Shajarat Al-Durr,the Only Woman Ruler in Egypt,from Sex-Slave to Sultana of Egypt

| August 12, 2011 | Comments (6)

Here is the case of Shajarat al-Durr,from sex-slave to Sultana/Sultaness of Egypt,if only for a very short time.Then she was forced to abdicate….all because she was a woman.

In the meantime in Christian Europe

There were many women rulers,authentic and official queens,by the law of the country like Isabella of Castille,Christine of Sweden,Catherine the Great of Russia,Elizabeth I of Engalnd,etc,all before the 20th century.They really ruled,men obeyed them,they were not forced to abdicate because they were women.

The sex-slave of the Caliph of Bagdad in the 13th century

Shajarat al-Durr ( Tree of Pearls),also called Shagrat al-Durr (died 1259) was a sex-slave in the harem of Abbasid caliph Mustasim, who sent her as a gift to the Sultan of Egypt Al-Malik al-Salih Ayub.She was a sex-slave who was Turkish,so either she was a Muslim woman who was a sex-slave,a real rarity,but it is authorized in the Koran,or a Turkish pagan woman who was enslaved.Another version is she was Turkic and was bought in the Levant by him but before he became Sultan.

She marries the Sultan of Egypt

Instantly in love because of her great beauty, the Sultan freed her and married her.Sultan al-Salih Ayub died when Egypt was being threatened by Louis IX’s crusader forces.

After the Sultan’s death Shajarat hid news of his death,saying that he was ill and employed a servant to take food to his tent as a ruse.She began making political and administrative decisions in his name, forging his signature.In that she was supported by his closest companions.

St.Louis of France

She saves Egypt from being captured by the French crusaders

Shajarat reorganized the Egyptian army to recapture Damietta from the French,who were under the leadership of St. Louis IX of France,a man of great qualities and also some bad qualities of intolerance.In 1249 they landed at Damietta, at the head of the Nile. While her husband was away in Damascus, Shagrat assumed leadership of the military to defend the country.Then her husband returned but died soon after.

Turan, her husband’s son and her step-son, arrived and Shagrat gave him the government.Shagrat still had control of the military and led a decisive victory over the French at Damietta.

Who was St.Louis IX of France?

Louis IX (1214-1270), commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226-1270.He is the only canonised king of France;
Much of what is known is from Jean de Joinville’s famous biography of Louis. Joinville was a close friend, confidant, and counsellor.
Two other important biographies were written by the king’s confessor, Geoffrey of Beaulieu, and his chaplain, William of Chartres.

Louis’s piety and kindness towards the poor was much celebrated.He went on two crusades, in his mid-30s in 1248 (Seventh Crusade) and then in his mid-50s in 1270 (Eighth Crusade).

His wife was princess Margaret and she went with Louis on his first crusade and was responsible for negotiations and ransom when he was captured. She was for a brief time the only woman ever to lead a crusade.During this period, while in Damietta, she gave birth to her son Jean Tristan.After the payment of a big ransom Louis and 12,000 prisoners were released

The non-Christian side of Louis IX

He was very kind to the poor,there is no doubt about his Christian love and charity.But he also ordered, at the urging of Pope Gregory IX, the burning in Paris in 1243 of some 12,000 manuscript copies of the Talmud and other Jewish books.

He also persecuted and killed the Cathars.

Who were the Cathars?

They had the NT as their holy book but they were a different religion.Of course,Christianity has the OT as a holy book ,just like Judaism,but they are different religions.They lived in southern France.

They believed:

1.The Devil created the material world.

2.The material world is evil,including the body.

3.Marriage was evil,they were forbidden to marry.

4.They rejected oaths,which was the basis of feudal society.

5.They had the Perfecti(perfect ones) or leaders and the Credentes(believers).

Louis began ruling at 12 but it was really his mother.He began alone in 1234.The Inquisition had recently been created in 1229 against the Cathars.The Cathars were defeated in 1244 in Montsegur,and the use of torture by the Inquisition was not authorized till 1252,so it was not used by the Inquisition on them.

In Montsegur,a fortress,after its fall 220 Cathars who refused to recant were burned to death.That is to be condemned regarding Louis IX and was utterly unchristian.

She becomes the only Sultana or Sultaness in Muslim History

The leaders of the army preferred Shajarat and killed Turan,who was not Turkish like they and Shajarat.Then they gave her the throne on May 2, 1250, beginning the Mamluk dynasty.

As Sultana she had coins made with her name as well as being mentioned in the weekly prayers in the mosques, both honors only due to sultans. She made peace with the Franks and allowed Louis IX to return to France after paying a very big ransom.

She rules only 2 or 3 months and is deposed

The Caliph and others were shocked at the idea of a woman ruler.He sent a message to the Egyptian amirs: “Since no man among you is worthy of being Sultan, I will bring you one.”They forced her to abdicate after 2 or 3 months and Shajarat agreed to marry again and abdicate her position.

She murders and is murdered

Her new husband was called Aybek and becam Sultan but Shajarat ruled behind the scenes for the next seven years.He tired of his wife’s control and decided to marry someone else.She would sign the sultan’s decrees, had coins minted in both their names, and would reply if addressed as Sultana.When she married Aybek she forced him to divorce his wife who had born a son by him.

When Shajarat learned he was going to marry again she murdered him when he was having a bath after a game of polo.She said that he had died suddenly in the night, but under torture her servants confessed to aiding her in the crime, and Aybek’s 15 year old son by his former wife, al-Mansur Ali was installed as Sultan.

She was imprisoned and Aybek’s former wife and Ali’s mother had Shajarat beaten to death by the slaves of the harem.Her body was thrown into the moat of the city.


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