n Journal for Semitics - A new look at the Mamluk navy : research article

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


The Mamluks, famous for their ferocious land forces and especially for their cavalry, have been considered incompetent in naval warfare. David Ayalon, who had contributed substantially to the study of the Mamluks, expressed the view that the Mamluks' navy was utterly worthless. Albrecht Fuess went beyond this point and accused the Mamluks of suffering form ''hydrophobia''. The present author has emphasized that both Ayalon and Fuess applied a monolithic approach to the Mamluks' navy from its origin to its later development. The present author notes that, while before the sack of Alexandria by the crusaders in 1365 A.D. the Mamluks were notoriously indifferent to any naval preparedness, later they paid special attention to it. This change in focus explains their success in conquering Cyprus in 1426 and keeping it as a tributary state. No such accomplishment could have been achieved without a strong fleet in spite of its undeniable shortcomings.

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