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[pp. 494-502]


(d. 1358 A.D.) wrote before 1341 A.D.

A Copt who wrote a history of the Mameluke Sultans.<ref>His Arabic is often ungrammatical.</ref> An-Nahj as-sadīd wa-d-durr al-farīd fī mā ba'd ta'rīkh Ibn al-‘Amīd (The Straight Way and the Incomparable Pearl in the Continuation of the History of Ibn al-'Amīd)

Ed. and French transl.: E. Blochet, Histoire des Sultans Mamlouks, PO 12, 3 (1916); 14,3 (1920); 20,1 (1927).

T.: Blochet A: 1

[A Raid on 'Aydhāb]

On the 21st day of Muḥarram of this year [671 H. = 18 August 1272 A.D.], a force from the country of the Nūba sent by their king attacked 'Aydhāb. They robbed anyone they found there, killed a lot of people, among whom the qāḍī of the town, the wālī and Ibn Jallī, the Customs Inspector (mushārif mā yarid), with his children. (PO 14, p. 375).

[The Letter of King Yekūnō Amlāk to the Sultan of Egypt]

Ibn 'Abd aẓ-Ẓahir<ref>Muhīyaddīn Abū-l-Faḍl aẓ-Ẓahir as-Sa ‘dī al-Miṣrī wrote the biography of Sultan Baybars I (Sīrat al-Malik aẓ-Ẓahir Rukn ad-dīn Baybars) in 1279. He died in 1285 A.D. See Ibn ‘Abd aẓ-Ẓahir (q.v.).</ref> recorded, among the events of this year [671H./1272-73 A.D.], that the Sultan al-Malik aẓ-Ẓahir [Baybars I] received a letter from the king of Ethiopia (al-Ḥabasha) which was folded within a letter from the sovereign of Yemen. This sovereign said that the Sultan of Ethiopia had previously asked the kings [p. 495] [of Yemen] to forward his letter to the Sultan of Egypt. The letter of the king of Ethiopia said:

"The least of the slaves (mamālīk) kisses the ground before the Sultan al-Malik aẓ-Ẓahir and addresses to him a petition: God make his kingdom last for ever! The king of Ethiopia Yekūnō Amlāk informs him [the Sultan of Egypt] that an ambassador sent by the governor of Qōs arrived [to discuss matters] concerning the monk (rāhib) who came to pay us a visit, but the metropolitan (mutrān) has not arrived. Our Lord is the Sultan and we are his slaves (ʿabīd). Let the Sultan give an order to the Patriarch to ordain a bishop for us, one who should be an honest man, well instructed, not greedy for gold or silver, and to send him to the town of ʿAwān<ref>An Ancient sea-port between Massāwa and Assāb.</ref>. The humblest of the servants of the Sultan sends to the Representatives (nuwwāb) of al-Malik al-Muẓaffar king of Yemen, what is convenient to send and this king will forward it to the court of the Sultan. The ambassadors (of the Sultan) have been delayed on their return journey to the Court of the Sultan only because I was engaged in a campaign.<ref>Arabic “bīkar” (baikār) tentatively rendered by Blochet as “campaign”.</ref> King Dawūd died and his son succeeded him in the kingdom.

I keep around me, in my army, one hundred thousand Muslim horsemen; as for the Christian horsemen, they are even more numerous, so that it is impossible to count them. They are all thy servants (ghilmān) ready to obey your orders. [When] the great metropolitan prays to Heaven for you, all this multitude answer: ‘Amen’. All the Muslims who come into our kingdom, we do respect and allow them to travel in our country as it may please them.

[p. 496] The ambassador who came to pay us a visit on behalf of the governor of Qōs fell sick. Our country is unhealthy; he who catches a disease in our countries (duwal), nobody will cure him: he who breathes the miasmas (rā’iḥa) of our country fails sick and dies."

Ibn 'Abd aẓ-Ẓahir said: the Sultan ordered that a reply be written to this letter, and I wrote what follows: "We have received the letter of the most exalted King, the Magnificent Prince who reigns with Justice over all his empire, the Sovereign (haṭī)<ref>"Haṭī” is an Arabic transcription of the Ethiopian word “atē” (atse, atiē) (the crowned king).</ref> of the kingdom of Amḥarah, the greatest of all the kings of the Ḥubshān, who exercises the supreme authority over all the lands under his dominion, the Najāshī<ref>Blochet translated “Negus”.</ref> of his epoch, the most precious Ornament of his kingdom, as long as he rules, the Sword of the Christians and Support of the states which follow the Christian faith, the Friend (ṣadīq) of all Kings and Sultans, the Sultan of the Amḥara (al-Amḥarah) - God guard his life and build his foundations on prosperity! We have acquainted ourselves with this letter and have understood all that was written therein.

As for the request for a bishop, which you have submitted, nobody ever came to our court on behalf of the king to talk to us about this matter, so that we, too, do not know at all what you expect from us. As for the letter of Sultan al-Malik al-Muẓaffar, we have received it. It informed us that he had received from the king [of Ethiopia] a letter and a messenger, whom he kept in his house until he would send back a reply through him, to that king.

