Saif ad-Din Qutuz (Arabic: سيف الدين قطز; died 24 October 1260), also romanized as Kutuz or Kotuz[1] and fully al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Sayf ad-Dīn Quṭuz (الملك المظفر سيف الدين قطز), was a military leader and the third or fourth[a] of the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt in the Turkic line.[3][4][5] He reigned as Sultan for less than a year, from 1259 until his assassination in 1260, but served as the de facto ruler for two decades.

Saif ad-Din Qutuz
3rd Mamluk Sultan
صورة تمثال سيف الدين قطز crop.jpg
Qutuz bust in Cairo
Sultan of Egypt
ReignNovember 1259 – 24 October 1260
PredecessorAl-Mansur Ali
Sultan of Syria
ReignSeptember 1260 – 24 October 1260
Born2 November 1221
Khwarazmian Empire
Died24 October 1260(1260-10-24) (aged 38)
Salihiyah, Mamluk Sultanate
al-Malik al-Muzaffar Saif ad-Din Qutuz

Sold into slavery in Egypt, he rose to become vice-Sultan for over 20 years, becoming the power behind the throne. He was prominent in defeating the Seventh Crusade, which invaded Egypt in 1249–50. When Egypt was threatened by the Mongols in 1259, he took control of the military and deposed the reigning Sultan, 15-year-old Sultan Al-Mansur Ali. The centers of Islamic power in Syria and Baghdad were conquered by the Mongols, and the center of the Islamic Empire moved to Egypt, which became their next target. Qutuz led an Egyptian Mamluk army north to confront the Mongols, having made a pact with Egypt's long-time enemy the Crusaders.

The Battle of Ain Jalut was fought on 3 September 1260 in southeastern Galilee, between the Egyptian Mamluk army and the Mongols. The Mongols were crushingly defeated by Qutuz's forces, in what has been considered a historical turning point. Qutuz was assassinated by a fellow Mamluk leader, Baibars, on the triumphant return journey to Cairo. Although Qutuz's reign was short, he is one of the most popular Mamluk sultans in the Islamic world and holds a high position in Islamic history.[6]


Qutuz was a Turkic prince from Persia.[7][8][9] Captured by the Mongols during the fall of Khwarazmian dynasty c. 1231, he was taken to Damascus, Syria where he was sold to an Egyptian slave merchant who then sold him to Aybak, the Mamluk sultan in Cairo. According to some sources, Qutuz claimed that his original name was Mahmud ibn Mamdud and he was descended from Ala ad-Din Muhammad II, a ruler of the Khwarazmian Empire.[10]

He became the most prominent Mu'izi Mamluk of Sultan Aybak,[11] and his vice-Sultan in 1253. Aybak was assassinated in 1257 and Qutuz remained vice-Sultan for Aybak's son al-Mansur Ali. Qutuz led the Mu'izi Mamluks who arrested Aybak's widow Shajar al-Durr and installed al-Mansur Ali as the new Sultan of Egypt.[11] In November 1257 and April 1258, he defeated raids from the forces of al-Malik al-Mughith[b] of Al Karak which were supported by the Bahriyya Mamluks[c] and included Shahrzuri Kurds.[12][d] The raids caused a dispute among the Bahriyya Mamluks in Al Karak as some of them wanted to support their followers in Egypt.[e]

In February 1258, the Mongol army sacked Baghdad, massacred its inhabitants and killed the Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'sim. It then advanced towards Syria which was ruled by the Ayyubid ruler an-Nasir Yusuf, who received a threatening letter from Hulagu.[f] Vice-Sultan Qutuz and the Egyptian Emirs were alarmed by a message from an-Nasir Yusuf in which he appealed for immediate help from Egypt. The emirs assembled at the court of the 15-year-old Sultan Al-Mansur Ali and Qutuz told them that because of the seriousness of the situation, Egypt should have a strong and capable Sultan who could fight the Mongols. On 12 November 1259, Al-Mansur Ali was deposed by Qutuz. When Qutuz became the new sultan, he promised the emirs that they could install any other sultan after he defeated the Mongols.[15]

Qutuz kept Emir Faris ad-Din Aktai al-Mostareb[g] as the Atabeg of the Egyptian army and began to prepare for battle.[15]

Mongol threatEdit

The 1260 Mongol offensives in the Levant. The early successful attacks on Aleppo and Damascus led to smaller attacks on secondary targets such as Baalbek, al-Subayba, and Ajlun as well as raids against other Palestine towns, perhaps including Jerusalem. Smaller raiding parties reached as far south as Gaza.

