Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
Valerie: Burji Mamluk is the term for the rulers of the second half of the Mamluk period, which spanned roughly from 1382-1517. The Burji Mamluks were ethnically different than the Bahri Mamluks. The Burji were of Circassian, rather than Kipchak, origin. The first were introduced under Mansur Qalawan and came to rule Egypt in 1382. The term itself derives from the Arabic word for "tower", burj, which is a reference to the center of the Circassian Mamluks in the Citadel of Cairo. During the Burji era, there were two main dynastic households, that of Burquq and that of Qaytbey. Inheritance of the sultanate during this period was more often through clientage than lineage, which meant that upon the death of a sultan, there was often some confusion over whether his biological son or another Burji Mamluk under the previous sultan's patronage would take power.
In 1517, the Ottomans successfully invaded Cairo and assumed control of Egypt, but they retained the Burji Mamluks as the domestic ruling class. The Burjis therefore held some positions of influence and governmental power in Egypt under the Ottomans, though they were most definitely vassals of the Ottoman empire, never managing to break off and rule independently again.