by the
Mohammedan “priests,” i.e., Mueddins and Dervishes,
lodged in the hospice provided for their use. The uncomplimentary
epithet “dogs” was applied by these devotees
to their European visitors.
The plan of the school (madrasah) was that of the latest
period, in which, as has been seen, the two lateral liwans
are increased, and the others diminished in size. Together

with the alteration in the structure of the schools or mosques
comes the gradual displacement of brick by stone. The employment
of the latter material in Egypt was a natural relic
of the traditions of the Abbasid Caliphate, since the Babylon
of that monarchy, no less than that of its predecessor,
was an a figulis munita urbs. The architects towards the
beginning of the fifteenth century succeeded in building
stone cupolas over tombs, but for arches which had to support
great weights they found stone difficult to work, and
soon took to covering the liwans with wooden ceilings in
preference to arched roofs.
The deed of foundation is given at length by Ali Pasha,
and apparently exceeds in munificence all preceding foundations,
lavish as many of these had been. The leader of
prayer was to have five hundred dirhems a month, and three
loaves a day; there were to be nine well-paid mueddins,
“scholarships” for two orphan schools, one of twenty and
the other of thirty children; five hundred dirhems a day
for each of forty Sufis with their head, and special benefactions
for special occasions. The mere enumeration of buildings
settled on this fourfold institution is lengthy.
A building less religious in character also belonging to
the epoch of Kaietbai is the Bait al-Kadi, occupying part
of the site of the old Eastern Palace of the Fatimides. This
house was a portion of the Palace of the Emir Mamai, which
he appears to have repaired rather than to have built. The
late Mr H. C. Kay, who did not a little for the exploration
of Cairo, discovered some forty yards west of the law court
which is usually identified with the Palace, a ruined saloon,
with liwans separated from the central portion by lofty
arches of solid masonry. The base of the arches contained
an inscription which identified this saloon as part of Mamai's
Palace. In Mr Kay's time it was occupied as a corn
mill, with stabling for the cattle that worked the mill. This

Mamai played an important part in the history of his time,
and was repeatedly employed as ambassador from the
Egyptian Sultan to the Ottoman Porte. The loggia is remarkable
for its size.
Another Palace, of which some remains are to be found,
is that of the Emir Yashbak, behind the mosque of the Sultan
Hasan, constituting one of the latest specimens of the
civil architecture of the Mamlukes. It comprehends a rez-de-chaussée
vaulted with a saloon (ka'ah) of gigantic dimensions.
Three buildings bearing the title Wakalah (often pronounced
Ukalah) were erected by Kaietbai inside Cairo.
This form of edifice is similar to what is called a khan in
Syria; it means a magazine in which strange merchants can
deposit their wares. One of those founded by this Sultan
was in the Rue Surujiyyah, and was condemned by the
Committee, who, however, took care that any objects left
there of artistic or archaeological interest should be carefully
removed and preserved. Of the two others, opposite
al-Azhar and near the Bab al-Nasr respectively, the
façades are preserved. The Wakalah in the neighbourhood
of the Nasr Gate had three façades—that which faces the
street shows an alternate series of mashrabiyyahs and
grilles, the first floor overlapping the ground floor.
Various other buildings of interest date from the time of
the Sultan Kaietbai. One of these is the School or Mosque
of Muzhir, in the lane leading from the street Between the
Two Walls to the Khurunfush. Of its two gates one is ornamented
with bronze, the other with inlaid ivory work in
geometrical patterns. The two larger liwans have pillars of
marble, and the whole is paved with marbles of various
colours also arranged in geometrical designs. The woodwork
of this mosque is also highly admired. The whole is
said to be still much as its founder left it, except for certain

slight improvements and repairs executed at various times.
Muzhir, or rather Ibn Muzhir, was private secretary to the
Sultan Kaietbai, and as such had to represent him on certain
occasions. On one that is recorded by the chronicler he
was sent by the Sultan to a council that had been summoned
of the ecclesiastical authorities, to decide whether
for the defence of the State it was desirable to seize the revenues
of the religious foundations, leaving them just enough
to maintain them in working order. The Shaikhs naturally
made the same reply as the privileged orders when their
taxation was suggested at the commencement of the French
Revolution; such an act was against the divine law, and the
Shaiks, if they countenanced it, would have to answer for
their impiety on the Day of Judgement; it was of no use
summoning them to a council, if such a proposition were put
before them to discuss.
The Sultan Kaietbai made himself famous for the economy
of his regime, and the expedients which he invented for saving
the revenues of the State—in order to squander them on his
buildings—one of these might have been borrowed from the
Odyssey of Homer, if we could imagine that this Sultan had
access to that poem. Persons enjoying military pay were
summoned to the Sultan's presence and invited to draw a
tough bow; if they failed, they were disqualified and their
pay withdrawn. The task of distributing it was undertaken
by the Sultan personally, who sat on definite days for the
purpose. In spite of this economy the fortunes which the
Emirs managed to accumulate show that further supervision
would have been desirable.
The Mosque often known as that of the Shaikh Abu
Haribah (after a saint buried in it) in the Ahmar Street, belongs
to the time of Kaietbai, and was built by an Emir of
his named Kachmas (Turkish for “flees not”). This person,
who held a variety of important posts, signalized himself

by building outside Alexandria a refuge for travellers who
arrived after the closing of the gates of the city, when they
were exposed to the attacks of marauders. He also founded
a number of religious institutions in the various cities in
which he held office, chiefly hospices for Sufis. The Shaikh
Abu Haribah is a modern celebrity who died in the year
1851. Born in Upper Egypt, he studied various forms of Sufism,
until he was ready to start a system of his own; he
came to Cairo and took a situation as clerk in a Christian
bakehouse, where he proselytized and made as many as sixty
converts to Islam. His teaching was greatly sought after,
and his fame attracted the attention of the rulers of Egypt;
Mohammed Ali sent him a present of £ Eg.500, and Abbas
Pasha offered him a gift of land, but both presents were declined.
His disciples have erected an ivory monument to him
in the Mosque.
The part of Cairo called Ezbekiyyeh, familiar to all European
visitors, dates from the reign of Kaietbai. According
to the chronicler it was during the Fatimide period partly
sand-heaps and partly morass; at some time it was drained
by a canal called the Male Canal, which was blocked when
the Sultan Nasir had his Nasiri Canal dug. The buildings
which had sprung up in consequence of the land being
drained now fell into ruin, and the region became a haunt
of evil doers. By private enterprise a bath was presently
built in the region, to which water was conveyed by an
aqueduct from the Nasiri Canal; the same water was also
used for agricultural purposes and cereals grown in fields.
In the year 1470, near the beginning of Kaietbai's reign, the
Emir Ezbek decided to build here some stalls for his camels,
and afterwards residential quarters. He proceeded to have
the rubbish-heaps that were there removed, to have the land
levelled, and to excavate a pond, into which water was
introduced from the Nasiri Canal. The pond was surrounded

by a stone embankment. Owing to the great liking of the
Egyptian residents for views over water, the region speedily
became fashionable, and handsome residences were erected
all round the new pool. By the end of Kaietbai's reign the
Ezbekiyyeh, as the quarter was called after its founder, had
become “a city for itself,” and the same Emir proceeded
to build a mosque in splendid style for the religious needs
of his “new city,” with baths, stores, mills and bakehouses
for its temporary wants. The day in the year on which water
was let into the pool became one of public rejoicing, and the
occasion would be celebrated by the lighting of a bonfire of
unheard-of magnitude.
At the time of the French occupation the bed of the pond
was according to M. Rhoné's estimate about three times the
area of the Place de la Concorde, or equal to the interior of
the Champ de Mars. When the inundation of the Nile filled
it with water, the surrounding buildings had the aspect of
Venetian palaces, whereas in winter the area was covered
with green vegetation. The pond was drained by Mohammed
Ali, and his successor Ibrahim Pasha had the recovered
land covered with fine trees. These were cut down by Isma'il
Pasha, who “abandoned the place to the horrors of speculation,”
and instituted the public park which now occupies
the middle of the quarter. The statue of Ibrahim Pasha
which originally stood on a mound was transferred to its
present site, and the Mosque of Ezbek demolished to make
room for its pedestal. The modern buildings in this region
date from the reign of Isma'il or his successors.
The Emir Ezbek is celebrated for much besides the Ezbe-kiyyeh.
Originally a slave of the Sultan Barsbai, he was
purchased and manumitted by Jakmak, who gave him successively
two of his daughters. He was promoted to high office
at the Egyptian court, and for a time held a governorship
in Syria, whence he returned to Egypt to be commander of

the forces, under Kaietbai; it was this office which under
the Circassian regime often trained a man to be Sultan. He
led expeditions against the Bedouins and Turcomans,
helped to defeat the Ottomans, and in the absence of Kaietbai
from Cairo was left in charge of affairs. According to a
custom illustrated in English history by the practice of
Queen Elizabeth he was in the habit of defraying out of his
own purse the cost of the expeditions which he commanded.
Like many eminent men's careers his was not unclouded;
he was banished four times in the course of it and imprisoned
in Alexandria twice. When he died, owing to a dispute
between his heirs, his estate was seized by the Sultan, and
was discovered to include 700,000 dinars in coin, besides
goods corresponding in value; indeed, the chroniclers add,
had it not been for what he spent in the public service, and
what he had laid out on the Ezbekiyyeh, his wealth would
have defied calculation. He is credited with great personal
ability, but otherwise with few good qualities; he had a
sharp tongue and an arrogant manner; he was implacable
if once offended, and if ever he imprisoned anyone, would
never permit a release.
A Mosque erected by another Emir Ezbek still exists in
the Birket al-Fil (Elephant's Pool) region. It is of the late
style, in which the two main liwans are enlarged to the detriment
of the two lateral cloisters. It contains the tomb of
a stepson of the founder, Sidi Faraj, son of a governor of
Damascus whose widow became the wife of Ezbek. This
lady, called the Princess Bunukh, is buried close by.
The architectural and engineering works ordered by the
Sultan Kaietbai were more varied in character than most of
those of his predecessors. Ezbek—of the Ezbekiyyeh—was
employed by him to restore certain bridges over the canals
which came between the Pyramids and Gizeh, and which
when Saladdin ordered his great plan of fortification, had


formed part of a road whereby material was to be taken
from the pyramids and brought to the Nile. These bridges
were seen and their inscriptions copied in the eighteenth
century; but in the nineteenth century the bridges disappeared,
and with them their inscriptions. One of these inscriptions
spoke of ten arches, of which the original construction
went back to a period anterior to Islam. This was
probably an exaggeration, though perhaps intended in good
Ezbek's last triumph was in the year 1491, when he
brought his troops home from Asia Minor, after having inflicted
a severe defeat on the Ottoman forces, stormed some
fortresses, and taken many captives. He returned, indeed,
without having received leave from his chief, owing to the
insubordination of his troops, who demanded more and more
pay; but Cairo was adorned to welcome the victors, and
Kaietbai made peace with the Ottomans on the earliest opportunity.
The want of money in Egypt had by this time
reached its height, and not all the expedients which the
Sultan and his ministers could devise produced a sufficient
supply. The revenues of all religious foundations were sequestrated
for seven months, a measure extended to Syria as
well as Egypt, and ruthlessly executed. Another plan
adopted by the Sultan was to endow research in the shape
of alchemy, various persons professing to turn base metal
into gold, if money were provided to pay for experiments.
When these experiments proved unsuccessful, the Sultan
avenged himself by depriving the unfortunate alchemists
of their eyes and tongues. The great Nur al-din in Saladdin's
time had allowed himself to be cajoled by a man of this
craft, who offered to utilize his art for the Sultan's benefit
on condition that the gold so produced should only be employed
for the sacred war. The charlatan melted down a
thousand dinars, to give the Sultan the satisfaction of seeing,

as he thought, a gold ingot produced out of base metal;
and the Sultan, when he had seen it, liberally equipped the
adventurer to go in search of a large supply of the chemicals
that he required for his experiments, of which, naturally,
sufficient was not to be had in Damascus. One of the Sultan's
subjects then made out a class-list of fools, placing the
Sultan at the head; he offered if the alchemist ever returned
to erase the Sultan's name from this post of honour, and
give it to the former, but never had occasion to alter his list.
Kaietbai had one son, Mohammed, whose mother after
his death married one of his ephemeral successors, Jan-balat,
and experienced various vicissitudes of fortune in the troublous
times which Egypt passed through in the early tenth
century of the Mohammedan era, but has left a monument
of herself in a mosque at Fayyum. This princess was the
wife of two Sultans, the mother of a third, and the sister of
a fourth; for the first of the two Kansuhs who mounted the
throne during these troubles owed his promotion to the discovery
that he was the brother of Kaietbai's Queen. The
Sultan Kaietbai had built a palace for his son, in order to
gratify his taste for building; and in consequence of a palace
intrigue which he was unable to quell he was induced to
allow the prince to be proclaimed Sultan the day before his
own death (Aug. 7, 1496), though, being only fourteen years
of age, he would be unable to govern himself, but would be
a puppet in the hands of the Commander of the forces. The
expedient of securing the succession by appointing the new
Sultan during his father's lifetime had been already tried
under more favourable circumstances, and had failed. It
succeeded no better now; for four years the supreme power
passed into the hands of a series of adventurers: and not till
1501 was there seated on it a monarch possessing the capacity
to maintain himself.
Kansuh al-Ghuri is the last great monarch of the Circassian


dynasty, and indeed of Independent Egypt. His name
is perpetuated by the Mosque al-Ghuri, in the neighbourhood
of the Citadel, and by another in the Street called after it
Ghuriyyah, not far from the Ashrafiyyah Mosque. There are
two large and two small liwans (as usual at this period), and
no columns. The pulpit, which is much admired, is said to
have a talisman to keep off flies which is, according to Ali
Pasha, found to be quite effective. The minaret commands
a fine view; and the mosque, which was intended to be a
school, had the usual adjuncts of an hospice, a fountain, and
a school for children. The cupola was supposed to have been
built to hold the Koran of the Caliph Othman of which the
binding, as might well be imagined, was by this time sorely
in need of repair; the Sultan had it freshly bound, placed
in a wooden case, and stored under the Cupola specially
built to receive it. A deed of benefactions rivalling that of
Kaietbai's foundation is given by our guide in connexion
with this mosque; the writer of the deed was to have a pension
of thirty dirhems a month and three loaves a day for the
rest of his life.
The story of Kansuh al-Ghuri's accession shows that the
state of Egypt was generally unhealthy, and its easy conquest
by a foreign power to be expected; for he was selected
by the mutinous praetorians on the remarkable ground that
being a man of little wealth and little influence, he could
easily be deposed; and indeed he stipulated that if they
chose to depose him, his life was to be guaranteed. Once in
power he endeavoured by a variety of artifices to isolate the
Emirs who were in control of affairs, and where more gentle
means were unavailing, to employ poison. His reign was
remarkable for a naval conflict between the Egyptians and
Portuguese, whose fleet interfered with the trade between
India and Egypt; Kansuh caused a fleet to be built which
fought naval battles with the Portuguese with varying result.

In 1515 there began the war with the Ottoman Sultan
Selim, which led to the close of the Mamluke period, and
the incorporation of Egypt with its dependencies in the
Ottoman Empire. Kansuh was charged by Selim with
giving the right of way through Syria to the envoys of the
Safawid Isma'il, whose destination was Venice, where they
hoped to form a confederacy of west and east against the
Turks. The actual declaration of war was not made by Selim
till May 1515, when all his preparations had been made; at
the Battle of Marj Dabik, Aug. 24, 1516, Kansuh was defeated
by the Ottoman forces, and fell fighting. His body
was left on the battlefield and never was interred in his
mausoleum. His successor Tumanbai made a brave but useless
resistance to the Ottomans, who now invaded Egypt.
The Mamluke rule had at no time been identified with
any national cause in Egypt, though the victories of the
first dynasty over the Crusaders had won for it the respect
of the Moslems. The chroniclers do not wish us to suppose
that the defeat of the Mamluke by the Ottoman Sultan was
regarded as a national misfortune; indeed they suggest that
the extortion and injustice which the last of the Mamlukes had
organized, or at least countenanced, rendered the prospect
of a change almost desirable. As has been seen, the Egyptians
cared not at all to which of the two powers they paid
their taxes, their only anxiety was not to pay them twice.
In his history of the Egyptian Revolution, Mr A. A. Paton
produced a description of the court of Kansuh al-Ghuri given
by a Venetian ambassador, who visited it in the year 1503.
The Sultan had then been seated on the throne three years;
“On reaching the foot of the castle they dismounted and
ascended a staircase of about fifty steps, at the top of which
they found a large iron door open, and within seated, the
warder, dressed in white, with a muslin turban. On either
side of him were perhaps 300 Mamlukes dressed in white,

with long caps on their heads, half black and half green;
they were ranged all in line, so silent and respectful that
they looked like observant Franciscan friars. After entering
this door they passed eleven other iron doors, between each
of which there was a guard of eunuchs, black and white,
three or four for each door, and all of them seated with an
air of marvellous pride and dignity. At each door upwards
of one hundred Mamlukes stood respectful and silent. After
passing the twelfth door, the ambassador and his suite were
tired out, and had to sit down to rest themselves, the distance
they had traversed being nearly a mile. They then
entered the area or courtyard of the castle, which they
judged to be six times the area of St Mark's Square. On
either side of this space 6,000 Mamlukes dressed in white
and with green and black caps were drawn up; at the end
of the court was a silken tent with a raised platform, covered
with a carpet, on which was seated Sultan Kansuh al-Ghuri,
his undergarment being white surmounted with dark green
cloth, and the muslin turban on his head with three points
or horns, and by his side was the naked scimitar.” The
Ambassador observed of Cairo itself, “In the first place it
is so peopled that one cannot judge of the amount of its
population, and one can scarcely make way through the
streets; there are very large mosques in great number, very
excellent houses and palaces, handsomer within than without,
and the streets are straight and wide (straight they
certainly were, but their width must have been judged by a
Venetian standard) living is dear; there is much populace
and a few men of account. The Mamlukes are in fact the

[Back to top]


The Turkish Period

THE Ottoman army, though they had circumvented
Tumanbai, did not take the metropolis without a
severe struggle, in which large parts of Cairo underwent
serious damage. For four days the inhabitants maintained
the unequal conflict, and contested with the Ottomans every
inch of ground; 10,000 of them are said in that period to
have lost their lives. A rigid search was then made by the
conquerors for such of the Mamlukes as were concealed in
the houses, and as many as were taken were killed. For
eight months the Sultan Selim remained in Egypt, arranging
the future government of the country; when he left for
Constantinople he took away with him numerous artisans
and various persons of importance, and, most important of
all, the Caliph who had accompanied the unfortunate Sultan
Ghuri on his last expedition. By a satisfactory arrangement
the Caliph was induced to resign his rights as spiritual chief
of the Moslems to the Ottoman Sultan; and those who hold
that such transference was within the rights of the last of
the Abbasids recognize the Sultan of Turkey as the Successor
of the Prophet.
The taking of Egypt by the Ottomans, however, deprived
Cairo of its status as an imperial city, and, as has been seen,
one of the first acts of the new ruler was to transfer to his
own capital some of the beautiful marbles which had adorned
the Citadel, where it was not now desirable that the Governor's
Palace should be too luxurious. With the vast numbers
of religious and philanthropic institutions in Cairo it was
not his intention to tamper.


The administration of the new province of the Ottoman
Empire had for its aim the suppression of any forces that
might make for independence. Three powers were, therefore,
created, whose mutual jealousies might serve as a safeguard
to the sovereign state. These powers were the Pasha, or
governor, sent from Constantinople, and often recalled after
a few years, or even months: an army of occupation divided
into six regiments under a commander who was to reside
in the Citadel, and leave it under no pretext whatever, while
to each regiment six officers with different duties were assigned.
These officers together formed the governor's council,
and had the right to veto his orders. The third power
was the Mamlukes, who provided the Beys or heads of the
twelve provinces or Sanjaks into which Egypt was divided.
The Sultan who succeeded Selim, Sulaiman, and who reigned
forty-two years, further created two Chambers, called respectively
the Greater and the Lesser Diwan; of these the
former sat on important occasions, the latter daily. The
members of the former were partly military, partly ecclesiastical
officials, while the religious officers of Islam were
not represented on the latter. The control of both extended
to various departments of internal administration. This
Sultan also added a seventh regiment to the existing six,
in which the Mamluke freedmen were enrolled. The total
numbers of the army of occupation thus came to about
20,000. Besides the title Pasha which the Turkish conquest
introduced into Egypt there are a variety of others that
meet us first from this time. Such is Agha, the name for the
commander of the forces, or of the separate regiments;
Ketkhuda or Kehya, the Pasha's deputy, used also as the
title of an official attached to each regiment: Bey and Efendi;
most of these had at the first special applications, which in
the course of time they lost, degrading into a mere hierarchy
of titles.


The first governor appointed in Egypt by the Ottoman
Sultan was Khair Bey, the man who is supposed to have
betrayed the cause of his master Ghuri, who when he reached
Syria in his campaign against the Ottomans was repeatedly
warned against this lieutenant, but was afraid of causing
open division in his force if he showed his suspicions openly.
Having to command one of the divisions of the Egyptian
Army in the battle of Marj Dabik, he is supposed to have,
by preconcerted arrangement with the enemy, made his men
leave the field, a proceeding which, of course, led to a general
rout. His government lasted rather more than five years, and
owing to his unpopularity with his Moslem subjects, he espoused
the cause of the Jews and Christians. He is celebrated for a
deathbed repentance. When he despaired of life, he liberated
all except criminals who were pining in the dungeons of
Cairo, and caused quantities both of goods and coin to be
distributed among the indigent and those who were dependent
on the religious institutions of the capital. His mosque
is close to that of Ibrahim Agha in the quarter called after
him Kharbakiyyeh, and it is there that he lies.
His successor Mustafa, the Sultan Selim's son-in-law,
was the first of the governors of Egypt who had the title
Pasha (pronounced in Egypt Basha). The contemporary
historian gives a rather humorous account of his arrival,
and receiving deputations lying on his back, and through
his ignorance of the national language looking as though
he were made of wood.
The need for provision against attempts on the part of
governors to render themselves independent of the Porte
was shown very soon after the conquest; the third of the
governors sent, Ahmad Pasha, made such an endeavour,
and went so far as to assume the insignia of sovereignty in
the East, having his name mentioned in public prayers,
and having coins struck in his name—and indeed the right


to an independent coinage had been left to Egypt by the
Ottoman conqueror. The safeguards which had been devised
were found to work effectually; two emirs whom Ahmad
had imprisoned broke from their confinement, and attacked
the ambitious Pasha in his bath. Though he escaped their
onslaught and got away, he was presently captured, and
his head, after being suspended on Bab Zuwailah, was sent
to Constantinople.
The history of Egypt during the first century of Ottoman
rule has little interest even for Egyptians. It consists of a
series of governors, sometimes no sooner appointed than recalled,
of whom a few built schools or mosques in the style
of the old Mamluke Sultans, while most spent their time, as
might be expected, in profiting as well as they could by their
opportunity of acquiring wealth. Of governors who perpetuated
their names by monuments we may especially mention
Sinan Pasha, who governed from 1567 to 1571, with an
interval, and Masih Pasha, governor from 1575 to 1580.
The name of Sinan Pasha is otherwise famous in Turkish
history for his wars in North Africa. He founded a mosque
with its ordinary accompaniments in Boulak, and the deed
of settlement contains the elaborate provisions for its maintenance
to which we are accustomed. The control of the
funds was to lapse after his death to the Shaikh of Islam or
highest ecclesiastical authority in Constantinople, who was
to appoint a suitable agent in Egypt.
Masih Pasha left a monument in the Masihi Mosque in
the street called after his name, east of the Bab al-Karafah.
It is called after Nur al-din al-Karafi, a learned man of the
time, for whose devotions and perhaps lectures it was built,
and in it he, and perhaps the founder, have their last resting
place. Masih Pasha is commended by the chroniclers
for having restored peace to Cairo with security for life and
property, and for having ordered all his rescripts to be

prefaced with some pious sentiments out of the Koran. His
methods of restoring order were apparently drastic in the
extreme, as they are said to have involved the execution of
some 10,000 persons.
For various reasons the Ottoman Pasha exhibited the
tendency which the nominal head of the state or province so
often displayed in the East, that of ceasing to be virtually at
the head of affairs. The character of the army of occupation
enabled it to dispose of the Pasha as it wished, and get rid
of him by violence if his measures were displeasing to it.
When the Pasha took the part of the people of Egypt, and
wished to relieve them of onerous exactions by which the
army profited, he had the army against him. One of these
Pashas had to face an organized revolt, of which the leaders
had even chosen a sovereign to supersede him. With the
aid of some troops that remained faithful, and the guns at
his disposal he succeeded in quelling it. Large numbers of
the disaffected were then banished to Yemen, while some
seventy were executed. And in the troubles over the succession
at Constantinople, which followed on the decease of
the Sultan Ahmad I, the Egyptian forces could defy the
Porte and choose their own governor in opposition to the
sovereign's views. This governor, Mustafa Pasha, used the
opportunity of a terrible pestilence which devastated the
country in 1625 to declare himself heir to all property left
by its victims. The feeling which he roused against himself
by this proceeding led to his downfall, and the Porte had no
difficulty in recalling him. His successor compelled him to
disgorge his plunder, and he himself was executed in Constantinople.
The process by which there came to be substituted for the
influence of the Pasha that of the chief of the Mamlukes,
called Shaikh al-Balad (something like Mayor of the City),
is not easy to follow. It would seem that the perpetual

changes at headquarters and the disputes between the
governor and the army left a bureaucracy the chance of
gaining or regaining power, by the possession of hereditary
acquaintance with the affairs of the country which the strangers
sent from Constantinople did not possess, and also by
the bureaucrats being identified in their interests with a
permanent part of the population. What is clear is that
the practice of Mamluke times, the acquisition by wealthy
persons of Circassian, Turkish and other slaves, whom they
trained in arms and whom they could promote to places of
wealth, did not cease with the Turkish occupation, and that
the Mamlukes remained a power in the country through the
whole of this period. By the end of the seventeenth century
the Shaikh al-Balad becomes an official of first-class importance.
When a governor was sent from Constantinople,
the Shaikh and his associates would despatch a deputation
to Alexandria to inquire into his intentions. If they found
him likely to be a peaceful nonentity, they would condescend
to give him an official welcome, whereas if he seemed
likely to assert himself they would bid him remain where
he was, while sending word to Constantinople that the
governor appointed was unfit for the post and that his
arrival would be injurious to the welfare of the community.
The army of occupation appears to have been permanently
quartered in the capital and so to have gradually transferred
its allegiance to the permanent Emirs.
By the early eighteenth century the Mamlukes are themselves
divided into factions, named respectively the Kasimites
and Fijarites, whose origin is mysterious, but may go
back to the time of the conqueror Selim, or be much later.
Nothing appears to be heard of the rivalry between
these factions till the year 1707, when Hasan Pasha, one of the
ephemeral governors, set himself to create bad blood between
the two with so much success that a battle was fought

lasting eighty days. The Mamlukes had, it is said, the consideration
to go outside Cairo and carry on the fight in the
daytime, without interfering with the business of the inhabitants;
at night they, or such of them as survived the
fray, went home and reposed like ordinary citizens. In this
prolonged battle, the Shaikh al-Balad Kasim Iywaz perished.
He was succeeded in his municipal office by his son Isma'il
Bey, who was fortunate enough to be able to reconcile the
contending parties for the time. How much more influential
the Shaikh al-Balad was now than the governor is shown
by a story in which Isma'il compels the latter to restore a
quantity of coffee which was in the possession of a man whose
execution had been ordered from Constantinople. He held
the office sixteen years, when his end was brought on by a
concession to one of his faction, the Kasimites, who desired
to seize an estate belonging to a Fikarite. The Fikarite
complained to the Pasha, who could only suggest to him
that he had best get an assassin to put an end to Isma'il.
This suggestion was successfully executed, and the confusion
which arose gave the Pasha opportunity to organize a
general massacre of Isma'il's followers and to assign his
place to the head of a rival faction named Shirkas Bey.
It illustrates the condition of Egypt at this time that the
assassin, on whom the wealth of his victim had been bestowed
as a reward, was in a position to purchase and train a force
of Mamlukes, with whose aid he was able to eject Shirkas
Bey, the Shaikh al-Balad, and install himself in the vacant
place, when he proceeded to execute numerous Beys, with
the idea of founding a tyranny. The expelled Shirkas Bey
was repeatedly invited by the discontented to unseat the
usurper, but failed and was finally defeated and drowned;
while the assassin (named Dhu'l-Fikar) himself presently
fell a victim to an onslaught similar to that which had been
the foundation of his fortunes. His lieutenant, Othman Bey,


avenged his death by numerous executions, and succeeded
in obtaining the place of Shaikh al-Balad, though one of
his rivals attempted the familiar stratagem of preparing a
banquet which was to be followed by the massacre of
Othman and his party, who had been invited to it; Othman
had, however, taken precautions, and his rival fled to Constantinople
after seeing his helpers’ heads lying severed
outside the Hasanain Mosque.
Othman Bey is the hero of various stories showing that
he left on the people of Cairo a favourable impression of his
justice and courage. The former quality is illustrated by an
anecdote recorded by Zaidan. A donkey-boy (the word “boy”
in this context implies nothing as to age) found in his house
some treasure, which he put in his wife's charge, telling her
to conceal the find, lest the government should claim it as
treasure trove. This she consented to do; but when her husband
refused to buy her some ornaments with the wealth
now at his disposal, she betrayed the discovery to Othman
Bey. The donkey-boy was summoned before the Shaikh al-Balad,
who to his surprise bade him retain the treasure, but
divorce his wife.
A fresh couple of names that meet us in Egyptian politics
of this period is that of the Kazdoglu and the Julfi Mamlukes.
The founder of the first faction was a saddler by profession;
the eponymous hero of the latter was a porter, who became
possessed of a secret hoard. The heads of these factions, named
Ibrahim and Ridwan respectively, formed in Othman Bey's
time a close alliance, and by their united wealth won such influence
that they were in a position to challenge Othman
Bey's supremacy. The latter endeavoured to form a counter-alliance
of influential Beys, who advised the assassination
of Ibrahim, at that time Ketkhuda of the Janissary regiment.
The plot was betrayed by an official in the household of
Othman Bey, who, fearing reprisals, fled to Syria, leaving

Cairo clear to the hostile factions. The leaders of these,
having possessed themselves of Othman's house and effects,
proceeded to organize a massacre of his supporters. These
were lured into the Citadel, the gates closed on them, and
firing upon them ordered. The Pasha's consent had been
obtained for this proceeding, which he would probably have
been unable to prevent. When it was over, the government
remained in the hands of Ibrahim Bey and Isma'il Bey, who
agreed to take the offices of Shaikh al-Balad and Leader of
the Pilgrim Caravan, and hold them in alternate years; a
curious form of dual sovereignty which was successfully
imitated at a later period. The former, who was the more
energetic of the two, immediately set about recouping himself
for the money expended in the attainment of his ambition,
by a series of violent extortions, practised on all in
Cairo who were supposed to be possessed of means. An
attempt was made to overthrow the two Consuls by one of
the ephemeral Pashas. Ibrahim's absence on pilgrimage
offered a good opportunity for devising a plot, and in fact
after Ibrahim's return he and his colleague were actually
seized and imprisoned. Their supporters, however, came to
the rescue, broke open their prison, and drove the refractory
Pasha back to Constantinople.
The new Pasha came with instructions to gain the confidence
of the Beys, with a view to getting them at some
time into his power, and restoring the effective control of
the Porte by a massacre. But Ibrahim Bey was wary, and
though the coup was not attempted till the new governor
had been in office two years, it only partially succeeded;
Ibrahim Bey himself escaped, and only three of his adherents
were killed. The Shaikh al-Balad thereupon took it upon
himself to depose the Governor, and sent to Constantinople
requesting that he be replaced. Into one of the vacant Beyships
he promoted Ali, known as Ali Bey the Great, destined

to play somewhat an important part in the history of Egypt;
he was a freedman of Ibrahim, who had won his esteem by
fighting and defeating a gang of brigands who attacked the
Pilgrim Caravan. It will be remembered that Ahmad Ibn
Tulun won his spurs by a not very dissimilar exploit.
The promotion of Ali Bey evoked the jealousy of another
follower of Ibrahim Bey, called Ibrahim the Circassian, who
presently gave vent to his resentment by murdering his
master; whose office fell to his colleague Ridwan, who had
maintained friendly relations with Ibrahim Bey all along.
But another follower of Ibrahim Bey who himself aspired to
the headship was able to direct the guns of the Citadel at
the palace of Ridwan overlooking the Elephant's Pool, and
in the course of the bombardment to inflict a wound on
Ridwan himself of which he shortly after died. His murderer,
however, soon succumbed to the resentment of Ridwan's
friends, and a certain Khalil Bey became Shaikh al-Balad.
For eight years Ali Bey kept pursuing the plan by which
the sovereignty of Egypt had been so often acquired, that of
purchasing slaves and training them as a bodyguard, while
doing his utmost to conciliate the other Beys. Finally his
proceedings aroused the suspicions of the Shaikh al-Balad,
who endeavoured to get rid of him by an open assault. Ali
Bey's bodyguard defended their master, but were defeated
and compelled to flee to Upper Egypt; his office and those
of his adherents were declared forfeited, and many persons
known to belong to his party executed. In Upper Egypt Ali
Bey found other malcontents, who, joining his bodyguard,
made up an army large enough to warrant an attack on
Cairo, which he did not hesitate to execute. In a series of
successful engagements Ali Bey drove his rival northwards,
and finally obtained possession of his person. Khalil Bey
was first banished, and then executed. Ali Bey remained
supreme in Egypt, and in 1763 was installed Shaikh al-Balad.