Hulagu and his forces were proceeding towards Damascus, where some of the Syrian emirs suggested to an-Nasir Yusuf to surrender and submit to Hulagu as the best solution to save themselves and Syria. The Mamluk Baibars, who was present at the meeting, was upset by the suggestion,[h] and the Mamluks decided to kill an-Nasir Yusuf that night. However, he managed to escape with his brother to the citadel of Damascus. Baibars and the Mamluks then left Syria, travelling to Egypt where they were warmly welcomed by Sultan Qutuz, who granted Baibars the town of Qalyub.[i][17][16] When an-Nasir Yusuf heard that the Mongol army was approaching Aleppo, he sent his wife, his son and his money to Egypt. The population of Damascus and other Syrian towns began to flee.[16] After besieging Aleppo for seven days, the Mongols sacked it and massacred its population. When an-Nasir Yusuf heard about the fall of Aleppo he fled to Egypt, leaving Damascus and its remaining population defenseless, but Qutuz denied him entry. Yusuf thus stayed on the border of Egypt, while his Emirs deserted him to proceed into the country. Sultan Qutuz ordered the seizing of an-Nasir Yusuf's jewelry and money, which were sent to Egypt with his wife and servants. Sixteen days after the fall of Aleppo to the Mongols, Damascus surrendered without a fight. Yusuf was taken prisoner by the Mamluks and sent to Hulagu.[18][j]

With the centers of Islamic power in Syria and Baghdad conquered, the center of the Islamic Empire transferred to Egypt, and became Hulagu's next target. Hulagu sent messengers to Cairo with a threatening letter, urging Qutuz to surrender and submit to the Mongols.[k] Qutuz's response was to execute the messengers. They were sliced in half, and their heads were mounted on the gate at Bab Zuweila in Cairo.[23][15] Then, rather than waiting for the Mongols to attack, Qutuz decided to raise an army to engage them outside of Egypt.[24][25] Others fled the area. Moroccans who resided in Egypt fled westward, while Yemenis escaped to Yemen and Hejaz.[24]

Qutuz went to Al-Salihiyya[26][l] and assembled his commanders to decide when to march against the Mongols. But the Emirs showed timidity. Qutuz shamed them into joining him, with the statement "Emirs of the Muslims, for some time now you have been fed by the country treasury and you hate to be invaded. I will go alone and who likes to join me should do that and who does not like to join me should go back home, but who will not join will carry the sin of not defending our women."[25]

Qutuz ordered Baibars to lead a force to Gaza to observe the small Mongol garrison there, which Baibars easily defeated.[15] After spending a day in Gaza, Qutuz led his army along the coast towards Acre, a remnant of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Crusader state. The Crusaders were traditional enemies of the Mamluks, and had been approached by the Mongols about forming a Franco-Mongol alliance. However, that year the Crusaders recognized the Mongols as the greater threat. Qutuz suggested a military alliance with the Crusaders against the Mongols, but the Crusaders opted to stay neutral. They did, however, allow Qutuz and his forces to travel unmolested through Crusader territory, and to camp to resupply near the Crusader stronghold of Acre. Qutuz and his army stayed there for three days[27] until they heard that the Mongols had crossed the Jordan River, at which point Qutuz and Baibars led their forces to meet the Mongols at Ain Jalut.[28]

