The Mamluk Faris

The following is a series of published articles highlighting the military training, tactics and strategies of the mamluks soldiers of Medieval Egypt.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mamluks and Mongols - an overview

Reuven Amitai-Preiss

In this study, the origins and early course of the Mamluk-Ilkhanid war have been examined through narrative history interspersed with chapters of a monographic nature. Having looked at the war in some detail, it is appropriate to conclude this study with an overview of the subject, keeping in mind two paramount questions: why did this war continue, and why were the Mamluks successful in stopping the Mongols?

In recent studies, Professor J.M. Smith, Jr . and Dr. D.O. Morgan have offered fresh insights into the nature of the Mamluk-Mongol war. Professor Smith, in a wide-ranging article, analyzes the weaponry and tactics of both sides, and embarks on a technical discussion on the strengths and limitations of the Mongol and Mamluk horses. In the first section of this chapter, his approach will be considered and elaborated upon. In the second section, the question of the logistical problems encountered by the Mongols in Syria, as raised independently by Professor Smith and Dr. Morgan, will be examined. In the final section, I will suggest explanations for both the ongoing war and the Mamluk success in stopping the Mongols.

Troops and tactics compared

Professor Smith's discussion, the most detailed and systematic study of the subject yet attempted, can be summarized as follows: the Mongol army was a people's army, that is, all Mongol adult males were enlisted. Since these soldiers, however, were not professionals, they had undergone a somewhat haphazard training. The majority of Mongol troops were armed with mediocre, homemade weapons, and most carried only bows and arrows, along with axes and clubs. Because of this lack of weapons appropriate for hand-to-hand combat and their inferior training, the Mongols were hesitant to engage in frontal attacks, preferring instead to depend on their archery and mobility. In order to maintain this mobility, each Mongol troop would lead a string of mounts, small steppe horses, when they set out on campaign. While on march, they could thus change mounts when necessary. During the battle itself, the Mongols would remount at frequent intervals, and thus so maintain their famed mobility. The small steppe horse, really a pony, would quickly tire, thus necessitating rapid changes of mounts. The tactics of the Mongols reflected their dependence on archery and mobility:

The Mongols ... sent unit after unit galloping at the enemy as fast as could be with each man shooting one heavy arrow from as close as possible; each unit would then turn away and out of the path and line of fire of the next unit, which could follow almost on its heels. Thus the enemy would be repeatedly pounded by the Mongols' best shots, delivered by a quick and confusing succession of attacking units, each concealing the next until the last moment. Each unit would charge, shoot, turn and gallop away, and then circle into position for another charge, in this way making several attacks... The attacking units would then give place to fresh forces and retire to rest, rearm, and remount. [Previously, Smith wrote that a Mongol horse-archer could not fire more than one effective shot, as he charged his opponent; this arrow was let loose at a distance of about 30 meters.]

The aim of such tactics, together with efforts at outflanking, was to wear down the enemy. If the Mongols faced cavalry, it was hoped that they could provoke a pursuit, with the Mongols shooting to the rear (the so-called Parthian shot) as they rode off. This would lead to the exhaustion of the opponents' horses. At some point, the Mongols, either on fresh horses or reinforced by additional troops, would turn against their pursuers, dealing them a crushing blow or harassing them as they withdrew. In general, the Mongols tried to avoid handto-hand combat, because of their lack of personal arms and armor.

The Mamluk army was also based on mounted archers, but the equipment of its troops and its tactics were different. The Mamluk trooper was heavily armed with bow and arrow, sword, dagger, axe or mace, lance, shield and body armor. His horse, a large Arabian steed, was fed primarily on fodder. However, due to the expense of maintaining a horse in a sedentary society, most Mamluks only had one mount. The Mamluks were picked troops and thus on the whole were better raw material for soldiers than their Mongol counterparts, who were just average men. In addition, the Mamluks underwent thorough, long-term training. Of particular importance in their training was shooting while galloping, which was regularly practiced in the hippodromes.

The battlefield tactics of the Mamluks also differed from those of the Mongols. As they had only one mount, they could not compete with the mobility of the Mongols, each of whom had several horses at his disposal. Rather, they exploited their better-quality bows and arrows and their rigorous training. Mounted on standing horses, the Mamluks would let off a succession of deadly shots when the Mongols attacked. "Unless the Mongols could use their greater mobility to outflank and surround the Mamluks, or superior numbers to wear them down, Mamluk archery would balance and overbalance the Mongols' horsepower." Although Professor Smith does not explicitly say so, it would seem, according to this suggestion, that the Mamluks having repelled a Mongol assault, would then attack, bringing into play their heavier shock power.

There is much that is convincing in this model, the first systematic attempt to compare the fighting abilities and tactics of the Mamluks and Mongols. I would suggest, however, that it must be modified to some degree by additional evidence from sources of various provenance. First, the Mongols may have been better equipped than has been suggested. While John of Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck describe poorly equipped regular troopers, having only bows, arrows and axes, their contemporary, Thomas of Spalato, writes that the Mongols carried helmets, swords and bows. Sibt ibn al-Jawzi reports that the Mongols used swords in their battles with the Khwarazm-shah Jalal al-Din. Marco Polo, describing the situation later in the thirteenth century, states that the Mongols had sword and mace, and even shields. In addition, it must be remembered that the Ilkhanids and their Mongol soldiers were no longer wandering about on the Eurasian steppes, but now had possession of an extensive empire encompassing major centers of urban civilization. This surely must have influenced the quality and variety of the arms that the Mongol soldier now carried. It would seem that the Ilkhans and their officials by then had enough skilled craftsmen at their disposal to produce some high-quality weapons and other accessories for the Mongols. [Marco Polo praises the craftsmen of Kirman for the implements of war which they manufactured, including swords, bows, quivers and "arms of every kind."] Certainly, throughout the empire there were armorers who had made weapons for the pre-Mongol armies. This capacity would now be turned over for the use of the Mongols. All of this was in addition to military stores that the Mongols seized whenever they conquered a new area. [Smith writes that the Mongols "also developed a 'military-industrial complex' to supply weapons," but possibly only in Ghazan's time.] It might also be mentioned in passing that the skills of the Mongol nomads themselves in producing weapons and other implements of war were perhaps underestimated in the previous discussion. [Jagchid and Hyer wrote that "the Mongols were very adept at such work as blacksmithing and production of armor and weapons." I might add that I was impressed during my own visits to nomads in Mongolia by the high quality of their metal and leatherwork, although - as far as I could tell - no weapons are being produced today.]

The occupation of greater Iran may have had a second possible influence. The Mongols could now supplement the diet of their horses with either grazing on cultivated fields or grains collected through taxes or expropriated in other ways. This would lead to the strengthening of their horses. While there is no explicit evidence that the Mongols adopted the larger horses found in the areas under their control, there is information that they had shown an interest in both the horses used by local nomads [In 658/1260, the Mongols seized horses from the bedouin in Trans-Jordan; in 668/1269, the Mongols raided north Syria, looting the livestock of the bedouin in the area.] and those ridden by the Armenians. [The Mongols constantly seized the horses of the Armenians.] In short, the Mongols of the Ilkhanid state may well have ridden on smaller horses and been less equipped for receiving and delivering frontal assaults than their Mamluk enemies, but perhaps the difference was not as great as suggested above.

The Mamluk troops were not quite the supermen they have been portrayed as. Certainly they were not all cut from the same cloth. Only the royal mamluks were usually given the first-rate training of the Sultan's military schools. The amirs' mamluks had an inferior military education. In addition, during the early years of the Mamluk period, the period under discussion here, many of the troopers in the amirs' units were not even mamluks, but rather free horsemen. These could have been Kurds, refugee Muslim military personnel (including mamluks), and Mongol wafidiyya. The halqa, then an important part of the Mamluk army, was mainly composed of these non-mamluk elements . Some of the halqa was actually quite similar to the Mongols in ethnic origin and military techniques.

Care should even be taken with regard to the royal mamluks, those mamluks bought and raised by the Sultan . [The royal mamluks (al-mamalik al-sultaniyya) were composed of the sultan's personal mamluks, those of former sultans, and mamluks of deceased or declasse amirs.] At the battle of 'Ayn Jalut, Qutuz had been Sultan less than a year, certainly an inadequate period in which to build a large unit of personal mamluks. In fact, the first decade of Mamluk rule (1250-60) had been characterized by instability, in-fighting and changes of rulers, hardly conducive to the orderly establishment of a strong corps of royal mamluks. At the battle of Homs in 680/1281, the majority of Qalawun's personal mamluks were young and inexperienced, while the body of veteran royal mamluks - the Zahiriyya - had been weakened by Qalawun's purges.
There is no doubt that with time the royal mamluks received thorough training in swordsmanship, horsemanship, lancework, and archery on the ground and from a galloping horse. Having mastered horsemanship and the lance game, the young mamluks were sent to the hippodrome, where they received "cavalry training proper, i.e. coaching in teamwork. The mamluks did group exercises, learning how to enter, come out, turn right or left, advance or retreat together and to know, in any fight, their own place as well as that of their fellows." It would seem that this training was of relatively small tactical units. There was nothing to indicate that maneuvers of large-scale units in the field were undertaken, as with the Mongols during their hunts. [Both Baybars and Qalawun went hunting, but it would seem that these were small-scale affairs involving the sultan and his entourage.]

It is worth dwelling on the Mamluk horses. First, not all of their horses were of Arabian stock. A major source of Mamluk mounts was Cyrenaica (al-barqa). These horses were very strong and were something between an Arabian horse and a pack-horse, with the latter's sturdy legs; they were thus well suited to rough terrain . Second, the Mongols were not alone in maintaining remounts. The Mamluks also brought with them to battle reserve horses, the jana'ib (plural of janib). Al-'Umari states that the amirs brought with them jana'ib the number of which varied, depending on the wealth of each amir and the importance he attributed to this matter. It is unclear if the regular Mamluk troops, be they royal mamluks, or the mamluks of amirs and halqa troopers, had recourse to spare mounts, but it appears that their use was not as widespread as among the Mongols.

On the basis of the above discussion, it can be suggested that the Mamluks and Mongols may have been more evenly matched than proposed by Professor Smith. While experienced royal mamluks may have had few equals among the Mongols (or any other army of the time), such troops did not form the majority of the Mamluk army, much of which was composed of less thoroughly trained amirs' mamluks, along with various non-mamluk troops, including Mongol wafidiyya. On the other hand, after the consolidation of Ilkhanid rule the Mongol army was probably better equipped and perhaps better mounted than they had been when they came off the steppe. Even assuming that the training of the average Mongol was less rigorous than that of his Mamluk counterpart, the Mongols enjoyed a clear advantage in the training of large-scale units.

The Mamluks themselves do not seem to have been aware of any great advantage over their Mongol adversaries. The resources, time and energy which the Mamluks devoted to training and expanding their army, along with the strengthening of border fortresses and the development of the espionage system, show how seriously they considered Mongol military prowess. The large-scale mobilizations of the Mamluk army at the slightest hint of a Mongol raid, let alone offensive, also indicate that the Mamluks did not disparage their enemy.

