by Max Barry

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Pan-Asiatic States | History | The Cairene Golden Age

THE 15th to 17th CENTURIES A.D


While in the West, the search for the New World marked the beginning of the long recovery of Europe from the Dark Ages; in the East, the golden era of Islam never ended. From its capital, Cairo, the Mamluks - emboldened by the will of Allah - enforced its imperial perogative throughout Middle Eastern North Africa; consolidating hundreds of ethnic groups under one Sultan, and rectifying Islam's grip on Southeast Asia through its tributary state, the Sultanate of Malaya.


The mamluk was an "owned slave", distinguished from the ghulam, or household slave. After thorough training in various fields such as martial arts, court etiquette and Islamic sciences, these slaves were freed. However, they were still expected to remain loyal to their master and serve his household. Mamluks had formed a part of the state or military apparatus in Syria and Egypt since at least the 9th century, rising to become governing dynasties of Egypt and the Levant during the Tulunid and Ikhshidid periods. Mamluk regiments constituted the backbone of Egypt's military under Ayyubid rule in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, beginning with Sultan Saladin (r. 1174–1193) who replaced the Fatimids' black African infantry with mamluks. Each Ayyubid sultan and high-ranking emir had a private mamluk corps. Most of the mamluks in the Ayyubids' service were ethnic Kipchak Turks from Central Asia, who, upon entering service, were converted to Sunni Islam and taught Arabic. They were highly committed to their masters, whom they often referred to as "father", and were in turn treated more as kinsmen than as slaves by their masters. Sultan as-Salih Ayyub (r. 1240–1249), the last of the Ayyubid sultans, had acquired some 1,000 mamluks (some of them free-born) from Syria, Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula by 1229, while serving as na'ib (viceroy) of Egypt during the absence of his father, Sultan al-Kamil (r. 1218–1238). These mamluks were called the "Salihiyyah" (singular "Salihi") after their master.

As-Salih became sultan of Egypt in 1240, and upon his accession to the Ayyubid throne, he manumitted and promoted large numbers of his original and newly recruited mamluks on the condition that they remain in his service. To provision his mamluks, as-Salih forcibly seized the iqtaʿat (fiefs; singular iqtaʿ) of his predecessors' emirs. As-Salih sought to create a paramilitary apparatus in Egypt loyal to himself, and his aggressive recruitment and promotion of mamluks led contemporaries to view Egypt as "Salihi-ridden", according to historian Winslow William Clifford. Despite his close relationship with his mamluks, tensions existed between as-Salih and the Salihiyyah, and a number of Salihi mamluks were imprisoned or exiled throughout as-Salih's reign. While historian Stephen Humphreys asserts that the Salihiyyah's increasing dominance of the state did not personally threaten as-Salih due to their fidelity to him, Clifford believes the Salihiyyah developed an autonomy within the state that fell short of such loyalty. Opposition among the Salihiyyah to as-Salih rose when the latter ordered the assassination of his brother Abu Bakr al-Adil in 1249, a task which many of the Salihiyyah were affronted by and rejected; four of the Salihiyyah ultimately agreed to execute the controversial operation.

Rise to Power

Conflict with the Ayyubids
Tensions between As-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub and his mamluks came to a head later in 1249 when Louis IX of France's forces captured Damietta in their bid to conquer Egypt during the Seventh Crusade. As-Salih believed Damietta should not have been evacuated and was rumored to have threatened punitive action against the Damietta garrison. The rumor, accentuated by the execution of civilian notables who evacuated Damietta, provoked a mutiny by the garrison of his camp in al-Mansurah, which included numerous Salihi mamluks. The situation was calmed after the intervention of the atabeg al-askar (commander of the military), Fakhr ad-Din ibn Shaykh al-Shuyukh.