Battle of Ain JalutEdit

Troop movements leading up to the Battle of Ain Jalut

The battle of Ain Jalut which was fought on 3 September 1260 was one of the most important battles and a turning point in history. In 1250, only ten years before the battle of Ain Jalut, the same Bahariyya Mamluks (Qutuz, Baibars and Qalawun) led Egypt against the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France. The Mongol army at Ain Jalut that was led by Kitbuqa, a Nestorian Christian Naiman Turk, was accompanied by the Christian king of Cilician Armenia and by the Christian prince of Antioch.[29] After the fall of Khawarezm, Baghdad and Syria, Egypt was the last citadel of Islam in the Middle East, and the existence of crusade beach-heads along the coast of the Levant were forming a serious menace to the Islamic World.[30] Therefore, the future of Islam and of the Christian west as well depended on the outcome of that battle[31] which was fought between two of the most powerful fighters of the Middle Ages, the Mamluks and the Mongols accompanied by some Christian crusaders.

Baibars, who was known to be a swift commander, led the vanguard[32] and succeeded in his maneuver and lured the Mongol army to the Ain Jalut where the Egyptian army led by Qutuz waited. The Egyptians at first failed to counter the Mongol attack and were scattered after the left flank of their army suffered a severe damage but Qutuz stood firm, he threw his helmet to the air and shouted "O Islam" and advanced towards the damaged side followed by his own unit.[33][28][24] The Mongols were pushed back and fled to a vicinity of Beit She'an followed by Qutuz's forces but they managed to gather and returned to the battlefield making a successful counterattack. Qutuz cried loudly three times "O Islam! O God grant your servant Qutuz a victory against the Mongols".[33] The Mongols with their Christian and Muslim [34] allies were totally defeated by Qutuz' army and fled to Syria where they became a prey for the local population.[24][35] Qutuz kissed the ground and prayed while the soldiers collected the booty. Kitbuqa the Commander of the Mongol army was killed and his head was sent to Cairo.[33]

This was the first defeat suffered by the Mongols since they attacked the Islamic world. They fled from Damascus then from the whole of the northern Levant.[33] Qutuz entered Damascus with his army and sent Baibars to Homs to liquidate the remaining Mongols. While Alam ad-Din Sonjar was nominated by Qutuz as the sultan's deputy in Damascus, Qutuz granted Aleppo to al-Malik al-Said Ala'a ad-Din the Emir of Mosul[33] and a new Abbasid Caliph was about to be installed by Qutuz.[m] All of the Levant from the border of Egypt to the river Euphrates was freed from the Mongols. After this victory the Mamluks stretched their sovereignty to the Levant and were recognized by the Ayyubids and the others as legitimate rulers.[37] When Hulagu heard about the defeat of the Mongol Army he executed an-Nasir Yusuf near Tabriz.[n] Hulagu kept threatening the Mamluk Sultanate, but soon he was struck hard by conflicts with the Mongols of the Golden Horde, in the western half of the Eurasian Steppe, who converted to Islam (see Berke–Hulagu war). Hulagu died in 1265. He never would avenge the defeat of the Mongols at Ain Jalut.[39]

The Battle of Ain Jalut is also notable for being the earliest known battle where explosive hand cannons (midfa in Arabic) were used. These explosives were employed by the Mamluk Egyptians in order to frighten the Mongol horses and cavalry and cause disorder in their ranks. The explosive gunpowder compositions of these cannons were later described in Arabic chemical and military manuals in the early 14th century.[40][41]


On his way back to Cairo, Qutuz was assassinated while on a hunting expedition in Salihiyah.[42] According to both modern and medieval Muslim historians Baibars was involved in the assassination, according to Al-Maqrizi, who also believed that Baibars was involved, the Emirs who actually struck down Qutuz were Emir Badr ad-Din Baktut, Emir Ons, and Emir Bahadir al-Mu'izzi.[43] Western historians include Baibars in the conspiracy and, indeed, assign him direct responsibility.[44] Muslim chroniclers from the Mamluk era stated that Baibars' motivation was either to avenge the killing of his friend and leader of the Bahariyya Faris ad-Din Aktai during Sultan Aybak's reign[45] or due to Qutuz granting Aleppo to al-Malik al-Said Ala'a ad-Din the Emir of Mosul, instead of to him as he had promised him before the battle of Ain Jalut.[42][o]