A compelling piece of evidence regarding the Mamluk view of the Mongols is found in Ibn 'Abd al-Rahim's continuation of Ibn Wasil's chronicle. The writer, a Mamluk official, accompanied Baybars's expedition to Rum in 675/ 1277, and recorded the following incident: when the Mamluk army left Ram, it camped near Harim to rest. When 'Id al-Adha ("Sacrificial Feast") arrived, the Sultan forbad the beating of the "drums of good tidings" on the holiday. When the amirs asked for an explanation. He replied:

How can I rejoice? I had believed that if 10,000 horsemen of my army were to meet 30,000 Mongols, I would defeat them. But I met 7000 [Mongols) with all my army. [The Mongols] aroused panic and [my] army lost heart. [The Mongols] defeated the [Muslim] Left. Without Allah's grace, they would have defeated us. If I met them, and they were equal to the [Muslims in size], or larger than they, then [the matter] would not have turned out well.

There is nothing in this story that rings false; Ibn 'Abd al-Rahim. was in a position to record this incident. Even if it is apocryphal, it may well reflect the Mamluk perception of their strength vis-a-vis the Mongols. One thing is certain: a relatively small Mongol force (although apparently more than the number given here) had given the Mamluk army, which included a large corps of experienced Zahiri royal mamluks, a tough battle before they were defeated. This last fact, more than anything else, should call into question the idea that on a man-to-man basis the Mamluk army was inherently vastly superior to its Mongol counterpart.

I am in general agreement with Professor Smith's discussion of Mongol and Mamluk tactics, although this can be perhaps refined by specific information in the Mamluk sources. I must admit, however, that a number of questions present themselves for which clear-cut answers -have yet to be found. It is true that Marco Polo describes how the horses of the Mongols "are trained so perfectly that they will double hither and thither, just like a dog would do ." Yet it is difficult to imagine Mongol troops riding forth towards the Mamluks and letting loose a volley at a short distance (ca. 30 meters), then wheeling round and galloping back. All of this while the Mamluks, perched on their horses, were letting off shot after shot. It is also unclear what happens next. Did the Mongols then ride past the side of the next unit coming up to launch an attack? Or did the new unit open up and let the previous force pass through it? It is clear that the succeeding unit could not launch its attack until the preceding one was well out of the way. Finally, the idea that the Mongol troopers would then go to replace their mounts is hard to picture. In the tumult of the battle, they would have to search out their mounts (were they with grooms, other soldiers?), certainly a far from simple task given the general confusion that accompanies any battle.

As will be seen, there is some evidence that the Mongols did attack in waves, but it would seem this was not executed as easily as has been suggested. In addition, it appears that this was not the only tactic adopted by the Mongols. A fourteenth-century Mamluk military manual describes the Mongol attack thus:

The Mongols [al-mughul] from among the Turks customarily form one squadron [kurdus], in order to push one another against the enemy [li-yatadafa'a 'ala al-'uduw], [in order] to prevent all of them from retreating and withdrawing.

This passage is problematic. There is sufficient evidence that the Mongols actually did divide their armies into separate squadrons (atlab or karadis) in battle, as in the first and second battles of Homs as well as at Abulustayn (see below). But it is possible that on occasion at least, the Mongols adopted the tactic of a concerted, mass attack straight into the enemy formation (surely shooting as they went), eschewing the tactic of wave-after-wave of hit-and- run archery.

It has been suggested that the Mongols let off only one volley as they approached the Mamluk enemy, perhaps as close as 30 meters. Yet even the heavier type of Mongol arrow was effective to some degree at a longer distance, possibly to 150 yards. In addition, as both The Secret History and Marco Polo report, the Mongols had lighter arrows. which could be used for shooting either longer distances or over the heads of forward ranks . In the light of Plano Carpini's statement that when the Mongols attack, each one shoots "three or four arrows at their adversaries," it is possible to suggest that they let loose a volley or even volleys of these light arrows at a trajectory while still some distance away. As they were shooting at a large body, these volleys would appear to have had some effect. They would certainly be disconcerting to those under attack, making it difficult for them to return fire. In any case, the Mongol attackers would still have time to prepare for another volley, using heavier arrows at close quarters.

Archery was certainly critical for the Mongols but not sufficient for them to win. As R.C. Smail wrote of the Turks (apparently referring to both Mamluks and Turkmen): "The mobility and archery of the Turks alone were usually insufficient to give them victory. By such means they weakened the enemy, but his final defeat on the battlefield could be achieved only by the fight at close quarter with lance, sword, and club." This applies mutatis mutandis to the Mongols. At some point, the Mongols would have had to throw themselves on the Mamluks armed with axes, maces and - as has been seen - swords.

The Mamluks, of course, did more than wait on their horses for the Mongols to attack, responding only by shooting from their bows. The intensive practice which the Mamluks underwent in the hippodrome in shooting while at full gallop indicates that they were trained to launch a frontal attack at the right time, letting off arrows (whether or not in concert is another question) at their enemy. Then, relying on their heavier horses, armor and weapons, they would bear down on the enemy line, hoping to drive them back.

Thus it was in theory. What were the actual tactics and fighting methods used by the armies in the four pitched battles on an open field examined in this study: 'Ayn Jalut (658/1260), the first battle of Homs (659/1260), Abulustayn (675/1277) and the second battle of Homs (680/1281) [The battle at the Euphrates in 671/1272 is not included, because of its unusual nature (the Mongols taking a position behind a palisade; the Mamluks attacking after fording the river).] Unfortunately, as has been seen, the sources are usually less than explicit about the actual fighting methods employed in the battles. We find such expressions describing Mamluk attacks: "[Qutuz] himself and those with him launched a brave assault (hamla sadiqa)"; "they launched against them a concerted attack (hamalu 'alayhim hamlat rajul wahid)"; "the [Mamluk] armies in their entirety attacked together ( ... fa-hamalat al- 'asakir bi-rummatiha hamlat rajul wahid) ." For that matter, there is little mention of the use of bows and arrows by both sides, apparently because it was obvious to all authors that this was the way these armies fought.

Information of a more exact nature, however, does exist: at the second battle of Homs and possibly at 'Ayn Jalut, it is recorded that the Mamluks launched a series of attacks until the Mongols were defeated. It is also important to note that in three of the four battles the Mongols opened up the fighting by attacking first. The exception was the first battle of Homs, which in any case was actually won by a Syrian Ayyubid army, albeit probably composed to a large degree of Ayyubid mamluks.

Taking the above into consideration along with Professor Smith's research, the following general remarks on Mamluk tactics against the Mongols can be made: the Mamluks absorbed the initial Mongol attack, probably maintaining a steady fire of arrows as they approached . If the Mamluks held their position and repulsed the Mongols, they would then go over to the offensive, launching a concerted, all-out attack, the front rank (at least) shooting as they rode until they reached the enemy lines, where they would then bring into play maces, axes, swords and perhaps lances. On occasion, it seems, the Mamluks employed repeated attacks, perhaps hit-and-run archery barrages (reminiscent of the Mongol tactics) in order to soften up the enemy.

As for the Mongols, we have two pieces of information that might confirm Professor Smith's suggestion for standard battle procedure: first, at the first battle of Homs, the Mongols were organized in eight squadrons (atlab), one after another, as if they were ready to launch a series of successive attacks . Second, during the second battle of Homs - according to Baybars al-Mansuri - when the Mongol Left attacked the Mamluk Right, "[The Mongols] were organized as squadrons (atlaban) in [the attack] and followed one another as groups (taradafu ahzaban)." Although this is not unequivocal (there is no mention of a rapid succession of squadrons letting off volleys of arrows and wheeling off to the rear), there is nothing that contradicts Professor Smith's thesis and this evidence could be seen to complement it.

At the battle of Abulustayn, however, things were different. There, the Mongols launched a frontal attack against the Mamluks, penetrating the enemy lines. This may be an instance of the Mongol tactic of the concerted attack, described in the above-cited Mamluk military manual, although the Mongols were not organized here as one squadron, but at least initially were arranged as separate tactical units. As for 'Ayn Jalut, we have no clear information beyond that the Mongols attacked first; for what it is worth, al-Maqrizi tells us that the two sides "slammed into each other (idtarabat)."

Taken altogether, I would offer the following model for Mongol behavior on the battlefield. The Mongols sought to attack first. As the forward squadrons drew close, they let off as many arrows as possible. The Mongols were prepared to launch successive waves of archers, but if they caught the Mamluks in a state of relative disorganization, as at Abulustayn, then they plunged straight into the Mamluk lines.

At both Abulustayn and the second battle of Homs, the Mongols dismounted when the battle began to go against them. This tactic was not an innovation from the war with the Mamluks: the Mongols had dismounted in their battles with the Khwrazm-shah Jalal al-Din. The Mongols may have dismounted because their horses were exhausted, although it is more likely that this was a more effective defensive maneuver: the Mongol troops could let off more accurately aimed arrows when standing than on horseback. In the case of Abulustayn at least, the Mongols realized that the battle was lost, and in effect declared their willingness to fight to the end by dismounting. [At the battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar (699/1299), the Mongol army was caught unprepared by the Mamluk attack, and a part received the Mamluk assault dismounted, taking cover behind their horses.] There are no examples of the Mamluks dismounting during battle. At their one defeat at Wadi al-Khaznadar in 699/1299, the Mamluks, rather than fight to the death, for all their "professionalism" fled the battlefield in complete disarray.

In the above discussion it has been suggested that in the long run, the Ilkhanid army may have been influenced by its control of a large, rich and settled country such as Iran, primarily in the size of the horses and the quality and type of weapons (and perhaps armor). It is difficult, however, to determine the rate and extent of this change, and how much of it occurred as a result of deliberate policy on the part of the Ilkhans and the senior officers. In a recent article, Professor A.P. Martinez has suggested a thought-provoking thesis that, in fact, the Ilkhans themselves initiated a transition from light cavalry to heavy cavalry, and that this transformation began quite early on and reached its height in the reign of Ghazan. This innovation in the military sphere was connected to the terrain over which the Mongols now had to fight and the nature of their main enemies, the Mamluks, as well as to the changes in the Mongol society of the Ilkhanid state. These are major subjects which transcend the limitations of the present study. In the following discussion, therefore, I will concentrate on examining the evidence of a possible transition having occurred from light to heavier cavalry in the Ilkhanid army within the period covered by this work (1260-81).

I must say from the outset that within this narrow framework I am not in full agreement with Professor Martinez's conclusions. One shortcoming of his study is the lack of a discussion of the battle of 'Ayn Jalut. Taking this battle into consideration, we can see that the following statement cannot be made:

The battle of Elbistan [i.e., Abulustayn in 675/1277 - R.A.] is significant because it marks a further stage in the development of tactical weight by the Il-Xanid army. During it, for the first time, Il-Xanid Mongol forces charged the Mamluk calvary [sic] and dismounted to receive their attack and to subject the onrushing enemy cavalry to an intensive barrage of projectile fire. However, that the Mongols had not yet achieved sufficient weight is evident from the thoroughness of their defeat...

