The Persistent Power of Egypt's Mamluks

The Mamluks were a corps of slaves which went from being the elite bodyguards of the Ayyubid Caliphate founded by Saladin, to running Egypt for themselves. It lasted as an independent state for over 250 years, from 1250 to 1517 when Egypt was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. But the Mamluks survived.

By the 1630s, a Mamluk emir managed to become de facto ruler of the country. By the 1700s, the importance of the pasha (Ottoman governor) was superseded by that of the Mamluk beys, and it was even made official. Two offices, those of Shaykh al-Balad and Amir al-hajj -- both offices held by Mamluks -- represented the rulers of Egypt. In the name of the Ottoman Sultan, of course. It was only with the invasion of Egypt by Napoleon in 1799 that the Mamluk power center was permanently ended.

Mysterious Tiawanaku Religion Pre-Dated Incas by 500 Years, Stunning Lake Discovery Reveals

The Tiwanaku state dominated the Andean highlands for centuries yet we know very little about them. What we do know comes from their archaeological remains. They appear to have developed in the Lake Titicaca region, and at their peak, they may have only numbered 10,000 to 20,000 people. Recent underwater excavations near the lake's Island of the Sun reveal ritual offerings made by the Tiwanaku centuries before the Island of the Sun was converted into a major Incan pilgrimage site. The finds include puma-shaped incense burners with fragments of charcoal present on the excavated deposits, and a number of gold, shell, and stone ornaments. They date from the 700s to the 900s CE. And they were, intriguingly, found near anchors -- like the offerings had been deliberately weighed to drift the bottom of the lake.

The Islamic World in 1400: A Snapshot in Time

A snapshot of the world of Islam in 1400s. The newest Mongol state, the turkic-mongol Timurid Empire, was at the height of its power, while the last Islamic state was clinging to the Iberian Peninsula. The Kilwa Sultanate was at its peak, controlling much of the trade along the Swahili coast of Africa. Meanwhile India had broken up once again into a series of small kingdoms; the Muslim Mughal Empire was not for another 125 years.

  When Michelangelo’s David was unveiled in 1504 in Florence, it was seen to symbolize the civil liberties of the Republic of Florence, which were threatened by the surrounding city-states and the powerful Medici family who wanted to rule. The republican government had only been in place since 1494. The republic's concerns were well-founded: Giovanni de' Medici re-conquered the republic in 1512 and restored Medici rule. The second Florentine duke, Duke Cosimo I de' Medici decided to commission Cellini’s Perseus With the Head of Medusa, which was unveiled exactly 50 years after David in 1554. Composed of bronze, Perseus was deliberately placed opposite the David. Medusa’s gaze appeared to have turned David to stone.

There is no known portrait or depiction of Christopher Columbus that was made while he was alive. So all those statues and images you've seen are based on artists' ideas of what he could have looked like.

The first nautical circumnavigation was by the Magellan-Elcano expedition, which sailed from Seville, Spain in 1519 and returned in 1522. The first successful aerial circumnavigation was completed by aviators of the U.S. Army Air Service in four Douglas World Cruiser biplanes in 1924.   Thanks to /u/NewSwaraelia for the map!

A Very Important Fact About Machu Picchu

Although Machu Picchu was home to hundreds of people, the only residence with a private toilet area was the emperor’s.

The Multiple Names of the Ottoman Empire

The Ottomans generally used two different terms when referring to their state, versus the territory the state ruled over. The state was called "Devlet-i Aliye-i Osmaniye" which literally translates to "the High Ottoman State." Side note: "Osman" was the founder of the Ottoman dynasty, and the English word "Ottoman" comes from his name which was sometimes translated as "Othman." The Ottomans called their territory "Memalik-i Mahruse," or "The Protected Lands." The two terms are sometimes more poetically translated to "the Sublime Ottoman State" or "the Sublime State" and "the Well-Protected Domains."

Great Zimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe was a massive stone city in southeastern Africa that was a thriving trade center from the 1000s and 1400s. But when Europeans first learned of it in the 1500s, they were certain it wasn't African at all. Listen to the podcast all about it, by "Stuff You Missed In History Class."

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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