As the Crusaders advanced, as-Salih died and was succeeded by his son al-Muazzam Turanshah, who was in al-Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia) at the time. Initially, the Salihiyyah welcomed Turanshah's succession, with many greeting him and requesting confirmation of their administrative posts and iqtaʿ assignments at his arrival to the Egyptian frontier. However, Turanshah sought to challenge the dominance of the Salihiyyah in the paramilitary apparatus by promoting his Kurdish retinue from Upper Mesopotamia ("al-Jazira" in Arabic) and the Levant as a counterweight to the predominantly Turkic Salihiyyah.

Prior to Turanshah's arrival at the front facing the French, the Bahriyyah, a junior regiment of the Salihiyyah commanded by Baibars al-Buduqdari, defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of al-Mansurah on 11 February 1250. On 27 February, Turanshah, as new sultan, arrived in Egypt from Hasankeyf (Turkish for "rock fortress"), where he had been Emir (Arabic for "Prince") of Hisn Kayfa (Arabic for "rock fortress") since AH 636 (1238/1239 CE), and went straight to al-Mansurah to lead the Egyptian army. On 5 April 1250, covered by the darkness of night, the Crusaders evacuated their camp opposite al-Mansurah and began to flee northward towards Damietta. The Egyptians followed them into the Battle of Fariskur where the Egyptians utterly destroyed the Crusaders on 6 April. King Louis IX and a few of his surviving nobles surrendered and were taken as prisoners, effectively ending the Seventh Crusade.

Turanshah proceeded to place his own entourage and mamluks, known as the "Mu'azzamiyah", in positions of authority to the detriment of Salihi interests. On 2 May 1250, a group of disgruntled Salihi officers had Turanshah assassinated at his camp in Fariskur.

According to Humphreys, as-Salih's frequent wars against his Ayyubid relatives likely voided the Salihiyyah's loyalty to other members of the Ayyubid dynasty. Nonetheless, the Salihiyyah were careful not to depict the assassination of Turanshah as an assault against Ayyubid legitimacy, but rather an act against a deviant of the Muslim polity. Moreover, an electoral college dominated by the Salihiyyah convened to choose a successor to Turanshah among the Ayyubid emirs, with opinion largely split between an-Nasir Yusuf of Damascus and al-Mughith Umar of al-Karak. Ultimately, however, consensus settled on as-Salih's widow, Shajar ad-Durr.

Shajar ad-Durr ensured the Salihiyyah's dominance of the paramilitary elite, and ushered in a process of establishing patronage and kinship ties with the Salihiyyah. In particular, she cultivated close ties with the Jamdari (pl. Jamdariyyah) and Bahri (pl. "Bahriyyah") elements of the Salihiyyah, by distributing to them iqtaʿ and other benefits. The Bahriyya were named after the Arabic word bahr, meaning "sea" or "large river", because their barracks was located on the Nile River island of Rawda. They were mostly drawn from among the Cumans-Kipchaks who controlled the steppes north of the Black Sea. Shajar al-Durr's efforts and the lingering desire among the military in Egypt to maintain the Ayyubid state was made evident when the Salihi mamluk and atabeg al-askar, Aybak, attempted to claim the sultanate, but was prevented from monopolizing power by the army and the Bahriyyah and Jamdariyyah, which asserted that only an Ayyubid could exercise sultanic authority. The Bahriyyah compelled Aybak to share power with al-Ashraf Musa, a grandson of Sultan al-Kamil.

Factional Power Struggles
Aybak was one of the oldest of the Salihi mamluks and a senior member of as-Salih's inner circle, despite only being an emir awsat (middle-ranked emir). He served as the principal bulwark against the more junior Bahri and Jamdari elements of the Salihiyyah, and his promotion to atabeg al-askar was met by Bahri rioting in Cairo, the first of many examples of intra-Salihi tensions surrounding Aybak's ascendancy. The Bahriyyah and Jamdariyyah were represented by their patron, Faris ad-Din Aktay, a principal organizer of Turanshah's assassination and the recipient of Fakhr ad-Din's large estate by Shajar al-Durr; the latter saw Aktay as a counterweight to Aybak. Aybak moved against the Bahriyyah in 1251 by shutting down their Rawda headquarters in a bid to sap Aktay's power base. Aybak was still unable to promote his own mamluks, known as the "Mu'izziyah", to senior posts until 1252. That year, he managed to dispatch Aktay to Upper Egypt to suppress an Arab uprising. Instead of isolating Aktay as was Aybak's intention, the assignment allowed Aktay to impose extortionate taxes in Upper Egypt and provide him the personal funds to finance his patronage of the Bahriyyah. In 1254, Aybak had his Mu'izzi mamluks assassinate Aktay in the Citadel of Cairo.

