JBO'C's Historical Reference

The Afshar of Anatolia

Mamluk Egypt and the Loss of the India Trade

Mamluk wealth derived in great part from the India trade  which passed though Egypt from Europe. From time immemorial trade passed through the ports of Aden and Jidda taking primarily silver to India and spice and trade goods back to Europe. As long as there was no “all sea” route to India the Indo-European  trade through Egypthad a competitive advantage over the more expensive Ottoman Persian route.

Then a series of changes occurred. In 1492 Columbus discovered the new world for Spain. In 1498 Portugal landed in India and by 1500 established a viable trade station.  By 1504 the Mamluks petitioned the Pope to get King Manuel of Portugal to cease the discrimination  of Muslim traders in India.  By 1508 the Mamluks fleet combined with that of Gujarat defeated the Portuguese in Chaul harbor. The Portuguese regrouped and crushed the Mamluk the following year at Diunorth of Mumbai across the harbor.

The Portuguese trade cut deeply into Egyptian income. Even at the best of the trade years the Mamluk drew heavily on the GNP of Egypt once the trade decreased it became increasingly difficult to maintain their internal power. Consequence their ability to exercise external power equally suffered. While not the only reason it contributed to the fall of the Mamluk to the Ottoman 8 years later in 1516.

I drew upon a number of disparite sources collected over the years but A History of the Crusades: The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, edited by H. W. Hazard Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1975 was a particulary valuable source. JBOC

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