It has been clearly shown that the Mongols attacked first at 'Ayn Jalut, so this cannot be taken as an indication of any development within the Ilkhanid army. If anything, there are clear indications that this was standard Mongol practice. In addition, it has also been seen above that dismounting was a tactic used by the Mongols as early as their conflict with the Khwarazam-shah Jalal al-Din, so this too cannot be taken as evidence for a change of tactics and equipment. Finally, the "thoroughness of their defeat" was probably due to the fact that the relatively small Mongol force was facing almost the entire Mamluk army. Several reservations were raised in chapter 8 regarding Professor Martinez's reconstruction and analysis of the second battle of Homs. There too, it was shown that there is little basis for the claim that the Ilkhanid army was in the midst of a deliberate reorganization on a massive scale.

Professor Martinez discusses one other battle which falls within the timespan of my study, although it is outside its purview: the battle of Herat between Abagha and Baraq in 668/1270 (not 1269 as Martinez writes). I will limit myself to several brief comments on his discussion. First, Martinez mainly bases his reconstruction on Sayf-i Harawi's Ta'rikh-nama-i harat and to a lesser extent on Wassaf's history. A look at Rashid al-Din as well as the Mamluk sources might lead to a different reconstruction." Second, the battle was fought well to the south of Herat, on an open plain, and not "outside the town of Herat," with the associated implications which Martinez makes. Thirdly, although the Mongol elite guard, the bahadurs, may well have carried spears or lances of some type, as Wassaf suggests, there is no indication that this is something new. It is possible that the Mongol imperial guard - either of the Qa'an or the various khans - had long carried lances; [Plano Carpini, writing in the 1240s, reports that some of the Mongol troops had "lances which have a hook in the iron neck, and with this, if they can, they wll drag a man from his saddle."] it certainly seems that these troops had more sophisticated arms or armor than the average Mongol. The presence of such troops at the battle of Herat cannot be seen as a tactical shift of the whole Mongol army. Fourthly, here - as at the second battle of Homs - Martinez may be overestimating the importance of the Georgian contingent at Herat. We have no idea what was the size of this unit, and what exact role it played. [The evidence of the Georgian Chronicle edited by Brosset cannot be taken too seriously, as this source tends to exaggerate the importance of the Georgian contribution to the Mongol war effort.] In this connection, it is worth citing the words of Dr. Bedrosian:

Because the Mongols considered their subject people expendable, they usually designated them as advance attackers. This was not, as the History of K'art'li and Grigor Aknerc'i would have us believe, because the Armeno- Georgian troops were such excellent warriors, but first precisely because the Caucasians were expendable and second, because desertion was impossible with foreign troops fighting in front or in detachments surrounded by Mongols.

The logistical limitations of Syria

Recent research has suggested that the Mongol failure to capture and hold Syria was not only a result of military losses at the hands of the Mamluks. Rather, it was also directly related to logistical problems encountered by the Mongols in Syria, namely the country did not have the capacity to feed a large Mongol army. This had a twofold affect on the Mongols. First, the Mongols were unable to bring with them all the troops that they would have liked, so as to increase the chances of defeating the Mamluks. Second, when they did succeed in conquering the country, the Mongols were unable to leave a large enough force to maintain their conquest.

The two proponents of this approach reached their conclusions independently and via different methods. Dr. Morgan found several references in historical sources which gave evidence of difficulties the Mongols encountered in Syria trying to feed their troops and especially their horses. Professor Smith tackled the problem from a different angle. He first calculated the logistical needs of Mongol armies, and then applied the result to Syria.

It is worth going over Professor Smith's calculations. His starting point was that each Mongol trooper set out on campaign with five horses. This figure seems justified on the basis of the evidence that Smith adduces and other information. An army of, say, 60,000 Mongols would thus mean about 300,000 horses. Each horse needed some 9.33 lb (dry weight) of grass per day, so 300,000 horses required about 2.8 million lb (dry weight) of grass per day. Professor Smith does not have figures for Syrian pastures, but good Inner Asian pastures provide 534 lb of grass per acre per year, although actual figures depend on season and climate. Thus, 300,000 horses would need 5243 acres or about 8 square miles of grazing land each day. This is during the optimal growing season. In reality, the Mongols would probably have required more land to feed their horses. [Smith remarks that 50,000 horses would require 250 tons of hay and barley per day. Smith's figures are based on a number of technical works on horses and pasture economy.]

A second problem was water. A small horse or pony needs 5 (U.S.) gallons of water per day, so an army of 60,000 needs 1.5 million gallons of water a day. Some of this would be provided by the grass the horses consumed (up to half at the peak growing season), but in the summer this would be a problem. Likewise, the flow of water in the rivers of Syria would be sharply reduced in the summer: the Quwayq near Aleppo falls from an average of 167 million gallons in the winter to 1.8 million gallons per day, while the Orontes ('Asi) falls from 89 million to 7.1 million.

It must be mentioned that these calculations are directly connected to Professor Smith's thesis which was discussed in the previous section. If the "amateur" Mongols were inferior soldiers to the "professional" Mamluks, then the only way that the latter could be defeated was by bringing a much larger army in to Syria. The Mamluks would thus be crushed by numbers, if not by skill and equipment. However, the problems of feeding and watering such an enormous army and its horses were so great that the Mongols were unable to concentrate enough troops to gain numerical superiority over the Mamluks at a given battle, and thus were condemned to defeat. If the Mongols did manage to defeat the Mamluks, as at Wadi al-Khaznadar (699/1299), then they soon had to withdraw most of their army from Syria due to the lack of adequate pastureland.

These calculations, especially when complemented by Dr. Morgan's study, are compelling. I would suggest, however, that the picture has perhaps been overdrawn, and the logistical situation as faced by the Mongols was not as bad as Professor Smith and Dr. Morgan have suggested; thus the logistical factor was not the dominant reason for the Mongol failure decisively to defeat the Mamluks.

Let us start with the question of the total number of horses that the Mongols brought with them on campaign. The figure of five horses per Mongol trooper mentioned by Professor Smith seems to be correct, although in note 69 there is an indication that the Mongols on occasion may have been satisfied with less. In addition, not all soldiers in the Mongol army, however, were Mongols (or nomadic Turks). For example, in 680/1281, Mengu Temilr's army contained a number of Armenians, Georgian and other auxiliary cavalryman; it can be assumed that these troops had with them only one horse (albeit bigger than the Mongol horse) per man. Some of the non-Mongols may have been infantrymen. All together these "allies" may have been more than a third of the Mongol army. [the actual number of Armenian and Georgian troops given in the pro-Mongol sources was not very large.] Thus, there may have been somewhat less horses all told for Mengu Temur's army than initially thought.

This, however, is only a minor reservation. More importantly, the Mongols did not have to rely only on pasturelands for feeding their horses when they invaded Syria. First and foremost, they gained possession of the various stores of grains and other foodstuffs when they marched into the country. For example, in 680/1281, it is related that when the garrison and inhabitants fled Aleppo, "they abandoned crops, granaries and foodstuffs." These supplies could then be used by the Mongol invaders had they chosen to do so. In addition, there is no reason why the Mongols would have limited themselves to grazing their horses on pasturelands. While on campaign, and perhaps afterwards, they would certainly have had little compunction against pasturing their horses in agricultural fields, areas traditionally off-limits to nomads. The Mamluk practice of burning grasslands would not have adversely affected the Mongols here, because this organized incitement - when it happened - was limited to the frontier region and the Mongol side of the border. There is no indication that the agricultural areas of northern and central Syria were ever intentionally or otherwise set ablaze.

The Mongols would also have had few scruples in grazing their horses on the pasturelands of Syria's indigenous nomads, be they bedouin or Turkmen. Professor Smith himself has shown that in modem Syria (ca. 1950), these lands had the capacity to support 80,000 nomads (= troops) with herds. These pasturelands should have been able to contribute greatly to the maintenance of the Mongol horses in the months of the Mongol campaign. In the long run, had the Mongols been successful in occupying Syria, they could have taken possession of at least the better pasturelands of these nomads. This, it can be mentioned in passing, may help explain why the Syrian Turkmen and bedouin were so willing to join the Mamluks against the invaders. In addition, in none of their campaigns into Syria, including the successful one of 699/1299-1300, did the Mongols fully exploit the "logistical capacity" of all of greater Syria. Even discarding the marginal areas unsuitable for pastoral nomadism of the Turco-Mongolian type, there would have been large areas - both agricultural areas and pastureland of indigenous nomads - suitable for grazing their horses in the pasture areas in the regions today contained in Israel, Lebanon and Jordan. This argument has already been made with regard to 658/1260. Although the campaign of 699/1299-1300 is beyond our concern here, it is worth dwelling on it to demonstrate this point. The Mongols, except for a large raiding party sent through Palestine, did not exploit the grazing areas of Lebanon, the Syrian coast, the Plain of Jezreel and the Jordan valley. [Rashid al-Din writes that Ghazan withdrew because of the approaching war season, an indication that Ghazan was indeed concerned with logistical problems. But Het'um writes that the Mongol ruler left because of an offensive of (Chaghatayid) Mongols on his eastern border.]

The lack of water does not seem to have been an insurmountable strategic problem for the Mongols. They usually arrived in Syria during the winter, that is, the rainy season, when the riverbeds were full and the grass contained a high percentage of water. The campaign of 680/1281 was an exception, as it was fought in the mid-fall. However, the proximity of the battlefield to the Orontes would certainly have alleviated this problem to a great degree.

There are two additional arguments against the logistical thesis. First, during this period, a large number of Turkmens settled in Syria with their families and herds, particularly in the north of the country. This shows that the nomadic pastoralism of the Turco-Mongolian tribes could be practiced to some degree in at least part of the country. The problem was first gaining permanent possession of Syria.

Second, if the Mongols were unable to surmount the difficulties of feeding their horses, and were thus limited in the size of the army they could bring and the time they could remain with a large force in Syria, why did they keep coming back? After the debacle of 'Ayn Jalut, the Mongols made four concerted efforts to invade the country (AD 1281, 1299, 1300-1, 1302). Given the awareness of logistical problems that Professor Smith credits to the Mongols, this behavior is inexplicable. Since, according to this view, logistical considerations prevented the dispatch of a large enough army to deal with the Mamluks, the Mongols were essentially dooming themselves to defeat time after time. This is difficult to accept. The Mongols invaded Syria with the reasonable hope of conquering it. We must thus conclude that either the Mongols were not as logistically conscious as suggested and/or their logistical problems were not as overwhelming as have been proposed. In light of the above discussion, it would seem that at least the latter statement is correct.