[p. 497] As for what he mentioned about the multitude of his soldiers and the one hundred thousand Muslim horsemen, God had put a greater number on the side of the Muslims. And about the miasmas of his country, it belongs to God to put an end to life, for nobody dies except by His permission and after he has completed his course."<ref>The author goes on describing the Ethiopian peoples, institutions and events (pp. 386-398).</ref> (PO 14, pp. 383 - 386).

[Shekanda Becomes King of Nubia Through Egyptian Intervention]

This same year [674 H./1275-76 A.D.] Shekanda (Sh.k.n.dah)<ref>We write “Shekandah” to conform with Monneret’s reading “Shekandah” (Storia, pp. 213 ff.). All the vowels, but the last one, are doubtful. </ref>, son of the paternal uncle of David (ibn ‘amm-Dāwūd), king of Nubia, came to the court of the Sultan to complain about David, son of his uncle. Shekanda said that the kingdom belonged to him, to the exclusion of David, and that David's malice had forced him to carry out his raid on 'Aydhāb, as we have mentioned above. Then the cavalry of the Sultan was stationed in Cairo, after his return from Damascus, he sent the emir Shamsaddīn Aqsonqor al-Fāriqānī, and the emir ‘Izz ad-dīn al-Afram to Nubia with three hundred horsemen and Shekanda. The Sultan ordered that once they had conquered the country, they should hand over the sovereignty to Shekanda on the condition that this prince was to possess three quarters of the country and that the other quarter would belong, in an undisputable way, to him, the Sultan of Egypt.

They left on the first day of Sha'bān [20 January 1276 A.D.] and arrived at Dongola on the 13th day of Shawwāl [31 March 1276 A.D.]. When they drew near [p. 498] Dongola, David, his brothers, the sons of his uncle, left the town with his army, mounted on camels with lance at rest; they wore only black tunics which they call dikādik.<ref>Cf. Monneret, op. cit., p. 213.</ref> [The Nubians] could not resist the attack by the Egyptian troops and fled. Many were killed and an even greater number were taken prisoners, so that one would sell one of these Nubians for three dirhams. The number of those killed and of the prisoners amounted to ten thousand. King David escaped at the head of other fugitives and crossed the Nile to the the western bank of the Nile, then, in the depth of the night, he hastened to reach one of his fortresses. Al-Afram and al-Fāriqānī, on learning that, mounted on horseback with the men they had, and went off in search of David for three days, during which they searched most carefully in order to track him down. When he [David] suspected that the Egyptians knew where his hiding-place was, he descended [from the fortress] with his mother, his sister and the daughter of his brother. He and his son escaped, but the women of the [royal] family were captured; then the Egyptians returned to Dongola. They remained in this town until they put Shekanda on the throne of Nubia. They ordered that every, adult in the kingdom would pay, yearly, one dinar as tax (jīzya) and that every year the tribute, which was imposed on Shekanda, would be brought to the Sultan. They also established that Dow (Dū, Daw) and Ibrīm, two strong citadels, in the neighbourhood of Aswān, seven days’ distance one from the other, would belong to the Sultan as his private property, and appointed Kashi as representative (nā'ib) of the Sultan.<ref>Blochet transl.: “ils installèrent Kashi comme vice-roi de la Nubie pour y exercer l’autorité au nom du Sultan”. As no diacritic dot is written on the MS on the last letter, it could also be read: “Kashā”.</ref>

[p. 499] The emirs came back to Egypt and had an audience with the Sultan, on the 5th day of Dhū'l Hijja [= 23 May 1276 A.D.]. They were accompanied by the brother of David, a prisoner. The Sultan addressed to them many words of praise and presented them with robes of honour. A few days later, King David arrived with his brother and the son of his brother. They were thrown into jail. Later on, the prisoners of war arrived and were sold for 110,000 dirhams. On this occasion an edict of the Sultan prohibited that mothers be separated from their children.

When king David took flight [before the Egyptian troops], he fled toward the country of the king of al-Abwāb, one of the kings of the Nūba, and who also possesses vast territories. The fear this king had of al-Malik aẓ-Ẓahir prompted him to seize David and despatch to the Sultan. David arrived, loaded with chains, on the 13th day of Muḥarram of the year 675 H. [=28 June 1276 A.D.].