Qutuz was first buried in the town of Al-Qusair and then reburied in a cemetery in Cairo, Egypt.[46][47] Baibars returned to Cairo which was decorated and celebrating the victory over the Mongols,[42] where he became the new Sultan. Baibars was at once admired by the people as he revoked the war taxes which had been imposed by Qutuz.[48]


The coins of Qutuz are considered unique in the history of Mamluk coinages as no other names except his names and titles were inscribed on it: al-Malik al-Muzafar Saif al-Donya wa al-Din ("The victorious king, sword of the temporal world and of the faith") and al-Muzafar Saif al-Din ("The victorious sword of faith").[49]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Some historians consider Shajar al-Durr as the first of the Mamluk Sultans. Thus, to them Qutuz was the fourth Mamluk Sultan and not the third.[2]
  2. ^ Al-Malik al-Mughith Omar Ben al-Adil II Ben al-Kamil Muhammed (الملك المغيث عمر بن العادل الثانى بن الكامل محمد) was the Ayyubid ruler of Al Karak. During the reign of Sultan Baibars he was killed in the Citadel of Cairo.
  3. ^ After the assassination of Faris ad-Din Aktai the leader of the Bahariyya Mamluks, during the reign of Sultan Aybak, many Bahariyya Mamluks fled from Egypt. Baibars, Qalawun and other prominent Mamluks took refuge in Syria, but after a dispute with an-Nasir Yusuf the Ayyubid king of Syria they moved to Al Karak which was also ruled by an Ayyubid king.
  4. ^ Shahrzuriyah were Kurds who escaped from Mesopotamia after the Mongol invasion. They deceived al-Malik al-Mughith during the second battle and walked over to the Egyptian side.[13]
  5. ^ During the reign of Sultan Aybak many Bahari Mamluks fled from Egypt after their leader Faris ad-Din Aktai was assassinated. The stayed in Syria, Al Karak and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm. Two of the most prominent Mamluks Baibars al-Bunduqdari and Qalawun al-Alfi went to Syria then to Al Karak where they persuaded al-Malik al-Mughith the Ayyubid king of Al Karak to attack Egypt. (See also Aybak, Al-Mansur Ali and an-Nasir Yusuf)
  6. ^ The message was given by Hulagu to an-Nasir's son al-Malik al-Aziz. some of its passages said: "As al-Malik an-Nasir the ruler of Aleppo knows, we have conquered Baghdad by the sword of the almighty God, we killed its knights, we razed its buildings and we captured its inhabitants" When you receive this message, you should at once submit with your men, your money and your knights to the king of kings the ruler of the earth. By doing that you can be saved from his evil and gain his goodness." "We have heard that the merchants of the Levant and others have fled with their money and women to Egypt. If they hide in mountains we will raze the mountains and if they hide in the earth we will sink the earth down. Where is safety ? none can flee because I own both the land and the sea..The lions were despised by our dignity and the princes and the viziers are held in my grasp."[14]
  7. ^ Not to be confused with his namesake and contemporary Faris ad-Din Aktai al-Jemdar who was the leader of the Bahari Mamluks and who was assassinated by Al-Mansur Ali's father Sultan Aybak.
  8. ^ The surrendering to Hulagu suggestion was uttered by the Syrian Emir Zain ad-Din al-Hafizi. Baibars who was outraged struck and insulted the Emir saying to an-Nasir Yusuf and his Emirs: "You are the reason of the destruction of the Muslims!"[16]
  9. ^ Qalyub is a town in the Qalyubia Governorate now, north of Cairo.
  10. ^ An-Nasir Yusuf, his son al-Aziz, and his brother al-Zahir were abducted in Gaza by one of his servants and were sent to Hulagu. In another account, an-Nasir went to Kitbuga who arrested him and sent him to Hulagu.