This does not mean that logistical considerations among the Mongols were non-existent. Certainly, the Mongols refrained from setting out on a campaign in the summer, most likely from such considerations. Usually, the pro- Mongol sources euphemistically speak only of the hot weather, although it would seem that the problem was not merely one of discomfort, but also of dearth of pasture and water. One indication of the interaction between hot, summer weather and the welfare of Mongol horses is seen in the following: Ibn Bibi reports that Abagha, having come to Ram at the head of an army after the battle of Abulustayn, did not invade Syria because it was summer. Ibn Shaddad, describing these same events, reports that the reason behind Abagha's decision not to invade was that most of his horses had perished. There may be some exaggeration here, but it is clear that the Mongol horses were in a sorry state, perhaps from the forced march in the summer, with all the attendant difficulties of procuring adequate food and water for the horses.

Taken as a whole, the Mongols were not significantly inferior soldiers to their Mamluk enemies, in spite of certain differences in arms, horses and tactics. Logistical problems did not prevent the Mongols from invading Syria with large forces, nor do they fully explain the withdrawal of most of the Mongol forces in the two instances when the Mongols did succeed in occupying the country. The reasons behind Mamluk success and Mongol failure must be sought elsewhere.

The dynamics of the Mamluk-Ilkhanid war

The Ilkhanids of Persia were primarily responsible for the ongoing war with the Mamluks. It was the Mongols who launched most of the offensives and raids. Their aggressive attitude toward the Mamluks and their aspiration to conquer Syria are further seen in their repeated attempts to persuade the Western Christian powers to launch a concerted effort against their common enemy, along with the belligerent tone found in the many letters to the Mamluk sultans. Another indication of the long-term intentions of the Mongols towards Syria is the repeated attempts made to take the border fortress of al-Bira. These efforts can be seen as an attempt to establish a bridgehead in Mamluk territory and to eradicate a possible obstacle to a future invasion. If the Mongols were interested merely in raiding, then they would not have taken such trouble to conquer this fortress.

The above generalization should be qualified. For all the importance attributed by the Mongols to the conquest of Syria and the defeat of the Mamluks, it must be remembered that this was only one of the many foreign policy concerns of the Ilkhans. Throughout the period under consideration in this study, and afterwards, the Ilkhanid Mongols often fought with other Mongol groups. These wars were usually more crucial for the future of the Ilkhanid kingdom than the war with the Mamluks.

The Mamluks were not without responsibility for the continuing hostilities. Baybars sent his share of raiders across the border, and engaged in all kinds of surreptitious activity in the Ilkhanid kingdom. Rather than waiting passively for Mongol attacks, Baybars brought the war into the territories of the enemy camp and its allies. These activities destabilized the enemy to a certain degree and weakened his ability to launch attacks. At the same time, the Mamluk soldiery gained experience and morale was improved. There is no doubt that Baybars would have liked to have seen the Mongols pushed out of Iraq and even further back, out of the Islamic lands altogether. Yet for all his bluster and jihadi rhetoric, Baybars did virtually nothing to realize these abstract goals, if we discount the rather symbolic and not very effective efforts from his early reign, and the large-scale raid into Rum before his death. Baybars, ever the political realist, surely understood that liberating Iraq from the Mongols was beyond his capabilities.

The dynamic of the conflict can be summed up as follows: the Mongols under the rule of Hulegu and his descendants wanted to occupy Syria. The Mamluks, under Qutuz, Baybars and Qalawun, refused to oblige. Thus, the Mongols tried various means to oust the Mamluks, who continued to resist and succeeded in keeping the Mongols at bay.

In light of the above, it would be reasonable to ask what drove the Mongols to fight the Mamluks over Syria. One suggestion was that the Mongols were looking for an outlet to the sea (presumably, in order to encourage and profit from trade). The "indirect" route via Asia Minor and Lesser Armenia was not sufficient. This explanation can be rejected as a major reason for Mongol aggression. If anything, Ayas and Antioch were the most logical outlets for goods coming out of the Jazira, north-west Iran and perhaps even Baghdad. The origin of Mongol enmity towards the Mamluks must be sought elsewhere.

The original impetus for the Mongol expansion into southwest Asia was Mongol imperial designs, that is, to widen the territory under Mongol control. mixture of traditional nomadic desires to expand and gain control over settled areas along with the Mongol belief that they had a right to conquer the world and place it under the aegis of Chinggis Khan and his descendants. I am suggesting that to a great degree these same imperial ideals continued to propel the Mongols to attempt to take Syria from 1260 onward. There can be no doubt that these ideals had taken a beating since the highwater mark of Hulegu's conquest in 1260: a Mongol army had been defeated at 'Ayn Jalut; the Mongols were worsted in the border war; and, Mongol unity had been shattered in the civil wars after Mongke's death and the Ilkhanid-Golden Horde war. In addition, the tone of the letters to the Western Christian rulers became increasingly conciliatory; in order to woo the Franks, Mongol claims to world domination had to be eschewed, at least publicly.

Yet, there are clear indications that to some degree the Mongol imperial ideal still remained the official ideology of the Ilkhanid state. Thus, we find in the oral message from Abagha delivered to Baybars (before the written letter was handed over) in 667/1269, the following unequivocal statement:

When the King Abagha set out from the East, he conquered all the world. Whoever opposed him was killed. If you go up to the sky or down into the ground, you will not be saved from us. The best policy is that you will make peace between us. You are a mamluk who was bought in Siwas. How do you rebel against the kings of the earth?

A second example is from 675/1277, when - according to Rashid al-Din after the battle of Abulustayn, Abagha wrote to Baybars, and inter alia declared that God had given the earth- to Chinggis Khan and his descendants. An additional indication of the continued belief in imperial mission is seen in numismatic evidence. We find on Abagha's coins such titles as: "lord of the world (padishah-i 'alam)" and "ruler of the necks of the nations (malik riqab al-umam)."

The presence of such expressions on such official documents as royal letters and coins leads to the conclusion that the Ilkhan at least maintained some belief in the traditional heaven-inspired manifest destiny of the Mongols. Whether this belief continued to percolate down the Mongol ranks is unclear, although I would hazard a guess that it did, at least among the higher echelons. And it was the Mongol elite, together with the Ilkhan that made the decisions.

The objection can be raised, that if the Mongols of Persia, or at least their ruler, continued to believe in the Mongol imperial ideal, why did they only aim their expansion efforts against Syria and the Mamluks? The Ilkhans could not very well head for the the northeast (Transoxania) or north (the Caucasus), since the Chaghatayid Mongols and Gorden Horde were already there. The Ilkhans had enough trouble holding off invaders from these directions without going off on an offensive (notwithstanding the occasional probe against these adversaries). The Neguderi Mongols in Afghanistan, unwilling to accept Ilkhanid authority, made expansion to the east difficult after AD 1262. In addition, India was seemingly unsuited climatically and geographically for Mongol-style nomadism. [I am not claiming that this ecological difficulty was the main cause for the lack of Ilkhanid initiative in the direction of India, but suggest it in addition to the one previously given.] The indigenous rulers of southern Persia and much of Afghanistan had submitted to the Mongols, so there was no reason to march against them. Perhaps, also for climatic reasons, the Mongols were not attracted to southern Persia, although recent research shows that some Mongol settlement might have occurred in this region. In Asia Minor, the Seljuqs and the Armenians of Cilicia had submitted and their realms were satellite countries. It is true that the Byzantine Emperor had not submitted, yet a modus vivendi had been worked out with Michael Palaeologus. Perhaps Hulegu and Abagha had not wanted to put too much pressure on Michael, out of fear of pushing him firmly into the Mamluk-Golden Horde camp. Thus, the only direction the Ilkhans could go was west into Syria.

Yet the continual Mongol designs on Syria were not merely because there was nowhere else to go. Only in that direction did someone have the temerity not only to reject the Mongol call for submission, but to resist and even to succeed, and to keep on doing so. In 1260, the Mamluks had killed the Mongol envoys and had defeated the Mongol armies at 'Ayn Jalut and Homs. This in itself was cause enough for revenge. To add insult to injury, the Mamluks thwarted all Mongol attempts to breach the border, and continued to launch raids across it with impunity, virtually entering at will Lesser Armenia, always loyal to the Mongols. Without a doubt, the desire to revenge defeats and punish provocations was an additional reason behind Ilkhanid policy towards Syria. This was not just a question of revenge for specific defeats or raids. The continued existence of a strong Mamluk state in Egypt and Syria was an affront in Mongol eyes and a challenge to the whole Mongol imperial raison d'etre. The Mamluks refused them any legitimacy, and called on them to withdraw from the Islamic countries. It is perhaps not too extreme to suggest that another motivation of the Ilkhans in their war against the Mamluks was to punish and destroy those who were audacious enough to question the Mongol imperial dream.

Old ideals of imperial glory were probably hard to discard. The desire for Mongol expansion carried on through inertia, even if in reality it was no longer viable. Vestigial expansionist ideology combined with the desire for revenge felt against the Mamluks after 'Ayn Jalut. The embers of Mongol imperial dreams were kept alive by the raids and occasional offensives into Syria.

Other reasons beyond the continual Ilkhanid antipathy towards the Mamluks and the desire to conquer Syria present themselves. First, there might have been the Ilkhanid dread of a joint Mamluk-Golden Horde attack. In order to defuse this potential danger, the Ilkhans would have attempted to disrupt the border region, and weaken the Mamluks by taking Syria, and if possible destroy them. Secondly, the sultans were the leaders of the Muslim world, who had resurrected the 'Abbasid Caliphate. The Mongol leaders may have feared the impact of a strong Muslim state, outside their control and offering resistance, on their own subject population, the vast majority of which was Muslim. A third reason may have been the fact that Syria was included in the territories originally granted to Hulegu by Mongke, or so at least the pro-Ilkhanid sources claim. The Ilkhanids thus thought they had a right to the country, and they tried to realize this right. Finally, the raids and campaigns, if nothing else, kept the tribesmen busy, and indulged their desire for adventure and booty. Of the latter, the Mongols must have been particularly interested in horses and other forms of livestock.

Neither these explanations nor the ones already mentioned contradict each other, and it is possible that Ilkhanid designs on Syria and the Mamluks may have been inspired by several reasons. One matter is clear: the Ilkhans kept their sights on Syria and hoped to defeat the Mamluks. Thus they sought to keep up pressure on the border and from time to time the Ilkhans launched offensives when they thought the conditions were right. It was to take the Mongols some sixty years after 'Ayn Jalut to realize that they could not defeat the Mamluks and officially to renounce the ideal of Mongol manifest destiny.

Why did the Mongols fail to realize their designs towards Syria and the Mamluks? It was not because they were vastly inferior soldiers, nor because Syria could not feed their horses. Rather, the root of their failure is to be sought elsewhere. I would propose the following reasons: (1) the building-up of the Mamluk military machine; (2) Baybars's dynamic leadership; (3) the morale of the Mamluks and the importance they attributed to the war; (4) the Ilkhanid war with the Golden Horde and other Mongols; (5) the failure to reach an understanding with the West.