Afterward, Aybak proceeded to purge those in his retinue and in the Salihiyyah whom he believed were disloyal to him, causing a temporary exodus of Bahri mamluks, most of whom settled in Gaza, but also in Upper Egypt and Syria. The purge led to a dearth of military support for Aybak, which in turn led to Aybak's recruitment of new supporters from among the army in Egypt and the Turkic Nasiri and Azizi mamluks from Syria, who had defected from their Ayyubid masters, namely an-Nasir Yusuf, and moved to Egypt in 1250. The Syrian mamluks were led by their patron Jamal ad-Din Aydughdi and were assigned most of the iqtaʿ of Aktay and his allies. However, Aydughdi's growing ambitions made Aybak view him as a threat. After Aybak learned that Aydughdi was plotting to topple him and recognize an-Nasir Yusuf as Ayyubid sultan, which would likely leave Aydughdi in virtual control of Egypt, Aybak had Aydughdi imprisoned in Alexandria in 1254 or 1255.

Meanwhile, the Bahriyya faction in Gaza commanded by Baybars sought to enlist their services with an-Nasir Yusuf. In an attempt to dislodge Aybak, the Bahriyyah petitioned an-Nasir Yusuf to claim the Ayyubid throne and invade Egypt, but an-Nasir Yusuf initially refused. However, in 1256, he dispatched a Bahri-led expedition to Egypt, but no battle occurred when Aybak met an-Nasir Yusuf's army. Aybak was assassinated on 10 April 1257, possibly on the orders of Shajar al-Durr, who was assassinated a week later. Their deaths left a relative power vacuum in Egypt, with Aybak's teenage son, al-Mansur Ali, as heir to the sultanate. While al-Mansur Ali was sultan, the strongman in Egypt was Aybak's former close aide, Sayf ad-Din Qutuz, who also had hostile relations with the Salihiyyah, including the Bahri mamluks.

By the time of Aybak's death, the Bahriyyah had entered the service of al-Mughith Umar of al-Karak, who agreed to invade Egypt and claim the Ayyubid sultanate, but al-Mughith's small Bahri-dominated invading force was routed at the frontier with Egypt in November. The Bahriyyah and al-Mughith launched a second expedition in 1258, but were again defeated. The Bahriyyah subsequently raided areas around Syria, threatening an-Nasir Yusuf's power in Damascus. After a first attempt to defeat the Bahriyyah near Gaza failed, an-Nasir Yusuf launched a second expedition against them with al-Mansur Muhammad II of Hama, resulting in a Bahriyyah defeat at Jericho. An-Nasir Yusuf proceeded to besiege al-Mughith and the Bahriyyah at al-Karak, but the growing threat of a Mongol invasion of Syria ultimately led to a reconciliation between an-Nasir Yusuf and al-Mughith, and Baybars's defection to the former. Qutuz deposed al-Mansur Ali in 1259. Afterward, he purged and/or arrested the Mu'izziyah and any Bahri mamluks he could locate in Egypt in a bid to eliminate dissent towards his rule. The surviving Mu'izzi and Bahri mamluks made their way to Gaza, where Baybars had created a virtual shadow state in opposition to Qutuz.

