The Bahri dynasty or Bahriyya Sultante المماليك البحرية was a Mamluk dynasty that ruled Egypt from 1250 to 1382 when they were succeeded by the Burji dynasty, another group of Mamluks. Their name means 'of the sea', referring to them ruling from al-Manyal island in the Nile (Bahr al-Nil) off Cairo.
In 1250, when the Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub died, the Mamluks owned by sultan killed his owner's heir, and the Mamluk general Aybak (who ruled 1250 - 1257) married Shajarat ad-Durr (Arabic: Tree of Pearls), widow of as-Salih. The Mamluks consolidated their power in ten years and eventually established the Bahri dynasty. They were helped by the Mongols' sack of Baghdad in 1258, which effectively destroyed the Abbasid caliphate. Cairo became more prominent as a result and remained a Mamluk capital thereafter.
The Mamluks were power calvalry warriors mixing the practices of the steppe peoples from which they were drawn and the organizational and technological sophistication of the Egyptians and Arabs. In 1260 the Mamluks defeated a Mongol attack at the Syria and eventually forced the invaders to retreat to the area of modern-day Iraq. Baibars, one of the leaders at the battle, became the new sultan after assassinating Sultan Qutuz on the way home.
In 1250 Baibars had led a successful attack against the Christian knights of Egypt. In 1261 he established a puppet caliphate in Cairo, and the Mamluks fought the remnants of the Crusader states in Palestine until they finally captured Acre in 1291. Baibars preferred to purchase his new slave recruits from the Tatars. He also attempted to retake Baghdad, but was unsuccessful. In 1268 he recaptured Antioch from the Crusaders, and also fought the Armenians, Seljuks, and Hashshashin; he also extended Muslim power into Nubia for the first time, before his death in 1277.
His successor Qalawun defeated the Syrians when they tried to secede in 1280, and also defeated another Mongol invasion in 1281 outside Emesa. After the Mongol threat passed he recaptured Tripoli from the Crusaders in 1289. His son Khalil captured Acre, the last Crusader city, in 1291.
The Mongols renewed their invasion in 1299, but were again defeated in 1303. The Egyptian sultans established a peace with the Mongols in 1322, and also entered into relations with the Golden Horde, sultan al-Nasir marrying a Mongol princess in 1319. His diplomatic relations were more extensive than those of any previous sultan, and included Bulgarian, Indian, and Abyssinian potentates, as well as the pope, the king of Aragon and the king of France. He died in 1341, and the constant changes of sultan that followed led to great disorder in the provinces; meanwhile, from 1348-1349 Egypt was visited by the Black Death, which is said to have carried off 900,000 of the inhabitants of Cairo.
Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad organized the digging of a canal in 1311 which connected Alexandria with the Nile.
In 1377 there was a revolt in Syria which spread to Egypt, and the government was taken over by the Circassians Berekeh and Barkuk; Barkuk was proclaimed sultan in 1382, ending the Bahri dynasty. He was expelled in 1389 but recaptured Cairo in 1390, setting up the Burji dynasty.
List of Bahri Sultans
See also: History of early Arab Egypt