The first two reasons are obviously connected. Under Baybars's rule, the army - like that of the Mongols, based on mounted archers of steppe origin was expanded and rigorously trained; fortifications were put in order; the bedouins firmly brought into line; an effective espionage system was established; administration was organized; Syria was integrated into the kingdom; rapid communications were established throughout the state; the Caliphate was reestablished in Cairo, providing him with legitimation; and, relations were opened up with Hulegu's enemy, Berke. The army reacted swiftly to the slightest rumor of a Mongol offensive, and Baybars himself either led the troops or was right behind them. The continuing war also strengthened his rule, because in the face of the Mongol danger Baybars would brook no disloyalty. In general, his policies were continued by Qalawun, although, in the part of his reign covered by this study, Qalawun's leadership was not as yet fully felt, at least as regards the war with the Mongols. As has been seen, the battle of Homs (680/1281) was won more by the army that Baybars had built up than by the generalship of Qalawun.

The Mamluks also had the advantage of morale over their enemy. They were fighting (usually) on home territory, for their religion, their kingdom, and their lives. They were also defending their status as a ruling caste. To their mind, they had no choice but to win. The sultans did their best to inculcate these feelings in their followers. The Mongols may have been fighting for an abstract imperial ideal, for personal honor, and for booty, but they could not compete with the Mamluks for motivation.

The contrast in importance attributed by each side to the struggle is seen in the different treatment of the border war and other aspects of the conflict in the respective sources. The Mamluk sources are full of references to this war, because for them it was a matter of life and death, while the pro-Mongol sources, especially the semi-official Persian works, are usually laconic to an extreme when it comes to reporting the struggle with the Mamluk enemy, and their silence is only broken on the occasion of a major confrontation. It has been suggested that this terseness may be due in part to the fact that for the Mongols the war with the Mamluks was only one of many conflicts with external enemies, and not necessarily always the most pressing one.

All of Baybars's efforts might have been useless without the wars the Ilkhans had to wage against their various Mongol neighbors, especially the Golden Horde. Without these distractions, it is quite possible that the Persian Mongols would not have waited twenty-odd years to return in force to Syria, thereby permitting the Mamluks to build up their army. Certainly, this is what the authors of some Mamluk and Mongol sources thought might well have happened if Hulegu's attention had not been turned elsewhere. Additional confirmation is provided by Abagha himself: in his 667/1268 letter to Baybars, it was stated that the reason that (his) Mongols had not attacked Syria was that the Mongols had disagreed amongst themselves. [A similar claim was made by Abagha I his letter to the Council of Lyon in 1274; Berke is reported to have remarked that his war with Hulegu led to the cessation of Mongol conquests.]

The Ilkhans sought to compensate themselves for their preoccupation with the Golden Horde and other Mongols by opening up a second front of their own. They initiated communications with the Pope and other Western rulers. That these exchanges came to naught was not out of a lack of interest on the part of Hulegu and Abagha: the vast distance between the Ilkhans and the West militated against the negotiations coming to fruition. And yet at the one time when real cooperation was possible, in 1271, Abagha failed to exploit the opportunity to the full. In a sense, this failure helped to lay the stage for the Mongol defeat at Homs a decade later.

Nomads on Ponies vs. Slaves on Horses

John Masson Smith, Jr

The Mongols conquered Inner Asia, China, Russia, and much of the Middle East, creating the largest empire of all time. But they failed to take Syria, despite efforts continuing for over half a century. They could not overcome the resistance of the Mamluks, slave-soldiers who dominated the government and army of Egypt. In Mongols and Mamluks: The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War, 1260-1281, a work of meticulous and masterful scholarship, Dr. Reuven Amitai-Preiss studies the first part of this long war in detail, and attributes the Mamluks' success to their morale and determination, the leadership of Baybars (the Mamluk ruler, 1260-77), the failure of Mongol-Crusader cooperation, enlargement of the Mamluk army, and the distraction of the Mongols by internecine wars. The reviewer, reasserting views questioned by Dr. Amitai-Preiss, opines that while these factors - except perhaps that involving the Crusaders - were essential, they were not sufficient. Although the Mamluks won all the battles during the period under study, 1260-81, they subsequently, in 1299, lost a major engagement and, in Dr. Amitai-Preiss' description, "fled the battlefield in complete disarray." Despite this victory, the Mongols had then to evacuate Syria, not because of Mamluk or other pressures, but because Syria lacked pasture and water sufficient to the strategic and logistical needs of the big, high-horsepower army essential to Mongol conquest.

In 1256, a large reinforcement increased the Mongol presence in the Middle East to 150,000 troops, at least, accompanied by women and children (perhaps another 600,000) and herds (at least 15 million animals) - a population about equal to that of Chinggis Khan's homeland. (Simultaneously, an even larger Mongol force attacked southern China; such were the military resources of the Mongol Empire.) Thereupon, the Mongols destroyed the strongholds and state of the Assassins, who had defied or imperiled all previous Middle Eastern powers since the eleventh century. Next, the Mongols seized Baghdad, killed the caliph and essentially terminated the caliphate, the sometime and still theoretically ruling institution of the Muslim world. Then, in 1259, the Mongols sent an army of (nominally) 60,000 cavalry - over one-third of their Middle Eastern strength - against Syria. Aleppo was taken by force; the other cities, Homs, Hama, and Damascus, surrendered; and the various rulers and armies of Syria fled, joined, or were taken by the Mongols. Mongol units moved into Palestine and as far as the frontier of Egypt. So far, ordinary episodes in the extraordinary record of Mongol warfare.

But then, in the spring of 1260, most of the Mongols withdrew from Syria, leaving an occupying force of one tumen (a unit nominally of 10,000 men). That summer, the Egyptian Mamluk army engaged this unit at Ayn Jalut in Palestine and, fighting on advantageous terms, as the Mamluks saw it (more on this later), defeated and drove them from the Levant. The victory, while immensely heartening for the Muslims, was by no means conclusive. The defeated Mongol commander, 'Ketbugha, stated the position to his Mamluk captors - according to the Mongols' Persian historian, Rashid al-Din - as follows (in my paraphrase): "You've got me, but there are 300,000 more like me." For the next six decades the Mamluks had to prepare and maintain a defense against the possibility - and on one occasion the actuality - of another gargantuan invasion.

Dr. Amitai-Preiss' fine study helps us understand the Mamluks' unlikely success in this daunting project, and in doing so, fills a significant gap in the scholarship on the Middle East of the thirteenth century. General histories of the Mamluks, Crusades, and Middle Eastern Mongols have not given close consideration to the wars of the Mongols and Mamluks, yet these determined the outcomes of Mamluk and Crusader history, and provide unique insight into Mongol society. Mongols and Mamluks also enlarges and improves on previous specialized discussions of the subject,(1) providing not only a detailed presentation of information from the sources, and reconstruction of a coherent story from their varied accounts, but analyses of the source materials to amplify his reconstruction. As the author puts it, this is "narrative history interspersed with chapters of a monographic nature."

An introduction discusses the scholarship and sources, two chapters then treat Mongol expansion and the rise of the Mamluks to power in Egypt, the Mongols' invasion of Syria, and their defeat by the Mamluks at Ayn Jalut. The third and fourth chapters describe the Mamluks' mobilization of internal and external resources: establishment of control over Syria, sponsorship of a renewed caliphate, enlistment of Beduin and Turkmen, enlargement and improvement of the Mamluk regular army, diplomatic and commercial engagement with the Mongol Golden Horde and Byzantium (the source and transit route, respectively, of slaves for the Mamluk army) - as well as the hostilities between the Mongols of the Middle East and the Golden Horde, and the attempts at cooperation between the Middle Eastern Mongols and the Crusaders. Narrative history resumes in the fifth chapter, on the border wars in Syria during 1262-77, and, after a special treatment of espionage in chapter 6, continues with Baybars' invasion of Mongol/Seljuq Anatolia (chapter 7), the death of Baybars and his "posthumous victory" at the 1281 battle of Homs (chapter 8), which is as far as Dr. Amitai-Preiss follows the story in this volume. The ninth chapter discusses frontier defense, commerce and other traffic in general terms, drawing on details from chapter 5. Finally, chapter 10 considers the military methods of the Mamluks and Mongols, logistics, and the "dynamics" of the war: the Mongols' dedication to world-conquest and the Mamluks' stubborn and ultimately successful resistance.

The old explanation of the Mamluks' success gave them far superior numbers: 120,000 against 10,000 Mongols in the battle at Ayn Jalut, for instance. But these long odds derived from mistranslation; the source claimed only 12,000 Mamluks. The Mongol army in the Middle East, with some 150,000 regulars and at least an equal number of auxiliaries from the Mongols' subject peoples (making up Ketbugha's 300,000), in fact greatly outnumbered the Mamluks. In Mongols and Mamluks, after a thorough and skillful exploitation of the Mamluk sources and an able if less exhaustive use of those favoring the Mongols, Dr. Amitai-Preiss attributes the effectiveness of Mamluk resistance to their morale and determination, the leadership of Baybars, the failure of Mongol-Crusader cooperation, enlargement of the Mamluk army, and the distraction of the Mongols by internecine wars.

The Mamluks' morale, their disciplined desperation, certainly helped them win at Ayn Jalut and in the other hard-fought struggles covered in Dr. Amitai-Preiss' book. From 1259, when Qutuz, the Mamluk ruler, expressed his defiance by executing Mongol envoys, the Mamluks knew that they had their backs to the wall, that they were fighting for their "home territory, for their [Muslim] religion, their kingdom and their lives." In the battles of 1260, 1277 and 1281, therefore, the Mamluks persevered as the Mongols defeated elements of their army in the initial fighting; they rejected the conventional expedient of rapid flight, and finally prevailed.

Baybars' leadership had many aspects. He gained power by murdering his commanding officer and sovereign, Qutuz, the hero of Ayn Jalut. He then improved his public image and provided the Mamluks with a mission by reestablishing the caliphate in the person of a fugitive Abbasid from Baghdad, and accepting from him the title "Associate of the Commander of the Faithful" and the duty of carrying on jihad against the infidel Mongols and Crusaders. This accomplished, Baybars sent the caliph, or let him go, to his death invading Mongol Iraq - with an army of only four hundred men! Both the caliph and Baybars may have thought that the Mongols had withdrawn from Iraq as they had previously from Syria (more on this below), but Baybars had political and military motives for murder: a caliph, and a brave and active one at that, might not make a comfortable colleague in government - Baybars kept his next caliph mostly out of the way. And even a pin-prick attack on Iraq could win time for Baybars to build up Mamluk defenses.