While various mamluk factions competed for control of Egypt and Syria, the Mongols under the command of Hulagu Khan had sacked Baghdad, the intellectual and spiritual center of the Islamic world, in 1258, and proceeded westward, capturing Aleppo and Damascus. Qutuz sent military reinforcements to his erstwhile enemy an-Nasir Yusuf in Syria, and reconciled with the Bahriyyah, including Baybars, who was allowed to return to Egypt, to face the common Mongol threat. Hulagu sent emissaries to Qutuz in Cairo, demanding submission to Mongol rule. Qutuz had the emissaries killed, an act which historian Joseph Cummins called the "worst possible insult to the Mongol throne". Qutuz then prepared Cairo's defenses to ward off the Mongols' threatened invasion of Egypt, but after hearing news that Hulagu withdrew from Syria to claim the Mongol throne, Qutuz began preparations for the conquest of Syria. He mobilized a force of some 120,000 soldiers and gained the support of his main Mamluk rival, Baybars.

The Mamluks entered Palestine to confront the Mongol army that Hulagu left behind under the command of Kitbuqa. In September 1260, the two sides met in the plains south of Nazareth in a major confrontation known as the Battle of Ain Jalut. Qutuz had some of his cavalry units hide in the hills around Ain Jalut (Goliath's Spring), while directing Baybars's forces to advance past Ain Jalut against Kitbuqa's Mongols. In the ensuing half-hour clash, Baybars's men feigned a retreat and were pursued by Kitbuqa. The latter's forces fell into a Mamluk trap once they reached the springs of Ain Jalut, with Baybars's men turning around to confront the Mongols and Qutuz's units ambushing the Mongols from the hills. The battle ended in a Mongol rout and Kitbuqa's capture and execution. Afterward, the Mamluks proceeded to recapture Damascus and the other Syrian cities taken by the Mongols. Upon Qutuz's triumphant return to Cairo, he was assassinated in a Bahri plot. Baybars subsequently assumed power in Egypt in late 1260, and established the Mamluk sultanate.

The flag adopted by Arabia under Sultan Ali III.

The Mamluk Sultanate (Arabic: سلطنة المماليك‎, romanized: Salṭanat al-Mamālīk) was a medieval realm spanning Egypt, the Levant, and Hejaz that established itself as a caliphate. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid dynasty until the unification of Cairene Arabia. Historians have traditionally broken the era of Mamlūk rule into two periods—one covering 1250–1382, the other, 1382 until the formation of Cairene Arabia. Western historians call the former the "Baḥrī" period and the latter the "Burjī" due to the political dominance of the regimes known by these names during the respective eras. Contemporary Muslim historians refer to the same divisions as the "Turkic" and "Circassian" periods in order to stress the change in the ethnic origins of the majority of Mamlūks.

The Mamlūk state reached its height under Turkic rule with Arabic culture and then fell into a prolonged phase of decline under the Circassians. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, soldiers of predominantly Cuman-Kipchaks (from Crimea), Circassian, Abkhazian, Oghuz Turks and Georgian slave origin. While Mamluks were purchased, their status was above ordinary slaves, who were not allowed to carry weapons or perform certain tasks. Mamluks were considered to be "true lords", with social status above citizens of Egypt. Though it declined towards the end of its existence, at its height the sultanate represented the zenith of medieval Egyptian and Levantine political, economic, and cultural glory in the Islamic Golden Age.


The turnaround for Mamluk decline occurred during the reign of Janbulat the Ambitious, who succeeded Sayf ad-Din Jaqmaq in place of his son as the 42nd Mamluk Sultan upon Jaqmaq's death on February 2, 1445. Janbulat I was overly ambitious, and sought to unify Arabia under his rule by making vassals out of the surrounding kingdoms and conquering those who resisted Mamluk influence. Through this foreign policy, Janbulat was able to make vassals out of the smaller states of Medina, Ramazan, Najd, Haasa, Dawasir, Fezzan, Shammar, and Anizah before setting out to expand into Anatolia by conquering the Karamanids. The Karamanids were supported by the Aq Qoyunlu Confederation, whom themselves were allied with the Ottoman Sultanate; presenting the Mamluks with extra opportunity. Beyond pushing the Karamanids into Dulkadir and liberating Eretna, the Mamluks also took Urfa from Aq Qoyunlu and demanded that they break their alliance with the Ottomans; essentially weakening both nations. Immediately after the conquest of Karaman however, some of the Mamlukean vassals were demanding independence; and to ensure that the Mamluk empire remained intact, Dawasir was released so that the Mamluks could consolidate power for a moment. It was near the end of his reign that the Mamluks began to annex some of their vassals, such as Fadl.

