- Only buildable by "Arab" and "Egyptian" cultures
Mamluk (Arabic: مملوك mamlūk (singular), مماليك mamālīk (plural), meaning "property" or "owned slave" of the king, also transliterated as mamlouk, mamluq, mamluke, mameluk, mameluke, mamaluke or marmeluke) is an Arabic designation for slaves.
The most enduring Mamluk realm was the military caste in medieval Egypt that rose from the ranks of slave soldiers who were mainly of Kipchak and many other Turkic tribes, also Circassian, and Georgian origin, although in the Burji (post-1389) Mamluk sultanate many Mamluks could also be of Balkan origin (Albanian, Greek, South Slavic). The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior class, was of great political importance and was extraordinarily long-lived, lasting from the 9th to the 19th centuries AD.
Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Islamic societies. Particularly in Egypt, but also in the Levant, Mesopotamia, and India, mamluks held political and military power. In some cases, they attained the rank of sultan, while in others they held regional power as amirs or beys. Most notably, mamluk factions seized the sultanate for themselves in Egypt and Syria in a period known as the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517). The Mamluk Sultanate famously beat back the troops of the Ilkhanate at the Battle of Ain Jalut and fought the Crusaders, effectively driving them out from the Levant by 1291 and officially in 1302 ending the era of the Crusades.
While mamluks were purchased, their status was above ordinary slaves, who were not allowed to carry weapons or perform certain tasks. In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords", with social status above freeborn Muslims.