[The Oath of Shekanda]

When the two emirs enthroned Shekanda, they made him swear in the following terms, of which here is the text: "By God (wallāhi)! By God! By God I By the truth of the Holy Trinity, by the Holy Gospel, by the Pure<ref>Ar. ṭāhira (“pure”). Blochet: “La Dame Immaculée”.</ref> Lady, the Virgin Mary Mother of the Light, by the truth of Baptism, by that of the Prophets, of the Heavenly Messengers (rusul), of the Apostles (ḥawārīyyīn), the saints, the confessors of the faith, the just ones who lived a life of piety. If I do not keep my oath, may I deny the Messiah as Judas (Yūdas) did, may I utter against him such words as the Jews say; may I believe what they believe. If I do not keep my oath, may I become another [p. 500] Judas, may I pierce the Messiah with the lance as the Jews pierced Him. Surely, I take the resolution henceforth, from this very moment and this very hour, to devote myself, body and soul, to our Lord His Majesty the Sultan al-Malik aẓ-Ẓahir Rukn-ad-Dunyā-wad-Dīn Baybars, - God make his kingdom last for ever! I shall direct all my efforts and my resources to accomplish such works as may please him. So long as I shall be his representative (nā'ib) in this country, I shall never cease giving him what is imposed on me every year to come, that is, that part which results from the division of my kingdom into two parts, such part (of revenues) as was received by ray predecessors the kings of Nubia. One half of the revenues will belong to our Lord the Sultan, free from all deduction through artifice and the other half will be devoted to the reconstruction (ʿimarah) of the country so as to protect it (ḥifẓ).<ref>The text has hafd (ḥafd) which Blochet assumed to be a mispronuinciation for ḥifẓ (“to guard”) and added: “la garantir contre l’ennemi qui viendrait l’attaquer”.</ref> I undertake to give every year three elephants, three giraffes, five she-leopards (fuhūd), one hundred tawny dromedaries (aṣ-ṣuhub-al-jiyād) and four-hundred oxen without blemish (al-abqār al-jayyada). I shall impose on every subject within my kingdom, i.e., every individual of age and puberty, one dinar to be paid in cash.<ref>Nuwayrī (q.v.) adds: “the provinces of al-‘Alī and Jabal will belong to the Sultan in property”.</ref>

In addition, all the possessions of David king of Nubia, all the property of his brother Shankū (Shankwā), of his mother, his relatives and the soldiers of his army, who were killed by the sword of the victorious army, I shall send to His Majesty's court, without keeping anything, however, little or great in value it may be: I shall conceal nothing, nor shall I permit anybody to hide any part of it.

[p. 501] If I transgress any of the obligations which have been imposed on me here above, may I be excluded from the communion of the Messiah, and of the Pure Lady, the Virgin, may I renounce the Christian religion and pray facing a direction other than the Orient, may I deny the Cross and share in the beliefs of the Jews. In addition, I shall not allow any of the Arabs (ʿurbān), young or of old age, to live in the kingdom of Nubia: any one whom I may find shall I seize and send to the court of His Majesty. Any news that I may happen to hear, whether unfavourable (ḍārra) or favourable (nāfi’a) I shall communicate to our Lord the Sultan, immediately. I shall never settle solely by ray own decision, any affair because I am the servant (ʿabd) of our Lord the Sultan - may his triumph be exalted and the enterprises of his sword be always crowned with success. I shall be the friend of his friends, and the enemy of his enemies. May God be witness and guarantor of what I say."

The subjects, too, took an oath in the same form. Then Shekanda took another oath, by which he undertook that, whenever be received a writ from the Sultan, be it by night or day time, summoning him to His Majesty's court, he would leave immediately, in the same hour, without any delay other than that necessary to make preparations for the journey.

These oaths were ratified on the 19th day of Dhū-l-Hijja [= 6 June 1276 A.D.]. (PO 14, pp. 398 - 403).

[Sultan Baybar's Private Possessions]

In Nubia, he [Baybars I.] owned the Island of Bilāq and its dependencies, i.e. six Wadyūdī<ref>As this and the following place-names were read in different ways by Blochet (PO) and Dr. Mus’ad, Al-Maktaba, we add the latter’s reading in brackets after each name. Blochet read “sittah” (six) where Dr. Mus’ad read l. hā sittah corrected into l. assiyya, i.e. Elleysiyya. Mufaddal wrote Būkharās (with sād). Griffith, based on this detail, finally proved the identification Pachoras = Būkharās = Faras.</ref> [wa-lahasatah = [p. 502] "and Lahasa" i.e. Elleysiya "and Yūdī”], the land of the Water (arḍ al mā - sic!), Finak (Faynak), Damhit, Hundwa (Hindwad), Darbin, al-Hariyya (al-Harya) and the territory (iqlīm) of Berīk (al-Birayk) which is also called "The Seven Villages" (Sab’a qura, Sabagura?) and Bihādī (Yuhādī). All the above are villages (bilād) of al-'Alī within which is situated [also] Adama (?), ad-Daw (), Ibrīm, Dandal, Būkharāṣ (Būfarās), Semma<ref>This place-name is not found in Mus’ad, p. 252.</ref> and the island of Mikā’īl. [In that territory] there is also the country of the Cataracts (al-Janādil), Ankar and the territory (iqlīm) of Bakr, Dunqula and the territory of Ashū which consists of islands and is rich in towns, when [Baybars] conquered them, he granted them as a favour to the son of the uncle of him from whom it was taken, after they had divided [the territory] into two halves, as mentioned above. (PO 14, p. 445).