As general, Baybars led his army out of Egypt into Syria almost every year of his reign, ostensibly, sometimes actually, to defend it against a Mongol incursion; usually, however, to seize Crusader fortresses or lay waste to Cilician Armenia, ally of the Crusaders and Mongols. These campaigns forestalled cooperation between the Mongols and the Crusaders, a factor that seems of less importance than Dr. Amitai-Preiss attributes to it, considering that before the Mongols' overtures to the west finally brought a Mongol advance from Anatolia in (inconsequential) coordination with a Crusader landing at Acre in 1271, Baybars had already reduced the Crusaders to a toe-hold on the Levant coast. He had taken Caesarea, Haifa, and Arsuf (1264-65), Safad (1266), Jaffa and Beaufort (1268), and the major strongholds of the Crusading Orders, Chastel Blanc, Crac des Chevaliers, Gibelacar (1270); besides devastating Cilician Armenia (1266) and overwhelming the county of Antioch (1268). In his fifties and the last year of his life, 1277, Baybars even took the offensive against the Mongols, leading an invasion of Anatolia, destroying a Mongol army and occupying - briefly - the chief city of the Mongols' vassal Seljuq dynasty. The force he had recruited, trained, and exercised then went on to inflict on the Mongols the major defeat of 1281, with which Dr. Amitai-Preiss' story ends.

Baybars also created communications systems (a pony express, fire and smoke signals, and a pigeon-post), an espionage apparatus, and a program of fortification. This last involved demolishing strongholds and cities on the Levant coast to deny the Crusaders defensible places they might seize from the sea. In the zones adjacent to the Mongols, Cilician Armenia, Antioch, and even Aleppo, the Mamluks reduced populations by devastation or neglect, and urged or forced those remaining in northern Syria to flee whenever Mongols approached. (The Mamluks probably wanted no one, by inclination or compulsion, to provide invading Mongols with allies or "arrow-fodder.") Baybars also strengthened castles in the interior and built up two powerful fortresses, al-Bira and al-Rahba, on the Mongol frontier of Syria. These fortresses served as lookouts against Mongol attack, as bases for Mamluk or Mamluk-sponsored raids into Mongol territory, and as intelligence-gathering centers; they also attracted several Mongol sieges, which failed - probably for lack of "arrow-fodder," since the Mongols defended their side of the frontier by depopulation too. It should be noted that these fortresses could not block the Mongols, who simply bypassed them when invading Syria (more discussion below).

Baybars' military achievements were the work of a much improved Mamluk army, enhanced qualitatively by increased recruitment of slave-soldiers, who could be trained intensively to remarkable levels of skill at arms. Paradoxically, these slaves, mostly Qipchaq Turks from what. is now Ukraine, were supplied to Egypt by the Mongols of the Golden Horde, rivals of the Middle Eastern (Ilkhanid) Mongols. Besides mamluks, the army also included free professional soldiers, the halqa, as well as fugitives (Mongols, Turks, Kurds, and others) from Mongol territory, and Beduin and Turkmen forces (Arab and Turkish nomads). In numbers, the army grew from a force of some 10,000 cavalry in ca. 1250 (and not many more by 1260) to perhaps 30,000 or (less likely, unless including Egyptian infantry) 40,000 during Baybars' reign. In sheer size, this enlarged Mamluk army still did not match the Mongols', but it could approximate the numbers that the Mongols could usually spare to attack Syria.

Units of the Mongol army needed for any invasion of Syria were also central to the defense of the Ilkhanid Mongols' northern frontier. The (Jochid) Mongol khans of the Golden Horde, who ruled the Qipchaq Steppe (Ukraine and northern Caucasia), Russia, and northern Central Asia, believed - almost surely correctly - that Chinggis Khan had bequeathed them much of the Middle East, especially Azerbaijan (the best part, by nomad standards); they therefore viewed continued rule of these territories by Hulegu, commander of the task force sent to complete the conquest of the Middle East, as usurpation. (The Central Asian [Chaghadaid] Mongols had similar views about regions along the Oxus/Amu Darya River and in Afghanistan, but the Ilkhanid units in those parts did not usually participate in the Syrian campaigns.) The Huleguids countered this accusation by claiming - plausibly - that the Great Khan, Mongke (1251-59), had secretly awarded rule in the Middle East to Hulegu. Mongke might well have concealed this grant during the lifetime of Batu (ruler of the Golden Horde) out of friendship, respect, and obligation: Mongke had served under Batu during the conquest of Russia and Qipchaq, and had received decisive support from him as candidate for Great Khan. The grant itself makes sense, given the concern that the Great Khans, starting with Guyuk (1246-48), must have felt as censuses revealed the great disproportion of assets in pastoral acreage and nomad manpower of the Golden Horde vis-a-vis the other regions of the Mongol empire. Conjoined to the Golden Horde, the Middle Eastern Mongols would now constitute an army equivalent (as mentioned above) to that of the Mongolian homeland; reassigned to Hulegu, Mongke's younger brother, these troops would help restore the military balance in favor of imperial authority and the family of Mongke, Hulegu, and Qubilai.(2) The dispute generated a chronic state of hostility between the Ilkhanids and their Mongol neighbor which inhibited Ilkhanid efforts against the Mamluks - and perhaps distracted the Golden Horde from renewing the invasion of Europe.

I used to discount the problems of the Ilkhans with the Golden Horde, since the latter used only small forces - 30,000 or so cavalry - against the fifteen or more tumens in the Middle East. Further consideration suggests that even this apparently insubstantial threat could impede the Ilkhanids' plans for Syria. The five or six Ilkhanid tumens based in Azerbaijan were essential for operations against Syria. The Ilkhanid units in Anatolia were too few and probably too busy watching the shifty Seljuqs and unruly Turkmen, while those in northeastern Iran and Afghanistan were very far away - the nearest about fifteen hundred miles and one hundred days from Aleppo - and already occupied with the watch on the Oxus. But the Azerbaijan tumens could not all be used because at least four of them had also to be prepared for a Golden Horde attack, such as that of 1262-63 which opened the war. These constraints usually prevented the muster of the six tumens that the Mongols thought necessary to overwhelm the Mamluk army.

Dr. Amitai-Preiss considers these factors - Mamluk morale, Baybars' leadership, etc. - decisive: "The desire for Mongol expansion carried on through inertia, even if in reality it was no longer viable..." (p. 233). He argues against interpretations by David Morgan and myself that adduce other causes. We have asserted especially the Mongols' logistical difficulties, and, in my case, also the Mongols' inferiority in military skills, weaponry and mounts.(3) Amitai-Preiss presents these views fairly (as he does those of other scholars), generously acknowledges other ideas of ours that he has drawn upon, and helpfully contributes evidence supportive of them where available. His argument against these views, taking up the greater part of chapter ten, is likewise fair and careful, but since it seems to me that he goes too far in minimizing their importance, I shall attempt a detailed - and, in intention, entirely friendly - rejoinder. Amitai-Preiss believes the Mongol and Mamluk soldiers to have been a near match in quality: that not all the troops of the Mamluks had expert training, that there was more to Mongol weaponry than bows, arrows, and clubs, thanks to the Iranian arms industry, and that the sizes and numbers of Mongol and Mamluk horses had been evened out by Mongol acquisitions of Middle Eastern breeds and Mamluk use of at least some remounts. And he considers that problems with water supplies and insufficiencies of grazing "not as overwhelming as have been proposed."

His underappreciation of Mamluk training and tactics stems, I think, from the view of David Ayalon,(4) that the Mongols and Mamluks, because of their common steppenomad origin, used the same methods of mounted archery, and from his omission or dismissal of the information of the Mamluk archery instructor, Taybugha, which enables us to discern the considerable differences between the galloping archery that the Mongols (and other Inner Asian nomads) relied on, and the fast shooting with which the Mamluks countered it.(5) The galloping archer had to travel at least forty-four yards, and therefore took about four seconds, between shots; the Mamluks were trained to shoot, while standing, three arrows in one and a half seconds! The Mongols had to approach to within fifty yards' range to endanger the armored Mamluks (if not their horses), and to about thirty yards to shoot straight from their galloping ponies. The Mamluks, however, on standing mounts, could shoot accurately to seventy-five yards, and fast enough to hit the approaching Mongols (and their ponies) with several volleys before they could come close enough to shoot back.

As Dr. Amitai-Preiss says, not all the soldiers in the Mamluk army were royal mamluks, nor trained to the highest standards - although his view on pp. 71 ff. is more optimistic than on p. 217. But I imagine that the amirs' mamluks and the free professionals of the halqa who used the training facilities in Egypt were (at this period of Mamluk history) very good; the provincial troops, the fugitives, and the nomads much less so. But all of them, excepting the beduin auxiliaries, who did not learn mounted archery (but see p. 198, n. 70), were capable of carrying out the simple Mamluk battlefield tactics: "When they are within range of you, shoot at them with arrows and do not draw your swords till they come upon you" (Ibn al-Furat). With their horses at a standstill, their shooting would have been still faster, and straighter at longer range, than that of galloping archers. As for the archery of the royal mamluks, its effect may be imagined from al-Jahiz's appraisal of earlier (Abbasid) mamluks' practice: "if a thousand [Turkish] horsemen are hard-pressed they will loose all their arrows in a single volley [burst] and bring down a thousand enemy horsemen. No body of men can stand up against such a test." The royal mamluks thus provided Mamluk armies with a hard core that the Mongols could attack directly only at great cost. It was not only high morale that enabled the Mamluks to withstand the Mongols.

Dr. Amitai-Preiss' suggestion that Iranian weapons manufacturers would have brought the Mongols up to the Mamluks' level of armaments is contradicted by the statement of Rashid al-Din, the Persian historian and chief minister of Ghazan Khan (1295-1304), that the Mongol government's arms-procurement program, until reformed by Ghazan early in the fourteenth century, was inadequate to the army's needs. Most of the Mongols, therefore, if they came to blows with the Mamluks at all, had only clubs and axes - no swords or lances and, especially important, no armor - with which to resist the Mamluks, who had all of these arms.

The Mongols could not have made good use of better weaponry even had it been available. For the Mongols' Syrian campaign of 1299-1300 (which Amitai-'Preiss mentions but does not fully treat), each soldier was to bring five mounts. This clearly indicates that the Mongols still rode ponies. Horses raised only on pasture do not grow large. Modern Mongolian ponies, raised like their thirteenth-century forebears, weigh around 600 pounds; since the burden appropriate to a horse is some seventeen percent of body-weight, the average rider is too heavy for such ponies. Mongol soldiers kept several ponies and rode them in turn to compensate for overwork: "The horses the [Mongols] ride on one day they do not mount again for the next three or four days" (Plano Carpini). Amitai-Preiss thinks that the Mongols' seizures of beduin and Armenian horses may have provided them with larger mounts. Remembering that the Ilkhanid army had 150,000 men needing horses, it seems quite implausible that the Armenians and beduin, neither noted for large cavalry forces, could have provided replacements for the Mongols' ponies. Nor could suitable mounts have been bred from captured stock and raised by traditional Mongol methods. Larger animals need more grazing time, and may take too long to graze their fill to be of substantial use. For the pregnant and especially lactating mares among them, even a day's grazing might not suffice, preventing their offspring from attaining full size. Only ponies, with modest nutritional requirements, can both sustain themselves on the steppe and provide useful service, as for instance in military campaigning. The Mongols probably used the horses they plundered not as mounts, but as rations, such as they offered to their prisoner, Kirakos of Ganja.