Shortly after his appointment he ordered the execution of
the murderer of his former master Ibrahim Bey, an act which
was so ill received by the other Beys that Ali Bey had to
flee from Egypt to Jerusalem and then Acre. At the latter
place he succeeded in winning the favour and affection of
the commander of the garrison, who obtained from Constantinople
confirmation of his appointment as Shaikh al-Balad
at Cairo, whither he proceeded to return.
Ali Bey appears to have possessed the qualities which
appertained to most of the great founders of dynasties in
in Egypt—astuteness, courage and ruthlessness. Jazzar, who
as governor of Acre acquired a European reputation for the
last of these qualities, began his career as one of his lieutenants,
sent out by him to quell a rebellion in the southern
provinces of Egypt. Ali elevated eighteen persons to the rank
of Bey, hoping thereby to provide himself with faithful and
powerful supporters, since each of them commanded some
sort of force. These were, as usual, Circassians or Georgians.
His ultimate aim was to render Egypt independent of the
Sublime Porte, being herein as in much else the precursor
of Mohammed Ali. With this view he endeavoured to oust
on one pretext or another all the nominees of the Porte from
their places in the Egyptian army, and to fill the vacancies
with creatures of his own. A much more momentous step,
and one which must surely have been attempted before, was
to monopolize the right to purchase and train Mamlukes, and
so to prevent possible rivals arising in Cairo itself.
When in 1768 war broke out between Turkey and Russia
Egypt was ordered to provide 12,000 men for the Porte. Ali Bey
began to draft them, but it was uncertain whether he intended
them to aid the Sultan or the Czar. Every provincial
governor from the commencement of the Caliphate had found
it necessary to maintain spies at the metropolis, and those
kept by Ali Bey at Constantinople informed him on this

occasion that despatches were being sent to the Pasha at
Cairo to put Ali Bey to death. The Shaikh al-Balad was
ready for the emergency; he had the envoys waylaid and
killed, and their bodies buried in the sand, while he himself
secured the despatches, of which he published an account
suitable to his purpose. He averred that what was ordered
from Constantinople was a general massacre of the Mamlukes,
and urged his colleagues to fight for their lives. In a powerful
oration he reminded them of the old glories of the Mamluke
Sultans, of whose monuments Cairo was full. The time
had now arrived to revive the old Mamluke Sultanate, and
free Egypt from the Ottoman yoke. His speech carried conviction,
and his project was approved. The Pasha was given
forty eight hours to leave the country. Ali Bey's old friend
the governor of Acre promised his warm support to the
Shaikh al-Balad's plans, and an attempt made by the
governor of Damascus to reduce him to order was defeated
with loss.
The Porte being unable owing to the European war to
attend to remote provinces, Ali Bey proceeded to consolidate
his power in Egypt, and sent a force to reduce Arabia. Success
attended his efforts in the peninsula, and he further despatched
his son-in-law and favourite Abu'l-Dhahab with a
force of 30,000 men to reduce Syria, and here too his arms
were successful. Abu'l-Dhahab, whose name “father of gold”
was earned, it is said, by his habit of giving all his charity
in that metal, met with little resistance.
But now the fickle goddess began to assert her character.
The Syrian lieutenant, who on a former occasion had been
concerned in a plot against Ali Bey, in which his part had
been condoned in consideration of his betraying his fellow-conspirators,
preferred to conquer for himself rather than
for his master; and, apparently, entered into an arrangement
with the Porte by which he was to have under Turkish

suzerainty the reversion of Ali Bey's possessions, if he succeeded
in overthrowing that usurper. With the troops employed
by him in Syria he crossed to Egypt, where, avoiding
Cairo, he made for Southern Egypt, and seized Asiout. Ali,
being quite unable to defend his capital, fled once more to
his benefactor, the governor of Acre, followed by an insignificant
number of adherents. At the time when he raised
the standard of revolt from the Porte he had endeavoured
to enter into alliance with Venice and Russia, and his
negotiations had met with fair success. Such a measure was
at that time risky for anyone who depended on the favour
of a Moslem nation, since alliance with Infidels against
Believers is not only liable to denunciation as being in defiance
of the doctrines of the Koran, but could be shown
historically to be disastrous. However, at Acre Ali Bey
enjoyed the fruits of his Russian policy, as a Muscovite fleet
which happened to be there renewed the alliance with the
refugee, and encouraged him to retake the Syrian cities
which, after the departure of Abu'l-Dhahab, had fallen
back into Ottoman possession; and about a year after his
flight messages came from Cairo requesting his return to
Egypt, to put a stop to the arbitrary regime introduced by
Abu'l-Dhahab, who had assumed the title Shaikh al-Balad,
and was rendering himself unpopular by coercive measures.
Ali Bey thereupon decided to march into Egypt with a
motley force of eight thousand men, and in an engagement
with his rival at Salihiyyah scored a slight success. But his
alliance with Christian powers against the Turks had brought
his cause into disrepute with the Moslems of Egypt, and he
learned that he could count on no effective aid from his
partisans in Cairo; illness and wounds, moreover, prevented
his taking an active part in the management of his affairs.
Abu'l-Dhahab, besides, exhibited far more skill than Ali
Bey in winning over adherents from the opposite party by


various modes of corruption. In a following engagement
many of Ali Bey's soldiers and captains left him for the
enemy, and those that remained faithful fled in confusion.
Ali had not himself, owing to illness, been able to take part
in the battle, and his routed followers desired him to mount
a horse as well as he could, and once more seek refuge at
Acre. He determined that death was preferable to this
humiliation, and waited by his tent until a detachment of
the enemy came up to it; with these he fought bravely till
disabled by shots and thrusts. He was finally taken and
conveyed to his house in Cairo “in the Abd al-Hakk Lane,
al-Bakir Street, behind the Debt Chest,” where he was not
molested; but he died after seven days of wounds and
The Egyptian chroniclers give Ali Bey the title “the
Great,” which is perhaps more than he deserved, since his
enterprise left no permanent mark on the fortunes of Egypt.
He, apparently, was less to blame than some other conquerors
of that country for risking all in the attempt to acquire
possession of Syria, since his obligations to the governor of
Acre forced this upon him. He appears to have made unpardonable
mistakes in the choice of instruments. He was
for a time popular in Egypt because he endeavoured to
check various forms of extortion which had been long exercised;
but it is observable that his cry was not Egypt for
the Egyptians, but Egypt for the Mamlukes.
During the period covered by Othman Bey and Ali Bey
vast restorations were carried out in the buildings of Cairo
by a man whose name has already met us in connexion with
them, Abd al-Rahman Ketkhuda. His father was patron of
a certain Othman Ketkhuda, who in this office had acquired
great wealth, which some time after the latter's death was
assigned to his patron's son in virtue of a theory that
the property of freedmen goes to those who have manumitted

them, in default of other heirs. Abd al-Rahman
further attracted the notice of Othman Bey, with whom he
went on pilgrimage, and by whom on their return to Cairo
he was made administrator of trusts. He utilized the funds at
his disposal for a general restoration of the religious institutions
of Cairo, as well as the erection of a variety of monuments
which were to perpetuate his own name. His work of
renovation extended to all the sanctuaries which bear the
names of famous ladies of the Prophet's house. Eighteen
mosques were either built or repaired by him, all these being
places of public worship; the smaller sanctuaries which he
restored were still more numerous, and he also saw to the
erection of numerous cisterns, fountains, bridges and other
engineering works. His useful labours were continued till
1764, when Ali Bey was in power, who, fearing the influence
he had acquired, banished him to the Hejaz. Twelve years
later, when the days of Ali Bey were over, he was recalled to
Cairo, only to die. He was buried in a mausoleum that he
had prepared for himself in his additions to al-Azhar. His
personal character appears to have displayed more piety
than virtue, since he is credited with having introduced
bribery and corruption on an unprecedented scale—a difficult
achievement in Egypt.
Abu'l-Dhahab was rewarded by the Porte in 1772 for his
services in suppressing Ali Bey, with the title Pasha and
the official governorship of Cairo. He did not enjoy his
honours long, for he died—it is uncertain how—two years
later on his successful expedition for the recovery of Syria.
After some disorders two of the Beys created by Ali, who
had afterwards deserted his cause for that of his rival, persons
named Ibrahim and Murad respectively, got possession
of the Citadel, and agreed on a divided rule similar to that
which had been arranged between a former Ibrahim and
Ridwan, the one to fill the office of Shaikh al-Balad, the

other to be Leader of the Pilgrim Caravan. The arrangement
was at the first marred by broils, and even armed conflicts,
but presently the two found themselves able to work
harmoniously, and their government, with an interruption,
lasted on till the French invasion of Egypt. This interruption
was occasioned by an expedition sent from Constantinople
to restore order in Egypt. The episode of Ali Bey
showed that the assertion of Ottoman sovereignty was necessary,
and indeed, for a long time the official representative
of the Sultan had been treated with scant courtesy.
When the Shaikh al-Balad and his Emirs wanted a Pasha
removed, they sent to Constantinople to request his removal.
An emissary would then be despatched, who would be introduced
to the Citadel, where he would kneel before the
Pasha. On rising he would fold up the carpet on which he
had knelt, and cry aloud, Pasha, descend! The Pasha would
thereby be deprived of his office, and the emissary would
take temporary charge.
In June, 1786, the Turkish expedition arrived in Egypt,
and the Mamlukes found themselves unable to make any
resistance to the artillery of the Ottomans. Ibrahim and
Murad fled before the invaders to Upper Egypt, and Cairo
was seized by the Turkish troops. Their treatment of the
population was no improvement on that of the Beys, and
only the interference of the ecclesiastical authorities prevented
atrocities which went beyond what the people of
Egypt were accustomed to. No great change was made in
the system of government by the conquerors, who installed
as Shaikh al-Balad Isma'il Bey, a former supporter of Ali
Bey, who had even held the office for a short time after the
death of Abu'l-Dhahab. When, in 1790, he and most of his
family were swept off by a plague, Murad and Ibrahim,
having had experience of government, found it possible to
return to Cairo and resume the offices which they had previously

held. Of these they were in possession when in 1798
Bonaparte invaded the country. Murad Bey carried on some
operations ostensibly for the restoration of the Mosque of
Amr, but really, it is said, in order to discover an iron chest
which the Jews knew to be hidden somewhere about the
Mosque, and the secret of whose existence they had sold to
Murad as the price of his remitting an extraordinary contribution
which he had imposed on their community. The
chest was discovered, but found to contain only leaves from
an ancient copy of the Koran. Murad Bey's piety was not
sufficient to make him consider this find a substitute for the
treasure which he had expected, and the Jews got harder
terms than if they had consented to the imposition at the first.
The Turkish period was on the whole of little importance
for the decoration or growth of Cairo, though, as has been
seen, some Pashas and others went to the expense of erecting
mosques, and many a palace was built by the wealthy
Mamlukes. Writers on Arab art usually stop at the taking
of Cairo by the Ottomans, because the architecture of Egypt
from that time becomes more and more dependent on
Turkish models.
Many European travellers visited Cairo between the entry
of Selim and that of Bonaparte, and some selections from
their experiences are put together by Mr W. F. Rae, in his
work called Egypt To-day: the First to the Third Khedive.
These extracts deal chiefly with the condition of foreigners
in Cairo, which is painted in very dark colours. The mass
of the people, we are told, in no place could be more barbarous
than in Cairo; foreigners, persecuted and even illtreated
under the most frivolous pretexts, lived there in perpetual
fear. If they ventured to appear in public in the attire
of their own country, they would be infallibly torn in pieces.
Bruce, who visited Cairo in 1748, asserts that a more brutal,
unjust, tyrannical, oppressive, avaricious set of infernal

miscreants there was not on earth than the members of the
Government of Cairo. Of the streets it was asserted that
the widest would be looked upon as a lane in Europe. Hasselquist,
in a letter to Linné, dated 1750 from Cairo, said
that if a man were guilty of any crime he could not expiate
it better than by going to reside for a little while in that city.

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The Khedivial Period

THE sufferings of the French merchants resident in
Cairo would have been a sufficient justification for
the enterprise of Bonaparte, but its object was undoubtedly
to strike a blow at Great Britain, and the latter
country endeavoured to stop it at the outset, and succeeded in
crippling it and eventually bringing it to a disastrous termination.
On the history of the French occupation of Egypt, which
has often been described, we need not dilate here; the Beys
were as much put out of their reckoning by the tactics of
the greatest general of the age as the Sultan Ghuri had
been put out of his by the artillery of the Sultan Selim.
The capture of the Egyptian capital caused the plunder of
many houses by the invaders and the mob, and besides
meant the desecration of numerous religious edifices which
were required for the French system of fortification. After
the naval engagement of Abu Kir had resulted in the annihilation
of the French fleet, the people of Cairo rose against
the invader and barricaded the streets. Bonaparte planted
artillery on all high points, partly destroyed the Husainiyyah
quarter where the fiercest resistance had been made, and
occupied al-Azhar, which had been the headquarters of
disaffection, with a force. Cavalry stabled their horses in
the great home of Moslem learning, smashed the coloured
lamps and tried to erase the verses of the Koran with which
the walls were decorated. Only after complete submission
on the part of the insurgents, and the intercession of the
most esteemed shaikhs, did the French general agree to
withdraw his soldiery from the Mosque.



Short as was the French occupation of Cairo, it marked
the introduction of European methods into the government
of the city, which it was left to the Khedivial family to carry
out. The gates which had formerly closed the streets and
lanes were all removed by order of the French commander;
the practice of lighting the streets at nights was introduced,
and for administrative purposes the city was divided into
eight quarters (or rather eighths), each under the supervision
of a shaikh. To the French are due the registration
of births and deaths, the abolition of intramural interment
and some other precautions of sanitation. An honourable
monument of the French occupation is the great Description
of Egypt
, well worthy of the keen interest in science and
archaeology which characterizes the people from whom it
Whether the programme of the French occupation was in
itself consistent and intelligible to the Egyptian people is
not very clear, but it may be considered to have first formulated
the Egyptian nationalist aspirations, though the
French may have done little to gratify them. Ostensibly
the invaders wished to abolish the tyranny of the Mamlukes,
who are attacked in their manifestos in violent terms;
and though the Egyptians at first supposed that the purpose
of the invasion was to reclaim the country for the Sultan, it
was soon shown that this view deviated widely from the
facts. To Bonaparte's profession of belief in Islam apparently
no importance was attached by the real adherents
of that religion. The Turkish manifesto which declared the
old faiths of Europe to be far nearer Islam than the religion
of the French Revolution was undoubtedly in accordance
with the facts. Most writers are agreed in regarding these
professions of Mohammedanism as a mistaken policy. The
French occupation, however, while it may be doubted
whether the moral and political standards which the invaders

exhibited were a very great improvement on those
to which the Egyptians were accustomed, prepared the
country for that discipleship to Europe which it underwent
for the greater part of the nineteenth century and is still
undergoing. Other invaders were no further advanced than
the Egyptians in science and culture; from the French the
inhabitants learned that in such matters they were far behind.
The respect for the ability of the European, which is
now so often exaggerated in the East, begins in Egypt with
the French occupation. And the cry of “Liberty, Equality
and Fraternity,” which perhaps had never been heard in
the East before, at least with any practical meaning attached
to it, could not fail to rouse an echo here and there even
in a population that had been accustomed from time immemorial
to despotism, and for centuries to the despotism of
Like Ali Bey, Bonaparte regarded the possession of Syria
as necessary to the security of Egypt, and in February 1799
he started on a career of conquest in the former country,
which terminated with the well-known check at Acre, occasioned
by the co-operation of the British fleet under Sir
Sidney Smith with the Turkish troops. Bonaparte on his
return had to satisfy himself with fortifying al-Arish, the
key of Egypt, in lieu of the possession of Syria, but the
failure of his original scheme was doubtless the cause of his
evacuation of the valley of the Nile. Murad Bey and Ibrahim
Bey, who had been in retreat in Upper Egypt, were emboldened
by the defeat of Bonaparte to proceed southwards,
hoping to co-operate with a Turkish force that was to land
at Abu Kir. Bonaparte had, however, no difficulty in defeating
the Beys, and afterwards inflicting a crushing blow on the
Turks at the moment of their disembarking. But from the
English squadron at Abu Kir he learned news of European
affairs which determined him to quit Egypt, and his departure

sealed the future of the French occupation of the
Kleber, whom Bonaparte had left to govern at Cairo, showed
himself equal to dealing with a difficult situation, and arranged
by an honourable convention at the beginning of 1800
for the evacuation of the country; the rejoicings in Cairo over
the prospective departure of the French were great, and
an enforced impost was cheerfully paid. The Mamlukes
whose houses had been pillaged and who had been compelled
to conceal themselves, began to return, hoping to
enjoy a new lease of power; and one Nasif Pasha placed
himself at their head. Meanwhile through the intervention
of Great Britain the convention was rendered ineffective; an
Ottoman army after taking al-Arish, advanced towards Cairo,
and at Matariyyah, north of the capital, an engagement took
place in which the united forces of the Turks and Mamlukes
were defeated by the French general. Nasif Pasha, retreating
from the battlefield, marched to Cairo with his Mamlukes,
and succeeded in rousing the Moslem population against the
French, and even started a massacre of the Christian population
both native and foreign. Nasif's attacks on the Citadel
and the forts in the possession of the French were, however,
unsuccessful, and in a bayonet charge of 200 French
troops in the Ezbekiyyeh the superiority of European discipline
asserted itself over the Mamlukes and their Cairene
allies. The French continued to bombard the city from the
Citadel and the forts, while batteries were erected by the
insurgents for cannon, dug up out of places where they had
been hidden. The streets were barricaded; a powder factory
was improvized; and every Moslem was compelled to pass the
night in the discharge of some military duty.
Before Nasif Pasha could renew his attack on the French
headquarters, and when the insurrection had lasted two
whole days, a force arrived to relieve the French garrison,

having been sent for that purpose by Kleber. The vigour
and enthusiasm of the insurgents and the able measures
which they had taken for the defence of the streets rendered
it difficult for the French relieving force to retake the city.
And though Nasif Pasha, when Kleber himself arrived on
the spot, was disposed to capitulate, the fanatical party
prevented him from doing so. Kleber resolved to storm
Boulak before attacking the city, and on April 14, 1800,
carried out this project and gave up the place to pillage and
conflagration. He immediately proceeded after this success
to an attack upon the city itself, in which numerous houses
were burned down, especially in the region of the Ezbekiyyeh.
Lighted torches were, it is said, flung right and left by the
soldiers, with the object of destroying the whole city by
conflagration; and women and children flung themselves off
walls and roofs to escape being burned. Nasif Pasha himself
went into hiding.
When at last resistance had ceased, Kleber ordered an
amnesty to be proclaimed, and proceeded to have the streets
cleared of debris and corpses, after which a three days’ feast
was announced in celebration of the victory. The arrest of
fifteen shaikhs with their subsequent release on payment of
twelve millions of francs was the only repressive measure
which followed the retaking of Cairo. Orders were then
issued to repair those parts of the city that had suffered
during the insurrection.
Two months after these successful operations Kleber was
assassinated at the house of General Damas in the Ezbekiyyeh;
and the assassin when discovered was shown to have
been instigated by a commander of Janissaries, and to have
been in communication with the shaikhs of al-Azhar, three
of whom were condemned to execution as having been accessories
before the fact. The assassin himself was impaled,
public opinion in Europe at that time not sufficiently condemning

the barbarous punishments in use in the East; the
act, however, was rendered the more culpable, because it
would appear that the man had been induced to confess on
promise of a free pardon.
Kleber's follower, Menou, was an eccentric personage,
who adopted Islam, and tried in various other ways to conciliate
the Cairene population, with whom he gained little
favour, while losing his influence with the French. As an
ardent convert he deprived the Egyptian Christians of the
equality which under Bonaparte's regime they had shared
with the Moslems. As an equally ardent Frenchman he declared
Egypt a French colony, whereas till then the suzerainty
of the Porte had been nominally recognized. He had
soon, however, to have his military skill put to the test, and
this proved no greater than his administrative ability.
On March 21 there was fought the action in which Sir
Ralph Abercrombie, having landed with a British force at
Abu Kir, defeated the French army brought against him by
Menou, at the cost of his own life. Four days later the
English were reinforced by a body of Turks, which proceeded
to capture Rosetta. And another Turkish army was
now on its way from Syria and was advancing towards
Cairo. The defence of that city had been left to General
Belliard, whom Menou, now shut up in Alexandria, had
left in command, when he went north to meet Abercrombie.
A junction having been effected between the English and
Turkish armies, Cairo was invested; and the French commander
not having sufficient troops to hope for victory over
the allies, an armistice was agreed to on June 22, followed
by a convention on June 26, by which Cairo was to be
evacuated by the French troops, who were to proceed to the
coast and embark for France. The evacuation of Egypt was
accomplished a few months later.
This was the end of French domination in Egypt, and the

commencement of the relations of Great Britain with that
country. At first the Mamlukes seemed to have their star in
the ascendant. A contingent of Mamlukes had been with the
force that compelled General Belliard to treat for the evacuation
of Cairo, and Ibrahim Bey, emerging from his hiding
place, had implored the assistance of the English General,
and been treated with respect. Murad Bey had succeeded in
negotiating with Kleber before that General was assassinated
and had by him been confirmed in the government of Upper
Egypt. He died shortly before the evacuation. His dependents
broke his arms over his bier, in token that no one was
worthy to bear them after him. It was possible that the end
of the foreign occupation might lead to a resumption of the
old regime. Those, therefore, who aimed at ruling Egypt
considered that the relics of the Mamlukes must before all
things be destroyed.
The process was commenced by the agents of the Porte,
and in the style familiar to readers of Moslem history.
The Turkish Admiral at Abu Kir entrapped a number of
Beys into his barge by inviting them to a conference, and
this barge was presently surrounded and attacked; whereas
a number more were bombarded at Gizeh without previous
intimation of any difference. In spite of these disasters the
country even before the final departure of the English fell
back fast into Mamluke hands—besides Alexandria and
Cairo little was virtually subject to the Porte, and the newly
appointed Pasha was unable to procure the money to pay the
troops who now occupied the Citadel.
The situation gave an opportunity to a man who proved
himself well qualified to use it—Mohammed Ali, the founder
of the dynasty that now reigns in Egypt; often called by
anticipation the first Khedive, wrongly, inasmuch as that
title was conferred first on Isma'il Pasha; yet not without
ground, since the fortunes of the Khedivial family were made


by the founder of the line. He comes to the front in history
first as leader of a corps of Albanians in the Turkish force
which soon after the arrival of the English took Rosetta; his
16 birthplace was Cavalla, where he lost his parents in infancy,
but received kindness from an uncle, and also from a French
resident, a fact which did much towards determining Mohammed
Ali's Francophile policy at a later time. Like other
residents in Cavalla in his early years, he traded in tobacco
with conspicuous success. Coming to Egypt with the Turkish
force sent out for the recovery of the country, he advanced
in the service by leaps and bounds, and was after a short
time given command over a force of between three and four
thousand Albanians by Khosrau Pasha, a Georgian freedman
of the Turkish Admiral, who at the latter's suggestion
had been installed by the Porte in the government of Egypt.
In the struggle that ensued on the one hand between the
governor and his discontented soldiers, on the other, between
the Turks and the Mamlukes, Mohammed Ali succeeded in
at first holding the balance between the parties, and presently
found an opportunity for decisive action when
Khosrau Pasha had been driven by a revolution in the
Citadel to fly in the direction of Damietta, and another
ephemeral ruler had been installed in Khosrau's place.
Mohammed Ali decided to join forces with the Mamluke
leaders, Othman al-Bardisi and the veteran Ibrahim Bey,
took possession of the Citadel, and drove out of it all troops
save his own Albanians and those under the Mamlukes;
he then proceeded in the direction of Damietta, where he
compelled the Pasha to capitulate. At first, apparently, the
old system was to be restored; Bardisi, the Mamluke leader,
was to be in a position similar to that held by the Shaikh
al-Balad, whether with or without the title, while the presence
of a powerless governor was to maintain the tradition
of the Porte's suzerainty.


Soon, however, Mohammed Ali turned against Bardisi;
his Albanian troops demanded arrears of pay, and threatened
disturbances unless their demands were complied with.
To meet them Bardisi imposed heavy contributions on the
people of Cairo, which only aroused general indignation.
Finally, March 12, 1804, Mohammed Ali with his troops
attacked Bardisi's palace, and having previously won over
his artillerymen had little difficulty in driving him out of
Cairo, when he was followed by Ibrahim Bey, who appears
to have resumed his old place in the government of the city.
The Cairenes summoned Khurshid Pasha, Governor of
Alexandria, to undertake the government of Cairo, and he
had a triumphal entry. He proved no more capable of dealing
with the difficult situation than those who had preceded
him, but saw the necessity of maintaining a force capable of
counteracting that of Mohammed Ali, whose Albanians
were greatly attached to his person, and to that end obtained
a regiment of Moors, whom he introduced into the Citadel;
Mohammed Ali, who was engaged at the time in reducing
Upper Egypt, returned to Cairo on hearing of this, and in
May, 1805, received the appointment of Governor of Jeddah
from the Porte. Before leaving for Arabia, his Albanians
demanded pay from the Pasha, and were told to obtain the
equivalent by plundering. Before Mohammed Ali could
leave for his post, if indeed he ever had intended to do so,
a deputation came to him from the leading shaikhs in Cairo,
urging him to undertake the government of the city, and to
depose Khurshid Pasha, of whose incompetence and arbitrary
methods they declared themselves tired. After some
hesitation Mohammed Ali consented to accept their nomination,
and a deputation was sent to Khurshid Pasha, informing
him of his deposition, which he, as the representative
of the Sultan, refused to recognize, since only the authority
by whom he had been appointed could cashier him. As

Khurshid Pasha did not hesitate to bombard the town,
Mohammed Ali employed the Mosque of the Sultan Hasan
as a counter-citadel, a use to which it was accustomed, and
dragged cannon up Mount Mokattam so as to command the
Citadel from behind also. Earnest representations had meanwhile
been sent to Constantinople, urging the recall of
Khurshid and the appointment of Mohammed Ali in his
place; and by July 9 a rescript arrived from the Sultan,
confirming the action of the shaikhs, and declaring Khurshid
deposed. A Turkish force was also sent to carry out
these orders by force, should Khurshid continue to resist.
Khurshid presently saw the vanity of such an endeavour,
and on August 3 Mohammed Ali entered the Citadel as
governor of Egypt for the Porte.
The Mamlukes had played an important part in the rise
of Mohammed Ali, but he proved to be a more effective
enemy to them than either the Turks or Bonaparte had
been. In two scenes of carnage he caused the remains of
them to disappear from the face of Egypt. In August, 1805,
shortly after his official appointment, a party of Mamlukes
were through the Pasha's agents induced to enter Cairo by
the Northern Gate, on the supposition that the Pasha was
away, seeing to the opening of the Nile dams, a ceremony
which the chief authority in the capital regularly attended;
soldiers had been put in ambuscade in the houses that line
the narrow street that ends at Bab Zuwailah, and these
marksmen, when the Mamluke cavalry entered, dealt deadly
execution on both men and horses. The survivors took refuge
in the School of the Sultan Barkuk, in the Nahhasin Street;
here they were captured, and most of them afterwards
The second massacre took place in February, 1811, when
an army was equipped and ready to start for Arabia, to restore
the authority of the Porte, and quell the Wahhabi

rebellion. A reception was given at the Citadel, to which
the Mamlukes were invited in numbers. On their departure
they were attacked by the Albanian troops of the Viceroy,
in the avenue cut in the solid rock which leads down from
the Citadel, the lower gate having been closed. In this gorge
460 are said to have perished, and orders had been issued
to massacre those that were scattered about in Egypt. The
event was followed by an attempt made by the soldiery to
ack Cairo, which the Pasha had some difficulty in repressing.
To understand the feeling which prompted this measure
it must be remembered that after the departure of the French
one of the Mamluke leaders had visited England, and for a
time, while French influence was on the side of the maintenance
of Mohammed Ali, English influence was in favour
of the restoration of the Mamluke regime. The idea of the
Pasha was then to annihilate the party which in the event
of disasters in Arabia might be in a position again to bring
Egypt into disorder. And he did annihilate it. The Mamlukes
play no part in the politics of Egypt since 1811. The
widows of the slain were spared, but the Pasha claimed the
right to give them in marriage to his followers.
In the whole Mamluke system there is much that is obscure,
especially in the phenomenon that these slave-rulers
required constantly to be refreshed from outside, the offspring
of the Emirs apparently amalgamating with the Moslem
population, and invariably taking ordinary Moslem names.
It was a late survival in history of the old beginning of
kingship, where a man slew the slayer and should himself
be slain; for if this does not always literally hold good of
the Mamluke sovereigns, yet it is a formula which does not
diverge over widely from the truth. Ali Bey saw that the
system must be struck at, but was satisfied with preventive
measures for the future; Mohammed Ali tore out the system
by the roots.