Janbulat was succeeded by Barquq II on October 31, 1460. Inheriting the problems leftover by his predecessor's ambitious expansion, Barquq II was left with the task of consolidating power to ensure the integrity of the sultanate. Barquq had his hands so full, that even when the Christian kingdom of Cyprus offered to become a vassal of the Mamluks; they had no choice but to turn them away. During Barquq's reign, the vassals Fezzan, Shammar, and Anizah were annexed over a long diplomatic process.

The 44th Mamluk Sultan, Tuman Bay al-Qazdughli, came into power on October 31, 1469; when Barquq died before the diplomatic process to annex Haasa remained unfinished. As soon as Haasa was annexed under Tuman, he set out to expand the Mamluks into Iraq by conquering the Shia states there. By the end of Tuman's campaign, the Mamluks had been able to seize the valuable trade node of Basra and began to share a border with Persia. Similarly consolidating power, Tuman Bay set out to annex the Sharifate of Hejaz; which controlled both the holy cities of Makkah and Maddinah, in an effort to strengthen and legitimize the Sultanate. Following such, Tuman Bay offered vassalage to the nations of Dawasir and Eretna, to which they accepted; once more expanding Mamluk influence further.

Tuman Bay was succeeded by al-Musta'in, who set his eyes towards the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. After annexing both Najd and Dawasir, al-Musta'in offered vassalage and protection from Yemen to the smaller kingdoms of Aden, Hadramut, and Mahra; to which they accepted, allowing al-Musta'in to begin a campaign in Yemen with the newfound vassal states as staging points for the Mamluk armies. Allied with Yemen, were the states of the Horn of Africa, which proved no match for the might of the Mamluk armies. Unfortunately, al-Musta'in died before he could see the fruits of his campaign.

Al-Musta'in was succeeded by one of his generals, Jaqmaq the Conqueror; who finished the Conquest of San'a and crushed the opposition. The new Sultan set his eyes towards Oman, which at the time was facing invasion at the hands of Sindh. Initially, Jaqmaq decided to wait for Sindh to defeat Oman; but realized that if Sindh were to succeed, then taking Oman would have to mean going to war with Persia, which was allied with Sindh. Jaqmaq then set out to form a temporary alliance with Oman, and defended it from the Sindh invasion, before conquering it right after. Jaqmaq also began a process to annex Aden, which he did. Jaqmaq's final campaign was an expansion into Iraq, in the Conquest of Qazaniya against Qara Qoyunlu. Sadly, he died of sickness at camp.

Jaqmaq was succeeded by Barsbay the Diplomat, who completed the Conquest of Qazaniya; before setting out to form alliances with other powerful nations to ensure a viable defense against the Ottomans. One such ally, was the Republic of Venice, whom possessed a powerful navy which the Mamluks lacked. Barsbay also made attempts to form alliances with Garnatah, before its eventual conquest by Spain.


The 49th and last Mamluk Sultan was Ali III, or Ali of the Unification, who rose to power on July 23, 1536. His first act as Sultan, was to consolidate power in Yemen by fully annexing it in a campaign of conquest. The campaign was going well, when some European state sought to invade Venice; and the Mamluks were called into war. Not desiring to lose their Venetian allies, Ali joined the defense of Venice; and was able to crush both opponents in both wars. Ali's greatest achievement however, was not rooted in his crushing of minuscule states or defense of Christian empires; but his administrative reforms, which would eventually give way for the unification of Cairene Arabia. Seeing the flawed nature of Mamluk succession, which while likely to produce great leaders; was also bound to cause instability, Ali III sought to reform the Sultanate system. Recognizing the legitimacy brought to the Sultanate by the Abbasid Caliphate, Ali III decided to institute reforms that would among other things; give the caliph more power, and provide the sultan with a clear line of succession. These reforms would eventually lead to the formation of Cairene Arabia, whose caliph was head of state and sultan was head of government. The Caliph's succession would also be reformed, and would be elected from a number of valid candidates by a council of scholars; while the Sultan would be similarly elected from a council of regional political and military leaders.