Mongolian ponies, then, are overloaded by their riders, who weigh perhaps half again as much as the ponies should carry. A rider further weighted with extra weaponry and especially with armor would burden his pony with twice the appropriate load. Consequently, the Mongols for the most part could not use armor (cost was also a problem), although armored - and doubtless rather immobile-contingents seem to have backed up the light cavalry and provided it with shelter from pursuing enemies at the end of the "running" phase of standard nomad "hit-and-run" tactics. This lack of armor and reliance on ponies left the Mongols quite vulnerable to the Mamluks, exacerbating the impact both of the already-superior Mamluk archery, and of the charging Mamluk with his sword, lance, and mace, his armor, and most important, his large horse. The Mamluks raised their horses on fodder, since Egypt had too little pasture to support them, and this meant that, while they could not afford to keep as many horses as the Mongols, their horses could grow larger. The fine performance of these horses in equestrian exercises, carrying heavily armed and armored Mamluks, suggests that they had to have been full-sized, probably around 1000 pounds. The Mongols could not therefore hope successfully to engage the Mamluks in hand-to-hand combat: they and their ponies would be overthrown by the Mamluks' horses. (Consider the analogous problem and likely tactics of a putative American football team of 150-pound players facing 250-pounders.)

The Mongols' ponies were not useless against the Mamluks. With far more ponies than the Mamluks had horses, the Mongols could hope to outrun a Mamluk charge and wear down - or shoot down, using the "Parthian" shot - the Mamluks' horses. This forced the Mamluks to exercise restraint in galloping and charging, thus giving the Mongols the tactical initiative at the outset of most battles.(6) Dr. Amitai-Preiss notes that-many Mamluks had remounts, but since many did not (and few if any would have had as many as the Mongols), their tactics had to accommodate the least well mounted - just as the fact that some Mongols had swords and armor, as Amitai-Preiss also mentions, did not mean that they could adopt shock tactics unsuited to the less well armed majority. As the battles went on, however, and the Mamluks withstood the Mongol attacks that invariably opened them, the Mongols would have suffered losses of men and ponies, used up their (home-made) arrows, and tired out their surviving ponies, while the Mamluks, shooting from their standing horses, retained the capacity for the effective counter-attack that usually concluded their battles with the Mongols.

Dr. Amitai-Preiss suggests that these counter-attacks deserve more study, although his summary description (p. 221) is quite convincing: "they were trained to launch a frontal attack at the right time, letting off arrows (whether or not in concert is another question) at their enemy. Then, relying on their heavier horses, armor and weapons, they would bear down on the enemy line, hoping to drive them back." We may imagine that such a charge by the Mamluks would force the nearest Mongols, engaged in hit-and-run archery attacks, into an extended "run" to evade the Mamluks, thus wearing down their horses. But the larger the Mongol force, the more difficult it would be to modulate the "running": the front-line Mongols might need more space to outrun their pursuers than was available before coming up against their own rear elements and throwing their whole unit, wing or army, into reverse flight, or crowded, defenseless confusion. (The Mongols themselves very successfully exploited such difficulties on the part of Hsi Hsia and Chin armies, and of the Russo-Qipchaq force at the Kalka River battle.) On some occasions, perhaps to avoid the difficulties of evasion, the Mongols attempted a stand,(7) using dismounted archery against the charging Mamluks. This failed in 1277, but worked very well in 1299 when, although surprised at Wadi al-Khaznadar while at pasture by the Mamluks (attacking sword-in-hand according to al-Maqrizi), the Mongols dismounted, sheltered behind their ponies, shot down the Mamluks' (unarmored) horses, broke the attack - and eventually won the battle.

Consideration of the battle of 1299 raises other questions. Dr. Amitai-Preiss has sensibly decided to follow the Mongol-Mamluk wars only to 1281, when the important battle of Homs and the recent death of Baybars provide a good point at which to break a story that requires two volumes for a treatment of such care and detail. However, understanding the first part of the story sometimes requires information from the second; Amitai-Preiss acknowledges (p. 223, n. 53) that "a full discussion on Mongol tactics should take into consideration [the battle of Wadi al-Khaznadar in 1299] and [the battle of] Marj al-Suffar (702/1303)," but decides that "this is beyond the scope of the present study." From the vantage point of 1281 and the defeat in that year by the Mamluks of a major Mongol onslaught, following several earlier Mamluk victories over lesser Mongol forces, it appears to Amitai-Preiss (as also to David Ayalon) that Mamluk supremacy, deriving from the factors that he has so thoroughly described, had been firmly established: "It was to take the Mongols some sixty years after Ayn Jalut to realize that they could not defeat the Mamluks. . ." (p. 233). But this interpretation is, I believe, premature. Further expansion had not been made less viable by the defeats of 1260 or 1281: the second overwhelming attack (allegedly) threatened by Ketbugha had not yet been delivered, and when it was, in 1299, the Mongols did defeat the Mamluks, as they had always, and with reason, believed they could.

In 1259, the first Mongol invasion of Syria had employed six tumens of the fifteen-odd making up the main Mongol force in the Middle East; this meant a nominal 60,000 men and actually (in accordance with the Mongols' rule of thumb of seven in ten for troop-readiness) perhaps only 40,000. The Mamluks did not challenge these invaders until most of them had withdrawn and the remainder could be engaged - successfully - on more even, perhaps more advantageous, terms at Ayn Jalut in 1260.(8) The Mongols' second major attack, in 1281, seems to have been on the same scale as that of 1259, but by this time, thanks to the efforts of Baybars, the Mamluk army was almost as large as the Mongols'. Amitai-Preiss (p. 194) plausibly estimates the Mongols and their auxiliaries at 40,000-50,000, and the Mamluk troops as numbering "several tens of thousands," apparently intending more than 30,000, since he also says that estimates of 25,000-30,000 Mongols would give them fewer men than the Mamluks. With this near-parity in numbers, the Mamluks were able to confront and overcome the whole invading force. The Mongols had put over half of their force in their right wing, enabling it to drive the insufficiently reinforced Mamluk left so far from the field as to take the Mongol wing out of contact with the rest of their army, and leaving their center and left without an adequate superiority in numbers over the Mamluk center and right. This inadequacy was turned into defeat by confusion in the Mongol command, which was divided between the inexperienced prince Mongke Timur (standing in for the alcoholic Ilkhan Abaqa, who died of drink the following year) and two Mongol generals, and by the misfortune that the prince was wounded or injured in the battle, which led to the Mongols' retreat and disaster.

From these and the other smaller-scale defeats that they had suffered at the hands of the Mamluks, the Mongols concluded that they needed to bring a still larger force to bear. They believed that they had the resources to do so, as we see from Rashid al-Din's story (mentioned above) of Ketbugha taunting the Mamluks. Since Ketbugha was in fact killed in the battle, not captured, the story, made up by Rashid al-Din, reflected the optimistic strategic understanding of the Mongol leadership at the end of the century, rather than of Ketbugha in 1260.

Deployment of the Mongols' superior power became possible from 1299 to 1303, when civil war immobilized the Golden Horde, and the oftentimes hostile Mongols of Central Asia came under attack from the east. In 1299 Ghazan Khan was able to call up 65,000 men: five thousand each from thirteen tumens (a similar partial mobilization was perhaps used also for the 1281 campaign, to the confusion of the sources as to the size of the Mongol force), insuring that each contingent would be at full (rather than seventy percent) strength, and that some troops would remain to protect each tumen's home territory. This army, probably outnumbering the Mamluks by two-to-one, reached Syria, and despite suffering the surprise attack mentioned above, defeated the Mamluks, who "fled the battlefield in complete disarray" (but thereby salvaged a good part of their strength, although their cautious tactics in 1303, even against a smallish, three-tumen, Mongol force, suggest reduced strength and morale damaged from the 1299 defeat). But then the Mongols again, as in 1260, withdrew most of their forces from Syria.

This brings us to the matter of logistics, which, in light of the Mongols' seasonal migrations in the Middle East,(9) the general pattern of their Syrian operations, and the details of their 1299 campaign, may be seen as the crucial obstacle to Mongol success. Marco Polo described the migrations: "In summer all the armies of the [Mongols] of the Levant are stationed in [Greater Armenia], because it has the best summer pasturage for beasts. . . . The [Mongols] depart with the onset of winter and withdraw to a warmer region, where they find plenty of grass and good pasturage for their beasts." Het um, the Mongols' Armenian ally, confirms this pattern, assuring potential Crusaders that the Mongols would be trustworthy allies because they wanted only winter pastures in the Levant and would leave the rest to the Franks. The importance of such migrations may also be deduced from Dr. Amitai-Preiss' discussion of the Mamluks' Turkmen auxiliaries on pp. 69-71: the Mongols drove large numbers of these nomads - one source has 40,000 households, implying more warrior manpower than the whole Mamluk army - from Anatolia into Syria, where the Mamluks welcomed and enlisted them; but they subsequently played little part in Mamluk military affairs. This was probably because, unlike the Arab nomads, their Inner Asian-style horse-keeping methods (similar to the Mongols') were unsuited to the Syrian climate and geography, and could not provide them with enough mounts to make them militarily effective.

Consideration of Mongol nomadism helps to clarify several episodes of Mongol and Mamluk history. Baybars probably encouraged his caliph's doomed invasion of Iraq in 1261 not to get rid of him, but because his spies reported that no Mongols could be found in Iraq; because of unfamiliarity with the Mongols' migratory ways, their information was mistakenly taken to mean that the Mongols were gone for good, continuing the withdrawal begun in 1260, rather than merely away for the summer. The caliphal campaign in October and November, therefore, probably coincided with the migratory return to winter pastures around Baghdad of a Mongol tumen, which sent the five thousand troops who destroyed the caliph and his four hundred men. Once the Mamluks did understand this nomadic cycle, however, they took advantage of it. The Mamluks concentrated forces against the Crusaders and Cilician Armenians while the Mongols were far away in, and essentially confined to, highland pastures in spring and summer. They prevented convenient concentration of Mongol forces on the Euphrates frontier - and indeed kept the Mongols from developing Anatolia's full nomadic potential - by building fortresses at al-Bira and al-Rahba, strongholds that could not block Mongol invasions, but that could deny the Mongols, by threatening their slow-moving sheep, goats and families, use of this plains steppe region as winter pastures. "Burners" sent by the Mamluks to fire the grasslands in northern Iraq and even south-eastern Anatolia were probably intended similarly to discourage nomadic occupation by threatening to delay migrations, which would normally have taken place in fall, until winter, when new grass appeared - along with the first snows that might jeopardize herds still up in the hills. It is not clear whether tactical burning, intended to impede invasion (as in 1262 and 1272), ever succeeded in delaying (and thereby abbreviating) Mongol campaigns.
The conformation of Mongol campaigning to a similar pattern, uphill and downhill, season by season, may be discerned in Juvaini's account of the war against the Khwarezmshah (1219-23). Then, in Syria, we have the spring withdrawals of victorious Mongol troops in both 1260 and 1300, leaving armies of occupation inadequate to withstand the Mamluks' counterattack. The retirement in 1260 is sometimes explained as a precaution against attack by the Golden Horde, although hostilities did not break out until later. Claims that Hulegu was preparing to lead his army east to participate either in the choice of a successor to Mongke or in the war of succession that actually ensued seem unlikely, since this would have entailed, along with other political, strategic, and logistical difficulties, abandonment of his newly conquered Middle Eastern domain. Hulegu himself attributed his withdrawal to shortages of pasture and fodder. The pull-out in 1300 is a clearer case. There was no threat to counter, as the Golden Horde and the Central Asian Mongols were distracted or exhausted, and Ghazan's forces were able to return to Syria in both 1300-1 and 1302-3. The allegation of such a threat by Het um must have been a disinformational excuse (like his more obvious one blaming the failure of the 1302-3 campaign on an attack from the east by Qaidu, then actually dead for over a year). The Mongols withdrew from Syria in 1300, as Rashid al-Din tells us, because of the approach of summer, a perfectly plausible explanation, given the geography and climate of the Middle East.