Not quite a century has elapsed since that event, and
Cairo is still the capital of Mohammed Ali's dynasty, and
has expanded to greater dimensions than it ever reached
under the most prosperous of its earlier sovereigns.
Mohammed Ali's career has been repeatedly narrated, and
we have no room even to sketch it here. Aided by his able
son, Ibrahim Pasha, he subdued Arabia, whereas two other
sons extended his dominions by conquests in the region of
the Upper Nile. Like other possessors of Egypt, he was
anxious to hold Syria as well; and, picking a quarrel with
the Porte when that power had been weakened by the
Greek War of Independence, he sent Ibrahim Pasha northwards,
and shortly overran Syria and Asia Minor, and was
in a position to threaten Constantinople itself. The interference
of Russia prevented the Egyptian Pasha dealing
with the Sultan as the Buyids and Seljukes had dealt with
the Caliph of Baghdad; but for some six years Syria was an
Egyptian province. The discontent of the Syrian population
then gave the Porte an opportunity to attempt the recovery
of this region, only, however, to sustain severe losses both
on land and sea. But at this point the European concert
stepped in. Yet it was not before Ibrahim Pasha had been
defeated by European officers that the pretensions of the
Pasha of Egypt were moderated, and he was satisfied with
the hereditary government of the Valley of the Nile. In
1841, by the terms of peace between Mohammed Ali on the
one side and the Sultan with his European allies on the
other, the government of Egypt was vested in the Pasha's
family, though the title Khedive was not conferred on the
ruler till some time later.
Perhaps, if the history of the older Eastern conquerors
were better recorded, we should in each case understand
the means whereby they came to the front and defeated
their rivals. In Mohammed Ali's case, the secret lay in his

determination to adopt the civilization of Europe. The introduction
of European drill and tactics was entirely against
the prejudices of his subjects, and at first led to a plot for
his assassination; the conspiracy was revealed in time, but
the unpopularity of his measures did not daunt the Pasha,
and he even allowed the objectors to go unpunished.
European, and especially French, officials were introduced
to train troops, cast cannon and build men-of-war; but the
military inventions of the West were not exclusively adopted
by the Pasha, who imported education, architecture and
medical appliances from the same source. Vast schemes,
some successful, others destined to failure, were set on foot
with the object of increasing the productiveness of Egypt
and even rendering it a manufacturing country, and the internal
administration both of town and country underwent
a radical change. To Mohammed Ali, moreover, is due, if
not the introduction yet the enforcement of religious toleration
on an ample scale. Fanaticism, whether exercised
against native or foreign Christians, was punished by him
with exemplary promptitude; and the attitude of mutual
respect and consideration adopted by the various religious
communities of Egypt, which is a pleasing feature to any
visitor of that country, probably dates from Mohammed
Ali's time, though the brief French occupation may have
contributed towards bringing it about.
In Cairo itself Mohammed Ali introduced the first specimens
of European architecture, and of course the capital
was greatly altered during his long and eventful reign. His
draining of the Ezbekiyyeh Pool has already been noticed;
he built himself a palace at Shubra and laid out the long
boulevard that connects this suburb with the capital, as
well as another connecting Cairo with Boulak, where a substantial
new stone quay was erected for river steamers. To
a late period in his reign belongs the Rue Neuve, the need

for which was occasioned by the great number of foreign
merchants settled in the Mouski, a street which derives its
name from a bridge built over the Great Canal by one
Musak, a relation of the great Saladdin, who died in the
year 1188. The Rue Neuve was begun in the year 1845, its
width being calculated by the space requirements of two
loaded camels passing each other. It crosses at right angles
the old thoroughfare which originally bore the name Between
the Two Palaces, and, doubtless, in the course of its
construction many an old landmark was obliterated.
The name of Mohammed Ali is perpetuated in Cairo by his
great mosque, erected on the Citadel after the older mosques
of which there were so many, at different times had fallen
into ruin or become disused. The Mosque of Nasir still remains
as a shell, but of the others few but archaeologists
know the traces. Mohammed Ali's building is in imitation
of the mosques of Constantinople, for all which the original
model was furnished by Saint Sophia. Prince Puckler
Muskau visited Cairo when this mosque was in course of
erection, and speaks of it in the following enthusiastic
“At the southern extremity of the Citadel the viceroy is
now erecting a mosque, just opposite to the ruined Saladdin
[rather Nasir] Mosque, which in some respects will be the
most superb edifice in the world; for not only are all the
columns made of massive, polished alabaster, but even the
inner and outer walls are completely covered with this costly
material, which has hitherto been employed only in making
vases, watchstands and little knick-knacks of the kind; and
I should not be in the least surprised if the entire quarry of
Shaikh Abadeh were to be exhausted in the creation of this
temple. The effect of the whole is quite astonishing; but it
is very much apprehended that this delicate stone will not
be able to withstand the effects of the climate.”


Most European visitors are much more restrained in their
admiration of this building, and regard the taste which it
displays as vastly inferior to that exhibited in the mosques
of the Mamluke period. The following is a translation of Ali
Pasha Mubarak's description of it:
“This Mosque was built by the late Hajj [i.e., Pilgrim],
Mohammed Ali Pasha, native of Kavalla, founder of the
Khedivial family in Egypt. He began its erection in the year
of the Hijrah, 1246 [1830-1831], after he had set the affairs
of Egypt in order, and terminated those operations of vast
utility which we have sketched in the introduction to this
book. He selected for its site the Citadel of Cairo, in order
that the benefits of public worship might be enjoyed by the
employés in the palaces and public offices, inasmuch as during
his time all the ministries and most of the offices were
on the Citadel. He prepared for its erection a broad area,
which contained the remains of edifices that had been erected
by former sovereigns, all of which he ordered to be cleared
away, as also the soil till he came to the solid rock, on which
he ordered the foundations to be laid. He built the walls of
enormous stones, some three-and-a-half metres in length; iron
rods connected each pair of stones, and molten lead was poured
in. In this style the foundations were laid till the surface of the
ground was reached. The mosque was modelled on the beautiful
Nur Osmaniyyeh Mosque of Constantinople, and in part
on that of Sidi Sariyah on the Citadel—an unimportant
mosque of which the original appears to be obscure. The
building of the walls was continued in the style that has
been described. Four doors were made, two to the north, one
admitting to the court, the other to the dome; two also
were placed on the south side. The stone walls were faced
with alabaster both within and without to their full height.
He who enters from the gate of the Citadel called Bab al-Daris
finds a wide place in which he is confronted by the

doors of the court and the dome. The door leading into the
court has inscribed over it in marble a text from the Koran
commending prayer. The letters are gilt. The threshold is
of marble, the door of antique wood; the tympanum is of
wood also. The height of the door is four metres, the wooden
tympanum is one metre high. The wall is two metres thick.
The court is fifty-seven metres long by fifty-five broad, its
surface being 3,135 square metres. It embraces five liwans,
surmounted by forty-seven domes, mounted on marble pillars,
eight metres high, exclusive of the base. The number
of these pillars which surround the court and support the
domes is forty-five. Each has a necking and torus of brass,
and each column is connected with every other by an iron
bar; the number of these bars amount to ninety-four. To
each dome there is appended a brass chain, to which a lamp
is attached. On the left side as one enters from this door is
the door of the minaret, of ordinary wood, 265 steps lead to
the summit, exclusive of those which lead up to the iron
obelisk which crowns it. On the left side in the middle, between
the two liwans is the door which leads from the court
into the dome; it is of folding doors of antique wood, as also
is the semicircular tympanum; over it the date is written in
Turkish. Some seven yards in front of the liwan which comes
next to the door of the dome is the door which leads to the
second minaret, ascended by the same number of steps as
the last; they form winding staircases with bronze balustrades.
The height of each of these minarets is eight-four
metres from the ground, of which twenty-five and two-thirds
are from the ground to the roof of the mosque. On the same
left hand side are nine windows belonging to the dome,
each of which contains a text from the Surah called Fath,
engraved in marble and filled in with gold. Over the door of
the dome there is written a text promising Paradise to Believers;
doubtless this promise has been realized in the founder's

case. In the middle of the court there is a wooden dome
mounted on eight marble columns, seven metres high,
underneath which there is a fountain with an alabaster cupola,
and sixteen spouts, with a marble spout over each,
containing the text of the Koran which enjoins washing
before prayer, and the tradition, ‘Washing is the Believer's
Weapon.’ In front of each spout there is a marble base.
Between each pair of pillars there is an iron rod, holding a
brass chain for a lamp, while over each is a crescent of
bronze. Close by is the entrance to the cistern which is
underneath the court; the coping is of alabaster, and the
lid of brass. There is a pump there also for raising the water.
“The southern gate of the court resembles the northern,
which it faces, and there is engraved above it in marble the
text, ‘Your Lord hath prescribed unto Himself mercy.’ In
the liwans which surround the court there are thirty-eight
windows, each two-and-a-half metres in length and one-and-a-half
in breadth; the thickness of the wall is two metres.
It contains a window in bronze. In front of the north door
which gives entrance to the dome there is a gallery on
twenty-four alabaster columns, with bronze neckings and
tori, each eight metres high, not including the base. The
pillars are connected by twenty-two iron bars, and surmounted
by eleven domes with bronze crescents. Hence you
proceed into the sanctuary, which is almost square, forty-six
metres by forty-five, exclusive of the liwan on the kiblah
side, which is seventeen metres by nine, with an area of one
hundred and thirty-five metres. In it there is a very lofty
dome, some sixty-one metres above the floor of the Mosque,
mounted on four piers of hewn stone, faced with marble to
a height of two metres. The dome has four semicircles, one
on each side, and four small domes. The whole of the great
dome is elaborately painted, and decorated with gold-leaf.
There are circles painted round it, with certain pious formulae

inscribed in gold-leaf. To the left of the sanctuary you
find the Mihrab, with a semicircular roofing, while the
niche itself is in marble with an inscription in coloured
glass. The niche is enclosed by two small marble columns,
with brass necking and torus. To the left, close to one of the
piers that have been mentioned, is the reader's chair made
of wood, with a balustrade of the same material turned. Five
steps lead up to it, and it is carpeted with red cloth. To
the right is the pulpit of wood, decorated with gold-leaf,
reached by twenty-five steps, also carpeted with red cloth
and with folding doors. Above in a circle there is inscribed
the text, ‘Friday is with God the best of days.’ Above the
preacher's seat is a tall dome on four wooden columns, with
a Koranic text written round it. At the bottom of the pulpit
there is a guichet on each side, inscribed with texts; between
them there is a sort of cupboard to which access is
given by a door under the pulpit. Opposite the Mihrab is
the door of the dome leading out of the court, surmounted
by a dikkah for the Mueddins, extending the whole breadth
of the sanctuary, and mounted on eight marble pillars,
eight metres high, surrounded by a bronze balustrade, which
also surrounds the upper part of the sanctuary, this upper
part containing thirty-one windows framed in brass, with
lights of white glass. At a distance of about twelve metres
there is another balustrade, facing thirty-one more windows,
this time of stained glass. Between [?] the two there are the
twenty-four windows of the great dome, with a brass balustrade,
the windows being of bronze work with stained glass
lights, and the balustrade at the top of the dome has in
front of it forty stained glass windows. Round each of the
four domes mentioned above there are ten windows with
balustrades. The purpose of these balustrades is to support
lamps. In the semicircle of the Mihrab there are sixteen windows,
with a gallery containing a balustrade in front, and

round the wall low down there are thirty-six windows each
two-and-a-half metres long, with white glass lights, each
one containing a portion of the poem called ‘Burdah.’ Access
is given to the galleries from the two minarets and the
roof of the Mosque. The southern door of the dome, which
faces the northern, has written on the outside ‘God's are
the places of worship, and invoke no one with God.’ In
front is a vast gallery, on eleven columns of alabaster, some
eight metres high. Twenty-two iron bars connect these pillars,
which are surmounted by eleven domes, similar to
those in the gallery facing the first door. The tomb of the
founder, which he ordered to be hewn for himself in the
solid rock, is in the south-west corner to the right as one
enters from the door leading from the court into the dome.
The completion of the Mosque in this style was in the year
1261 [1845]. The founder died three years later, and was
followed by Ibrahim his son, who died shortly after. He was
succeeded by Abbas Pasha, son of Tusun, who ordered the
Mosque to be finished. They whitewashed the piers, and
then painted them to look like alabaster, paved the floor, and
painted and inscribed the domes.”
One other monument in Cairo which preserves the name
of Mohammed Ali, the Boulevard called after him, belongs
to the reign of Isma'il Pasha, who governed Egypt from 1863
to 1882. Its site was a series of graveyards, which continued
in use till Mohammed Ali's time. The bones were collected
when the Boulevard was cut, and distributed in various
places; over the spot where many of them were laid a mosque
called the Bone Mosque was built. The plans were drawn
in 1873. M. Rhoné, who is no friend to the renovation of
Cairo, gives the following description of the process by which
the Boulevard was made: “Like a shot fired too soon, it
started one fine day from the Ezbekiyyeh, without knowing
whither it was going, and alighted at a distance of two kilometres


from its starting-point, at the formidable angle of the
mosque of the Sultan Hasan, which it could not help encountering.
On its way it had displaced a whole hillfull of
houses and mosques; half-way, on the canal, it let fall its
burden of débris, and this gave birth to the palace of Mansur
Pasha.” Ali Pasha, who took part in the undertaking, naturally
speaks in a different style of this great artery, which
he holds to have benefited Cairo enormously, among other
services purifying the air. But the amount of displacing done
was enormous; 398 buildings had to be removed to make
room for the Boulevard; of these 325 were dwellings, some
large and some small; the rest were baths, bakehouses, etc.,
besides religious buildings. We have already seen that the
Mosque of Kausun suffered severely, though it must be added
that Mehren, who made his list of the religious monuments
of Cairo before the construction of the Boulevard found this
mosque in a ruinous condition; another sanctuary that suffered
was that of the Shaikh Nu'man, dating from the year
Isma'il Pasha is the founder of modern Cairo, of which the
centre is the Place Atabah al-Khadra, or the Green Threshold,
supposed to be called after a palace with that name
which formerly existed there, and was the abode of one
Mohammed al-Shara'ibi, who lived in the twelfth Mohammedan
century. From it there radiate streets or boulevards in
all directions; the Mouski leads eastwards to the old parts of
the city, crossing where was once the Grand Canal to what
remains of the work of the Fatimides; westwards a number
of avenues lead to the quarter called after Isma'il, the abode
of the English and the wealthy. When new streets are built,
an attempt is made to preserve some history in their names;
a few, such as the Boulevard Clot Bey, are called after quite
modern personages; in most cases they preserve the memory
of either an ancient quarter, or some building that once

stood near their sites. The Committee, to whose work allusion
has so often been made, acting on expert opinion, sees
that no ancient work is destroyed which has either historical
or artistic interest. Europe has taught the East to pay reverence
to its ancient monuments.
If Cairo should ever indulge in the taste for historical pageants
which is so characteristic of our country at this time,
it would not be difficult to find a number of scenes worth reproducing,
some of them graced with figures that loom large
in the vista of the centuries. Ahmad Ibn Tulun's architect
summoned from his prison to solve the problem of the
mosque; Jauhar drawing the lines of his city at an auspicious
moment; Saladdin rejecting the splendours of the Fatimide
Palace; Shajar al-durr receiving the homage of the Emirs
behind her curtain; Baibars receiving his investiture from the
Caliph of his own appointment; Kala'un's Hospital inaugurated
by a disloyal preacher; Cairo decorated to celebrate
the fall of Constantinople, and presently itself entered in
triumph by the Ottoman Sultan; al-Azhar, stormed by
Bonaparte's soldiers; the Mamlukes surrendering to Mohammed
Ali in the Barkuk Mosque—these might be suggested
as a characteristic and not wholly uninteresting
selection. And if scenes from yet later times were included,
there might be a few in which great Englishmen figured
also: Baker, sent by Isma'il Pasha to suppress the slave-trade
in the Soudan; Gordon, hastening to his heroic defence
of Khartoum; and last, but not least, the farewell address of
the statesman to whom the present financial and administrative
prosperity of Cairo is due.


[Back to top]


Jerusalem: an Historical Sketch

THE situation of Jerusalem is majestic and impressive.
It lies on four hills, which some with a taste
for sacred numbers have wished to increase to seven;
on three sides deep valleys encircle it. Both those that
separate the hills and those which surround them were at
an earlier period far deeper than they are now, since excavators
have found accumulations of rubbish about them,
varying in depth from forty to over a hundred feet; one of
the hills was, it is said, deliberately lowered as a military
precaution, and one of the internal depressions artificially
filled up. Before these operations of art and nature were
accomplished, the features which excite our admiration now
must have been greatly accentuated. And those have taught
us most about the ancient topography of the city who have
driven shafts and tunnels through these accumulations, and
mapped out underground Jerusalem. Their work constituted
a record in excavation, and some of their names are dear
to the British nation on quite other than archaeological
grounds. If they have left many a controversy undetermined,
it is because inscriptions, the surest indications of ancient
sites, have rarely been discovered, and still more rarely on
the places where they originally stood; because the place
has been often taken by relentless enemies, determined if
possible to leave no stone upon another; and because ancient
descriptions of it are often either ideal descriptions, or made
by persons who wrote at a distance from the scenes which
they described, and were perhaps unskilled in accurate observation
and the technicalities of architecture.


The nature of the soil has determined the area of the city,
but except for its brief period of glory, to which allusion
will presently be made, there was no reason why it should
ever have to harbour a great population. Since the building
of the second Temple it has been far more a religious than
a political centre; and even as such it has never been able
to occupy quite the first rank. With Islam it was only occasionally
and under special circumstances able to rival
Meccah; with the more powerful portion of Christianity it
was superseded by Rome. Probably the more energetic and
capable of the Israelites have regularly preferred to be its
occasional visitors than to constitute part of its permanent
population. The class whom such a place attracts consists of
persons worn out with worldly things, and interested
only in spiritual concerns, while the expectation of a golden
stream from outside discourages in the natives original
effort and the growth of those sterling qualities which the
struggle for existence ordinarily produces. Constantly recruited
from without, it produces little or nothing from
within. Thus for an indigenous art or architecture in Jerusalem
no one looks; the explorer searches only for relics of
the styles imported at different periods sometimes by domestic
rulers, more often by donors and benefactors. The
Solomonic Temple was in Phaenician style, the Temple of
Nehemiah probably Persian; for later buildings the models
were furnished by Greece, Rome and Byzantium, after
which came Norman and Gothic importations from Europe;
to-day the patterns in fashion in every European state of
consequence are represented. Should a new Jewish Temple
be built on the Haram area, it would probably be from
French or Italian designs.
The period during which the city could claim the title
imperial was very short, extending no longer than the reigns
of David and Solomon, the former of whom appears to have


brought several of the surrounding peoples into subjection.
This is the view which we take, if we approach the Old Testament
record without too great scepticism. With the name of
the first of these two sovereigns the city has been in historic
times connected, although there is a great doubt as to the
part of it which he occupied; the operations executed by
him with the view of making the place a metropolis are too
briefly stated to permit of much being elicited. The name
appears to go back to a much earlier period than that of
David, who is said to have found the city, or part of it, in possession
of a tribe called Jebus, after whom it was then called;
members of the tribe occasionally meet us after David's
seizure of their stronghold. Their fortress is usually supposed
to have occupied one of the hills only, with which the
founder of Israelitish Jerusalem incorporated others, enclosing
the whole with a wall. Such dwellings as already existed
would then be allotted to those who helped to storm the
fortress, and permission given for others to build. The speed
with which the residence of a victorious prince attracts inhabitants
is extraordinary, and Jerusalem was doubtless a
populous city before his reign ended. That no sanctuary was
erected by him to the national Deity seems certain, and the
fact required explanation at an early time; that in which
the later Jews acquiesced was that he was disqualified for
erecting a sanctuary by the blood which he had shed, but the
earlier explanation may have been different.
The only monument in the city's neighbourhood which
may be actually connected with David is the King's tomb outside
the Sion Gate. The exact spot where David was buried
is not mentioned in his biography, but his tomb is employed
as a landmark by Nehemiah, and is mentioned repeatedly
by Josephus, who declares that the King had much treasure
deposited with him, which in the centuries just preceding
the Christian Era was despoiled by Hyrcanus and Herod.

In the Acts of the Apostles also the tomb of David is mentioned
as a well-known object in Jerusalem. A Christian
tradition identifies a room in the buildings surrounding the
tomb as the Upper Chamber where the Eucharist was instituted
and where the miracle of Pentecost was wrought.
The room is said by Epiphanius to have remained undestroyed
when the city was burned by Titus, and to have
afterwards been used as a church. A convent for the Franciscans
was here erected in the fourteenth century by Sancia,
Queen of Robert of Sicily, which was taken from them by
the Moslems in 1560, it is said, owing to the vengeance of a
Jew, who had desired to perform his devotions at the tombs
of David and Solomon underneath the convent, and had
been refused permission by the Franciscans, and who then
persuaded the Grand Vizier at Constantinople to take the
tombs of the two Kings, whom the Koran calls Prophets,
out of the hands of unbelievers. A few favoured travellers
have had access to the tombs themselves, which appear to
have been discovered in the time of Benjamin of Tudela,
when stones were taken from the wall of Mount Sion to
repair the church. The story of their discovery is not free
from fabulous elements, but some monuments of artistic
excellence appear to exist on the spot. The question to
whom they belong has not been definitely solved, and even
in Nehemiah's time the traditional site may not necessarily
have been the real one.
Solomon's character, like that of David, is a familiar one
to readers of Oriental history. While the father was the enterprising
and astute empire-builder, the son was the magnificent
patron of the arts, of literature, and of commerce.
Under him the metropolis began to be adorned with edifices
worthy of the sovereign's power and wealth, and foreign
artificers were summoned to erect them, the Phaenicians at
this time occupying the place which at a later period belonged

to Greeks, and after them to nations yet further west.
Of the building of the Temple, the sacred writers have preserved
a most elaborate account; and though there is some
controversy as to the part of the Haram area which it occupied,
there appears to be general agreement as to the practical
correctness of the traditional site. The breaches in the
continuity of the tradition are not indeed considerable; perhaps
the most considerable being that between the times of
Jeremiah and Nehemiah, though Moslem writers make it
appear that when the Mohammedan conqueror wished to
be directed to the site of the Temple, wrong directions were
given him at first, apparently through ignorance. The probability
is that none of the vicissitudes through which
Jerusalem passed left the country quite without inhabitants
familiar with so notable a site. Besides the Temple, the
King's own domestic arrangements required the erection of
several palaces, and probably of numerous shrines for the
housing of the deities worshipped by the different nationalities
represented in his household.
Of these palaces and sanctuaries the Bible preserves some
names and some architectural details; but of the general
appearance of the city in Solomon's time it is not possible
to gather any distinct impression. The material used by him
appears to have been perishable in the extreme, and it is
unlikely that any work executed by him still remains.
Owing, however, to the memories of Solomon's wisdom and
magnificence, legend attributes to him all anonymous works
on a great scale that are to be found either in the city or in
its neighbourhood. The theory that Solomon had supernatural
agencies under his control enabling him to carry
out the vastest designs can be traced back to the time of
Josephus, and through the influence of the Koran has become
an article of faith with Moslems. The Biblical account
of his methods shows that no supernatural agents were

requisite. The whole wealth of a small country, and unlimited
labour, such as lay at the disposal of the Sultan of the time,
would easily account for the execution of any of the works
attributed to him. No contemporary traveller tells us what
Jerusalem looked like in his day, for the memoirs of the
Queen of Saba, if she left any, have not come down. Probably
it was largely a collection of wooden huts. These form
an intermediate stage between the dwellings of the nomad
and the town resident; and the cry, “To your tents, O
Israel” had not ceased to be heard in Solomon's time. The
palaces differed from the other houses in the quality, but
not in the nature of the material of which they were mainly
The magnificent monarch often leaves on the mind of his
subjects not so much pride in his grandeur as resentment at
the extortions which have been the source of his magnificence,
and with all but Solomon's own tribe and one other
the latter appears to have been the sentiment which dominated.
The unpopularity which has attached to the tribe of
Judah ever since it became known to the general world, seems
to have belonged to it in its relations with the other tribes
constituting Israel, and so soon as Solomon was dead, they
hastened to throw off a yoke, which indeed the King's taste
for building by forced labour had rendered exceptionally
severe. Other sanctuaries became more popular with the
northern kingdom, which was far more populous and powerful
than the small remnant which remained loyal to the
family of David. That loyalty, however, appears to have
been a deep-rooted sentiment, and to have kept the southern
kingdom tolerably free from the scramble for the sovereignty
which disturbed and finally wrecked the northern. The record
which we have of both is exceedingly imperfect, and in
the matter of building we hear chiefly of repairs done to the
wall of Jerusalem, of the occasional erection of towers, and


of provision made for a better water supply. The only inscription
in Jerusalem which is from the period of the kings
is that which records the construction of an aqueduct in the
time of King Hezekiah. This aqueduct, which took the form
of a tunnel, appears to have been commenced at both ends
at once, a fact which implies the existence of greater engineering
skill, and instruments of greater precision, than we
should ordinarily suppose to have been possessed by the Jews.
The condition of Jerusalem during the period of the divided
kingdom, as the Books of Kings record it, was by no
means one of quiet development; it was, on the contrary,
one of perpetual disturbance, in which city and temple were
repeatedly sacked, varied at times by spells of peace and
prosperity under some competent ruler. The maintenance of
the Temple was, it would seem, during the whole time, the
chief function of the King, and according to the influences
to which different kings were subject many innovations were
introduced, both in the structure of the sanctuary and in the
form of ritual. The unfriendly attitude adopted by the Jewish
religion towards all others appears at least in practice to
date from the last century of the monarchy; previously Jerusalem
contained sanctuaries dedicated to objects of worship
other than the God of Israel, and the Temple itself at times
harboured altars of more than one Deity. The record which
has come down to us of Jewish history is written in the
spirit of Deuteronomy, and is too deeply hostile to pagan
cults to take any interest in the monuments erected for their
celebration; while, therefore, we hear occasionally of the
names of deities to whom shrines were dedicated in Jerusalem,
it is chiefly when the historian rejoices over their destruction;
neither has he any more sympathy with sanctuaries
intended for the God of Israel, but outside the Temple
area. We therefore conjecture rather than know for certain
that Jerusalem, in its best days, presented an appearance

not unlike what it exhibits to-day, where with one preeminent
mosque representing the dominant cult, there is
associated a variety of other mosques, churches and synagogues,
the latter belonging, to a large extent, to strangers,
though in part to natives; the notion that the sanctity of
the chief edifice is impugned by the presence of these other
places of worship has now been outgrown, even before the
Deuteronomic reform it had no wide currency.
The mode whereby that reform was introduced has been
made out, so far as the nature of the evidence admits of positive
conclusions, by those who have written on the history of
Israelitish religion, and we know that when Judaism was once
started on the doctrine of one God, one Temple, it drew the
inferences with ever-increasing rigour. Probably those are
right who trace the origin of the process to the deliverance
of Jerusalem from Sennacherib, when the northern Kingdom
had been swept away by Assyria. If, as the history suggests,
there were strong reasons why the sect, whose motto was the
doctrine stated, could claim the miracle as one granted
specially to their cause, their ability to monopolize Judaism
and in time Jerusalem seems to be explained. That effect
was not attained without violent reactions, in the course of
which Jerusalem itself perished, for the miracle was not renewed,
and the violent religious persecutions which followed
the reign of Hezekiah must have greatly reduced such power of
resistance as the Jewish people might have been able to bring
against the tremendous power of Babylon. Belief, however,
in the sanctity of the spot where alone a temple might stand
and sacrifice could be offered was harboured as a precious
heirloom by the descendants of those who had been forcibly
ejected from the sacred city. The conviction that it would eventually
arise from its ruins, no more to be polluted by alien
worships, gave it for a time an ideal existence, and enthusiasts
devoted their energies to planning how it should be laid out.