Much of the Bruneian Sultanate's early history is muddled, largely due to poor documentation. Little is consistently known about Bruneian history before the reign of Sulaiman, the 4th Sultan of Brunei.

After the death of the Majapahit Emperor Hayam Wuruk, the Majapahit Empire entered a state of decline and was unable to maintain control over Brunei. As such, Sultan Muhammad Shah, took the opportunity to break free from Majapahit's influence and expand Brunei's influence. Between the end of Muhammad's reign in 1402, up till the year 1425, much of Bruneian history is uncertain and blurred. However, it is known that a Sharif had ascended the throne of Brunei after the death of its previous Sultan who left no male heirs.

Sharif Ali was a descendant of imam Hassan bin Ali, and also served as the Emir of Mecca. He is the ancestor of the royal families of Brunei and Sulu. Both Brunei citizens and royal counselors agreed that Sharif Ali be the Sultan, because of his deep knowledge in Islam. His merit in spreading Islam was related to his position as a royal ‘ālim (Arabic: عَـالِـم‎, 'scholar') in Brunei, during the reign of Sultan Ahmad. For that reason, his marriage to Puteri Ratna Kesuma, the daughter of Sultan Ahmad, was aimed at strengthening his position as a Sultan and scholar. Sharif Ali governed Brunei according to Islamic principles, and was therefore considered as a very pious ruler. Due to his popularity, he was nicknamed "Sultan Berkat" or "Blessed Sultan". He was the first sultan to build a Masjid, and fortified the defense of Brunei by ordering his people to build a stone fortress and town, that is Kota Batu. After his death in 1432, he was succeeded by his son Sulaiman.

During the reign of Sultan Bolkiah from August 21, 1470 to December 1, 1499; Malaya found itself at a crossroads, as alliances broke and formed. With Cebu's declaration of war on Madyas in its conquest of Buglas, North Malaya (modern-day Philippines) found itself engaged in a bloody war between former allies. Tondo and Butuan sided with Madyas, while Sulu, Maguindanao, and Brunei stuck by Cebu's side. Bolkiah would witness two instances of such a war, both on the losing side of the conflict. However, Bolkiah was also known for expanding Brunei's influence to that of an empire; as under his reign, much of Southern Borneo came under Bruneian rule, and both the kingdoms of Makassar and Tidore became vassals of Brunei following major losses in a war with the empire. Bolkiah is fondly remembered as the man who began the Golden Age of the Bruneian Empire, and the namesake of the Bolkiah Dynasty; all of whom claim descent from the legendary Sultan.

His reign was followed by that of Sayf ar-Rijal I, which lasted from September 14, 1505 to September 7, 1531. His reign was most well-known for continuous expansion of Brunei to encompass not only all of Borneo, but portions of Sulawesi as well. He would then follow such with expeditions to the south, resulting in the discovery of Australia and expansion into the southern continent. He was succeeded by Muhammad I, whose brief reign lasted from September 7, 1531 to February 23, 1536. Under Muhammad I, the Bruneian vassal state of Negaraselatan would be established on Australia.

Following Muhammad's early death, there would be an interregnum period from February 23, 1536 to January 1, 1548. During this period, there would be further expansion in Sulawesi as well as aid in Negaraselatan's expansion in Australia. On Janurary 1, 1548; Abd al-Qahhar I would ascend the throne, but due to his disputed legitimacy, a pretender would rise as well. Mustering an army of 18,000; the pretender marched for the capital, but was brutally slaughtered alongside his army by more than 30,000 Bruneians led by none other than Abd al-Qahhar himself. During his reign, Brunei once more found itself betrayed; as Maguindanao turned against its allies and fought against Sulu, Brunei and Sulu. Following the war however, Maguindanao found itself under the reign of the Sultan of Sulu. Sulu would also later attempt to conquer Butuan, during which however, Abd al-Qahhar would meet his death on August 6, 1557 during an accident in camp. The conquest would be unsuccessful, and a regency council would reign over Brunei until June 11, 1563.

