The Private Property and Awqaf of the Circassian Mamluk Sultans: The Case of Barqiiq by Daisuke Igarashi

Orient 43 (2008)

Daisuke Igarashi
Research Fellow, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Qaytbay (r. 1468-96) and Qan~iih al-Ghawri (r. 1501-16), the two most prominent sultans of the late Circassian Mamluk period, donated substantial properties such as agricultural lands, houses, caravansaries, public baths, etc. as religious trusts (waqf; pl. awqiif). C. F. Petry regards their activities as a "financial policy, intended to secure a private source of revenue independent of the traditional state financial system against the political and economic crisis of the times. However, it must be noted that the preceding sultans had also striven to hold private and waqf properties. It is necessary to comprehend the meaning of their "financial policy .. from the point of view of the historical development of the sultanic private financial affairs. It seems that the sultans developed their own resources because of practical necessity due to fundamental problems of the state and the political structure in this period.

From this aspect, this paper examines the process by which Barquq, the first sultan of the Circassian Mamluks (r. 1382-89, 90-99), accumulated property and its background, using narrative and archival sources. Consequently, the following facts have become clear: firstly, Barqiiq held various kinds of private and waqf properties, and thus the Diwiin al-Amliik wa-ai-Awqaf wa-ai-Dhakhira, the special office having charge of them, headed by an ustadar, was established; secondly, holding those properties was helpful for him in operating a government in the midst of political instability and the malfunction of the traditional state machinery; thirdly, he accumulated the properties by both fair means and foul, such as the diversion of state property, confiscation, istibdal ( exchangeof waqf properties), etc. Subsequently, the role of the sultan's property in the political and financial spheres grew in importance throughout the Circassian Mamluk period.

Keywords: Mamluk Sultanate, Waqf, Financial system, Politics, Egypt and Syria

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