The Mamluk Era (1260-1516)

Timeline date: 
Pre-colonial

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mamluk Era (1260-1516)  
 
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During this period, Nazareth lost its importance and became a poor, Muslim village. The Church of the Annunciation was destroyed in 1263 by the Mamluk Sultan, Baibars. The other sacred sites were destroyed by its Muslim citizens, and pilgrimage largely disappeared.
 
 
Background to The Mamluk Era
 
The Mamluks were slave-soldiers who first fought for the Abbasid caliphate. Over the years, the Mamluks gained power and established their own empire, centered in Egypt. In 1260, the Mamluk commander, Baibars, became sultan and began his conquests. He invaded the Holy Land, gradually ousting the Crusaders. In 1263 he took over Nazareth and Mount Tabor. The fall of Acre in 1291 brought the Crusader Kingdom to an end, and the entire area became a part of the Mamluk Empire.
 
 
Nazareth under The Mamluk
 
Mamluk rule sought to prevent economic growth in the area through a policy of wide-scale destruction as a way to deter another Christian invasion. The fortresses of the port-cities, for example, were laid to waste and their stones thrown into the water to make the ports unusable and an invasion by sea impossible.
 
 
 
Economic conditions were difficult. Jews and Christians were a minority under Islamic rule and they faced persecution and humiliation. Things deteriorated with each new ruler, who wanted to prove his loyalty to the sultan and therefore increased the tax burden on the local non-Muslim population.
 
 
 
When Baibars conquered Nazareth in 1263, he left the Church of the Annunciation in ruins. For eight years, all pilgrimage was stopped. In 1271, as part of the Caesarea peace, pilgrims were allowed to return to Nazareth and pray in the holy cave, all that was left of the Crusader Church.
 
 
 
With the fall of Acre in 1291, marking the end of the Crusader Kingdom, came the end of Crusader Nazareth. The town became a poor village. The Christian residents left and a new Muslim population settled in its place. These inhabitants destroyed the remaining sacred sites, and Nazareth became a backwater.
 
 
 
Excavations conducted recently around Mary’s Well revealed many remains from the Mamluk times: broken pieces of earthenware, women’s glass bracelets and bronze coins. All these findings prove that the town was still active at the time.
 
 
 
Source: Nazareth and sites, Eli Schieler Editor, published by “Ariel”, 1982.