The time which elapsed before such operations could be
executed seems to have been very lengthy. It is not now
thought probable that there was a Jerusalem between that of
David and that of Nehemiah; if there was it must have been a
place of small importance, for the inquisitive Herodotus, who
composed his inquiry in the fifth century B.C., had heard of
Palestine but appears not to have heard of Jerusalem. Josephus
answers that he had also not heard of Rome, a reply which
seems unsatisfactory. A return from exile in the form of a
splendid pageant, such as some of the Prophets awaited, did
not take place; but early in the fourth century, B.C., one
Nehemiah, who had won promotion at the Persian court, then
in possession of the East, obtained leave to rebuild city and
temple on a modest scale. The restored Jerusalem appears to
date from his efforts, but the combination of his authentic
narrative with another of unknown date and authority has
rendered the process of restoration hard to follow. The unfriendly
attitude adopted towards their neighbours by the
Israelites seems to have involved the rebuilders of Jerusalem
in difficulties, but there is no doubt that through the work of
Nehemiah it was raised to the rank of something like a provincial
capital, and this rank it retained when before the close
of the fourth century Persian domination gave way to Greek.
For the gap which separates the termination of the Old
Testament from the Maccabaean period even Josephus appears
to have had only historical romances to guide him, but
in the restored city, prevented by the suzerain power from
having an independent foreign policy, something like the
theocracy contemplated in the Mosaic legislation could be put
in practice. And of the divine worship which constituted the
main concern of the city the representation projected by the
Books of Chronicles into the age of David is likely to be a
faithful account.
The one fragment of history that belongs to this period

tells how one of the high priests fortified the Temple and
secured the city against besieging. This does not imply independence,
but a wise precaution, since one of the most
painful features of warfare in all but the most modern times
was that the people, whether belonging to the ruling castes
or not, suffered all the horrors that accompanied the sacking
of cities in quarrels that were not theirs. During this period
Palestine was alternately in the power of Egyptian and Syrian
princes, and was perpetually exposed to their hordes.
The pec1uliarities of Israelitish worship began to attract
some attention in the Hellenic world, and with these the
foreign garrisons located in the Citadel could not fail to obtain
a tolerable acquaintance. While in some cases the impression
created was not unfavourable, in others Judaism
roused the vehement hatred which for some reason or other
it has constantly been found capable of exciting. Finally, in
the first third of the second century B.C., the Syrian monarch
Antiochus Epiphanes set himself the task of destroying
Judaism, and compelling its adherents to adopt Hellenic
culture. Pagan worship was instituted in the Temple itself,
and the animal which for unknown reasons is abhorred by
Jews and Moslems was selected for sacrifice. Interference
with the exercise of the Law provoked resentment which no
amount of oppression of a different sort could have awakened:
the family of Mattathias, a descendant of Asmoneus, was
found equal to organizing resistance, and its members by
their victories secured to their countrymen a fresh lease of
independence, and renewed prosperity for Jerusalem. A
tower commanding the Temple area which had been erected
by the persecutors was destroyed by the defenders of Judaism,
and the Temple purified from its defilement.
To the Maccabaean period—or a little later—there belongs
a description of the city, professedly written by a Greek of
the third century B.C., but in reality by a Jew of a much

later time, anxious as many as of his race have often been
to conceal his nationality and identity. Whether this writer
had ever seen the city which he depicts is uncertain: in any
case his account is quite ideal and belongs rather to the
conception of the heavenly Jerusalem, of which we have
seen the origin. Situated in the midst of mountains, on a
high hill, Jerusalem was crowned by a Temple girt with three
walls over seventy cubits high. The court of the Temple,
which was paved with marble, covered vast reservoirs of
water—this part of the description is confirmed by Sir C.
Warren's discoveries—fountains of which washed away the
blood of the myriads of beasts there offered. The streets
formed a series of terraces stretching from the brow of the
hill down into the valley, and were furnished with raised
pavements, the purpose of which was to prevent the clean
being contaminated by contact with the unclean. It was admirably
fortified with a number of towers arranged like the
tiers in a theatre. The compass of the city was about forty
stades. The comparison of the city to a theatre, of which
the temple area was the stage, has been made by others, yet
its appropriateness seems very doubtful.
Before the Maccabaean dynasty had lasted a century, the
precious possession of independence was sacrificed to the
personal ambitions of rival claimants for the chief place in
the State; Jerusalem was taken by Pompey, and the Holy
of Holies profaned by the entrance of a stranger. But ere
long Herod, who in the troubles which ruined the Roman
Republic, had played with consummate skill a difficult hand,
being installed as monarch, and obtaining possession of
Jerusalem at the price of a tremendous massacre, restored the
city to greatness by no means inferior to that of its imperial
days. His deeds were recounted by a contemporary of his
own, whose work survives in the excerpts made by the
Jewish historian Josephus, whose books form a storehouse

of information on the topography of Jerusalem, which, if in
no wise to be compared with Makrizi's account of Cairo, is
yet highly prized for its fullness of detail.
Money ruthlessly extorted by Herod was spent by him in
beautifying and strengthening his capital, where he rebuilt
the Temple on a scale of unsurpassed magnificence—unless,
indeed, the concept of the heavenly Jerusalem may have affected
the representations of Josephus. The king built three
towers “excelling all in the world in size, beauty and strength,”
which he named after his brother, his friend and his wife.
To the north of the city he built a palace surpassing all
powers of description, surrounded with a wall thirty cubits
high, containing banqueting-halls, guest-chambers, avenues,
channels for water, and all else that can be imagined. The
white marble blocks of which the towers were constructed
were so truly joined that each appeared to be one mass of
stone. How much in the descriptions of these buildings is due
to the imagination is unknown: the buildings themselves
have disappeared without a trace. Herod's magnificence no
more won the affection of his subjects than did Solomon's
before him; the people at his death thought the direct yoke
of Rome preferable to an Oriental despotism, and before
the destruction of the city they had painful experience of
The Jerusalem of the Gospels is, of course, Herod's Jerusalem,
with some alterations effected by Roman occupation.
On the whole the magnificence ascribed by Josephus to the
buildings of Herod is borne out by allusions in the early
Christian records, and an inscription discovered by M.
Clermont-Ganneau, composed in the Greek of this period,
in which strangers are forbidden to proceed beyond a certain
point in the Temple area on pain of death, strikingly
confirms the statements of the Jewish historian. The employment
of the Temple at this time as a place where those

who wished to give instruction could do so is similar to that
which is characteristic of the Moslem Mosque. But the elaborate
ritual of which the Temple was the scene has rather
been inherited by the Christian sanctuary, though of course
the abolition of sacrifice, due to the destruction of the
Temple, has deprived religious worship of what used to be its
most important feature. The attention of the Jewish historian
and the oral tradition of his countrymen is so much
engrossed by the Temple, the palaces and the forts, that
little is left for the other public and private buildings which
at this time filled the city; we hear casually of a gymnasium,
and obtain a casual reference to public baths. We hear of
numerous synagogues shortly after the destruction of the
Temple, and it is likely that there was no lack of these, in
different parts of the city, in the period which preceded that
disaster. Some provision must also have been made for the
religious wants of the foreign army of occupation, and indeed
for those of other foreign visitors, though the Romans
seem ordinarily to have respected Jewish prejudices on this
subject so far as possible. And especially must provision
have been made for the great numbers of devout persons
who visited the metropolis regularly at feast times.
Of Herod's descendants, Herod Agrippa, the friend of
Claudius, who for his services in connexion with the Emperor's
accession had received his grandfather's kingdom,
continued the work of fortification, and commenced, where
practicable, a new encircling wall, rendered necessary by
the growth of the population, which, had it been completed,
should, in the opinion of Josephus, have rendered the city
The city was for a short time the focus of general attention
during the rebellion quelled by Vespasian and Titus,
and ending in the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70. It would
be interesting to know the amount of the population at this

time, but our authorities give figures which could only with
great difficulty be accommodated in the space; 600,000, or
about eight times the present population, and 2,500,000, or
about thirty-five times the existing numbers. Moreover, the
present population covers an area which seems certainly to
include ground that was outside the city besieged by Titus.
The same must be said of these numbers as of the wall
seventy cubits high that surrounded the Temple, that they
suit the heavenly Jerusalem rather than the earthly. Whatever
the numbers may have been, they were unable to defend
the city, which appears to have been destroyed no less
thoroughly than after its capture by the Babylonians. Herod's
three towers are said to have been left, with as much of the
western wall as would serve to protect the ruins. It would
seem that the destruction of the public buildings did not
prevent a certain number of persons returning to their homes,
and a community established itself there after the fall, similar
to that which may have occupied the same site before
the time of Nehemiah.
About sixty years after the fall a man who believed himself
to be the Messiah, and persuaded others of the same,
Bar Cochba, heading a new nationalist movement on the
part of the Jews, seized the ruined city, refortified it, and
proceeded to rebuild the Temple. The revolt was not more
successful than that described by Josephus; and, after its
suppression, Jerusalem was turned into a Roman colony,
called Aelia Capitolina, with a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus
on the Temple area. To that god in Vespasian's time the
tribute had been assigned that had previously been sent by
the Jews to their own Temple, and the Jews were forbidden
access and even approach to the city of their fathers. The
name Aelia supplanted the time-honoured name, which for
awhile belonged exclusively to the heavenly city of devotional
fancy, which the fall of Jerusalem under Titus had

caused to be painted in more gorgeous colours than before.
Even now Aelia is with Moslems the alternative appellation
for “the Holy City,” and figures on the imprints of books
printed at Jerusalem.
Of the events which led to Jerusalem being endeared to
half the world, few at the time realized the importance. The
progress of Christianity, its separation from Judaism, its
honeycombing the Roman Empire, and its final adoption by
a Roman emperor, form a fascinating subject of study,
which at no time is likely to make the process perfectly
clear. Except for the brief period occupied by siege and fall,
it is probable that the Christian community at Jerusalem
maintained a sort of continuity, and the concept of the New
Jerusalem covered the site of the Old with a sanctity of
which it was never divested, even before the instinct for pilgrimage
found its interpretation in the desire to visit the
sacred sites.
One of the first results of the conversion of the Empire to
Christianity was that steps were taken to cover with worthy
monuments the places where scenes of transcendent importance
had been enacted. A church was erected with great
magnificence by Constantine, containing within its walls
the Tomb of Christ, the place of the Crucifixion, and the
spot where the True Cross had been found.
What reason is there for supposing that the sites were
still known in the fourth century, and could be accurately
located? The question has often been debated, though it is
uncertain when scepticism was first expressed. The best discussion
of it is to be found in the posthumous work of Sir
Charles Wilson, called Golgotha and the Holy Sepulchre, published
by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1906. The
eminent explorer's conclusion is ambiguous, and does not
therein differ from that of many others who have been over
the ground. There is no evidence that the site had any

interest for the Christian community till long after all chance
of being able to identify to it had disappeared, owing to the
violent convulsions which had attended the taking of Jerusalem
by Titus, its recapture at a later time by Bar Cochba,
and its transformation into a Roman colony by Hadrian.
To those who were filled with belief in the living Christ, any
interest in the Holy Sepulchre would savour of the absurdity
condemned in the Gospel of seeking the living among the
dead. Only when an emperor desired the site to be recovered,
persons would not be wanting ready to discover it.
The question for us is what indications led those who identified
the site to select one rather than another. How came
they, to mention only the most obvious difficulty, to place
the Tomb inside the City, when the Gospel leads us to suppose
that it was outside? If the site was in accordance with
authentic tradition, the City must have been moved, i.e., its
walls must in the time of Constantine have included a space
which they did not include at a time when there is great
reason for supposing the City to have been far more populous.
Moreover, is the proximity of the Sepulchre to the place of
crucifixion either likely or suggested by the sacred narrative?
The writers who narrate the discovery of these sacred
sites usually introduce into the story the miraculous element;
and this portion of it is scarcely less improbable than the
explanation given by some narrators that the site was learned
from a Jew tortured to reveal it. For why should such knowledge
be preserved by Jews? Tradition seems unanimously
to assert that the site was hidden beneath a Temple of Venus,
a goddess of evil reputation, whose shrine was thought to
be an intentional profanation of the holy spot, and that those
who searched there were rewarded by the discovery of a
grave, and presently by other confirmation of their find. The
large literature that exists on this subject illustrates the
varying effect of arguments not only on different minds, but

on the same mind at different times. The ordinary visitor
may be contented with Sir C.Wilson's conclusion that while
there is no decisive reason, historical, traditional or topographical,
for placing Golgotha and the Tomb where they
are now shown, yet no objection urged against the sites is
of such a convincing nature that it need “disturb the minds
of those who accept in all good faith the authenticity of
places that are hallowed by the prayers of countless pilgrims.”
Other writers have expressed themselves with much less
caution on this subject. Some have regarded the credit of
Christianity as in a way bound up with the site selected
in the time of Constantine, and even Sir C. Wilson says
he would attach more weight to the opinion of Constantin's
contemporaries than to the conjectures of modern
scholars, if it is a question of conjecture. On the other hand,
those who have been fortunate enough in modern times to
hit upon places which seem to them to correspond to the
requisite conditions are apt to express themselves very
positively; so Colonel Conder, whose suggestion is marked
on modern maps, regards it as a happy occurrence that the
sacred site was trodden by the Crusaders without knowledge
of its importance, and so spared the terrible scenes that
were enacted at the taking of Jerusalem in the immediate
neighbourhood of the site selected by Constantine. Scepticism
has once or twice been expressed on the identity of the
present location of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with
that of Constantine's building; but for this there appears to
be a continuous tradition, interrupted once or twice for
a very few years only, not for a period during which there
would be any probability of the sites being forgotten. Of
the interruption of the tradition before the time of Constantine
there is no question, but we have no accurate knowledge
of the length of the break. In a city built on the plain, a site

is easily rendered unrecognizable by such convulsions as
befell Jerusalem and its neighbourhood in the three centuries
which elapsed before Constantine built his church; but
on such ground as is occupied by Jerusalem, landmarks are
somewhat more permanent.
In the period which followed the conversion of Constantine
Jerusalem was adorned with many religious edifices,
and the whole land began to teem with monasteries and the
abodes of anchorites. There is a record of a strange attempt
made by the Emperor Julian to restore the Jewish Temple
on the area which probably contained a disused sanctuary
of Capitoline Jupiter, but for some reason or other this
scheme was not carried out. The practice of pilgrimage to
the sacred sites grew in popularity, and owing to various
inconveniences that arose was at times discouraged,
though with little effect, by the Fathers of the Church. The
Empress Eudocia is said to have rebuilt the walls of the
city, and to have founded various religious and philanthropic
institutions both in and around the place. More importance attaches
to the buildings of the Emperor Justinian, who erected
a hospital for sick pilgrims and finished the Church of the
Virgin which the Patriarch Elias had begun. Twelve years
were occupied in the erection of this edifice, of which contemporary
writers speak in enthusiastic terms. The platform
on the Temple area selected for the building not being
large enough, it was artificially increased by arches on
substructures. New methods were devised for bringing on
stones and columns of a size vast enough for the building
contemplated. The hospital was to contain 200 beds, and
substantial revenues were settled upon it.
The Church of St Mary in some way escaped destruction,
when in 614 the nearer East was invaded by Chosroes—that
last dying exploit of the Sassanian Empire, whose days were
numbered. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was not equally

fortunate, as it, with all its contents, was burnt to the
ground. The malice of the Persian invaders is said to have
been directed by Jews, who, as usual, were destined to reap
no permanent advantage from the catastrophe. If the figures
of the historians are to be trusted, the massacre effected by
the Persians must have been on as great a scale as any of
the events of the kind witnessed by Jerusalem; 90,000 Christians
of both sexes are said to have perished, and 65,000
corpses were presently gathered and deposited in a single
cave outside the Western Gate.
The news of this terrible blow to the Byzantine Empire
penetrated into Arabia, where the Prophet Mohammed, still
at Meccah, foretold that the Persian victory would shortly be
followed by a defeat. The rebuilding of the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre appears to have commenced almost as soon
as the Persians had departed, the name of Modestus, superior
of the monastery of Theodosius, being connected with
this restoration, which took ten years to accomplish. Mohammed's
prophecy was fulfilled fourteen years after its occasion,
and in 628 the conqueror Heraclius visited the city on
pilgrimage, and the part taken by the Jews in the former
disaster was now visited on them heavily at the time when
their brethren in Arabia were suffering persecution at the
hands of another enemy. The imperial visit had doubtless
the effect of causing the city to rise fast from its ruins, and
a few years later a calculation, which may rest on tradition
or conjecture, estimates the population of Jerusalem at
12,000 Greeks and 50,000 natives, nearly the number of
human beings which the city with its suburbs contains at
the present day.
But the restoration of Christian rule in Jerusalem was not
destined to be permanent. A power of which there had been
no previous indication was springing up at the time, destined
to give Jerusalem a new lease of existence as a sacred

city, while banishing Christianity, at least as a dominant
religion, from the nearer East. On Mohammed's mind the
sanctity of Jerusalem had in his youth been impressed by
those Jewish or Christian story-tellers with whom he had
associated in his travels as a leader or as a follower of a
caravan. And to him it had been portrayed as somewhat
similar to the Bethel of Jacob's dream; the place where
there was a ladder between heaven and earth, whereby
visitors could ascend or descend. For him who was to be
permitted to approach the Deity's abode Jerusalem was the
starting point. Thither the Koran tells us the Prophet made
a night journey from Meccah; and as dreamland is bound
by no conditions of space or time, it was the Temple—long
ruined and even polluted, but still the Furthest Sanctuary,
furthest from us and so nearest to Allah—whither he was
taken; it was there that—according to the tradition—he
mounted the Pegasus that was to convey him to the upper
world and its seven stories. Whether the tradition that
gives us the details of this eventful journey is all of it or any
of it Mohammed's statement, cannot now be known; all that
concerns history is that it was believed. Jerusalem was to
the followers of Mohammed what Sinai was to ancient
Israel, more than the unknown Mount of the Transfiguration
ever became to Christians; and yet, just as most Islamic
institutions are coloured by something out of both the preceding
systems, so the Furthest Mosque has associations
similar to those that belong to each of these mountains.
Starting thence the Prophet associated with some of his
less mighty forerunners, and received the honours due to
his worth; and thither he brought down some of the legislation
which through the ages is distinctive of Islam. So long
as Mohammed was bent on holding no compromise with
Meccan idolatry, it was to the Furthest Sanctuary that
his followers were commanded to turn when they prayed.

Only when circumstances rendered it necessary to conciliate
Pagans and exasperate Jews, was Meccah substituted as
the direction of prayer.
Fourteen years after Mohammed's flight from Meccah
came the Moslem conquest of Syria, decided by the battle
of Yarmuk. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was invited to deliver
up the city without resistance to the Caliph's general,
Abu Ubaidah, and since the terms of capitulation included
security for life and property, religious toleration, and involved
only the payment of a poll-tax and certain other by
no means vexatious duties, not much difficulty was made
about accepting them. As the Christians, it is said, declined
to treat with anyone but the Caliph himself, perhaps
doubting the power of any subordinate to make treaties,
Omar, the second follower of the Prophet, then reigning at
Medinah, decided to accept this condition, and came to receive
the capitulation of the sacred city. His name has ever
since clung to it, in connexion with the Mosque of Omar,
often falsely located.
From 636 till July 15, 1099, the city remained under
Moslem government; the nature of which renders religious
toleration very variable, since it depends on the taste of the
ruler for the time being whether non-Moslems shall be
molested or not. And in such a city as Jerusalem, the possession
of which could not fail to be an object of keen desire
to Jews and Christians, the tendency to fanaticism must
always have been greater than in any part of the Moslem
world, except perhaps the sanctuaries of Meccah and
The Moslem conquest tended, therefore, to secure to Jerusalem
sanctity similar to that which it had enjoyed under
Byzantine rule, though to the Moslems it was one of three
sanctuaries, to only one of which, and that not Jerusalem,
pilgrimage was enjoined. When in Umayyad times the

Caliphate gravitated towards Damascus, Jerusalem ran a
chance of becoming the central sanctuary, perhaps even the
capital of Islam; but this prospect was found to be incapable
of realization, and Islam would scarcely have survived such
a shifting of its religious centre. If any place in Palestine
could supplant Meccah, it should rather have been Hebron,
the city of Ibrahim or Abraham, the mythical founder of
the Islamic or Hanefite faith. The doctrine of the Koran
connected the sacrifice of Abraham's son not with Mount
Moriah but with the neighbourhood of Meccah, where indeed
the Ka'bah was supposed to have been rebuilt by Abraham
and Ishmael; the heroes of Jerusalem were persons in the
main respected indeed, but not of primary importance for
In accordance with the territorial division which the Arabs
took over from the Byzantines, Jerusalem was situated in
the Jund [or army] of Filastin (Palestine), of which the
capital was Ramlah, in the time of the Caliph Sulaiman
(715-717) who founded it, and long after; when Ramlah had
been destroyed by Saladdin in 1187, Jerusalem inherited the
right to the title of capital in this province. But the history
of Syria was chequered, and as the conquest of the Abbasids
had meant the loss of the metropolis to that country, it had
a tendency to fall to those usurpers whose efforts gradually
led to the establishment of a western Caliphate, to which
Syria regularly belonged. Professor Palmer observes that
the ravages of the Carmathians in Arabia, where, in 929,
Meccah itself was pillaged, and the Black Stone removed, led
to Jerusalem being for a time the chief resort of Moslem pilgrims,
a circumstance which also tended to cause a recrudescence
of persecution.
The annals of a cathedral town, especially when it is not
the capital of a province, are unlikely to be exciting; and
the scantiness of the annals of Jerusalem before the Frankish

conquest and after it is easily explicable. Its history is
little more than a record of damage and repair to the Christian
and the Moslem sanctuaries. This, as will be seen, is
fairly well recorded, but the governors of the place were not
sufficiently important for chronicles of their doings to be
kept. The present condition of the city, in which the Christian
feasts are the matter of real importance, which the
Moslems, whose religious concern they are not, have to
regulate, is likely to reflect the state of affairs that has been
normal since the Moslem conquest. The Moslem is a casual
visitor, the Christian a visitor to be reckoned on. He is not
a welcome guest, but as a show place lives by its visitors,
it is unwise to discourage him too much. On the other hand,
a place of pilgrimage loses something of its attractiveness,
if it be too accessible; exploits over which no risk is incurred
are of little honour. So long then as the Christian
pilgrims were only moderately humiliated and fleeced, Jerusalem
could prosper.
Mr Lestrange, whose Palestine under the Moslems contains
extracts from Moslem writers both before and after the Crusaders,
lucidly arranged and interpreted with reference to
the present topography of Jerusalem, has drawn attention to
the descriptions of Jerusalem by Moslems who wrote at the
end of the tenth and in the middle of the eleventh century
respectively. The first of these was a native of the place,
whose description is somewhat coloured by patriotism, and
by the theory of the heavenly Jerusalem. The second, a Persian
visitor, of excellent repute as a writer, estimated the
population at twenty thousand, and fancied that as many
more Moslem pilgrims sometimes came in the month of
Numbers of Christians also came on pilgrimage, and the
Jews had a synagogue which was to them what the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre was to the Christians; the native writer

of half a century before declared that these two communities
had all the power. One can hear similar complaints from
Moslems now in Turkish cities. Both praise the place for
its cleanliness; which, however, they rightly attribute to the
geographical position of the city, and to the mode in which
the streets are laid out, which permits impurities to be carried
down by the rain. Of the list of eight gates made in the tenth
century only one, the Bab al-Amud (called by Europeans the
Damascus Gate) has preserved its name up to the present
time. The sites of the remainder are not difficult of identification.
Perhaps some of these may be on the same sites as gates
mentioned by Nehemiah, though the variations in the elevation
of the soil renders this doubtful.
In spite of the assertions of these writers the condition of
the Christians within Jerusalem, as in other places where Moslems
were in power, was precarious in the highest degree. They
were in a way hostages for the good behaviour of their coreligionists
outside; and activity on the part of the Christian
powers might be avenged on them. Moreover, Islam was
lacerated by internal wars, and the contributions which the
different aspirants to power required for the support of their
armies could more easily and conveniently be levied on unbelievers
than on believers. The Crusades were preceded by
armies of pilgrims, large enough to inspire suspicion, though
not of sufficient size to attempt violence with much hope of success.
The destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
in 1010 by the mad Hakim had aroused some indignation in
Europe, and the Seljuke rule, which at Baghdad was accompanied
at first by violent disorders, had put the Christians
of Palestine in a worse plight than before. The Jews,
whether truly or not, were supposed to get at the ear of
Moslem sovereigns, and avenge the ill-treatment of their
brethren in Europe by falsely accusing the Christians of the
East. Yet all the wrongs of the branches of the Church subject

to Moslems, and all the humiliations to which pilgrims
from the West were subjected, would have produced no effect,
had not one man been found gifted with the enthusiasm, the
eloquence, and the energy to transform sentiment into words
and action. The historians of the Crusades rightly give Peter
the Hermit a place beside the most powerful movers of human
masses that are known to fame. That such a man should have
proved but an indifferent fighter is not surprising; credit
must be given him for the possession of more organizing
ability than many mere rousers of enthusiasm have been
able to display.
The movement started by Peter the Hermit led to the
foundation of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, of which lucid
accounts have been given by Conder, Palmer and many
others. On Friday, July 15, 1099, after a siege of forty days,
Jerusalem was taken by the forces led by Godfrey of Bouillon,
who himself was the first to scale the wall. His scaling
tower, which had been vainly tried on the east of the city,
was advanced with greater effect on the north side of the
wall, near the gate called after Herod; and when once the
city had been entered on this side, the forces of Raymond
of Toulouse entered without difficulty from the west and
south. The vanquished Moslems sought refuge partly in the
Haram area, and partly in the Tower of David. In the former
place a massacre took place, in which the slain are estimated
by Arabic writers, accustomed to exaggerate, at
70,000; while the other refugees appear to have been sent
in safety to Askalon by the efforts of Count Raymond. The
impression created by the news in the Moslem world was
vast. An attempt was made at Baghdad, its centre, to start
a rival crusade for the delivery of the captured city, but the
time was not yet ripe amid Moslem dissensions for such an
Godfrey was appointed ruler of the reclaimed city, where

he refused on religious grounds to bear the title king. He
proceeded to transform the mosques into what many of them
had been before, Christian churches, and to arrange on
western lines for the proper maintenance of these as also of
those churches which the Christians had under Moslem domination
been allowed to retain. A patriarch was soon appointed
without reference to either the local Church or to
the Pope; and a code of laws gradually drawn up which has
won much admiration, as displaying a spirit far in advance
of the time to which it belongs. For military purposes a
modification of the feudal system of Europe was introduced
in the new kingdom, which was to include all Palestine,
with certain vassaldoms beyond its confines.
Among the most remarkable phenomena of the Crusades
was the establishment of the orders at once military and
ecclesiastical of the Templars and the Knights of St John.
The Templars were lodged in the Aksa Mosque, which at
first was used as a royal palace; when in 1118 the Order
was founded, King Baldwin removed to other quarters, and
the knights were housed in what they called the Temple of
Solomon, to which they made various additions for religious
and other needs. The Muristan, now incorporated in the recently
built German Church, retains the memory of the
Hospice of the Knights of St John, who there had two
buildings of this nature, one for males and another for females.
They were not the first buildings of the sort for the
use of Christians even since Moslem domination; since the
good relations between Charlemagne and the famous Harun
al-Rashid had rendered it possible for the former to found
a hospice in Jerusalem, and in general obtain tolerable conditions
for the Christians resident there. A third Order,
the Teutonic, also had a hospital of St Mary in Jerusalem,
founded after that of St John's Knights, for the accommodation
of German pilgrims.