On June 11, 1563, Sayf ad-Din I would ascend to the throne. His reign would witness the successful Bruneian Conquest of Melaka, which would last for 2 years. The war would begin as Sayf ad-Din would notice that Pasai and Siak were involved in a war with Malacca, after which Sayf ad-Din would raise a fleet and an army to invade the Malay Peninsula. The first battle was the most decisive, wherein Admiral Iskandar Tani Chairul attacked the Malaccan fleet with a Bruneian fleet consisting of 69 warships. After which, tens of thousands of Bruneians alongside Makassari, Tidoran and Negaraselatani soldiers would march to and occupy much of the Malay peninsula. The Malaccan soldiers were unable to retaliate, as they were all trapped on Sumatra with their entire fleet destroyed; as Pasai forces assailed the helpless Malaccans. The war ended with the partitioning of the Malay peninsula between Siak and Brunei. Also during Sayf ad-Din's reign, Brunei would establish alliances with the Ayyuthayyan Empire, and prop up Sulu as a part of the alliance for extended influence. Brunei would also expand to much of Mindanao and Palawan.

Abd al-Mubin I reigned from April 28, 1593 to November 28, 1623. During his reign, Brunei found itself embroiled in a bloody war with Majapahit and Siak. After the Majapahit and Siakan capitals were occupied by Bruneian forces, Siak was forced to surrender Johor to Brunei. Tragedy struck during the war however, as crown prince Abdul Jalil Bolkiah died on the battlefield, leaving only a daughter as his heir. Legend says that his Highness died with the sword of enemy general Girindrawardhana Slamet piercing through his heart, while Abdul's went through his opponent's. It is said that as he lay dying, he commanded his lieutenant not to tell the men that he had passed until after the battle; and sure enough, the Bruneians were victorious in the battle against Siak. The war continued as Brunei and its allies landed upon the shores of Java, and waged war against the Majapahit who were allied with Siak. Eventually, Abd al-Mubin came atop victorious; taking for Brunei various provinces across Malacca and Java.

From then on out, Brunei, and the entirety of Malaya lay on a crossroads; a turning point one might say. Abd al-Mubin died on November 28, 1623, with his young granddaughter Hafeeza Bolkiah as his only heir. For an entire year, Brunei reigned without a Sultan and under the threat of rebellion. At least two large-scale revolts during that single year period rose to trouble Brunei; the revolt of the Pretender of Kutai, and a revolt by Majapahit separatists.

On August 21, 1624; Hafeeza ascended to the throne as Sultana, ever so unpopular among the Bruneians as she was indeed a female Sultan. Facing two revolts, the Sulatana however found opportunity to prove her worth as a ruler and right to reign. First, she sailed to Java; where she put down a revolt by Majapahit separatists, and sponsored the mass conversion of the Javanese to Islam. Then, she returned to Borneo; where she led a large army to Kutai, wherein the pretender and his army were promptly slaughtered and beheaded soon afterwards. However, such did not prove to attract her popularity; as many still saw her reign illegitimate. As such, during her reign; she decided to resume the Bruneian Conquest of Java, and declared war against Majapahit. The war was practically decided when the Hafeeza's fleet, led by Admiral Ahmad Natzar, attacked and wiped out the Majapahit Fleet in the Straits of Lombok. After such, Hafeeza incorporated into her realm Western and Central Java; leaving to Majapahit only Eastern Java. With the entirety of the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, and Central and Western Java under the reign of Brunei; it could be said that Brunei had practically united most of Malaya, and was its sole ruler at that point. And thus, Sultana Hafeeza declared the formation of Bruneian Malaya; with herself as its first ruler.

