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Baybars I

Baybars I , in full al-Malik al-Ẓāhir Rukn al-Dīn Baybars al-Bunduqdārī, or Al-Ṣāliḥī, Baybars also spelled Baibars (born 1223, north of the Black Sea—died July 1, 1277, Damascus, Syria), most eminent of the Mamlūk sultans of Egypt and Syria, which he ruled from 1260 to 1277. He is noted both for his military campaigns against Mongols and crusaders and for his internal administrative reforms. The Sirat Baybars, a folk account purporting to be his life story, is still popular in the Arabic-speaking world.

Baybars was born in the country of the Kipchak Turks on the northern shores of the Black Sea. After the Mongol invasion of their country in about 1242, Baybars was one of a number of Kipchak Turks sold as slaves. Turkish-speaking slaves, who had become the military backbone of most Islamic states, were highly prized, and eventually Baybars came into the possession of Sultan al-Ṣāliḥ Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb of the Ayyūbid dynasty of Egypt. Sent, like all the sultan’s newly acquired slaves, for military training to an island in the Nile, Baybars demonstrated outstanding military abilities. Upon his graduation and emancipation, he was appointed commander of a group of the sultan’s bodyguard.

Baybars gained his first major military victory as commander of the Ayyūbid army at the city of Al-Manṣūrah in February 1250 against the crusaders’ army led by Louis IX of France, who was captured and later released for a large ransom. Filled with a sense of their military strength and growing importance in Egypt, a group of Mamlūk officers, led by Baybars, in the same year murdered the new sultan, Tūrān Shāh. The death of the last Ayyūbid sultan was followed by a period of confusion that continued throughout the first years of the Mamlūk sultanate.

Having angered the first Mamlūk sultan, Aybak, Baybars fled with other Mamlūk leaders to Syria and stayed there until 1260, when they were welcomed back to Egypt by the third sultan, al-Muẓaffar Sayf al-Dīn Quṭuz. He restored them to their place in the army and conferred a village

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