The theory of the Frankish kings appears to have been
to exclude Moslems from Jerusalem, just as non-Moslems
were excluded from the Arabian sanctuaries. In order to
replenish the devastated city the second king, Baldwin I,
brought into it a number of Syrians from villages beyond
Jordan. The needs of trade appear to have caused the admission
of a certain number of Jews into the city during
Frankish times, since a traveller found two hundred Jewish
dyers living under the Tower of David. The various branches
of the Oriental Church, Abyssinians, Armenians, Copts,
Georgians and the different sects of Syrians appear to have
all found representation in the Frankish city, just as they
find it now.
Whereas at one time it was supposed that the West
owed much of its architecture to the East, the converse
is now very generally believed. “The monuments,” says
Colonel Conder, “which the Latins left behind them
attest their mastery in the art of building. The masonry
was far more truly cut than that of the Byzantines.
The slender clustered pillars, the bold sharp relief
of the foliaged capitals, the intricate designs of cornices
witness their skill as masons and sculptors.” The
authors of The Survey of Western Palestine have made out a
list of thirty-seven churches known to have existed in Jerusalem
or in the vicinity of the city walls in the twelfth century.
“Nor,” they add, “is this all that remains of the
crusading town, for wherever the explorer walks through
the Holy City he encounters mediaeval remains. The whole
of the present Meat Bazaar, adjoining the Hospital of St
John on the east, is crusading work, representing the old
street of Malcuisinat; and the walls of the street leading
thence towards the Damascus Gate, together with a fine
vaulted building on the east side, are of mediaeval masonry.
The present Tower of David is the Crusading Castle of the

Pisans, which was rebuilt as soon as the city was taken by
Goldfrey. The so-called Kal'at Jalut in the north-west angle
of the present city is the mediaeval Tancred's Tower.”
The Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem lasted eighty-eight
years, and the throne was occupied during that time by
nine sovereigns, one of them an infant, and more than one
under the influence of a woman. Apparently western government
of eastern states can only be carried on successfully
when the western invader is not a colonist, but a temporary
occupant, to be replaced after a time by some one fresh from
the West; the colonist speedily degenerates and cannot even
cope with the indigenous inhabitant. Although the State
founded by the Crusaders was perhaps less disturbed by
wars and dangers than the ordinary histories of the time
might lead the reader to believe, and the condition of Moslems
subject to the Frankish king was not intolerable, the new
kingdom took no root,and it is agreed by students that the effect
produced by the Crusaders on Europe was far greater than
anything which they achieved in Asia. It has been pointed
out that many Arabic words remain in European languages,
as mementoes of that enterprise, whereas few, if any, Frankish
words have got into the vernaculars of Syria or Egypt in
consequence of the presence of the knights. When once the
differences between the sections of the Islamic world had
been appeased by the great Saladdin, the ejection of the
Franks ceased to be impossible. The final battle, of Tiberias
or Hattin, fought July 2, 1187, ended with the army of the
King of Jerusalem being annihilated by Saladdin, and the
King himself, Guy of Lusignan, falling into the Moslem
leader's hands. The defeat appears to have been due to incompetent
leadership on the Christian side, not to brilliant
generalship on the part of Saladdin. The effect, however,
was the same. Town after town now fell back into Moslem
hands, and after a futile attempt at resistance Jerusalem was


given back by capitulation to Saladdin on October 2 of the
same year. Few events in the history of Islam are more
honourable than Saladdin's entry into Jerusalem without massacre
and without pillage. According to the Mohammedan historian
of Jerusalem the number of the inhabitants at the time
was 100,000, from whom ransom was demanded at the rate
often dinars per man, five per woman and one per child.
Guards were stationed at the gates, and only those who paid
their ransom allowed to go out. Yet several managed to
climb down the walls, and many were released on one pretext
or another, the Sultan being kind-hearted.
The recovery of Jerusalem by the Moslem Sultan counted
in the East as no less an exploit than its conquest had
counted in the West, and pilgrimages to Jerusalem commenced
from all Islamic countries. The Frankish residents
sold their goods for whatever they would fetch, being anxious
to quit a Moslem city; and it was suggested to the Sultan
to seize the gold and silver in the churches, as not
having been included by the capitulation, but he, anxious
for the fair fame of Islam in Europe, refused to profit by this
suggestion. Owing to the crusade for the second recovery of
Jerusalem in which the English king, Richard I, played so
noteworthy a part, Saladdin deemed it advisable to strengthen
the fortifications of the city, and for that purpose came
and took up his abode in the hospital near the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre, now called Muristan. Artisans were sent
for from Mosul, with whom 2,000 Christian prisoners were
compelled to work; a series of towers was constructed from
the Jaffa to the Damascus Gate, a trench being at the same
time excavated in the rock, whence the stones were used in
erecting the towers. The Sultan himself set the example of
carrying stones on his saddle, and the whole Moslem population,
including ecclesiastical and military dignitaries,
helped in the work. In this way operations that might have

taken, we are told, many years were accomplished very quickly.
The English forces did not actually besiege Jerusalem on this
occasion, as a treaty was made between Richard and Saladdin,
securing certain advantages for the Christians in
the holy city. Whence its great number of Moslem inhabitants
had come we are not told; but probably the state of
war caused many to be homeless, and of the Moslem pilgrims
attracted by the recovery of the place many may have been
induced to remain by the favourable conditions on which
property could be purchased; and the colleges of Baghdad
must have been turning out numerous jurists and theologians
anxious to be placed. A certain number of Christians, we are
told, asked and obtained leave to continue residing in the
city on the terms granted by Moslem rulers to tolerated cults.
The work of Saladdin was not to remain undisturbed. In
1219, when Damietta was being besieged by the Franks, Isa,
called al-Muazzam, who had inherited Syria from his father
al-Adil, fearing that Jerusalem might again be taken by the
Christians, sent a party of masons and sappers to destroy it.
This measure was followed by a general stampede of the inhabitants,
who disposed of their property at ruinous prices.
The people who remained assembled in solemn supplication
at the two great sanctuaries on the Temple area, where this
sovereign had himself carried out many works of decoration,
besides founding schools for the study of law and grammar
in the vicinity. Doubtless the idea of this prince was the humane
and advanced one that the only way to avoid disputes between
the two religions was to render the city common property, each
sect having free access to its own sanctuary—a condition which
would be rendered impossible by the presence of walls and
fortresses, which must necessarily be in the possession of one
party, only too likely to tyrannize over the other. The prince
should have lived either much earlier or much later for his
views to be practical.


Some authorities go so far as to assert that his workmen
reduced the whole city to a heap of ruins with the exception
of the great Christian and Moslem sanctuaries and the Tower
of David. The demolition of these walls shortly afterwards
caused the failure of negotiations for the restoration of Jerusalem
to the Franks, as an indemnity was demanded which
the Egyptian Sultan refused to pay. In 1229 owing to the
quarrels between the representatives of the Ayyubid family
the Emperor Frederic II succeeded in obtaining the ruined
city from the Egyptian Sultan, on condition that the walls
should not be rebuilt, and that there should be no interference
with the sanctuaries on the Temple area. These terms naturally
gave little satisfaction to either of the contending religions.
For eleven years the Franks held the city under them,
when al-Nasir, prince of Kerak, on the pretence that the
conditions under which the sacred city was held were being
violated by its fortification, attacked the place, and levelled
to the ground the Tower of David which al-Muazzam had
spared. But four years afterwards (1243) on the arrival of the
Duke of Cornwall, brother of Henry III, with a company of
English Crusaders the former treaty was renewed, the Prince
of Kerak who was in possession finding it desirable to obtain
the aid of the Franks for purposes of his own. It was not,
however, to remain long in European hands. The next year
the Egyptian Sultan obtained the help of the subjects of the
Khwarizm-Shah, driven from their country by the Mongol
hordes, and 20,000 of these appeared before Jerusalem, whose
defences had only begun to rise after their complete demolition.
The Khwarizmians, whom history represents as little
less savage than the Mongols, swept away the Christian
population, beheaded the priests ministering at the altar in
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and wrought great havoc
in that edifice; the graves of the kings there buried were
opened and their ashes scattered, and other churches in and

about the city were desecrated or demolished. Since the year
1244 Jerusalem has remained in Moslem hands.
With other possessions of the Ayyubids, Jerusalem was
handed on to the Mamluke dynasties, whence it came into
possession of the Turks. The attitude adopted by these
dynasties towards Jews and Christians was ordinarily tolerant,
and both Jews and Melchite Christians undoubtedly
received better treatment under their rule than under that
of the Franks. At no time since the abandonment of the
Crusades has the City of David been the focus of public attention
in both East and West as it was when Europe and
Asia were contending for its possession. It sinks into provincial
mediocrity, and is entirely overshadowed by Cairo
or Constantinople, the capital whence it derives its ruler.
Even its special historians have little to say about it from
this time. To the imperial historians it is chiefly of interest
as a place of exile or retirement of eminent men who commemorate
their residence there by some benefaction. The
ruined fortifications appear to have lain in heaps till the
time of the Ottoman Sultan Sulaiman, the builder of the
existing walls which bear date 1542. To the Christians the
chief interest of the place lay in the Church of the Holy
Sepulchre; to the Moslems in the Temple area. For these two
sanctuaries Jerusalem might be said to exist.
In order to be true to the title of this book, a little should
be said about the work done by the Mamluke Sultans for the
decoration of the city. Baibars I, who built a mosque over
the supposed Tomb of Moses, is said to have instituted the
festival in honour of the “Prophet Moses,” which to this
day serves as a sort of counterpoise to the Greek Easter. He
renewed “the stonework which is above the marble “of the
Dome of the Rock. Outside the city on the north-west he
built in the year 1264 a Khan or Hospice, which he adorned
with a door taken from the Fatimide palace in Cairo, and




on which he settled the revenues of several villages in the
neighbourhood of Damascus. The building contained a mill
and a bakehouse, as well as a mosque. Its purpose was to
harbour visitors (perhaps belated visitors) to the city, and an
arrangement was made for the distribution of bread at the
door. In Mujir al-din's time the revenues had already been
sequestrated, and no more bread was handed out. Baibars
also repaired the Dome of the Chain.
The Sultan Ketbogha is credited with having done some
repairs to the stonework of the Dome of the Rock, and
having rebuilt the wall of the Temple area which overlooks
the cemetery of the Bab al-Rahmah in the year 1299. His
successor Lajin renewed the mihrab of David in the southern
wall near the Cradle of Jesus.
The great builder Mohammed al-Nasir naturally left some
memorials of his taste in Jerusalem. He faced the front of
the Aksa Mosque with marble, and opened in it two windows
which are to the right and left of the mihrab. This was done
in the year 1330-1331. He had the domes of the two chief
edifices regilt, so well, says Mujir al-din, that, though in his
time 180 years had passed since the operation, the work still
looked brand-new. He rebuilt the Gate of the Cotton-merchants
in very elaborate style.
The Sultan Sha'ban, grandson of Nasir, built the minaret
near the Gate of the Tribes in the year 1367. He renewed
the wooden doors of the Aksa Mosque, and the arches over
the western stairs in the Court of the Dome, opposite to the
Bab al-Nazir, nine years later. The next year the Franciscans
on Mount Sion were massacred by this Sultan's
The great Sultan Barkuk built the Mueddin's bench opposite
the mihrab in the Dome of the Rock, and repaired the
Sultan's Pool outside Jerusalem on the west. The author
quoted remarks that it had gone to ruin and was useless in

his day. In 1394 a governor named Shihab al-din al-Yaghmuri,
appointed by Barkuk, placed on the western
door of the Dome a marble slab containing a declaration
that various imposts instituted by former governors had
been remitted.
The following Sultan Faraj placed on the wall of the Bab
al-Silsilah a slab declaring that in future the Sultan's representative
at Meccah and Medinah must be a different person
from the governor of Jerusalem, which was to form an
administrative unit with Hebron. The effect of this edict was
quite temporary.
The Sultan Jakmak on the occasion of his turning the
Christians out of the Tomb of David in the year 1452 instituted
a severe inquisition into the monasteries of Palestine,
and, in consequence of this, damage was done to the Church
of the Holy Sepulchre and other Christian edifices. New
constructions raised by the Franciscans in the Monastery
of Mount Sion were demolished, and a chapel erected by
them near their cloister was in 1491 destroyed by order of
We may now condense the history of the two chief sites.
The Temple area, containing the Dome of the Rock and
the Furthest Mosque, counts, as we have seen, as one of
the three great sanctuaries of Islam. On the Israelitish
temples that once stood there much has been written, and
ingenious reconstructions of them are exhibited by the heirs
of the late Dr Shick; it does not come within our scope to
do more than allude to them. When Jerusalem was taken
by the Moslems, the church erected by Justinian was on
part of the area; and a late writer who narrates the erection
of the Moslem temple, states that Omar prayed in this
building. For the rest the account reproduced by E. H.
Palmer of the founding of the Furthest Mosque has been
shown by Mr Lestrange to be apocryphal. It belongs to a

period after the recovery of Jerusalem from the Franks,
when the Arabs produced many an historical romance, and
the exploits of the early heroes of Islam were adorned with
divers fabulous details. According to these works Omar,
coming to the Sacred City to receive the capitulation of the
Patriarch, demands to be shown the Furthest Sanctuary.
He is taken to the Church of the Resurrection, but tells his
guide that he lies; he is then conducted to another church,
and again refuses to be cajoled; finally, he is brought to the
Temple area, which, from Christian spite against the Jews,
is covered so thickly with refuse that it can scarcely be approached.
The Caliph proceeds in great humility to clear
away the refuse with his cloak, and his followers aid him.
Even when this work of purification has been performed, the
area has to be three times cleansed by rain from heaven
before prayer on it is permitted. Apparently this story is in
the main an etymological myth, to account for the name
Kumamah (sweepings) applied by Moslems not to the Temple
area, but to the Church of the Resurrection (Kiyamah). The
connexion of Omar's name with the Dome of the Rock is
probably due to the tradition of his clearing the site. A
curious description of a building by him above the Rock
has been preserved by Adamnan, Abbot of St Columba, as
related to him by a French pilgrim, Bishop Arculphus. He
states that the Mosque of the Saracens was a square building,
put together of planks and beams yet large enough to
contain 3,000 worshippers.
The building by Omar of a Mosque in Jerusalem is, however,
not recorded by early Arabic historians, though Mr
Lestrange has discovered an allusion to it in the Byzantine
chronicler Theophanes. Of that which now bears his name
the Arabic geographers appear to take no notice; it is a
meagre building, probably meant to commemorate a site
on which the Caliph said his prayers, he having magnanimously,

according to the legend, refused to do this in the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, for fear this might afterwards
give the Moslems a title to the place; a story which implies
that Omar possessed a remarkable power of projecting himself
into the future. That the Moslems who took Jerusalem
did not seize the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is doubtless
due to the fact that this site could have no interest for them,
since their system denies both the death and resurrection of
the Christian Saviour; the very name Holy Sepulchre involves
according to them mendacity almost comparable to
that of the Cretans. The Temple area contains two sacred
buildings of primary importance, the Dome of the Rock
which is in the centre, and the Furthest Mosque. Both are
ascribed to the Caliph Abd al-Malik, who reigned from
685-705, and who had a political reason for endeavouring to
make Jerusalem once more supersede Meccah as the great
place of pilgrimage. Belonging to the Umayyad dynasty,
which, though descended from the most stubborn of the
Prophet's opponents, had, through the ability of Mu'awiyah,
the first Umayyad Caliph, not only usurped the Prophet's
throne, but made it an hereditary possession, he had the same
reasons as Jeroboam of old for wishing to divert the stream
of pilgrimage from the place where both objects and persons
would remind the visitors that their sovereign was seated
on a throne to which others had a better claim. The worship
of a stone was held by the ancients to be the main article
of Arabian religion, and to this sentiment Mohammed had
to give way, though Omar was notoriously reluctant to retain
the ceremony of kissing the Black Stone, which was
the nucleus of the Meccan Ka'bah, the surrounding sanctuary,
and of Islam. Abd al-Malik, like most of the Umayyads,
considering religion as of political value only, fancied he
could satisfy his co-religionists if he provided them with a
stone and a sanctuary round it, and appears deliberately to


have started the cult of the Rock round which he in the
year 691 built the Dome which was to correspond with the
Ka'bah, ordaining at the same time a ceremony similar to
the time-honoured circuit round the Meccan shrine. Like
Jeroboam he went so far as to forbid the pilgrimage prescribed
in the Koran, and substitute his own for it. The
second founder of the Abbasid line of Caliphs, whose capital
Baghdad became world-famous, made a similar endeavour,
and for the same reason; the fear that a visit to Meccah
might turn Moslems into partisans of the Prophet's descendants.
But even in the year 691 the ordinances of Islam were
too deeply rooted to permit of so tremendous an innovation;
and later writers, regarding even the attempt as inconsistent
with ordinary prudence, suppose the sagacious Caliph's
purpose to have been to counteract the effect produced on
men's minds by the magnificence of Christian churches
existing at the time at Jerusalem and elsewhere.
It should be observed that some eminent authorities identify
the Dome of the Rock with Justinian's Church of S. Sophia,
and it has even been suggested that the Rock is itself one
of the sites regarded as Golgotha. This opinion has, however,
few supporters.
With regard to the Stone it appears that nothing is known
of it prior to the statement of the Bordeaux Pilgrim, who
visited Jerusalem A.D. 333, and asserts that near the two
equestrian statues of the Emperor Hadrian still standing on
the Temple Area there was a pierced stone which it was the
custom of the Jews to anoint with oil once in the year, when
they wailed and tore their garments, after which ceremonies
they retired. The process of pouring oil on stones belongs to
the pre-Mosaic religion of the patriarchs; it has no countenance
in the law of Moses. We find, however, that according
to the Moslem tradition the anointing of the stone
was ordered by the Umayyad Abd al-Malik, and continued

till his dynasty closed. It would seem, then, that what the
Dome of the Rock restored was not a Mosaic cult, but one
which belongs to a different stratum of the Israelitish religion,
which somehow was continued, probably in secret,
during the domination of Judaism, and after the destruction
of the Temple was revived. The ordinary theory identifies the
rock with the site of the altar of burnt sacrifice, whence the
blood is supposed to have been conveyed into a chamber
below the rock, whence it was drained into the Kedron. Other
suggestions have been made by eminent explorers.
The name of Abd al-Malik lies concealed in the inscription
above the cornice of the octagonal colonnade which
supports the Dome. For Abd al-Malik the name of Mamun,
who reigned from 813 to 833 has been substituted, the
alteration being still noticeable in the crowding of the letters,
and the different tint of the tiles. The person, who made
this alteration forbore to alter the date also, whence Mamun
is said to build this Dome in the year 691 [72 A.H.], nearly
a century before his birth. From M. van Berchem's Corpus of
Cairene inscriptions we have already had examples of this
mode of alteration, which reminds us of the treatment by ancient
compilers of the documents which they embodied in their
books, resulting in contradictory statements being left side by
side. M. van Berchem thinks that the bronze plates above
the northern and eastern doors belong to the period of Abd
al-Malik, but in these cases both names and dates have been
altered, the latter to the year 216 A.H. [831 A.D.]
The quotations of Mr Lestrange show that the shape and
appearance of the Dome have varied very slightly since its
foundation by Abd al-Malik, though during the period that
has elapsed it has frequently suffered from earthquake, and
the episode of the occupation of Jerusalem by the Franks
might have been expected to leave a permanent mark upon
it. The chief effect of the Frankish possession would seem to



be found in the chipping away of pieces of the Rock to be
taken to Europe as relics; the priests in charge of the Rock
being amply paid for these fragments. This abuse is said to
have led to its being paved over as a precaution; Saladdin
ordered the pavement to be removed, the Moslem theory of
sacred objects being different from the Christian. The accounts
given by different visitors vary somewhat as to the number
of columns, but in most matters are in striking agreement
with the present condition of the edifice. Abd el-Malik undoubtedly
employed Byzantine artists for his building, and
to them is due the extremely rich mosaics which cover the
arcades above the columns, form a wide border round the
dome and fill the spaces between the windows. The cubes are
not only of glass coloured and gilt, but of ebony and mother-of-pearl,
which latter material gives a lovely translucent effect
in the dim light beneath the dome. The designs are chiefly
large vases and crowns whence wreaths and garlands depend.
Other sovereigns who have left inscriptions in the Dome,
commemorating work done by them in restoring or beautifying
it, are the Fatimide Caliph Zahir (1022 A.D.), who rebuilt it after
it had fallen in, in consequence of the earthquake of the year
1016; Saladdin (1187), who renewed the gilding; the great
Cairene builder, Nasir son of Kala'un (1318 and 1319) and
the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II; the last repaired the Dome
in the first third of the nineteenth century, but the inscription
which records what he did is imperfect. Of the restoration
by Sulaiman the Magnificent (1520-1566) there is no commemorative
Yet much of the special beauty of the mosque is due to him;
it was he who restored the cupola and altered its windows,
the arches of which are slightly pointed, while the older and
wider arches beneath are round; he filled them with coloured
glass in an elaborate setting of small patterns, so that the light
filters through with rich effect. He substituted Persian tiles on

the upper parts of the outer façade for El-Walid's mosaics: for
this he probably imported Persian potters, as his predecessors
had mosaic workers. On the broad border round the building
a broken colour effect is obtained by the juxtaposition of
enamelled bricks of very varied shades, chiefly blues, from turquoise
to full and dark tints relieved with pale and rich
greens, while the bricks of the archivolts are glazed on
their outer surfaces with blue and white alternately. The
pilasters between the windows are chiefly of a golden brown.
These, however, seem to have suffered more from restoration
than other parts. And there must be frequent occasion for
restoration. We saw workmen without ladders attempting
to remove weeds growing far above them with a long pole
pointed with metal; this while ineffective against plants, as
it could at most cut off their leaves, scratched the enamel
and occasionally knocked out a tile. Several bays have lost
their marble casing and are temporarily covered with a
plastering like mud, till Yildiz Kiosk allows the replacing of
the slabs, which are, we were assured, ready to hand.
The other great building which occupies part of the Temple
area, the Aksa or Furthest Mosque, was probably built at
the same time as the Dome of the Rock or rather transformed
into a mosque from the remains of Justinian's
Church; but there appears to be no authentic account of its
origin. The later romancers state that in Abd al-Malik's time
the gates were covered with plates of gold and silver, which
were stripped off and turned into money by order of the
Abbasid Mansur, who utilized the sum so obtained for restoring
the Mosque after the ravages of an earthquake,
which had wrecked it shortly before the fall of the Umayyad
dynasty. Another earthquake brought the building down
after this restoration, and the Caliph Mahdi (775-785 A.D.)
had it rebuilt, but with the proportions somewhat altered;
for supposing that the weakness of the edifice had been occasioned

by excessive length and deficient breadth, he made
the new building shorter but broader than the old. It has
been shown that these Caliphs did actually visit Jerusalem,
whence there is no inherent improbability in the romancers’
statements with regard to the successive restorations, though
the story of the gold and silver plates is probably apocryphal.
According to a geographer of the tenth century, in the
restoration effected by Mahdi, the rebuilding of the several
colonnades was assigned by the Caliph to various governors,
but a portion of the ancient edifice and that supported on
marble columns, remained embedded in the new. A marble
colonnade on the north side had been added in the first half
of the ninth century by the governor of Khorasan.
The account of the building given by the historian of Jerusalem
at the end of the fifteenth century agrees very closely
with its present condition, but those historians who described
it before the times of the Crusaders appear to have
seen a much more magnificent edifice, double the width of
the present Mosque, with 280 pillars supporting the roof, and
fifteen aisles. The Mosque has now seven aisles only. The
dimensions, according to the eleventh-century traveller, were
420 by 150 cubits, the former a wholly impossible figure, for
which Mr Lestrange reads 120, making the width greater
than the length. Another English writer supposes the Mosque
to have suffered in the taking of Jerusalem by the Crusaders,
and accounts for its reduced dimensions (230 feet by 170) by
the work of the Franks, who, however, are supposed to have
added rather than to have taken away, and whose work was
removed without much difficulty, it would seem, by Saladdin.
In the case of a building at Jerusalem the chance of exaggeration
cannot be eliminated, whence it seems doubtful whether
there is any necessity for the hypothesis to which reference
has been made.
The small Dome of the Chain, which is a few paces east of

the Dome of the Rock, is supported on seventeen pillars,
without any enclosing wall, except on the kiblah side.
Moslem writers have fabulous accounts of the reason why a
chain was suspended from this dome, which in Frankish days
is said to have been called the Chapel of St James the Less.
MrLestrange has, in this case, too, the merit of having refuted
certain fictions that have got into European works from a
late Arabic historian of Jerusalem, with reference to the
origin of this building, which may be as old as the Dome of
the Rock. A dome should serve to shelter something, probably
an image, and the fact of this dome being open all
round is evidence that its original purpose must have been
something of the kind.
Another of the many isolated buildings is a little scbil or
drinking fountain built in 1445 by Kaietbai, of whose palace
in Cairo we have an illustration and who has left traces at
Damascus also of his love of building. This fountain is
thoroughly Egyptian in style, and bears considerable resemblance
to Kaietbai's tomb, especially in the shape of
the cupola, its ornamentation of arabesques and its metal
Of the other domes and sanctuaries included in the Temple
area the existence is certified at different times before the
Crusades, but there would appear to have been some variation
both in their names and location. The same is true of
the eleven gates of the area.
We have seen that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre goes
back to the time of Constantine, who enclosed the three
sites of importance within a single building. After the destruction
of the church by Chosroes three, or according to
some authorities four, separate churches were erected in the
same area. In 1010 the church was again destroyed by order
of the Fatimide Caliph Hakim; various accounts are given
of the motive or occasion for this arbitrary proceeding, and,



as might be expected, the Jews are supposed to have had
a hand in it. In the case of this particular despot it is unnecessary
to search for either. Rebuilding is said to have
commenced shortly afterwards, but it would appear that
serious operations did not begin till 1037, after lengthy negotiations
between the Byzantine Emperors and the Egyptian
Caliphs; the church, in the condition in which it was
found by the Crusaders, was finished by the year 1048, chiefly
at the expense of Constantine Monomachus, who sent Byzantine
architects for the purpose. The cave of the sepulchre
was surmounted by a circular church, while detached chapels
were erected over the other sites, which were now, owing to
the accumulation of legends, more numerous than they had
been in the time of Constantine or Heraclius. The Franks
enlarged the Rotunda, which covered the sepulchre, by the
addition of the choir, from the south-east of which walls
were built so as to include the Calvary chapel, while on the
east the choir was connected through the Chapel of St Helena
with the Chapel of the Invention of the Cross. During
the Frankish period the Church was, of course, in the possession
of the Latins, whereas after the conquest of the city
by Saladdin the Greeks resumed possession; certain rights
were afterwards purchased for the Latins in 1305, and in
1342 they obtained possession of the Chapel of the Apparition.
Of the damage done to the church by the Khwarizmians
when the city was finally restored to the Moslems
mention has already been made, and at some time all
entrances were closed except one in order to save Moslems
trouble in the collection of admission fees from pilgrims.
In 1502 Peter Martyr was sent by Ferdinand of Aragon to
negotiate a treaty for the defence of pilgrims and the maintenance
of the sanctuaries. In 1598 the Pasha of Damascus
wished to turn the church into a mosque, but was induced
to desist by the representations of French and Venetian

envoys. These dates are given by Sepp, who has also gone
more fully than other writers into the history of the Latin
orders established in Palestine, and the martyrdoms endured
by over-enthusiastic preachers to Moslems, till orders
were issued from Rome, forbidding such endeavours. In
1808 a conflagration occurred which did considerable damage,
but this had been repaired by September 11, 1810,
at a cost of 4,000,000 of roubles. To one who has witnessed
the ceremony of the appearance of the Sacred Fire it is
marvellous that such conflagrations are not more frequent.
Modern Jerusalem is the product of a variety of forces
which had free play in the nineteenth century, religious
revivals in England and America, archaeological enthusiasm
in the same countries, and political ambitions on the part
of various European nations concerned with the nearer
East. To these there has been added in quite recent times
the force of Zionism, the programme of those who regard a
return to Palestine as the natural solution of the problem
raised by anti-Semitism in the countries where there are
the largest Jewish congregations. The relations between the
Ottoman Empire and the European powers being so very
different from what they were when Europe was in disorder,
Jerusalem has by these various forces been transformed into
a centre for religious and philanthropic effort, unconnected
to a great extent with either of the sanctuaries which formerly
constituted its chief attraction. Curiosity attracts
nearly as many visitors as are drawn by devotion, and the
ease with which pilgrimage can be accomplished detracts
somewhat from its merit. While the Christian and Jewish
quarters are constantly expanding, the latter indeed at an
enormous rate, the Moslem population shows no sign of
increase, and its members, while not unaffected by European
philanthropy, appear ordinarily incapable of emulating
Western enterprise. Those who, like the Khalidi family,

do so, are happily adopting the conception of unsectarian
philanthropy, which the new and bloodless invasion from
Europe has brought. The enthusiasm which characterized
the descriptions of those who arrived there at the cost of
vast sacrifices is wanting in the memoirs of the traveller who
is conveyed thither comfortably by steam; yet it is probable
that in population and in the beauty of its buildings modern
Jerusalem would compare favourably with the Jerusalem of
any earlier period. Certainly at no time have life and property
been so safe, or the relations between the different
elements of the population so satisfactory. The number of
tongues spoken by its inhabitants and its visitors, great
even in the time of the Apostles, is now phenomenal, being
variously estimated at from twenty-five to forty. But the
dangers which used at one time to attend a great influx of
strangers are now almost forgotten, and the most crowded
solemnities pass off with little or no disorder. Should the
present tendencies meet with no unexpected check, the city
may long maintain the position of an international sanctuary,
common to the chief religions of the world.

[Back to top]


The Praises of Damascus

THE enthusiastic language of Moslem writers about
the beauties of Damascus, which they regard as an
earthly Paradise, may seem to western visitors exaggerated
and true of it only at an age long past, if ever.
And, indeed, there are few show buildings left where once
there were many. The great Umayyad Mosque, much of it
brand new, is the one important edifice, whither the sightseer
hastens; there are besides one or two show-houses,
gorgeous rather than beautiful; and the Bazaars, still illustrative
of Oriental manners, are probably roofed with European
materials, and largely stocked with European goods.
The beauty of the place lies rather in its natural than
its artificial endowments. Its situation is indeed neither
wild nor grand; but the contrast between its luxurious
vegetation with its copious waters, and the arid region which
often lies between it and the traveller's starting-point
or destination, connects it in the mind with eastern conceptions
of Paradise, literally a garden, and never represented
without trees and running water. A fountain enlivens the
courtyard of every house: to him who looks down upon the
city from Mount Kasion the minarets and castle-battlements
appear to rise out of an orchard; peace seems to reign within
its walls, and plenteousness within its palaces. To the
south-west the snow of Mount Hermon lends a touch of Alpine
beauty to the scene. The mountains which surround it
on three sides are no more than a background to the picture,
viewed from the east; they are a natural finish to the landscape,
not a bulwark of defence.