15th Century

  • Janbulat the Ambitious becomes the Mamluk Sultan

  • Janbulat unites the smaller states of Medina, Ramazan, Najd, Haasa, Dawasir, Fezzan, Shammar, and Anizah under the Mamluk Sultanate

  • Mamluk Conquest of Karaman

  • Dawasir secedes

  • Mamluks expand into Iraq

  • Dawasir and Eretna united under Mamluk banner

  • Aden, Hadramut, and Mahra unite under Mamluk banner

  • Mamluk Conquest of Yemen

  • Mamluk Defense of Oman against Sindh

  • Mamluk Conquest of Oman

  • Further Mamluk Expansion into Iraq

  • Mamluks form alliance with Venice

  • North Malayan Alliance formed with Brunei, Tondo, Cebu, Maguindanao and Sulu

  • Bruneian Conquest of Kutai

  • North Malayan Alliance broken; Cebu declares war on Madyas, and Tondo joins Madyas while Sulu and Brunei join Cebu

  • Makassar and Tidore subjugated by Brunei and become vassals

16th Century

  • Mamluk Conquest of Yemen

  • Defense of Venice

  • Administrative reforms and renewal of Abbasid Caliphate creates The Abbasid Caliphate and Cairene Sultanate of Arabia from the Mamluks and the Abbasids of Cairo

  • Ethiopian Empire goes into decline

  • Arabian conquest of Medri Bahri and vassalage of Harar

  • Karaman and Mzab vassalized

  • 1st Arabian Conquest of Anatolia

  • Ottoman Decline begins

  • Arabian expansion into Syria

  • 2nd Arabian Conquest of Anatolia

  • 3rd Arabian Conquest of Anatolia

  • Constantinople falls to Arabia

  • Arabia forms alliance with Brunei

  • Bruneian Expansion into Sulawesi, South Borneo, and Australia.

  • Bruneian War of Succession during Abdal Qahar’s reign

  • Maguindanao betrays and invades Sulu, Brunei intervenes and Maguindanao is annexed by Sulu

  • Spain colonizes the Philippines (1521)

  • Unsuccessful Sulu invasion of Butuan

  • Bruneian Conquest of the Malay Peninsula

  • Bruneian Conquest of Malacca and Java

  • Crown Prince of Brunei dies in battle, leaves Hafeeza Bolkiah as only child

  • Sultan of Malaya dies, pretender rises in Kutai

  • Javanese separatists rise up in Java

  • On August 21, 1624; Hafeeza ascended to the throne as Sultana

  • Hafeeza crushes Javanese revolt, enacts mass forced conversion

  • Hafeeza defeats Pretender and ends Malayan Civil War

  • Spain begins to create colonies across America, expelling many minorities to such colonies; many of which include Moriscos, or the force converted Muslims of Andalusia

17th Century

  • Arabia forms alliance with Poland

  • Arabian expansion into Syria

  • 1st Arabian Conquest of Ethiopia

  • Arabian expansion into India

  • 2nd Arabian Conquest of Ethiopia

  • 1st Arab-Persian/Polish-Nogai War. Overwhelming victory for Arabia and Poland. Arabia gets all of Khuzestan.

  • 3rd Arabian Conquest of Ethiopia

  • Polish-Ottoman War

  • 4th Arabian Conquest of Anatolia + Bulgaria

  • Liberation of Greece from Ottoman rule

  • Abolition of Slavery in Arabia

  • Bruneian Malaya established following Hafeeza’s Conquest of Java

  • Malayan, Siamese and Spanish Conquests of Sumatra

  • Morocco assures protection of Muslim countries in the Americas

  • 2nd Malayan Conquest of Sumatra

  • Alliance between Siam, Dai Viet, Sulu, Cebu, and Malaya is formed; called the Alliance of the Five Houses

  • Spain begins to notice the Morisco Muslim population in their colonies and attempts to stamp them out


The rise of the Mamluks in Arabia emboldened the rise of the Sultanate of Malaya. The rise of the Sultanate of Malaya led to the creation of imperial coalitions in Indochina. As empires were forged from the melting-pot of necessity, pan-ethnic identities began to emerge. Though over time, the empires faded, adversity solidified national identities.

Pan-asiatic states