  11. ^ From the King of Kings in the East and the West, the mighty Khan: In your name, O God, You who laid out the earth and raised up the skies. Let al-Malik al-Muzaffar Qutuz, who is of the race of Mamluks who fled before our swords into this country, who enjoyed its comforts and then killed its rulers, let al-Malik al-Muzzafar Qutuz know, as well as the Emirs of his state and the people of his kingdom, in Egypt and in the adjoining countries, that we are the army of God on His earth. He created us from his wrath and urged us against those who incurred His anger. In all lands there are examples to admonish you and to deter you from challenging our resolve. Be warned by the fate of others and hand over your power to us before the veil is torn and you are sorry and your errors are rebound upon you. For we do not pity those who weep, nor are we tender to those who complain. You have heard that we have conquered the lands and cleansed the earth of corruption and killed most of the people. Yours to flee: ours to pursue. And what land will shelter you, what road save you; what country protect you? You have no deliverance from our swords and you cannot avoid dreading us for our horses are swift, our arrows do pierce, our swords like thunder-bolts, our hearts like rocks and our numbers like sand. Fortresses cannot withstand us; armies are of no avail in fighting us. Your prayers against us will not be heard, for you have eaten forbidden things and your speech is foul, you betray oaths and promises, and disobedience and fractiousness prevail among you. Be informed that your lot will be shame and humiliation. "Today you are recommenced with the punishment of humiliation, because you were so proud on earth without right and for your wrongdoing" (Quran, xlvi, 20). "Those who have done wrong will know to what end they will revert" (Quran,xxvi. 227). Those who make war against us are sorry; those who seek our protection are safe. If you submit to our orders and conditions, then your rights and duties are the same as ours. If you resist you will be destroyed. Do not, therefore, destroy yourselves with you own hands. He who is warned should be on his guard. You are convinced that we are the infidels, and we are convinced that you are debauchers. God, who determines all and judges all, has urged us against you. What much for you is little for us, the honorable for you is base for us. Your kings should expect nothing from us except humiliation. Therefore, do not wait long but quickly answer us before the fire of war is set and the spark is thrown over you then You will not have from us dignity, nor comfort, nor protection, nor sanctuary and you will suffer at our hands the most fearful calamity, and your land will be empty of you. By writing to you we have dealt equitably with you and have awakened you by warning you. Now we have no other purpose but you. Peace be with both us and you, and with all of those who follow divine guidance, who fear the consequences of evil and who obey the Supreme King. Say to Egypt, Hulagu has come with swords unsheathed and sharp. The mightiest of her people will become humble and he will send their children to join the aged." (Letter from Hulagu to Qutuz)[19][20][21][22]
  12. ^ Also, 'As Salhiyah' in north Egypt, east of the Nile Delta. In Sharqia Governorate now.
  13. ^ While in Damascus, Qutuz chose an Abbasid named Abu al-Abbas Ahmad to become the new Abbasid Chaliph. After the assassination of Qutuz, Baibars invited Abu al-Abbas to Cairo but before his arrival another Abbasid named Abu al-Qasim Ahmad arrived to Cairo and was installed by Baibars as the new Chaliph. Qutuz' candidate Abu al-Abbas returned to Syria.[36]
  14. ^ Hulagu executed An-Nasir Yusuf and his brother al-Zahir Ghazi near Tabriz. Tuquz Khaton wife of Hulagu apealed for the life of Yusuf's son al-Aziz and he was not executed.[38]
