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Egyptian Sultan
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Egyptian Sultan
Gender male
Death Cairo
The details

Al-Malik Az-Zahir Sayf ad-Din Barquq (Arabic: الملك الظاهر سيف الدين برقوق‎‎) (ruled 1382–1389 and 1390 –1399) was the first Sultan of the Mamluk Burji dynasty.
The name Barquq means "plum" in Arabic (the English word was derived from the Arabic), and was taken by Barquq on his arrival in Egypt.

Early life

Barquq was of Circassian origin, and was acquired as a slave and became a mamluk in the household of Yalbugha al-Umari in approximately 1363-64 (or 764 on the Islamic calendar). During the reign of Sultan al-Mansur Ali, when Barquq held considerable influence in the Mamluk state, he brought his father Anas to Egypt in March 1381. Anas converted to Islam and became the first father of a first-generation mamluk to be mentioned by the Mamluk era sources because of his Muslim faith; the fathers of first generation mamluks were typically non-Muslims. Anas was promoted to the rank of emir of one hundred (the highest Mamluk military rank) and was known for his piety, kindness and charitable acts. He died ten months after his arrival to Egypt.

Rise to power

Mamluk Barquq copper fals Damascus 1382 1389

Since 1341, the Mamluk empire had been ruled by the descendants of al-Nasir Muhammad. However, none of them were strong enough to exert effective control. Many of the rulers were minors at the time of their accession, and would act as puppets for one or another competing Mamluk faction.

This happened in 1377, when the sultan al-Ashraf Sha'ban, who had ruled in his own stead since 1366, was overthrown and killed. The rebelling Mamluks replaced him on the throne with his seven-year-old son. When that puppet sultan died, he was replaced by the younger brother.

Barquq was a member of the faction behind the throne, serving in various powerful capacities in the court of the boy sultans. He consolidated his power until in November 1382 he was able to depose sultan al-Salih Hajji and claim the sultanate for himself. He took the reign name al-Zahir, perhaps in imitation of the sultan al-Zahir Baybars.

First reign (1382–1389)

Barquq placed many of his own family in positions of power to the detriment of fellow Mamluks, attempting to solidify his position. He sponsored the construction of the Madrasa-Khanqa of Sultan Barquq in the center of Cairo. Completed in 1386, it was a pious foundation designed to serve as both a khanqah and a madrasa. It is one of the three dominant Islamic monuments clustered on the street Bayn al-Qasrayn in Fatimid Cairo. Although often called the Mausoleum of Barquq, only his daughter is buried there.

Barquq ended the public holiday in Egypt celebrating the Coptic New Year Nayrouz.

The central caravanserai of the famous Cairo souk Khan El-Khalili was founded in the first year of his first reign, though it was founded by his emir, Djaharks el-Khalili.


Early on, the Zahiri Revolt threatened to overthrow Barquq, though the conspiracy was discovered before any agitators could mobilize. The year 1389 saw the revolt of two Mamluk governors from the northern end of the empire, Mintash, governor of Malatya, and Yalbogha al-Nasiri, governor of Aleppo (not to be confused with Yalbogha al-`Umari). After securing Syria they marched toward Cairo. Barquq attempted to escape, but was captured and sent to al-Karak. Meanwhile, the two governors restored Hajji to the throne, who now took the reign name al-Mansur. Fighting developed among the Mamluk factions in Cairo, and Barquq's supporters overcame the rebels. Barquq returned to Cairo in February 1390.

Second reign (1390–1399)

During Barquq's second reign he succeeded in replacing almost all governors and senior officials with members of his own household. Barquq became an enemy of the Mongol warlord Timur after Timur's invasion of Baghdad, and his intention to invade Syria. After 1393, he joined an alliance with the Ottoman Empire, but Timur invaded and defeated the Mamluks at Damascus and sacked it along with Aleppo in 1399. Timur then invaded the Ottoman Empire and defeated them at Ankara, sacked it and captured the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid. Barquq died in June 1399 (Shawwal 801H in the Islamic Calendar) and was buried in Cairo's Northern Cemetery. He was succeeded by his son Nasir-ad-Din Faraj.


Sultan Barquq's reign was also marked by trade with other contemporaneous polities. Excavations in the late 1800s and early 1900s in modern-day northwestern Somalia unearthed, among other things, coins identified as having been derived from Barquq. All of the pieces had been struck in either Cairo or Damascus. Most of these finds are associated with the medieval Sultanate of Adal. They were sent to the British Museum in London for preservation shortly after their discovery.

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