Probably the eastern admiration for Damascus was in
part at least influenced by certain material comforts, chiefly
its abundant fruit, and in ordinary circumstances the cheapness
of living, which even a system of railways with Damascus
for terminus has not yet seriously changed. Another
beauty of a more artificial sort lay in the goods manufactured
there by craftsmen who inherited their skill and transmitted
it to their descendants, till foreign conquerors withdrew
them from the place, hoping to transplant their crafts.
Such was the manufacture of damask, and equally famous
that of Damascene blades.
A Damascene writer of the ninth or tenth century of Islam,
translated by M. Sauvaire, makes out a list of the
beauties of his native city, some of which still exist, while
others are in ruins or have disappeared. The list is heterogeneous,
as it deals with single buildings, villages and
flowers. The last include “the many-flowering eglantine,
trained over arbours like the vine”; narcissus, violets—this
flower gives its name to a neighbouring valley—jessamine,
lily, lilac, ox-eye, cyclamen, myrtle, anemone,
water-lily, Egyptian sallow, and one called “Stop and
Among buildings he assigns the first place to the Citadel,
which has long been a shell; from a distance it still looks
formidable, but the interior is in ruins. In the tenth century
of Islam it was still a hive of activity, containing a bath, a
mill, various shops, a mint, a mosque and, of course, the
governor's palace. The canal called Banyas passed through
the Citadel, and divided into two streams, one for drinking
purposes, parted afresh into a number of rills, while the other
served as a drain, and went some twelve feet underground
to issue at the Little Gate, whence it was turned towards
farms. The round tower of the Citadel, “which might have
been cast in a mould of wax,” was thought to have no rival

in the world. At one time—probably during the Mamluke
period only—the Citadel possessed a great council-chamber
whose walls and ceilings were covered with the richest arabesques,
and inscribed with texts of the Koran written in
gold-leaf. Its foundation is ascribed to Atsiz, the contemporary
of Badr al-Jamali, who for a time got possession of the
chief Syrian cities; but it was rebuilt by Nur al-din, in whose
time the eastern peoples had learned something about fortresses
from the Crusaders. Further improvements were
made by the Egyptian Sultan Adil, who ordered each member
of his family to build a tower, and whose name remains
in an inscription of the north-east tower. The towers were
stripped of their roofs and the walls of their battlements
by Hulagu's Mongols; these were restored by the Sultan
Baibars, whose services are recorded in several inscriptions.
Great damage was done when Timur-Lenk besieged and
took the city; a trench was dug round the round tower, and
wood piled against it and fired. The ruinous condition of
the whole edifice apparently dates from the time of the disbanding
of the Janissaries at the beginning of the nineteenth
In Mamluke times the governor's palace was within the
Citadel, once three stories high. The present palace, or Serai,
is said to occupy the site of one built by the Sultan Nur aldin,
called “House of Justice.” The modern building dates
from the time of Ibrahim Pasha, who effected many changes
in Damascus. A famous palace in Damascus called the Particoloured
Castle was the model for similar buildings elsewhere;
it dated from the time of the Sultan Baibars, and
was located in the Meidan.
Below the Citadel, i.e., on the east side, there was a square
somewhat similar to the Rumailah Place below the Cairene
Citadel. This counted as one of the beauties of Damascus,
being surrounded by palaces, and supplied with all that


could delight the ear or charm the eye. Shops stocked with
all kinds of goods were established there. It was a pleasure
resort of the people of the city at evening time, till a double
beat on the drums within the Citadel reminded them that
the second watch of night had begun, and they cleared
away to their homes.
The Citadel was joined at either side by the Walls, which,
where they still exist, display, as has often been remarked,
traces of three styles of building—Roman, Arab and Turkish.
Inscriptions on the towers forming part of the wall record
the names of Nur al-din, who is credited by the historians
with having rebuilt the walls, and the Ayyubid Salih. The
height is from fifteen to twenty feet. The Moslems have a
tradition that when the place was taken there were seven
gates, called like the weekdays after the seven planets; and
the gates, they assert, were surmounted by images of the
deities corresponding with those planets—probably they
mean before Christian times. If there be any truth in this
tradition, the names must have all been altered, for the
modern names can be traced back to an early period of the
Moslem occupation with only a few variations. Two new
gates, called Faraj and Salamah, in the style of the gates of
Cairo—these words meaning “Safety” and “Deliverance”—are
said to have been added by the Ayyubids. Another
gate that once existed was called Bab al-Imarah, from the
new quarter to which it led.
The waters of Damascus naturally take their place among
its beauties, and of the pride of the inhabitants in their rivers
we have a trace in the Old Testament story of Naaman, who
felt personally wounded at the suggestion that the Israelitish
Jordan could possess properties not to be found in the
waters of Damascus. In these days the Damascenes are said
to attribute to their waters the actual property required by
the Syrian Captain, viz. that of curing leprosy, or at least

preventing it spreading. This belief must go back in some
way to the story of Naaman. From an early time there has
existed an elaborate system of canals, by which the water
of the Barada has been made to irrigate a large area. Within
the city the water is conducted in underground tubes from
which every house gets its supply. In von Kremer's time
leaks in the tubes were repaired by putting refuse into the
water, which eventually stopped them; but this process naturally
was insanitary. Modern and ancient writers agree as
to the names of six canals drawn off the main river before
it enters Damascus and flowing at different levels. The channels
for these are largely excavated in the rock, and are
thought to be at least partly pre-Islamic. The most northerly
of these, which bears the name Yazid, is said to have
been dug by the Caliph of that name, who reigned from 680
to 683. Further operations, with a view to irrigation, are
said to have been executed by the Umayyad Caliphs Sulaiman
and Hisham, but the account of them is not quite easy
to understand. Apparently they consisted in making arrangements
whereby the amount of water to flow in each
channel could be exactly regulated. Besides the water supplied
by the Barada, there were supposed to be 360 springs
between the Bab Salamah and the Bab Tuma to the northwest
of the city, all flowing southwards. The number is one
used by Arabic writers to denote an indefinite quantity,
one for each day in the year.
Two places are mentioned by a writer on the Beauties of
Damascus, in which the water furnished the chief attraction.
One of these was called the Place Between the Two
Rivers, to the east of the city, where the Barada parted
into two channels, of which one bore the name of the saintly
Shaikh Arslan. It was used as a place of public entertainment,
and the names of the dealers in different kinds of
refreshments who had stalls there exhibit wonderful specialization.

That the religious needs of the visitors might be
gratified also, there was a chapel where special rites were
performed on Tuesdays and Saturdays; some of these ceremonies,
probably forms of dance, were of a sort calculated
to daze those who witnessed them. Another place of public
resort was “The Parting of the Streams,” said to be where
the seven canals divided, but this can scarcely be correct.
The pools and cascades formed by one of these canals were,
we are told, and may well believe it, “a spectacle which
banished care and made sorrow fly away.”
The southerly canal, called Kanawat, was made with the
view of supplying the city with drinking water, which is
abundant and good. But as all advantages have some corresponding
drawback, the wealth of water with which Damascus
is blessed is probably the reason why fever prevails
there as much as in any city of Syria. On the other hand,
those who had to defend the place against besiegers could
at times utilize the waters for rendering approach difficult,
and the Barada itself saved the necessity of building many
towers to strengthen the wall before which it flows.
The classical writers say little or nothing of the buildings
of Damascus, yet there is evidence that the city contained
some fine monuments when the Arabs took it, and we hear
of two palaces near the site of the Umayyad Mosque. With
the Street called Straight, famous from the allusion to it in
the Acts of the Apostles, it is usual to identify the great
thoroughfare bisecting the city from the western gate, called
Bab al-Jabiyah probably from a village of that name, to the
gate still called eastern (Sharki). The gates were originally
threefold, and between them was a threefold avenue, divided
by Corinthian colonnades, the central being for the use of
foot-passengers, while the other two were to enable the
horse-traffic going in opposite directions to keep separate.
“I have been enabled,” says J. L. Porter, “to trace the remainder

of colonnades at various places over nearly one third
of the length of this street. Wherever excavations are made
in the line, fragments of columns are found in situ, at the
depth in some places of ten feet and more below the present
surface: so great has been the accumulation of rubbish during
the ages. This street was thus a counterpart to those still seen
in Palmyra and Jerash. “Further traces of this ancient thoroughfare
have been discovered at a later period. The Arabs
blocked up all but the northern passage of the gates. There
is at present no street in Damascus which would command
much admiration, but the long-roofed bazaars, of which that
called Hamidiyyah (after the present Sultan) is the most important,
are admirably adapted to the traffic of the place,
though the absence of trottoirs occasions some inconvenience.
On the justice of the identification of the Street called
Straight it would be unwise to make any pronouncement.
Fifteen churches are said to have been granted to the
Christians by the Moslem conqueror, but the author of the
Description can apparently enumerate only thirteen, and in
this list one is a Jewish synagogue. In most cases too he can
only locate them roughly, without being able to specify their
names: the romancer translated in the next chapter was better
informed. The Church of St Mary was the most famous, and
according to Ibn Jubair was the next most important Christian
edifice in the east, after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre;
it contained a marvellous number of ikons, “sufficient to bewilder
the thought and arrest the eye.” When the news of
the defeat of the Mongols in 1260 reached Damascus, the
Moslems attacked this church and destroyed it. Most of the
others fared similarly at some time or other. A church, curiously
called “the Crusaders',” was turned into a mosque in
the time of Saladdin at the instance of a silk-merchant, who
asserted that it had been a mosque originally; he got a crowd
together to dismantle it, and when the images had been removed


from the south side, a mihrab was discovered, surrounded
by an Arabic inscription in lapis lazuli; the crowd
were overjoyed at this confirmation of the man's assertion.
Another pretence whereby churches could be destroyed was
that they had either not been included in the original treaty
of capitulation, or that they had been built since that time,
so we are told that “the Mosque of Shahrazuri in Eloquence
Street” was a church that had not been specified in the treaty.
When the Description was written, it would appear that there
were only two churches in Damascus, one belonging to the
Jacobites, the other probably to the Melchites, called the
Church of Humaid son of Durrah (a relation on the mother's
side of the Caliph Muawiyah), who was owner of the street in
which the church was situated.
The relations between Moslems and Christians in this
place appear rarely to have been cordial. It is asserted that
at the time of the Moslem conquest only one Christian
family adopted Islam, and this would imply greater tenacity
on the part of the Damascene believers than was displayed
by their co-religionists in most Oriental cities. The latest
writer on the history of Islamic civilization charges the
Umayyads, in whose time Damascus was the capital of the
Moslem Empire, with persecution of Christians; and the
transformation of the Church of St John into a mosque is
admitted by Moslem historians to have been against the
treaty. These persecutions were not dictated by fanaticism
on the part of the Umayyads, who, with one exception, were
notoriously lax; but by the need for money with which to
pay partisans, their claim to the Caliphate being untenable
on its own merits. This at least is the explanation given by
the writer quoted. Syrians were, moreover, constantly suspected
of being in league with and abetting the Byzantine
Emperor, and the Episode of the Crusades naturally embittered
the relations between the communities, though Damascus

never actually fell into Frankish hands. In the extract
dealing with the taking of Damascus by Hulagu, it will be
seen that in the year 1260 the Christians for a few months
enjoyed the privilege of avenging to some extent the oppression
of centuries, and how speedily the sky clouded again
over them after that brief gleam of sunshine. Since the time
of Ibrahim Pasha, when various humiliations imposed on
Christian visitors were removed, the relations have probably
improved; yet the events of 1860 showed that the anti-Christian
feeling was deep, and among certain portions of the
Moslem population it might still be roused.
The Umayyads in such anecdotes as are preserved of
them often figure as luxurious and magnificent princes,
whence we should expect to hear something of their palaces,
since wonderful things are told us of those belonging to the
Caliphs of Baghdad and Cairo. Our curiosity in this matter
is not adequately gratified, though occasionally there is a
notice to the effect that some mosque or other edifice occupies
part of the ground at one time covered by an Umayyad
palace. Of that built by the founder of the dynasty, Muawiyah,
whose reputation was rather for gluttony and cunning
than magnificence, though in some tales he is represented
as boasting that he had enjoyed all that the world could
give, we have an anecdote which suggests anything but
splendour. When this prince, who at first held the office of
governor only, built himself a palace of baked brick, he had
occasion to receive a Byzantine envoy, whose opinion he
asked about the structure. “The upper part,” replied the
Greek, “will do for birds, and the lower for rats.” Muawiyah
had the house pulled down and rebuilt of stone. It was purchased
afterwards by Abdal-Malik, the other great sovereign
of this line, from a descendant of its founder, for the sum of
40,000 dinars and four estates; but this need not imply that
it was on a grand scale, since it was the fashion at the time


to pay huge sums for any dwelling that had ever been occupied
by one of the early heroes of Islam. Fabulous prices
are recorded as having been given for dwellings of this sort
at Meccah, which we cannot believe to have been very
gorgeous. The list of show-houses at Damascus given by the
author of the Description consists almost entirely of buildings
that enjoyed such a reputation. Part of the Coppersmiths’
Bazaar, stretching as far as the Bazaar of the Bootmakers,
was said to have been the site of the residence of a
son of Utbah Ibn Rabi'ah, an eminent contemporary of the
Prophet. Inside the Gate of Thomas was the house of the
conqueror Khalid with his oratory. The house of Auf Ibn
Malik, another hero of the early days of Islam, was shown
near the old Thread-market. Inside the eastern gate to the
right was the house of Malik Ibn Hubairah, Muawiyah's
general, etc.
A rather more important mansion was that of the celebrated
Hajjaj, viceroy of Abd al-Malik, notorious in eastern
history for his ruthless severity, but celebrated for his magnificence
also. A whole quarter of Damascus was called
after his palace, and the name is not yet obsolete; but no
traces of the building have been discovered. In 1237-8 the
whole of this region was burned down, and the remains of
the palace, which had probably been a ruin long before, are
likely to have perished then.
In most descriptions of Damascus, whether ancient or
modern, every religious building appears to be dwarfed by
the Great Umayyad Mosque, which we shall leave to the
end. The rulers of Damascus were no less liberal founders of
religious edifices than were other Sultans and governors; and
the Description enumerates no fewer than 241 mosques for
public worship, afterwards supplemented by lists which bring
the number up to 572, though this figure includes some that
were outside the walls. The same work gives eleven other

lists of buildings in which provision was made for religious
service, unless (which is unlikely) the medical schools were an
exception. In the time of the traveller Ibn Jubair—i.e. the
late twelfth century—there were, besides these, two hospitals,
the old and the new, of which the latter was probably the
institution founded by Nur al-din, to which reference has
already been made; it had an endowment of fifteen dinars
daily. Doctors visited it every morning to prescribe for the
patients, of whom lists were kept. There was special treatment
for the insane, who were chained. The medical schools
of the Description are all of a later period than the hospitals.
The first was called the Dakhwariyyah “in the old Bazaar
of the Goldsmiths” south of the Great Mosque, founded in
in the year 1250 by a physician, who, for his successful treatment
of maladies suffered by the Ayyubid princes, was given
the title Chief of the Physicians of the Two Zones (Syria and
Egypt). It appears that a successful medical career was a
road to fortune in those days as in these; this person received
as fees for special cures the sums of 7,000 and 12,000 dinars,
and al-Ashraf settled on him estates which brought in 1,500
dinars annually, when he gave him the post of court-physician.
The building left by him to the city as medical
school had been his own house. Two other houses were devoted
to the same object within the next sixty years, but one
of these was afterwards turned into a mosque, whereas the
other went to ruin
The traveller Ibn Jubair was greatly struck by the monasteries
or hospices, of which the number at the time of the
Description had risen to about twenty-nine. The friendly
disposition of the Ayyubids towards the Sufis has already
been noticed; and according to the Spanish visitor these
ascetics had things very much their own way at Damascus.
Their hospices, he says, are splendidly decorated palaces, in
all of which there is running water, beautifully conducted.


"The Sufis are kings in this city, for God has spared them
the trouble of worldly employment, has rendered it possible for
them to devote their minds to His service, and has housed
them in mansions, such as must ever remind them of the
mansions of Paradise; to those of them who are saved the
pleasures of both this world and the next have been given.
Very admirable are the practices and orders of these brotherhoods,
especially the arrangement by which different members undertake different departments of service. Beautiful
are their gatherings to hear thrilling melodies, where not
unfrequently in the intensity of their emotion some of them
pass away out of the world. The most wonderful building belonging to them is a palace called by them the Tower, which
rises high in the air, with dwellings at the top, commanding
a glorious view; it is half a mile distant from the city. To it
there is attached a vast garden, said to have been the pleasure
ground of a Turkish sovereign. One night he was amusing
himself by pouring some of the wine, which was being
drunk in the palace, on the heads of Sufis who passed by;
complaint was made to Nur al-din who did not rest till he
had got the whole place as a gift from its owner, which he
then proceeded to settle on the Sufis in perpetuity." In the
siege of Damascus of the year 1228 several of these hospices
were pillaged and ruined.
A considerable number of schools still exist in Damascus,
but many edifices which were originally designed for this
purpose have been turned into private houses; von Kremer
identified a number which had experienced this change in
the street which leads northwards from Bab al-Barid to the
Tomb of Baibars, and a number more in the quarter between
Suk Bab al-Barid and Suk Jakmak. Still, several that are
mentioned in the Description appear to be in existence, and
several have been built since. Some of those which were intended
to be for advanced study have sunk to the level of

infant schools. Probably aspirants after the higher Moslem
education have for many centuries gone to al-Azhar to seek
it, whereas Constantinople attracts students of another kind.
Of schools that receive the attention of visitors there may
be mentioned that of the heroic Nur al-din, whose name
occurs in the history of Egypt also, in the Cloth Bazaar.
The building is said to have been originally part of the
palace of the Umayyad Hisham, son of Abd al-Malik, who
reigned from 724-743. The prince Nur al-din was at first
buried in the Citadel, but his body was afterwards transferred
to this school; which the author of the Description asserts
to have been built for him by his son, al-Salih Isma'il,
although it would appear that this is contradicted by inscriptions
on the school itself, which name Nur al-din himself
as founder. A similar institution is that called Raihaniyyah,
a little to the west of the Nuriyyah. Its date is 1178-9;
its founder was a eunuch and freedman of Nur al-din, who
entrusted to his charge the Citadel and prison of Damascus,
in which posts he was confirmed by Saladdin, whose cause
he espoused when the famous Sultan took Damascus. An
inscription copied by M. Sauvaire still records the lands
settled upon it. A school of some celebrity is the Kaimariyyah,
founded 1266 by al-Kaimari, an Emir who at the death
of Turanshah played a part of importance in Syria. He is
said to have spent 40,000 dirhems on a clock put up over
the door of his school. Von Kremer describes it as a
moderate-sized building, with a stone-paved court, cloistered
all round below, and with open corridors above. The front
towards the street has three cupolas.
Of more interest than these is the school of the Sultan
Baibars, between the gates Bab al-Faraj and Bab al-Faradis,
north of the Umayyad Mosque. It had originally been
the house of a certain Akiki, of whom Ayyub, father of
Saladdin, purchased it; apparently Baibars himself turned


it into a school and mausoleum, but some ascribe this action
to his son Barakah Khan. The foundations are said to have
been laid on Oct. 12, 1277. In the time of the author of the
Description it had been turned into a private house.
Between the library of Baibars and the Umayyad Mosque
is the Tomb of Saladdin, side by side with that of one of his
ministers. The Description locates the tomb of the great
Sultan in the school of al-Aziz, west of the tomb of al-Ashraf,
north of the School of Tradition founded by the
“Excellent Judge,” a man of great note of the time of
Saladdin, especially as stylist and poet, and the collector of
a great library in Cairo. Planned by al-Afdal (1186-1196)
it was finished by al-Aziz of Egypt, who had the body of
the Sultan, first deposited in the Citadel, transferred thither.
Prayers offered at this tomb are, the author assures us,
answered: “the fact has been recounted by the greatest and
most distinguished doctors, and admits of no doubt.” An
epitaph by the “Excellent Judge” was inscribed on the
grave, in which the wish was expressed that after so many
cities had opened their gates to him, Paradise might do the
Damascus is otherwise famous for harbouring the ashes
of numerous persons of importance; the graveyard of the
Little Gate is said to contain those of Bilal, the Prophet's
Mueddin, an important person at the beginning of Islam,
and two of the Prophet's wives. Outside the gate of the
Jarrah Mosque there is, or used to be, a pile of stones
marking where the grave of the Caliph Yazid once stood.
The stones were thrown by Persian visitors, with a view of
expressing their abhorrence of the worst of the Umayyads—the
Caliph under whom occurred the affair of Kerbela,
when Husain, the Prophet's grandson, was killed, to be
mourned, wherever Shiites are to be found, on the tenth of
the month Muharram.


Most of the mausoleums described in the work translated
by M. Sauvaire belong to sovereigns and other persons of
eminence not later than the Ayyubid period. The author
dwells especially on those which contain the ashes of the
three princes, al-Adil, al-Ashraf and al-Kamil, whose names
all figure in the history of Egypt. An interesting personage
also occurring in this list is Ismat al-din Khatun, wife of
Nur al-din and afterwards of Saladdin, highly esteemed for
her piety and virtue, “who did no act without a good intention.”
She founded in her husband's city a mosque, which
was afterwards turned into a private dwelling, a hospice,
and a mausoleum for herself on the Yazid Canal in the
Salihiyyah, which some 150 years after her death was
turned into a mosque, and after a somewhat longer period
had elapsed, was, in the year 1568, yet further enlarged and
Leaving the abodes of the dead for those of the living,
we notice what has often been observed, that the outside of
the houses is rarely of great magnificence. It is inside that
the architects display their skill and the wealthy their riches.
The rooms usually open out into a court and are disconnected.
This practice is said to go back to pre-Islamic
times. In the two houses which are usually exhibited to
visitors there is an abundance of marbles and mosaics, with
enamelled tiles and profusion of gold and colouring.
Two other classes of buildings to which the visitor may
be taken are the Baths, of which that called the Queen's
Bath is perhaps the finest, and the Khans, or storehouses
for merchandise, among which that which bears the name
of As'ad Pasha is pre-eminent. It is supported on four piers
with nine domes above them.
Of the number of actual mosques given above from the
Description, many must have become disused or been demolished
before the seventeenth century, when the figure


was 150. During Ibrahim Pasha's government some further
transformation of mosques took place. That of Yelbogha was
turned into a biscuit-factory, and that of Tengiz into barracks,
and then into a military college. The existing mosques that
attract the notice of travellers are chiefly the following: that
of Sinan Pasha (near the Jabiyah Gate), the minaret of which
is conspicuous everywhere for the highly-glazed green tiles
with which it is covered; the interior is decorated with marble
columns and a marble pavement. It was originally, we are
told, called The Onion Mosque. In the year 1585, when Sinan
Pasha was appointed governor of Damascus, he rebuilt it and
made it suitable for Friday worship. Though the governorship
of this Pasha lasted only six months, the building of his
Mosque appears to have taken—probably intermittently—some
years, since 1590 is given as the date of its completion.
To about the same period belongs the Derwishiyyah Mosque,
which also was a reconstruction of a similar building on a
smaller scale, ordered by Derwish Pasha, governor from 1571
to 1574. Somewhat earlier is the Mosque of the Sultan Selim
in the Salihiyyah. It contains the tomb of the greatest of the
Sufi writers, Ibn Arabi, whose works have often been condemned
for heresy, but nevertheless whose reputation for
sanctity perhaps surpasses that of any other Moslem saint.
The mosque was built by the Sultan in the years 1517 and
1518 out of respect for the memory of the saint. Previously,
we are told, the spot had been marked by a ruined bath and
a pile of refuse. The Sultan spent “incalculable sums” upon
it, and provided it with four mueddins and thirty readers of
the Koran.
Another mosque built by an Ottoman Sultan is that called
after Sulaiman, who founded it in 1554, together with the
Tekiyyeh, or hospice, which also bears his name. They are
situated on the site of the famous palace of the Sultan
Baibars in the “Green Meidan.” The materials which belonged

to the palace were employed again for these buildings,
the erection of which took six years. The author of the
supplement to the Description declares the marble, the
cupolas, and the leaden work of the buildings to be such as
“stupefy the spectator while rejoicing his heart.” Special
attention is called to the basin in the middle of the court, to
the pulpit and the mihrab. Only the writer complains that
in accordance with a tradition current among the architects
the minarets were placed east and west instead of north and
south, whence the area in which the call to prayer would be
heard was considerably reduced. The architect was “the
most incomparable of great geniuses, the noblest of the
children of Persia, our master Mulla Agha.” He was also
set in charge of the administration, and followed, we are
told, the unusual plan of giving the best places to those who
injured him, and the worst to those who tried to do him a
We conclude with the great Umayyad Mosque. This is
the grandest of all Mohammedan buildings, and Arabic
writers give full rein to their powers of description in
recounting its magnificence and the riches lavished upon
its erection by al-Walid, the whole revenue of Syria for
seven years, not counting eighteen shiploads of gold and
silver from Cyprus and many rich gifts of precious stones.
These latter enriched the mihrab and minbar but, with the
600 golden lamps suspended by chains of the like precious
metal, were soon diverted to other uses by a following Caliph.
The leaden roof of the mosque is described in as high terms
of admiration as the gold so lavishly spread on the interior.
Every town had to furnish its quota, but so difficult was it
to obtain sufficient that tombs were rifled. From one sarcophagus
the body was taken from its leaden shell and laid
on the ground; the head fell into a ravine and blood burst
from the mouth. Terror-struck, the bystanders made inquiry

till at last they were told, “It is the tomb of King Talut
(Saul).” A prettier story is that of a woman who refused to
sell some lead, needed to complete one corner, save weight
for weight in gold. The Caliph wrote that her demand should
be complied with, but then the woman said, “It is my gift
to the mosque.” “You were too avaricious to sell save weight
for weight, and now do you offer a gift?” “I acted thus believing
that your lord played the tyrant and exacted forced
labour. Now that I see he pays punctually and weight for
weight, I acknowledge that in this matter he wrongs no
one.” The commissioner reported these words, and the Caliph
commanded that these sheets of lead should be marked “For
Allah”; this was done by means of a mould.
To return to figures, there was praying space for 20,000
men; as for the money expended, one item, viz., the cost of
the cabbages eaten by the workmen is said to have been
6,000 dinars ($2,500). When the wondrous work was finished,
the Caliph would not look at the accounts brought to him on
eighteen laden mules, but ordered that they should be burnt
and thus addressed the crowd: “Men of Damascus,you possess
four glories above other people; you are proud of your
water, your air, your fruits, your baths; your mosque shall
be your fifth glory.”
Like some other famous places of worship, this mosque
was once the site of a heathen temple, portions of which can
be traced in the porticoes. Theodosius built a church there
(A.D. 379) and dedicated it to St John the Baptist, to whom
there is still an imposing shrine. When the Moslems entered
Damascus (A.D. 635), by an amicable arrangement, the building
was shared between Christians and Mahommedans, but
in A.D. 708 al-Walid, sixth of the Umayyads, drove the Christians
out, confirming them, however, in the possession of other
churches. But to this day one of the three minarets is called
by the name of Isa (Jesus), and above a gate, long since closed,

is the inscription, “Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting
kingdom, and Thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”
Al-Walid summoned a fabulous number of craftsmen (one
writer says 200, another prefixes one and makes it 1,200, a
third adds a nought and reckons 12,000) from Constantinople,
and his magnificent mosque was, like other early Moslem
edifices, entirely Byzantine in style and rich with rare marbles
and fine mosaics; while in accordance with another
Moslem custom, antique columns were plundered from many
Syrian towns. Many of these remain in the interior but most
of those described by the Arab geographer Mukkadisi as sustaining
the arcade round the great court, have disappeared
and piers covered with plaster have taken their place. It is
thought, however, that many columns remain within these
piers of masonry. The mosaics represented Meccah, Medinah
and Jerusalem and other principal towns of the world, amid
groves of orange and palm, while long inscribed scrolls and
wreaths of foliage filled the interspaces; of these, fragments
can still be traced and more are probably hidden under
plaster and whitewash.
The two principal gates are at the west and east, they are
named Babal-Barid (Gate of the Post) and Bab Jairun after
a mythical conqueror. They had triple portals closed with
bronze-covered doors; one of these which remains at the
East Gate (Bab Jairun) bears a central band of inscription
with the name of the Sultan Abd al-Aziz, son of Barkuk
(1405) and a chalice, a device of the Mamlukes. The gates
and adjoining porticoes have retained more ancient work
both of construction and of ornament, such as inlay of beautiful-coloured
marble, than the rest of the building.
There were originally towers at the four corners, those
at the south side remain; the Madanah Gharbiyyah (Western
Minaret) formerly inhabited by anchorites, also named


after Kaietbai; opposite it, i.e., at the south-east angle, is
the Madanat Isa (Minaret of Jesus) or the White Minaret.
On the north side, rather more than a third from the east
angle, stands the Madanat al-Arus (Minaret of the Bride);
this was not as the other towers, originally Byzantine, but
was built by al-Walid.
The Great Court is surrounded on three sides by spacious
corridors, now resting on piers, with round arches; the upper
story retains at the east double arches separated by a small
column; these have been replaced elsewhere by commonplace
narrow windows.
Within the Court stand three small and beautiful cupolas,
at the west the Kubbat al-Khaznah (Dome of the Treasury),
for the mosque had great endowments. This building is,
however, no longer used, but is filled with ancient MSS.
jealously kept from view; it was only as a special favour to
the Emperor Wilhelm that German scholars were allowed
to handle them, and for a specified time only. The Kubbat
al-Naufarah (Dome of the Fountain),in the centre of the court,
serves for ablutions; it is also called Kafs al-Ma (the Water
Cage), because a spout rises from a grating so that people
drink from the side. The building stands on arches upheld by
four thick and as many slender columns, an upper room has
wooden supports only and a flattish broad leaden roof with
a little cupola in the middle. The third, Kubbat al-Sa'
at (Dome of the Hours) stands at the east of the Court.
The whole of the south side of the Court is occupied by
the mosque, with its three great aisles divided by columns
twenty-three feet high; its interior measurements are 429
feet by 124. The whole floor is covered by more carpets than
we could count, about eight abreast, and many of them fine.
The clerestory has round arches. The chief entrance is in the
middle of the north side, i.e., from the Court; it leads under
wide transepts to the mihrab and chief pulpit in the southern

wall; there are three other mihrabs for the other Schools of
Law. Over the centre, where the transepts cross the aisles,
is the great dome, nearly fifty feet in diameter and above
120 in height; it is called Kubbat al-Nasr (the Vulture
Dome) itself counting as the head, the aisle below as the
breast and the lofty transept roofs, high above the other
roofs, being likened to outspread wings. “From whatever
quarter you approach the city, you see the dome high above
all else, as though suspended in the air.”
The Mosque has suffered repeatedly from fires, especially
in 1069, owing to riots between the Fatimides and Shiahs;
in 1400, when Timur-Lenk took the town; lastly, and very
severely, in 1894, since when plaster and whitewash have
taken the place of the gold and coloured brilliance of old.