  15. ^ Different medieval historians supply contradicting accounts. Al-Maqrizi and Ibn Taghri say that the assassins killed Qutuz while he was giving his hand to Baibars. Abu Al-Fida says that Qutuz was giving his hand to someone else when Baibars struck his back with a sword. Hassan, O. says that Baibars tried to help Qutuz against the assassins.
  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Islamica, "Baalbek".
  2. ^ Shayyal, p. 115/vol. 2
  3. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 507/vol. 1
  4. ^ Mawsoa
  5. ^ Holt et al., p. 215
  6. ^ Qasim, p. 24
  7. ^ Clot, André (2009). L'Égypte des Mamelouks: L'empire des esclaves, 1250–1517 (in French). Paris: Perrin. ISBN 978-2-262-03045-2. OCLC 912631823.
  8. ^ Koperman, Kazım Yaşar (1989). Mısır Memlükleri tarihi: Sultan al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad Şeyh al-Mahmûdô devri: (1412-1421) (in Turkish). Ankara: Ministry of Culture and Tourism Publications. ISBN 975-17-0489-8. OCLC 644353691.
  9. ^ Yiğit, İsmail (2008). Memlukler 648-923/ 1250-1517 (in Turkish). İstanbul: Kayıhan Publications. ISBN 978-605-5996-02-4. OCLC 949555454.
  10. ^ Amitai-Preiss, p. 35.
  11. ^ a b Qasim, p. 44
  12. ^ See Al-Mansur Ali
  13. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 500/vol. 1
  14. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 506/vol. 1
  15. ^ a b c d Shayyal, p. 122/vol. 2
  16. ^ a b c Al-Maqrizi, p. 509/vol. 1
  17. ^ Qalyub on a Google map
  18. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 513/vol. 1
  19. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp. 515–516/vol. 1
  20. ^ Ibn Aybak Al-Dwedar, pp. 47–48
  21. ^ Al-Qalqashandi, pp. 63–64
  22. ^ Qasim, p. 61
  23. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp. 514–515/vol. 1
  24. ^ a b c d Ibn Taghri, pp. 105–273/vol. 7 /Al-Muzafar Qutuz.
  25. ^ a b Al-Maqrizi, p. 515/vol. 1
  26. ^ Al-Salihiyyah on a Google map
  27. ^ Riley-Smith, p. 204.
  28. ^ a b Al-Maqrizi, p. 516/vol. 1
  29. ^ Toynbee, p. 449
  30. ^ Toynbee, p. 446
  31. ^ Shayyal, pp. 122–123, 126 /vol. 2
  32. ^ Britannica, p. 773/vol. 2
  33. ^ a b c d e Shayyal, p. 123/vol. 2
  34. ^ Amitai-Preiss pp. 39–45.
  35. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 517/vol. 1
  36. ^ Shayyal, p. 132/vol. 2
  37. ^ Shayyal, pp. 123–124/vol. 2
  38. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp. 518–519
  39. ^ Morgan, David (2007). The Mongols (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-4051-3539-9. OCLC 70831115.
  40. ^ Ancient Discoveries, Episode 12: Machines of the East, History Channel, 2007 (Part 4 and Part 5)
  41. ^ Ahmad Y Hassan. "Gunpowder Composition for Rockets and Cannon in Arabic Military Treatises In Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries". History of Science and Technology in Islam. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012.
  42. ^ a b c Shayyal, p. 126/vol. 2
  43. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 519/vol. 1.
  44. ^ See Perry (p. 150), Riley-Smith (p. 237, Baybars ... murdered Qutuz"), Amitai-Preiss (p. 47, "a conspiracy of amirs, which included Baybars and was probably under his leadership"), Holt et al. (p. 215, Baibars "came to power with [the] regicide [of Qutuz] on his conscience"), and Tschanz.
  45. ^ See Faris ad-Din Aktai
  46. ^ Mawsoa, p. 764/vol. 24
  47. ^ Al-Maqrizi, pp. 519–520/vol. 2
  48. ^ Al-Maqrizi, p. 521/vol. 1
  49. ^ Fahmi, p. 88


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External linksEdit

Cadet branch of the Mamluk Sultanate
Born:  ? Died: 24 October 1260
Regnal titles
Preceded by Sultan of Egypt
November 1259 – 24 October 1260
Succeeded by
Vacant Sultan of Syria
September 1260 – 24 October 1260