The Battle of Ayn Jalut
Compiled by: Syed Muhammad Bokreta
The Mongols under Hulagu Khan (also known as Hülegü, and Hulegu) was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia, the grandson of Genghis Khan and the brother of Arik Boke, Mongke and Kublai Khan, he became the first khan of the Ilkhanate of Persia.
Hulagu, the child of Tolui and Sorghaghtani Beki, a Christian woman, was dispatched by his brother Mongke in 1255 to accomplish the destruction of the remaining Muslim states in south-western Asia. He had captured and destroyed Baghdad the capital of Iraq and the Baghdad Province , the Hulagu Khan's Mongol forces overrun Baghdad , then the leading centre of Islamic culture and learning, burning it to the ground and killing as many as 800,000 citizens according to different Historic sources.
Sultan Qutuz allied with a fellow Mameluk, Baibars Al-Malik al-Zahir Ruk Al-Din Baibars al-Bunduqdari (also spelled Baybars) (1223 – July 1, 1277) ,Baibars was born a Kipchak Turk in the city of Solhat in Crimea. He was captured by the Mongols and sold as a slave, ending up in Egypt.
Both Mameluk and Mongol armies encamped in Palestine in July of 1260. They finally met at Ain Jalut on September 3, 1260 with both sides numbering about 20 000 men, the Mongol force was originally much larger, but Hulegu took most of it when he returned home The Mameluks drew out the Mongol cavalry with a feigned retreat, and were almost unable to withstand the assault.
Qutuz rallied his troops for a successful counterattack, along with cavalry reserves hidden in the nearby valleys. The Mongols were forced to retreat, and Hulagu’s deputy Kitbuqa Noyen was a lieutenant and confidant of Huluga Khan, assisting him in his conquests in Persia and the Middle East . He was in command of one of the flanks which advanced on and sacked Baghdad and he assisted in the conquest of Damascus.
He was left in charge of the Mongol army remaining in the Middle East when Hulagu Khan returned to Mongolia after the death of his brother, the Great Khan, and was advancing towards Egypt when confronted by the Mamluk army in this Historic battle , he was captured and executed.
The Mameluke heavy cavalrymen were able to clearly beat the Mongols in close combat, something which no one had previously done and on the way back to Cairo, Baibars killed Qutuz and became sultan himself, he continued what was to become a lifelong struggle against the Crusader kingdoms in Syria, starting with the Principality of Antioch, which had attempted to ally with the Mongols against Baibars at Ain Jalut.
Back to the Historic Ayn Jalut battle that took place on the 03rd of September 1260, it is considered by many Historians to be of great macro historical importance, as it marked the high water of Mongol conquests, and the first time they had been decisively defeated , they had always returned and avenged the loss, hence this marked the first occasion they were unable to do so.
Not only the Mamluks stopped the Mongol’s march westwards but they also crushed the myth of was known at that time: the Mongol invincibility, as such the Mongol’s belief in themselves was never quite the same , and historically speaking the Battle of Ayn Jalut definitely marked the end of any concerted campaign by the Mongols in the Levant.
It goes without saying that in saving Cairo from the sad fate of Baghdad, the Battle of Ain Jalut and the Mamluks also sealed the doom of the relatively weaker remaining Crusader states, and surely Mamluk Egypt rose to the pinnacle of Islamic political, military and cultural power, a position that lasted for 200 years until the rise of the Ottomans.