The Mongols had achieved victory in 1299, as we have seen, in very large force - 65,000 men - and with a very much larger number of ponies - 325,000. Such numbers could not be supported for long in Syria under campaign conditions. David Morgan has suggested the inadequacy of Syrian pastures, on Hulegu's authority.(10) Amitai-Preiss rightly comments that the pastures of Syria, supplemented by grazing on croplands and plundering fodder, were more than adequate to the needs of the Mongols' ponies. Syria in 1949 had a domestic animal population, most of it undoubtedly at pasture, equivalent to eight million sheep; 325,000 Mongolian ponies amount to only 1.6 million sheep-equivalents. But the Mongols could not make use of all of Syria's pastures while keeping their forces concentrated against a Mamluk counterattack.

Here the matter of water supplies comes in. The 325,000 ponies needed (at a minimal five U.S. gallons each) 1.6 million gallons a day. Such a quantity could be easily obtained in Syria during the rainy season, roughly November-March, from the major rivers: the Quwaiq, flowing past Aleppo at an average rate of 1.8 million gallons a day, and at 167 million gallons in rainy season spate; the Orontes, flowing on average at 7.1 million gallons at Homs, and 89 million in spate; and the Barada-A waj by Damascus with an average flow of 2.2 million gallons, and 8.9 million in spate. In the dry season, however, these flows drop drastically: the Barada-A waj to about half its average - hence to around 1.1 million gallons - and the others probably likewise (although I have not seen figures for these), say to 0.9 for the Quwaiq and 3.6 for the Orontes - and this at a time when the ponies would have needed more water because of very high temperatures. (As I write on May 23rd, the temperature in Damascus is at 99 [degrees] F.) (Dr. Amitai-Preiss' doubts [p. 226] about the importance of water shortages arise from his consideration only of average river-flows, not minimal.) During the dry season, therefore, the 325,000 ponies could only have been concentrated by the Orontes near Homs or Hama - which is probably why the Mamluks chose to fight for Homs in 1281 and 1299.

But thus concentrated, the ponies would not have had access to enough pasture to support them until the coming of the next rainy - and grassy - season, and the army would have been forced in mid-summer into a dangerous dispersal - some units to Aleppo and others to Damascus, say, separated by two hundred miles and two weeks march - or risky retreat to the Euphrates and beyond. The plains-steppe zone accessible from the Orontes is about forty miles wide, east to west, near Homs and Hama, and extends about forty riffles south from Hama, giving some sixteen hundred square miles of possible grazing land.(11) If this land yielded 534 lbs. of (dry) grass a year per acre (as good Inner Asian pastures do), it could have supported 325,000 ponies, each needing 9.33 lbs. (dry weight) of grass a day, for about six months. The Mongol army arrived in the Hama region on 20 December in 1299; it could not have remained there in full strength past June - and it did not plan to do so. As a final indication that climate shaped the Mongols' strategy, they brought only six months' rations on the 1299 campaign, only enough to last until April (the month when nomads still leave the Antioch region for central Anatolia in distant imitation of the Mongol withdrawal).

Dr. Amitai-Preiss (p. 228) makes two more arguments against the logistical-difficulties thesis: the adequacy of Syria's pastures is implied by the success of the Turkmen fugitives in reestablishing nomadism on them, and by the Mongols' persistence in disregarding allegedly insuperable logistical hazards in campaign after campaign. His own materials have in effect answered his Turkmen argument; as discussed above, the large numbers of Turkmen coming to Syria, and their small military significance, indicate their pastoral failure. Why the Mongols kept coming back, knowing that logistics prevented occupation, may be explained by their expectation that, under the proper circumstances, they could destroy the Mamluk army or damage it so badly that even a small Mongol force could hold Syria; that there was something to this may be seen from their victory in 1299, and the defensive tactics of the weakened Mamluks in 1300. In any case, if Syria could have supported the Mongol army, as Amitai-Preiss believes, it should not have needed to withdraw after winning in 1299. In sum, the Mongols could invade in great strength, they could defeat the Mamluks, but they could not stay in Syria long enough to exploit their success.

These differences in no way diminish my admiration of Dr. Amitai-Preiss' book, the best study of this subject that we have, nor my eagerness to see volume II.

1) I See especially the many contributions of D. Ayalon in Mamluk studies and related topics, and R. Amitai-Preiss, "Ayn Jalut Revisited," Tarih 2 (1992); P. Jackson, "The Dissolution of the Mongol Empire," Central Asiatic Journal 32 (1978); idem, "The Crisis in the Holy Land in 1260," English Historical Review 95 (1980); D. O. Morgan, "The Mongols in Syria, 12601300," in Crusade and Settlement, ed. P. W. Edbury (Cardiff, 1985); J. M. Smith, Jr., "Ayn Jalut: Mamluk Success or Mongol Failure?" Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 44 (1984); and P. Thorau, "The Battle of Ayn Jalut: a Re-examination," in Edbury, Crusade and Settlement.

2) These considerations lead me to believe the statement of Grigor of Akner that Hulegu possessed a document from Mongke in which was decreed Hulegu's Middle Eastern sovereignty; see Jackson, "Dissolution." Jackson believes that since Hulegu displayed the document just before the start of the war with the Golden Horde in 1262 (or, according to Jackson, 1261) it must have been issued by Qubilai, as Mongke had been dead for some time. If, however, Hulegu possessed a decree from Mongke yet unpublished at the time of Mongke's unexpected death, he would surely have produced it during the struggle for succession, to validate his authority.

3) Morgan, "The Mongols in Syria," and Smith, "Ayn Jalut" - the latter work will be complemented by his chapter 9, "Mongol Society and Military in the Middle East: Antecedents and Adaptations," in War and Society in the Eastern Mediterranean, 7th-15th Centuries, ed. Y. Lev (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997), 24966. I draw largely on these works in my arguments below.

4) "The European Asiatic Steppe: A Major Reservoir of Power for the Islamic World," in Proceedings of the 25th Congress of Orientalists, Moscow, 1960 (Moscow, 1963), 2: 49. Ayalon repeats his view in "Aspects of the Mamluk Phenomenon," Der Islam 53 (1976): 218, n. 43; this article contains a subsection on "The Turkish Volley of Arrows," in which examples (items 2 and

5) of high-volume shooting by Seljuq troops are provided. It should be noted that the "Turkish volley" would be better renamed the "mamluk burst" or perhaps "Sassanian shots." Taybugha and the anonymous author of Arab Archery (on whom see the following note) show that high-volume archery depended on a very fast succession of shots, a burst rather than volley; and this "shower shooting" (as Arab Archery calls it) was a mamluk, rather than general Turkish, specialty (Ayalon's examples date from the reigns of the Seljuq sultans Malikshah and Muhammad, by which time the principal Seljuq soldiers were mamluks) of Persian - Sassanian - invention, as I discuss in "Mongol Society and Military."

5) Taybugha's work has been translated and edited as Saracen Archery by J. Latham and W. Paterson (London: Holland, 1970); the material on galloping archery is in ch. 15, especially pp. 76-77 for the distance covered (and thus time spent) preparing to shoot; the treatment of fast shooting on pp. 138 and 142 should be read in conjunction with Arab Archery, ed. and tr. N. Fads and R. Elmer (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1945), 150-51. These works are the only omissions from Dr. Amitai-Preiss' bibliography that I have noticed.

6) As for instance at Ayn Jalut; see Amitai-Preiss' persuasive reconstruction of the battle in "Ayn Jalut Revisited."

7) Perhaps literally a "sit": Amitai-Preiss (p. 222, n. 47) notes Ibn Khaldun's description of "Turkish" archers shooting from a seated position. This apparently unlikely procedure makes sense considering the equipment that went with galloping archery (and thus with nomad "Turks," including Mongols, not Mamluks). The archer wore a quiver containing six or so arrows for use during "hit-and-run" maneuvers, and topped this up at intervals, while changing mounts, from a storage quiver or quivers holding the rest of his sixty or so arrows. For dismounted shooting, when quick shooting was essential, neither kind of quiver helped: the one he wore held too few arrows, and the storage quiver hampered access to its arrows. Consequently, the archer poured out the arrows from the quiver(s) onto the ground (as did the warrior-princess Saljan with her ninety arrows in Dede Korkut's story of Kanli Koja: The Book of Dede Korkut, tr. G. Lewis [Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974], 131), and the archer sat handily next to them. Such seated archers - as targets - also make sense of the Mamluks' mounted archery practice called qighaj, "shooting at a slant," in which the archer shoots down parallel to his left thigh at a mark on the ground approximately below his left knee (described and discussed in Saracen Archery, 73, 78-79).

8) The numbers of Mamluks and Mongols at Ayn Jalut have been variously estimated, in recent scholarship, within the limits of 10,000-20,000 each. Peter Thorau, in "The Battle of Ayn Jalut: A Reexamination," suggests 10,000-20,000 Mongols and 15,000-20,000 Mamluks. Amitai-Preiss (pp. 36-37) thinks there were perhaps 10,000-12,000 Mongols and 10,000-12,000 Mamluks from Egypt plus an unknown number of auxiliary and Syrian troops. I opined, in "Ayn Jalut: Mamluk Success or Mongol Failure?" that 12,000 Mamluks faced 10,000-20,000 Mongols. Our unanimity on 10,000 as the minimum number of Mongols is based on several sources that implicitly (and Shafi - cited in Mongols and Mamluks, 27, n. 12 - explicitly) give Ketbugha's tumen its full nominal value. But since Mongol tumens were often understrength (as mentioned by Amitai-Preiss, p. 15, n. 43) or, as I would prefer to see it, could not always field all of their men - we should probably downsize Ketbugha's tumen, perhaps to 7000 men, possibly to fewer still; the 6000 Mongols at the battle of Homs in 1260 and the 5000 troops led by Qara Bugha against the Caliph in 1261 (Mongols and Mamluks, 51, 58) may have been tumens. This would explain why, as Amitai-Preiss notes (p. 37), some Mamluk sources say that the Mamluks had the larger force at Ayn Jalut: the battle may have featured 12,000 Mamluks against only 5000-7000 Mongols.