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Scenes from the History of Damascus

IT has been observed with justice that Damascus has
prospered in a variety of conditions, as the capital of a
state, more frequently as the capital of a province, sometimes
as a provincial town. It never as a metropolis grew to
the vast dimensions of Babylon or Baghdad; on the other
hand it never suffered very seriously by the removal of the
court. The periods when it has been the chief city of a
sovereign state have not been many. From the Old Testament
we learn of a kingdom of Aram with Damascus for its
capital, which was contemporary with the northern Israelitish
kingdom, and perished with it; and we hear incidentally
of a temple of Rimmon, a god whose name appears to
show Assyrian affinities; we learn also the names of a few
kings, and are amazed that the Israelitish prophets should
interfere in the matter of their appointment. Little is heard
of the place during the period when Persia dominated the
nearer East, and when after the fall of that Empire a Greek
kingdom of Syria was set up, Damascus was superseded
after a time by a new capital Antioch. At times before and
and after the commencement of Christianity it was occupied
by Nabataean rulers, some of whom are known to us by inscriptions
in Arabia. Christianity appears to have made way
in the city at an early date, and probably long subsisted by
the side of a mixture of Greek and Nabataean cults. A fresh

era in its history was constituted by the Mohammedan conquest,
especially when the founder of the Umayyad dynasty
(661-750) made it the capital of an empire that steadily grew
in extent. Since the termination of that period it has not
been a metropolis, for even such sovereigns as Nur al-din
acknowledged the suzerainty of the Caliph of Baghdad,
while other rulers have been commissioned by the Sultans
reigning in Cairo and Constantinople. Numerous rebellions
have indeed been commenced at the Syrian capital, but
their success has usually been temporary, and the independence
of Syria rarely their ultimate object.
In Mohammedan times it has sometimes, but not always,
been the chief city of Syria. Its rival has been Aleppo,
which it displaced in the year 1312, by command of the
Sultan Nasir, anxious to gratify the Emir Tengiz, a faithful
partisan, whose daughter the Sultan married. When Tengiz
came to Cairo to be present when his grandchild was born,
and both spent and received fabulous sums, he thankfully
prostrated himself when the child proved to be a girl: had
it been a boy, he would have thought his luck too great!
His distrust of fortune was justified; for, ere a year was over,
the Sultan's face changed towards him, and he was summoned
from Damascus, imprisoned and executed. The reason
for this proceeding is unknown, but is said to have been the
Sultan's resentment at his harshness towards the Christians
of Damascus, who had been charged with incendiarism.
In 1366 Aleppo was again given precedence over Damascus,
and this relation appears to have lasted until Turkish
Imperfect as is the record of Damascene history, the city
has more than one historian, and indeed one of the most
frequently cited monuments of Arabic literature is the History
of Damascus
by Ibn Asakir, filling some sixty volumes, but
occupied for the most part with biographies of persons who

at any time in their lives had any connexion with the city.
Thus a whole volume is devoted to the first Caliph, who may
perhaps have visited it on a trading expedition. This author
lived in the sixth century of Islam, and many exciting scenes
have taken place in the city since his time. These have their
historians, but the centre of interest in the Islamic world has
usually been elsewhere. Syrian history is either Egyptian
history or Turkish history: those who write it are more concerned
with the succession of Sultans at the capital than
with that of governors in the provinces.
Of the scenes that have been enacted in Damascus four
of special interest have been selected for description: one,
the taking of the city by the first Moslem conquerors, as told
by the most trustworthy of Moslem Chroniclers, and also as
told in one of the romances which were inspired by the exploits
of those who had to repel the Crusaders; another the
brief period of sunshine enjoyed by the Christians at the time
of the first Mongol conquest; and the third the destruction
of the city by the terrible Timur. The last occasion on which
Damascus was the focus of general attention, the massacre
of 1860, is told after an anonymous Arabic author; it has
also, it may be observed, been portrayed with remarkable
skill by the author of the admirable novel, Sa'id the Fisherman,
in which Oriental thought and manners are delineated
with an accuracy rarely to be found in either history or fiction.

A.D. 634 (A.H. 13). After Tabari

WHEN outposts had been despatched to guard the
roads between Damascus and Emesa, and Damascus
and Palestine, the city was itself invested, where
the governor was Nastus son of Nastus. Different detachments
of Moslems were posted at different quarters; their

commanders being Abu Ubaidah, Amr and Yazid. Heraclius
was at the time in Emesa, but steps had been taken to
deal with relief coming thence. The place was besieged some
seventy nights, during which various assaults were made,
and engines made to play on the walls, within which the inhabitants
were entrenched, expecting relief from Heraclius,
who was so near, and to whom they had sent for help. The
cavalry despatched by the Emperor in answer to this appeal
were intercepted by Dhu' l-Kula, who had been stationed at
a day's journey from Damascus on the Emesa road, and
whose camp the relief forces from Heraclius were compelled
to besiege. When the Damascenes became convinced that
no help would arrive, they became despondent and down-hearted,
while the Moslems were all the more eager to take
the place. At first the inhabitants had supposed that this was
an ordinary raid, and that when the cold weather came on,
the besiegers would withdraw; and now the Pleiads fell, and
the besiegers still remained. This made the Damascenes despair,
and the troops regretted that they had shut themselves
up in the city. Now it so happened that a child was born to
the Patrician who was governor of Damascus. He in consequence
gave a banquet, and in consequence of the feasting
the soldiers neglected their stations. None of the Moslems
perceived this except Khalid, who neither took nor allowed
others any rest, nor suffered anything that was going on in
the town to escape him. Keen of vision, he was always attentive
to that on which he was engaged. He had prepared
a set of rope-ladders with nooses. When evening was come,
he with a picked party started out, taking the lead himself,
with al-Ka'ka son of Amr, and Madh'ur son of Adi, and some
other men of the same stamp, who had served him on similar
enterprises before. Their instructions to their followers
were to wait until they heard the cry, Allah Akbar [God is
greatest!] from the walls, when they should make for the


gate. When Khalid had come to the gate opposite which
he was stationed, he and his picked men, having on their
backs the inflated skins with which they had crossed the
ditch, threw their nooses at the battlements; and when two
had caught, al-Ka'ka and Madh'ur climbed up, whereupon
they proceeded to fix all the other rope-ladders to the battlements.
The place they were storming was one of the best
fortified in Damascus, having the deepest water in front of
it, and being most difficult to approach. However, they succeeded
in ascending it, and every one of their party either
climbed up the wall, or drew near to the gate. Having reached
the top of the wall Khalid let his comrades down, and descended
himself, after leaving a party to guard the ascent
for such as should follow: those on the top of the wall then
raised the cry, Allah Akbar. The Moslems outside advanced
to the gate, some of them, however, making for the ropeladders;
Khalid meanwhile had got to the gate, where he
slew the warders. There rose a great uproar in the city, and
the soldiers rushed to their stations, not knowing what was
the matter; and while each party was concerned with its own
part of the wall, Khalid and his followers smashed the bolts
of the gate with their swords, and let the Moslems in. They
proceeded to slay all the soldiers in the neighbourhood of
Khalid's gate, and when Khalid had thus stormed his portion
of the city, such as escaped ran to the gates where other
detachments of the Moslem army had been stationed. These
had repeatedly offered terms to the inhabitants which had
been refused; and now to their surprise the inhabitants themselves
were offering terms of capitulation, which the Moslems
accepted. The gates were then opened to these other
detachments, whom the inhabitants begged to enter and
protect them from those who were coming in by Khalid's
gate. Thus the other detachment entered by treaty, while
Khalid took his part by storm; Khalid and the other commanders

met in the middle of the city, the first plundering
and massacring, the second quieting disturbance and preserving
order. Khalid's portion was then brought within the
terms of the treaty. The treaty was that all property, landed
and coined, should be equally divided between the inhabitants
and the Moslems; and a dinar was demanded per head
of the population. When the spoil was divided, Khalid's
troops only shared like the others.

According to the Arabic romance called “Wakidi's Conquest of Syria

ABU UBAIDAH had stationed his captains at the
various gates of Damascus; sorties and battles took
place at each one of them except the Gate of St
Mark, which was never opened for this purpose, and so was
afterwards called the Gate of Safety or Peace. Damascus
was under the command of Thomas, son-in-law of the Emperor
Heraclius.—This Thomas is represented as a brave
man; but in one of the sorties he loses the Great Cross, and
is shot in the eye by Umm Aban, daughter of Utbah, whose
husband he had killed. The arrow cannot afterwards be got
out, and the end has to be sawn off. This wound only infuriates
Thomas, who orders a night sortie. The Christians
issue from the gates, and the Jews help them by discharging
missiles from the battlements. Khalid, whose business it has
been to guard the women and children, is so alarmed by this
night attack, that he leaves his camp and rushes unarmed
to the fray at the head of 400 horse. A terrible duel takes
place, outside the Gate of Thomas, between Thomas himself
and the Moslem commander Shurahbil, once the Prophet's
secretary. Umm Aban tries to help the latter, as before,
with her arrows, but at last she is taken captive, and Shurahbil's
sword is broken. Thomas is about to take him

prisoner also, when the horsemen come up in time and
rescue both captives. The result of the sortie is in general
so disastrous to the Greeks, that when the gates are
once more closed, a deputation approaches Thomas, telling
him that if he will not make terms with the enemy they will
without him, and he begs for time to send word to the
The letter was written and sealed and sent off before
morning; but when morning came Khalid ordered a renewed
assault, and refused to give the Damascenes a moment's truce
for deliberation. Worn out with the siege and waiting for the
answer of the Emperor, the chief people at last assembled,
and said to each other, “Friends, we cannot endure any
longer what the Moslems are doing to us; if we fight
against them, they are always victorious, whereas if we refrain
from fighting and shut ourselves up in the city we
shall be ruined by the siege. Let us no longer be obstinate,
but rather ask peace of them on their own terms.” Then there
rose up an old Greek, who had read the Ancient Books
and pondered on them, and said: “Friends, I am certain that
if the king were to come with all his forces he could not
raise the siege; for I have read in the Books that their
founder Mohammed is the Seal of the Prophets and the
Prince of the Apostles, and that his religion is bound to
triumph over every other. Let us, therefore, abandon all vain
hopes and fancies and give the Moslems the terms they demand;
that is our best course.” When the people heard this
utterance, they took the old man's side, owing to the respect
in which he was held and to his knowledge of the records
and the oracles. So they asked him how they should set
about it. “You are to know,” he replied, “that the commander
at the eastern gate is a shedder of blood [meaning
Khalid, son of al-Walid]. If, therefore, you wish hostilities
to cease, you had best go to the commander at Bab al-Jabiyah

[meaning Abu Ubaidah].” They approved his suggestion;
and, when night came on, they went in a body to
Bab al-Jabiyah, and one of them, who was acquainted with
Arabic, cried out in a loud voice, “Ye Arabs, have we a
safe-conduct that we may come down unto you and speak
with your commander, that we may make a treaty of peace?”
Now Abu Ubaidah had sent some of his soldiers to keep
watch near the gate, fearing a surprise like that which had
taken place on a previous night. The party sent that night
were Dausites, commanded by Amir, son of Tufail. “While we
were seated in our places,” said Abu Hurairah, a member
of the tribe, “we heard the people shouting. I immediately
rushed to Abu Ubaidah and gave him the good news, saying
to him, ‘There is a chance now that God may relieve
the Moslems of their fatigue.’ My message cheered him,
and he bade me go and tell the Romans that they should
be safe till they had got back to their city. So I went and
called to them that they might come down without harm.
They asked me which of Mohammed's followers I was, and
whether I could be trusted? I replied that I was Abu
Hurairah, a companion of the Prophet, and that treachery
was not our custom. ‘Why,’ I said, ‘if one of our slaves were
to give a guarantee of security, we should respect it; since
God says, “Keep promises, for a promise is to be claimed.”
The Arabs were always celebrated for good faith in the
times of paganism; much more then when God has given
them Mohammed for a guide.’”
So the Greeks descended and opened the gate. Those
that came out were a hundred in number, men of note,
priests and doctors of theology. When they came near Abu
Ubaidah's camp, the Moslems hastened, and divested them
of their belts [this zonarion was part of the Christian costume
in Moslem countries] and crosses, when they were led
to the tent of Abu Ubaidah, who bade them welcome, rose

up to greet them, and bade them be seated. Mohammed, he
observed, bade us treat with honour visitors who were
honoured in their own country. The subject of peace was
then started. “We wish you,” they said, “to leave us our
churches, and not to turn us out of them; these being the
Church of St John (now the Mosque), the Church of St Mary,
of Ananias, of St Paul, of al-Miksat, of the Night
Market, of St Andrew, of Quirinarius (by the house of
Humaid, son of Durrah).” Abu Ubaidah agreed to this, and
to all their stipulations. He then drew up a deed of capitulation,
to which, however, he neither attached his own name
nor those of witnesses; being unwilling to act as commander,
after he had been deposed from that office by Abu Bakr.
When he had made out the document, and handed it over
to them, they asked him to come with them. So he mounted,
and took with him thirty-five companions of the Prophet,
and sixty-five undistinguished Moslems, and rode up to the
gate; before, however, he would enter the city he demanded
hostages, which they at once produced.
Others, however, say that he did not demand hostages,
relying instead on God. For in the night on which the
agreement was made, after saying his prayer he had fallen
asleep, and seen the Prophet in a dream; who uttered the
words, “This night shall the city be taken, if God will.” The
Prophet then hastened away. Abu Ubaidah asked whither
he was hurrying, and was told that it was to the funeral of
Abu Bakr. When Abu Ubaidah awoke from his sleep, there
was Abu Hurairah, bringing the tidings of the offer of
terms. So he took no hostages, relying on God's word.
He then entered the city, preceded by the priests and the
monks, clad in sackcloth, holding up copies of the Gospel,
and censers filled with incense. The day was Monday,
Jumada II, 13 A.H. [Aug. 22, 634].
Abu Ubaidah entered at the Bab al-Jabiyah, Khalid

having no knowledge of what was going on, since he was
engaged in a fierce fight at the eastern gate. He was greatly
incensed against the Damascenes, because another Khalid,
son of Sa'id, brother of Amr son of al-As on the mother's
side, had been killed with a poisoned arrow; Khalid, son of
al-Walid, had prayed over him when he was buried between
the Eastern Gate and the Gate of Thomas. Now there was a
Greek priest named Joshua, son of Mark, living in a house
close to that part of the wall which adjoined the eastern
gate. He possessed the Oracles of Daniel and other books,
whence he knew that God would put the city into the hands
of the Moslems, and that their religion would prevail over
every other. On the Sunday night preceding the day of
which the date has been given, he made a hole in the wall and
went outside without his wife or children knowing anything
of it. Coming before Khalid, he told him how he had dug a hole
in the wall, through which he had come out, and asked that his
life and the lives of his family should be guaranteed. Khalid
gave his hand upon that, and sent with him a hundred men with
their armour, most of them of the tribe of Himyar. They had
orders, when they got into the city, to shout altogether, and
to make for the door, of which they were to smash the bolts
and fling away the chains. The men were then preceded by
Joshua son of Mark, who led them in by the hole which he
had made, and when they got into the house they put on
their armour, then issued forth and made for the gate, where
they raised the cry, Allah Akbar. The Greeks were fighting
on the wall, and when they heard this cry they were alarmed,
and felt sure that the Companions of the Prophet must have
entered the city with them; and they were greatly distressed.
Then the commander of the party got to the gate and broke
the bolts and cut the chains, so that Khalid and his followers
were able to enter. They began to slaughter the
Greeks, who retreated before him till he reached the


Church of St Mary, all the way killing or taking
So the two hosts met in the church of St Mary, those of
Khalid and of Abu Ubaidah. Khalid beheld a procession led
by priests and monks whom Abu Ubaidah followed, none
of his followers having their swords drawn, or fighting. He
was amazed thereat, and gazed in wonder. Abu Ubaidah,
perceiving in his face the signs of disapproval, said to him,
“Abu Sulaiman, the city has been taken by me under an
agreement, and God has saved the Moslems the trouble of
fighting.” “Agreement?” said Khalid; “God make your
circumstances anything but agreeable! I have taken the city
by storm, and there are no defenders left; what agreement
can I make with them?” Abu Ubaidah replied, “Commander,
fear God; I have covenanted with these people, and the
arrow has been discharged with what is upon it [i.e. the
matter is irrevocable]. I have written the contract, and see
there it is in their hands unfolded.” “How dare you make
agreements without my order and without giving me notice?”
replied Khalid; “am I not your chief, and are not
you under my flag? No, I will not sheathe the sword until I
have slain them every one!” Abu Ubaidah cried, “By Allah,
I never thought that you would disallow any covenant
that I had made, or disapprove of any opinion that I had
expressed. I adjure you by God, respect what I have done.
I have given my guarantee to them all, and pledged thereto
the faith of God and of the Prophet. All the Moslems who
were with me assented thereunto, and treachery is not our
custom. God have mercy on you.”
A fierce quarrel broke out between them, and the spectators
took sides. Khalid was unwilling to change his resolution,
and Abu Ubaidah looked at the followers of Khalid,
Bedouin and old campaigners, and saw that they were
eager for rapine and slaughter, and unwilling to spare a

life. He began to cry with bitterness that he had been
affronted and his promise disregarded; and, setting spurs
to his horse, he began to point to the Arabs, now right and
now left, and adjure them by the Prophet to move no further
in the direction whence he had come till some arrangement
might be come to between himself and Khalid. At his entreaty
they stopped slaying and pillaging, and a number of
the captains gathered together at the church where they had
met with the view of deliberation. Some of these captains
urged the advisability of carrying out Abu Ubaidah's wishes
on the ground that Syria was as yet imperfectly conquered,
and that Heraclius was still at Antioch. If the rumour
spread that having once made terms the Moslems had
violated them, no other city would capitulate by agreement;
and secondly, it would be better to have the Christians of
Damascus peaceful subjects than to slaughter them. It was
then agreed that each of the two commanders should retain
possession of the part of the city which he had got, and
write to ask the Caliph's decision, by which they should
abide. To this Khalid assented. Presently, much against
Khalid's wishes, the two governors, Thomas and Arabius,
are allowed to leave the city with quantities of treasure, with
a promise that they shall not be molested within three days
of their departure. Khalid makes up his mind to follow them
when that period has elapsed.
And now there follows a romance in the stricter sense of
the word.
I was [said one Wathilah] among the horsemen whom
Khalid employed to patrol between the gates under command
of Dirar, son of al-Azwar. On one moonlight night
before Damascus was taken, we were near the Kaisan
Gate, when, hearing the hinges creak, we stopped. The

gate was opened, a horseman came out, whom we allowed
to proceed till he came near us, when we arrested
him, telling him that if he uttered a word he would be beheaded.
Two other mounted men then came out and stood
on guard at the gate. They called to our prisoner by his
name, and we bade him reply and decoy them out. He called
to them in Greek, “The bird is in the net,” whence they
learned that he was arrested, and hastened inside and
locked the gate. We wanted to kill the prisoner, but some of
us suggested that he should be taken to the Commander,
who might decide what should be done with him. When
Khalid saw the man, he asked him who he was. He answered,
“I am a patrician, one of the rulers of Syria. Before your
arrival I was betrothed to a maiden of my people whom I
deeply love. As the siege became protracted, I asked her
people to let the marriage take place, but they refused, saying
that they had other things to think about. Being anxious to
meet the maiden, I made an appointment with her that we
should both be present at the city sports. There we met and
conversed, when she asked me to take her to the city gate,
where I left her, and came out to reconnoitre when I was
caught by your men. My two friends with the maiden came
out after me, but I called out to them that the bird was in
the net to warn them, for fear the maiden might be made
prisoner. Had it been anyone else I should not have minded.”
Khalid suggested to him that he should embrace Islam, in
which case, should the city be taken, he should wed his
bride. “Otherwise,” he said, “I shall kill you.” The patrician
elected to become a Moslem, and testified that there was no
God but Allah and Mohammed was His Prophet. He then
showed himself a doughty warrior on our side. When we
entered the city in virtue of the capitulation, he went to look
for his bride and was told that she had become a nun out of
grief for him. He went to the church and saw her, but she

did not recognize him. He asked her what had induced her
to take the veil? She replied that she had taken it because
she had caused her betrothed to risk his life and be captured
by the Arabs. She had become a nun out of grief over him.
He said, “I am thy betrothed; I have embraced the religion
of the Arabs, and thou art now under my protection.” When
she heard his words she cried out, “No, by the Lord Jesus!
Never! This cannot be!” She left Damascus with the two
patricians, Thomas and Arabius. When her betrothed saw
that she was determined to discard him, he went and complained
to Khalid. Khalid informed him that Abu Ubaidah
had taken the city by capitulation, and that he had no control
over her. Knowing, however, that Khalid intended following
the refugees, he offered to go with the commander
on the chance of finding his bride. Khalid waited until the
fourth day after their departure; and when he did not start,
the Greek came and asked him whether after all he intended
following the two miscreants, and taking from them what
they had got. Khalid replied that such had been his intention,
but that he was kept from executing it by the distance
which now lay between him and them, since the refugees
had been hastened by their terror and they could not now
be overtaken. The patrician, whose name was Jonas, said
that the distance was no sufficient reason for abandoning
the enterprise, since he knew the country and could take
Khalid's forces by short cuts which would enable them to
overtake the party, and that he would willingly do this on
the chance of recovering his bride. After assuring Khalid
that he was acquainted with the country, he advised that
Khalid's followers should don the attire of the Christian
Arab tribes, Lakhm and Judham, and take sufficient provision
for the journey. The people did as he advised. Khalid
collected his 4,000 guards, and ordered them to mount the
fleetest of their horses, and reduce their store of provisions


to the lightest possible weight. They then started, Khalid
having left Abu Ubaidah in charge of the city.
So we rode, guided by Jonas, who followed their trail,
which, indeed, we could often make out ourselves, not only
from the track of the horses and mules, but also because any
mount, camel or mule, that fell was left by them, and any
horse that could not proceed was hamstrung. We rode on
night and day, stopping only at prayer-times, till the trail
came to an end. This alarmed us, and Khalid asked Jonas
what he had to say about it. “Commander,” he replied,
“ride on and ask God's aid; the refugees have turned out of
the road for fear of you, and taken to the mountains and
passes; still we have all but overtaken them.”
Then he made the Moslems turn aside from the road, and
took them through ravines and over mountains and stone-heaps.
“He took us,” said one of the party, “over a very
stony track, out of which a man could with difficulty extricate
himself. We compelled our horses to go among the
stones, and could see the blood oozing from their hocks, and
their shoes falling off their hoofs. Our own shoes were cut
to pieces, and only the uppers left.” Another member of the
party said, “I was with Khalid on that expedition, and we
had to follow the guide. I had a pair of leather shoes with
Yemen soles, of which I was very proud, and which I fancied
would last me for years. On that night nothing remained of
them but the uppers on my leg. I was afraid of the results
of the rough and difficult mountain path that we had traversed,
and perceived that the others were complaining and
wishing that the guide had kept to the beaten track. However,
before night was over we had got over the worst part, and
emerged into the main road, where the guide hoped that we
should have come up with the fugitives; but when we had
reached it, we saw their track, and found that they had got
in front of us, by forced marches apparently. Khalid said,

‘They have escaped us.’ But the guide Jonas said, ‘I have
hopes that God Almighty will detain them till we can come
up with them, if He will. So let us hasten.’ Khalid accordingly
bade the men bestir themselves. The Moslems said,
‘Commander, the difficult path has worn us out, so let us
rest and give our horses food and rest also.’ But he said,
‘Move on in the name of God, for it is God who bids you
march: hasten in pursuit of your enemies.’”
So they hastened, the guide showing the way, and also
acting as our interpreter, and whatever village we entered,
the people there thought us Christian Arabs of the tribes
Ghassan, Lakhm or Judham. He took us past Jibili and
Latakieh, and brought us at last within sight of the sea,
still following the trail. And then we saw that the fugitives
had passed by Latakieh without entering it for fear of the
Emperor Heraclius. Jonas was amazed at this, and going to
a village near asked some of the proprietors what had happened;
and they informed him that the Emperor Heraclius,
hearing that Thomas and Arabius had delivered the city of
Damascus to the Moslems, was exceedingly angry, and had
not permitted them to approach him; his purpose being to
collect an army and despatch it to Yarmuk. He was afraid
of their telling the soldiers about the courage of the Prophet's
Companions, and so disheartening them; he had
therefore sent orders to them to proceed with their company
to Constantinople, and not to enter Latakieh. When the
Damascene Jonas heard that the fugitives had gone off in
the direction of the sea, he was vexed and alarmed for the
Moslems, and uncertain what to do. He was in favour of going
back, but Khalid encouraged the Moslems by narrating
a dream which appeared to promise success. Heavy rains
now delay the fugitives, and after some more time spent in
pursuit the Moslems reach a spot where they can hear
sounds which seem to proceed from the Christian host.

Jonas with another ascends a mountain called by the Greeks
Jebel Barik (the Lightning Mountain), and see below a fertile
meadow, green and flowery, in the middle of which the
Christians are loitering, worn out with fatigue and wet with
the rain. Many are asleep, and the loads have been taken
off many of their beasts.
The good news is brought to Khalid by the two scouts,
and Jonas takes care to stipulate that his bride must be reserved
for his own possession, should she be captured by anyone
else. Khalid then divides his party into four troops who
charge the fugitives from different sides. The Christians resist,
supposing at first that the Arabs are a small detachment
whom they can easily overcome, but they find themselves involved
in a terrible conflict.
Said one of those who were present: “I was in Khalid's
right wing, and had gone with my band to attack the part
of the Christian host that contained the women, children and
baggage. I observed the Greek women defending themselves
vigorously, and I noticed a horseman attired in Greek style
dismount and commence fighting with a Greek woman, each
of whom displayed great vehemence. I approached to see who
it was. It was Jonas fighting with his bride, and the struggle
was like one between lion and lioness.”
For a time this spectator was occupied with a fight on his
own account, having endeavoured to capture a number of
Greek women, one of whom killed his horse. He succeeded
however in making her his prisoner, and she turned out to
be Heraclius's daughter. But before leaving the field he
wished to see what had become of Jonas. “Finally I found
him sitting with his bride before him, she weltering in blood
and he in tears. I asked him what had happened. He said,
‘This is my bride, my sole object of pursuit. I loved her
dearly. When I saw her, I said “See, I have overtaken thee,
and shalt thou escape from my hand?” She said, “By the Lord

Jesus, thou and I shall never be united, seeing thou hast
left thy faith and entered into the religion of Mohammed.
I have given myself to Christ, and am on my way to Constantinople,
there to enter a convent.” Then she fought for
her liberty, and I fought with her till I had made her my
prisoner; and when she saw that she was taken, she drew
out a knife and plunged it into her breast, and fell down
dead. And see I am weeping over her, broken-hearted.’”
This story is no mean tribute from a Moslem writer to
the heroism of Christian women.


After D'Ohsson

ON Jan. 29, 1260, Nasir, great-grandson of Saladdin,
prince of Damascus, hearing of the sack of Aleppo,
was persuaded by his generals to retreat in the direction
of Egypt, leaving Damascus undefended. By his order
all the chief inhabitants, soldiers as well as citizens, departed
hastily for Egypt, some after selling their goods at ruinous
prices. Seven hundred silver dirhems were the hire of a
camel. After the departure of Nasir the Emir Zain al-din
Sulaiman, better known as Zain al-Hafizi, closed the gates
of the city, assembled the notables, and agreed with them
to deliver Damascus to the Mongols in order to spare the
blood of the people. In consequence a deputation, composed
of the chief inhabitants, left for the Mongol camp at Aleppo,
taking with them some rich presents and the keys of the
city. Hulagu bestowed a robe of honour on the head of the
deputation, the Judge Muhyi'l-din, son of al-Zaki, and
nominated him chief judge of Syria. This personage immediately
thereupon returned to Damascus, where he assembled
the doctors and notables, before whom, clad in his
robe of honour, he read out the letters nominating him to

his new post. He then published an edict whereby Hulagu
promised the inhabitants of Damascus the security of their
The Mongol chief then sent two commanders, one a
Mongol the other a Persian, to Damascus, with instructions
to follow the advice of Zain al-Hafizi, and treat the inhabitants
well. A short time after there arrived the general,
Kitubogha, with a detachment of Mongol troops. The city
sent to meet them a deputation of shaikhs and notables,
carrying banners and copies of the Koran. The new governor
renewed the edict promising security, and saw that
neither life nor property was violated.
When the Christians of Damascus saw the city occupied
by Mongol troops, they produced an order of Hulagu,
granting them protection, and armed with this they proceeded
to defy their oppressors. Mohammedan historians
relate with indignation how they drank wine publicly, even
in the fasting month, spilling it on the garments of the
Moslems and the doors of the mosques; how they compelled
the Moslems to rise when they passed with the Cross before
the Moslem shops; insulting any who refused to do so.
They ran through the streets singing psalms and proclaiming
that Christ's religion was the true one; they went so far
as to pull down mosques and minarets that were close to
their churches. The outraged Moslems made complaint to
the Mongol governor; but he being a Christian disregarded
them, and caused some of them to be beaten; whereas he
treated the Christian priests with great respect, visited the
churches, and took the Christian leaders under his protection.
On the other hand the chief Judge Zain al-Hafizi extorted
large sums of money from the inhabitants, with which
he purchased valuable fabrics which he presented to the
Mongol chiefs; and every day he sent them loads of provisions
for their banquets.
The Citadel had not yet capitulated. Kitubogha began
the siege on the night of March 21, and battered the place
with twenty catapults until April 6, when it yielded. The
Mongols sacked it, burned the buildings which it contained,
demolished most of the towers, and destroyed all the military
engines. Zain al-Hafizi wrote to Hulagu to ask for instructions
with regard to the commander of the Citadel and his
adjutant, who had been made prisoners; he received as
reply their death-warrant, and proceeded to execute them
himself; he beheaded them at Marj Barged, where Kitu-bogha
had placed his camp.
In September of the same year was fought the battle of
Ain Jalut at which the Mongols were defeated by the forces
of the Egyptian Sultan. The Mongol camp, with the women
and children, fell into the power of the victors. Hulagu's
governors were assassinated in a number of towns. Those
who were in Damascus were able to escape in time. When
the news reached this place, the Mongol commanders and
their partisans immediately made off, but they were plundered
by the country people. The Mongol occupation of Damascus
had lasted seven months and ten days.
From Tiberias, a day or two after his victory, the Sultan
addressed a letter to the city of Damascus, proclaiming the
victory which had been vouchsafed him by God. The news
caused transports of joy, because the Moslems were despairing
of ever being delivered from the yoke of the Mongols,
who till then had appeared invincible. The Moslem inhabitants
immediately rushed to the houses of the Christians,
which they pillaged and ruined; many Christians were killed.
The churches of St James and St Mary were burned. The
Jews had to suffer similarly. Their houses and shops were
completely looted, and armed force had to be employed to
prevent the people from setting fire to their dwellings and
synagogues. Then came the turn of those Moslems who had

acted as partisans and agents of the Mongols; they were
massacred. A few days later Kotuz arrived with his army
before Damascus, and remained in camp for two days before
entering the city. He ordered the execution of several
Moslems who had taken the Mongol side, and had thirty
Christians hung. He then imposed on the Christian population
a fine of 150,000 dirhems.

After Ibn Iyas

THE Sultan Faraj had, on hearing of the advance of
Timur into Syria, come to Damascus in person,
where he had scored some slight victories over the
outpost of the Mongol invader, and received large accessions
of deserters. News, however, of an attempted revolution
at home caused him to withdraw suddenly, leaving
Damascus exposed to the attack of Timur. Hearing of
the approach of the Mongols, the people of Damascus
on Saturday 21 Jumada I, 803 [Jan. 8, 1400] were in
great dismay, and locked the gates of the city. They
mounted the walls, and began to shoot at Timur's army, and
dragged each other forward to fight. The first day there was a
considerable engagement, in which some 2,000 of Timur's
army were killed. On Sunday Timur sent requesting that
some eminent and intelligent citizen should be sent to act
as intermediary, with a view to peace negotiations. When
Timur's envoy brought this message, there was some discussion
as to whom they should send, and the choice finally
fell on the Kadi Taki al-din Ibn Muflih the Hanbalite, he
being a ready speaker, skilful in both Turkish and Persian.
He was let down from the top of the wall in a basket, and
with him five other eminent Damascenes. He stayed away a
little time, and then returned, when he stated that Timur
had been exceedingly courteous. “This city,” he had said, “is

the home of the Prophets, and I give it its liberty for their
sake.” He had also gone to see the tomb of Umm Habibah
(one of the Prophet's wives), and expressed his regret that
such a monument should be without a cupola; he had therefore
undertaken to provide it with one himself. Ibn Muflih
further stated that the Mongol prince throughout the
audience had been frequently mentioning the name of God
Almighty, and asking forgiveness for his sins, and that he
never let the rosary drop from his hands. This, however, was
as Ibrahim al-Mi'mar says:
As the butcher pronounces the name
Of the Lord on the beast that he slays:
So our governor's tyrannous acts
He preludes with prayer and praise.
Ibn Muflih was indeed so eloquent on the virtues of Timur
that the people of Damascus felt unwilling to fight against
such a man, and anxious to be his subjects. Or rather, they
divided into two parties, one siding with Ibn Muflih, the
other still bent on fighting, and deaf to Ibn Muflih's persuasions.
At first the greater number of the townsfolk were on
the latter side; but by Monday morning Ibn Muflih had
secured a majority for his policy, and wished to open the Bab
al-Nasr. This, however, was opposed by the commander of
the Citadel, who threatened to burn the city if it were done.
Ibn Muflih then got together a deputation of doctors, judges,
and shaikhs, to demand an audience of Timur, and these
were let down in baskets from the top of the wall. They were
entertained the Monday night in Timur's camp, and sent
back to Damascus the next day with a proclamation by Timur
in nine lines, guaranteeing the Damascenes security. This
proclamation was read aloud in the Umayyad Mosque, and
was received with great rejoicing by the people of the city,
who then opened the Bab Saghir. They felt perfectly secure,
but God only knows what is in the heart, as has been said:
He whose help I hoped for hit me,
Like a snake he turned and bit me,
His beaming expression no confidence brings,
Any more than the snake's that can smile when it stings.
When the gate was opened, one of Timur's officers took his
station there, asserting that it was his business to see that
the Mongol troops did no damage. Timur then sent for Ibn
Muflih, and the latter undertook to collect a million dinars
from the citizens of Damascus. This he set about doing immediately
after the audience, but when the sum was made
up and brought to Timur, the Mongol made a wry face and
declared himself dissatisfied, asserting it was a million tomans
for which he had stipulated, a toman having the value
of ten [million] dinars. Ibn Muflih was disconcerted by this
demand, and after leaving Timur tried every expedient in
his power to get together the money, applying rack and torture
to the citizens, demanding ten Syrian dirhems from
each individual, great or small; three months’ revenue was
demanded from all religious establishments: and the distress
resulting from these measures was indescribable, especially
as prices had risen during the siege, a bushel of wheat
fetching forty Syrian dirhems. Public prayer and preaching
were abandoned, and one of Timur's captains, named Shah
Malik, took up his quarters with his women folk in the
Umayyad Mosque, of which he locked the door; he took up
the carpets and the matting of the mosque, and with them
blocked up the spaces between the columns, and he with his
soldiers proceeded to drink wine, beat drums and play dice in
the Mosque. While this lasted, there was no call to prayer
or any public worship in any of the sanctuaries; business
was at a standstill, and the markets empty, while each day
more and more of Timur's troops entered the city, till it became
full of them, and they proceeded to lay siege to the
Citadel. This was delivered up to the Mongols after twentynine

days’ siege, when the governor thought there was no
prospect of saving it. The Mongols took possession of everything,
animate and inanimate, which it contained, and,
indeed, of the whole city. Ibn Muflih then made a second
presentation of money to Timur, who told him that what he
had brought amounted in Mongol reckoning to three million
dinars; there were thus still seven millions owing. The
first stipulation made by the Mongol with Ibn Muflih had
been for a million dinars, exclusive of the goods, arms and
beasts left by the Egyptian Sultan and his officers when
they went away. Returning from the audience Ibn Muflih had
a proclamation made that whoever had in his keeping any
property left on trust by the Sultan, his officers or his soldiers,
should immediately produce it. The order was obeyed,
and the whole brought before Timur, who told Ibn Muflih
he must now bring the property of all Damascene merchants
and persons of eminence who had left the city. When all this
had been brought, Ibn Muflih was told to bring all the beasts
of burden in the city, horses, mules, camels and asses; these
were brought to the number of 12,000 head. Next he was
told to collect and bring all weapons of any sort, however
good or bad. After these had been fetched, Ibn Muflih was
ordered to make out a list of all the quarters and streets of
Damascus. When Ibn Muflih had made out a set of tables,
and brought them to Timur, he was told finally to apportion
the sum of 7,000,000 dinars which was still owing according
to the terms of the capitulation. Ibn Muflih replied
that there was not a gold or silver coin left in the place. At
this Timur was angry, and commanded Ibn Muflih and his
assistants to be arrested and put in irons. “Cauterization is
the leech's last expedient.” It turned out then as has been
A king's intent is gall to eat
Coated with honey from outside:
So he who tastes it thinks it sweet
Till he find out what it doth hide.
Timur then distributed the tickets containing the names
of the streets among his officers, and the whole army was
introduced within the walls. Each officer stationed himself
in a street, and demanded of its inhabitants an impossible
sum. Each householder would be made to stand in his rags
at the door of his house, and bidden to pay the sum allotted
to him; when he replied that he had nothing left, he would
be violently beaten, his house entered, and all the furniture
and copper utensils would be taken away. He with all his
family would then be dragged out, and his wives and daughters
would be violated before his eyes. The male children
after being made to undergo similar atrocities would be
beaten, and the scourging of the householder himself continued
while all this was done. Ingenious forms of torture
were devised; hempen cord would be tied round a man's
head and tightened till it sank in; then it would be put
under his arms, and his thumbs be tied together behind his
back; then he would be made to lie on his back, and a cloth
containing hot ashes be put over him. Men were suspended
by their great toes, and fires lighted under them, till they
either died of the agony or fell into the blaze. Timur's
soldiers did such things as it whitens the hair to hear of.
Nineteen days did these atrocities continue; on Wednesday
the eighteenth of Rejeb of the year 803 [March 4, 1400],
Damascus was entered by an army like the waves of the
sea, all foot-soldiers, with drawn swords in their hands.
These looted whatever remained in the city, and bound the
men, women and children, whom they dragged off in ropes
not knowing whither they were to be taken. They left in the

city infants under four years of age, and decayed old women
and men. The rest were led off.
On Thursday the first of Sha'ban [March 17, 1400], Timur
ordered the city of Damascus to be set on fire, which was
done; a pyre blazed which discharged sparks as big as
yellow camels. The Umayyad Mosque was burned till all
left was a wall standing with no roof, nor door nor marble;
most of the mosques and oratories of Damascus were burned
also, as were the market-places and the magazines which
had first been plundered, and most of the streets were destroyed
by the fire so as to become unrecognizable, as has been
I pass by haunts I once knew well,
Bright homes of wealth and gladness,
Only the owls do there now dwell—
Plague on ye, birds of sadness!
So Damascus that had been so prosperous, so happy, so
bright, so luxurious, so magnificent, was turned into a heap
of ruins, of desolate remains, destitute of all its beauty and
all its art. Not a living being was moving, nothing was there
except carcases partly burned, and figures disfigured with
dust, covered with a cloak of flies, and become the prey
and the spoil of dogs. Even a sagacious man could not find
the way to his house, nor distinguish between a stranger's
dwelling and his own. “We are God's and to God do we

[Back to top]


The Massacre of 1860
From a Work called The Unveiling of the Troubles of Syria

THERE was at this time in Damascus a governor named
Ahmad Pasha, who had been given control of both the
administration and the army. The whole history of Turkey
offers no example of a baser, more mischievous or more
cunning scoundrel. He made it his chief business to stir up angry
passions and prepare the way for a massacre. The massacres of
Hasibiyya and Rashiyya were by his orders and under his direction,
and the Turkish soldiers who carried them out were his
servants. Circumstances helped him to stir up bad blood, especially
the rescript in which the Sultan proclaimed equality between
his subjects in accordance with the Treaty of Paris. When the
Moslems perceived that their power of lording it over the Christians
was gone, that all communities were now equal, and that
no sooner had the Christians been enfranchized than they had begun
to surpass the Moslems in wealth, honour, knowledge and
everything else, the latter resented this and harboured mischievous
designs. Now one of the articles of the Treaty of Paris was
that soldiers should be drawn from the Christian no less than from
the Moslem part of the population; the Government, however,
did not observe this article for reasons that are well known, and
in lieu of military service levied a heavy contribution on the
Christians, $50 a head. This sum being more than they were able
to pay, they made repeated complaints and begged the Government
to reduce the amount or else permit Christians to serve in
the army. The Government would not listen to these appeals, and
in the year 1860 insisted on the payment of all arrears. The Orthodox
Greek Patriarch at that time was a Greek unacquainted with
the language and character of the people. When his flock thronged
round him and encompassed his residence, begging his mediation
in this matter, he wished to disperse them with the aid of the
soldiers; he therefore wrote to the Governor informing him that

the Christians were in a turbulent and excited state in consequence
of the imposition of the heavy military tax, and expressed
the hope that the Governor would disperse them, as they were
crowding round his house. The Governor was delighted with this
communication and kept the letter in his pocket to serve as his
justification, if necessary, for the massacre that he meant to bring
about; for in answer to any question he could produce the letter
of the Patriarch, attesting the fact that the Christians were starting
a riot, which he had been compelled to repress by force
of arms.
By the secret instigations of Ahmad Pasha the excitement of
the Moslems in Damascus increased daily, and presently they
heard with delight of the massacres in Hasibiyya, Rashiyya,
Zahlah and Dair al-Kamar. With the heroes of Zahlah they had a
long account to settle, and when they received the news of the
fall of Zahlah and the massacre of its defenders, they decorated
Damascus and instituted public rejoicings. The Christians looked
on but durst not interfere; only some of the more distinguished
and virtuous of the Moslems were displeased with this proceeding
and extinguished the illuminations, and besides went round and
urged their co-religionists to be sensible and calm. Their laudable
efforts had little effect; they were overcome by the Government
and the mob. At the end of this chapter we shall record the names
of the noble-minded men, in order that their memory and the
memory of their services may endure in history. As we said, the
excitement of the Moslems kept increasing daily, whilst the
Christians had to suffer contempt and insult and contumely of
every sort. Complaint brought no redress and they found that
application to the Government was useless. Most of them remained
shut up in their houses; merchants and employés durst
not go out to their business, but passed the time in prayer, meditation
and deliberation. Meanwhile the feeling of the Moslems
grew worse and worse, and the Christians saw death approaching.
The Consuls, perceiving the state of affairs, kept sending reports
to their Governments, and when matters came to a crisis a
meeting was held in the house of the British Consul, in accordance

with his request, at which they all attended. After considering
what measures they could take to prevent a massacre,
they agreed to open their houses to refugees from murder or
pillage; and determined to warn the Governor of the consequences
of negligence. The Greek Consul was selected to convey their
message to the Governor, this Consul being skilled in Turkish.
He did his utmost to impress on the Governor the necessity of
calming the excitement, but without effect; Ahmad Pasha at first
professed absolute ignorance of the existence of any excitement,
maintaining that the city was perfectly quiet. When, however, as
the days passed, it became impossible for him to deny the fact,
he began to excuse himself on the plea that the soldiers whom he
had were not sufficient to restrain the mob from carrying out
their designs. He also began to make an exhibition of surprise
and anxiety at the state of affairs, but he did not issue a single
order to the effect that either the soldiers or the mob should be
restrained from attacking the Christians. When the debate became
hot between him and the Consul who was commissioned
to converse with him, he would declare that the Christians
had rebelled against the Porte and endeavoured to shake
off their allegiance; “and this,” he said, “I can prove by
the letters of their bishops and chief ecclesiastical authorities.”
The Consuls then went in a body to the palace of the Governor
and insisted that he must do something to improve the state of
affairs. Finding he could no longer refuse, he promised to do as
they wished, and issued an order to the inhabitants and the army
that they should keep quiet and not molest the Christians. This
order was partly effective, and the Christians experienced a certain
amount of relief; orders were presently sent by the Governor
to such of them as were in the employ of the Government, bidding
them have no fear, and return to their duties. Supposing the
excitement to have subsided they took courage, and people were
near imagining that the waters had returned to their channels.
Ahmad Pasha, however, had no idea of letting this tranquillity
continue, but continued his secret instigations, and the army with
the mob became even more seriously excited than before, whilst

the Christians were again compelled to conceal themselves from
their enemies. Every one perceived that something terrible was
about to happen, although the Consuls of Great Britain and
Greece tried to urge the distinguished Moslems to help them in
quieting the excitement. A few of the best among the Damascenes
came to their aid, but their efforts were unavailing; for the disturbance
kept increasing, and the ruffians began to thirst more
and more for blood. Hearing of this the Arabs and other Moslem
neighbours of Damascus came to the city from all quarters,
anxious to gratify their resentments by the murder of Christians
and plunder of Christian goods. Most unfortunately those who
had escaped from the massacre of Hasibiyya arrived in Damascus
at that time, bringing with them, as it were, the infection of
massacre. The ruffians could wait no longer, and the Druzes from
the outside and the Moslems from the inside kept urging the
Government to issue a rescript giving them leave to commence
slaying, violating women, plundering goods and burning houses.
Ahmad Pasha saw that the time had come for the execution of
his purpose, and fanned the flame by circulating a rumour that
the Christians were planning a night attack on the Moslem
quarters, with a general assault, notwithstanding that the Christians
of Damascus were the weakest of God's creatures, not one
of whom could handle a weapon, and whose only expedient for
self-defence was imploring mercy or hiding. The wicked Governor,
whenever he went to public prayer, had the troops ranged round
the mosque, on the pretence that the Christians were meditating
an assault on his person. By means of these rumours and slanders
the wrath of the Moslems was roused to such a pitch that the continuance
of quiet was impossible. Presently the Governor removed
his family to the Citadel which he protected with guns, and this
served as a signal to the Damascenes that the time was come, and
they commenced making preparations for the absolute annihilation
of the Christians of the city. The excitement grew fiercer and
fiercer, the preparations for a massacre were completed, and the
Christians despaired of deliverance.
The Governor now sent a regiment of soldiers to the Bab Tuma,

where is the Christian quarter, to protect the Christians, who,
however, had heard of the sort of protection accorded by these
Turks at the other massacres in Syria, and were convinced that
one was about to commence. They supposed the soldiers had
been sent to attack them, and their terror was vastly increased
when they learned from the Hasibiyya refugees that this was the
very regiment that had been in Hasibiyya and assisted in the
massacre there, and having got some practice in such proceedings
had come on to Damascus to repeat the scenes of Hasibiyya. And,
indeed, the intentions of these soldiers were apparent on their
countenances. The Christians, in despair, committed their future
to God, some of them indeed trying to take refuge in the houses
of the more virtuous Moslems or to leave the city secretly when not
prevented by the soldiers, while others tried to soften the soldiers and
officers by presents of money. Indeed, these were so lavishly bestowed
that the poorest of these Turkish soldiers became richer
than the most eminent of the Christians, the wealth of the unfortunate
Christians being transferred to these savages, who,
having been sent to protect their lives, attacked them in contravention
of the law of God, the law of Islam and the law of manhood.
When Ahmad Pasha perceived that further delay would be
harmful rather than profitable, and that all that was now wanted
was a signal, he began to search for something that would excite
the Moslems to such a pitch that they would of their own accord
start on a massacre without instructions from the Government.
He found an expedient directly.
The Moslems, especially the Turks, had at that time repeatedly
insulted the Christian religion, and complaints about this had repeatedly
been made to the Governor. When he wished the massacre
to commence, he ordered the arrest of three Moslem lads who
had openly insulted the Cross, and sent them bound and escorted
to the Christian quarter, with orders to sweep its streets as a
punishment for their conduct. The Moslems, seeing them in this
state, and being told by the Turks that they were going to act as
slaves to the Christians because they had insulted the Cross,

stopped them at the entrance of the Umayyad Mosque, and
loosed their bonds without opposition from the soldiers. Entering
the Mosque they deliberated for a short time, after which they left
the building, one of them shouting at the top of his voice, “Help,
help, Mohammed's Religion; the Cause of the Faith; the Cause
of God against the Unbelieving Nazarenes!” The cry went from
mouth to mouth, the people became infuriated, and the Moslem
rabble rushed from every quarter upon the Christian quarter like
ravening wolves, eager to slake their fury by spilling Christian
blood. This, then, was the beginning of the terrible massacre.
While rushing upon the Christian quarter the rioters said to
each other, “Fear not that the Government will intervene or that
the soldiers will oppose our holy enterprise, but slaughter the
Christians to a man this day; make their homes the food of the
flame, and let their women taste the bitterness of dishonour; rid
yourselves after such long endurance of these Nazarene unbelievers.
“By order of the Governor a blank discharge was fired at the
Greek Orthodox Church; it set some matting alight, and when the
rioters saw the flame they began to kindle fires on all sides of the
Christian quarter, and entering the houses began to slay and pillage.
The Turkish soldiers opened the doors to the invaders and
prevented the Christians from escaping; before midday the whole
quarter was a sheet of flame, and in the following night its appearance
might have whitened an infant's hair. There were
wretched creatures trying to escape from the jaws of the fire,
when the walls fell down with them, and they were left to die in
indescribable torment. When day dawned and the rioters saw
that there was nothing left to plunder, they employed their
weapons upon all who had escaped from the fire, slaughtering
every Christian whom they could find, sparing neither young nor
old; they cut down the mothers and violated the daughters; they
committed every form of atrocity. The blood of the victims
flowed in the streets in rills. Destruction was everywhere; nothing
could be seen in the Christian quarter except heads on
which bullets were raining from the Turkish rifles, chests trampled
by horse-hoofs, corpses partly devoured by flames and turned

into ashes or charcoal blacker than night. The cry of women and
children rose to heaven and the blood of the slain flowed in the
streets imploring succour. To the spectator it seemed as though
not a Christian soul remained alive except some who had been
spared by some of the ruffians for evil purposes, and who were
begging for death, and welcomed it after the terrors that they
had witnessed. Six thousand innocent persons perished after enduring
unspeakable agonies.
Still, even in that gloomy time there were not wanting noble
men, a remnant of whom are always to be found surviving, however
savage the majority may be. Among the savage murderers
there was found a man of high station, noble worth, lofty aspirations
and attachment to Islamic virtues, high-born and of high
repute, a master with the sword and a master with the pen, a hero
and a champion, familiar with war and its terrors, wherein he
had played the man. In the days of his power his enemies had
been Christians, whom he had fought courageously; when fortune
had played him false and his sovereignty had come to an
end, he had resolved on retiring to Damascus, there to pass the
remainder of his days in such courses as pleased God. He detested
the treacherous murder of the weak, and tried to restrain others
from such acts as are forbidden by the Moslem religion. Among
these debased mobs he shone like a gem in dull, black stone; his
spirit rose superior to the intrigues of the Turks and the machinations
of the mischief-makers, and the deeds of the savages.
This person was the unique Emir Abd al-Kadir of Algiers, whose
memory God render fragrant, and on whom may He confer a
thousand mercies; and may He make many like to him among
the sons of Adam. He it was who showed himself brave and
manly among the herd of evil-doers, cowards, dastards, villains
and traitors.
Having perceived on men's faces the signs of unholy intentions,
and inferring from the negligence of the authorities in repressing
the rioters that the authorities either had a hand in
the business themselves or were actually the instigators of the
atrocities, when one day he met a number of the chief Moslems

in the presence of Ahmad Pasha, after a long discussion he persuaded
them that such treachery towards a feeble community that
did not amount to a tenth of the population of Damascus—exclusive
of the army, and exclusive of the fact that the Christians
were utterly unaccustomed to fighting—could only be regarded
as an infamous piece of cowardice, bringing disgrace on him who
was guilty of it; and that an attack on “the people of the Covenant”—the
legal name for tolerated sects living under Moslem
rule—so long as they remained obedient to the Moslem government,
was a violation of the Sacred Code, and was not permitted
by any religious system. The Governor, being unable to refuse his
assent to these propositions, agreed to take joint steps to allay
the excitement and to protect the Christians. Hence, when Abd
al-Kadir learned of the despatch of the regiment to the Christian
quarter shortly before the butchery, his apprehensions
were appeased, and he supposed that he had done his duty
and succeeded in carrying out his noble purpose. The Turkish
Governor, however, and his satellites had no thought
about honour nor about any code save that of their passion
for blood and plunder, whence, over-riding all laws, they perpetrated
those acts which have been narrated. But when Abd al-Kadir
heard of this, he sent his followers at night-time to every
quarter of Damascus to search everywhere for Christians and
bring them, wherever found, to the Emir's palace, protecting them
on the way from the rioters. The whole of the night and the following
day Abd al-Kadir kept gathering these poor wretches into
his house where he provided them with food and drink at his
own expense and did his best to console them, allay their fears
and promise them an alleviation of their trials. No nobler conduct
has ever been heard of. Many a time he went out himself and
passed through the streets in which the butchery was going on,
and with his own hand kept the murderer off his prey. Going to
the booths, churches and consulates, where refugees were gathered
by the hundred and thousand, he took them under his protection
and led them off to his own house, whence he returned to deliver
a fresh batch. He also encouraged his own servants to do the

same, and begged them to exert themselves therein. Finally,
when he had got round him 12,000 refugees, his palace was too
small to hold them, and he requested the brutal Governor, Ahmad
Pasha, to order that they should be received in the Citadel, after
having obtained from the Turk the most solemn promise that he
would do them no harm. The unfortunate people were in consequence
placed in the Citadel where they remained days and
weeks without clothing, shelter or food, and where they endured
every kind of misery after the trials that they had undergone.
God alone knows the anguish of these refugees over the dear ones
whom they had lost; over their personal losses and over the
miserable plight to which they had come; especially as most of
them believed the Citadel was going to turn out a death-trap like
the Palace of Hasibiyya or Dair al-Kamar or Rashiyya, and that
one day the Governor would open the gates and order the Druzes
and Turks to massacre them to a man, as had happened to their
brethren. This apprehension was strengthened one day when an
officer was sent by the Governor with orders to separate the women
from the men for a purpose that was not then explained;
the refugees gave up all hope and made ready for death, imploring
mercy for those whom they were preceding to Eternity
and who had still some chance of abiding in the vale of tears.
Fortunately this fear was not realized—chiefly through the efforts
of the brave and philanthropic Abd al-Kadir. The efforts of the
Consuls were of no avail, for the authorities regarded them as
enemies and wished to attack them with the rest.
When the number of refugees assembled in Abd al-Kadir's
house became very great—in addition to those who had been sent
to the Citadel—the rioters wished to kill them also to a man, and
resented the conduct of the Emir Abd al-Kadir in helping the
Christians. Gathering round his house in masses they began to
shout and cry and demand the immediate surrender of the Christians,
failing which they threatened to burn his house and destroy
him with his protégés; thinking that Abd al-Kadir was a coward
like the rest, who would be moved by threats and menaces.
Hearing this, the hero ordered his followers to gather round his

castle; they were picked champions, whose prowess had been
tried on battlefields, as when under their heroic leader they had
won a victory over the Sultan of Morocco at Mulaya, being 2,500
against 60,000. These troops maintained their allegiance to their
prince, and such of them as survived the wars had come with him
to Damascus. When, therefore, he summoned them on that
terrible day, they surrounded him on every side, and the rioters
seeing their valiant appearance, took to their heels; whereupon
the Emir advanced by himself into the middle of the cowardly
rioters and addressed them to the following effect: “Avaunt, ye
Moslem dogs, ye scum of mankind! Is it thus that ye honour your
Prophet and obey his holy ordinances, ye vilest of unbelievers?
Did God's Apostle bid ye deal thus with the people of the Covenant
who were to be safe under your shadow? Is it this which Arabian
courage nerves ye to do? Plague on ye for cowardly traitors, who
murder the Christians who are fewer and weaker than yourselves,
and reckon this to be valour, when it is disgrace itself.
Go back at once or I will not sheathe this sword till I have saturated
it with your blood, and will command my men to fall upon
you, until not a single coward remain to tell what has happened
to his brethren. And be well assured that ye shall repent in dust
and ashes when the Franks shall come to avenge these injured
Christians, and shall turn your mosques into churches, and make
of you an example to them that will be warned. Go back, cease
from your folly, or I will make this hour the last of your lives,
and will take retribution from you for the evil which you have
The mighty man's words terrified these hearts of the dastards,
and they went back dismayed, and so 12,000 lives were saved
through the instrumentality of one hero. His name shall last so
long as honour lasts or courage is remembered.
[There follows a list of other eminent Moslems who aided the
efforts of Abd al-Kadir.]
This is the substance of the terrible story. We narrate it here
and leave the reader to say to himself what he pleases. The number
of the slain in Damascus and its suburbs was 6,000, and of

those slain elsewhere about the same. The whole of this happened
in the month of June of the Black Year (1860). The number of
persons left homeless and destitute was more than 150,000; the
number of women and children that became widows and orphans
was not less than 20,000; the number of houses belonging to innocent
Christians that were burned down was about 7,000; the number
of persons who died in this month of the effects of fright,
grief, anxiety and sudden poverty was not less than 14,000; and
the amount of money pillaged and looted was not less than
Consider these matters—God guard you—and pray God that
He will deliver the earth from the evil-doers.




descended from the Prophet's uncle Abbas.
Name of the third Mohammedan dynasty, whose capital
was ordinarily Baghdad.
slave of. As an element in proper names prefixed to names
of God.
father of. A form of name taken by Arabs, called kunyah.
master, commander, or chief (Turkish).
descended from Ayyub (Job), father of Saladdin.
brilliant, masculine of Zahra, a title of the Prophet's
daughter Fatimah.
door, gate.
sea, great river, used for the Nile.
of the Nile, name given to first Mamluke dynasty, because
of their barracks on an island in the Nile.
house, room.
prince or noble. Turkish title.
pool (of), pond (of).
of the Castle, name given to second series of Mamluke
dynasties, from their barracks on the Citadel.
successor, ordinarily of the Prophet, in the sovereignty
of the Moslems.
inn for the lodging of caravans.
bureau, public office, council.
Turkish title, corresponding with our "esquire," usually
confined to Moslems, but now not exclusively.
governor, name given to high officials at the Mamluke
descended from Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter and
her husband Ali, the Prophet's cousin. Name taken by the
Egyptian Caliphs, who, rightly or wrongly, claimed such
western (fem.)
fort, fortress.
son of.
title used in Farghanah for sovereign.
leader, usually in prayer.
see liwan.
title of Mongol rulers of Baghdad.
saloon, large room.
sovereign (in Turkey); noble (in Persia); storehouse for
merchandise (chiefly in Syria).
king or prince. Persian title, given the Egyptian ruler.
niche marking direction of prayer in a mosque.
word employed by writers on Egyptian architecture for
an arched hall, usually with one side open towards a court;
aisle of a mosque.
minaret of.
school, college, place of instruction.
portion of a mosque marked off for the use of the sovereign or governor.
elementary school.
king. Title taken by Egyptian rulers, and sometimes by
their ministers.
grave of a saint.
see Kiblah.
tower adjoining a mosque, with one or more galleries
whence the call to prayer is chanted.
pulpit of a mosque.
Mohammedan place of worship.
official whose business it is to chant the call to prayer.
title given to very high officials in the Turkish Empire.
small monastery.
title given to descendants of the Prophet.
public drinking fountain.
head of a tribe; doctor of theology.
partisans of Ali, as opposed to orthodox Moslems.
abbreviation of Sayyidi, my lord, used of Egyptian princes.
Mohammedan mystic or ascetic.
title assumed by Mohammedan sovereigns, who ruled
under the nominal suzerainty of the Caliph. In the Ottoman
Empire the two titles are combined.
orthodox Moslem, opposed to Shi'i.
building for the storage of Merchandise.
title taken by Sultans, signifying victorious.
cell, small monastery.




Abbreviations.—AC—Abbasid Caliph. AS—Ayyubid Sultan. C—Cairo.
C-ple—Constantinople. D—Damascus. Emp.—Roman Emperor. FC—Fatimide
Caliph. J—Jerusalem. Kh—Khedive. MS—Mamluke Sultan. OS—Ottoman
Sultan. UC—Umayyad Caliph.