Saif ad-Din Qutuz (Arabic: سيف الدين قطز; d. 24 October 1260), also romanized as Kutuz, Kotuz, and fully al-Malik al-Muzaffar Saif ad-Din Qutuz (الملك المظفر سيف الدين قطز), was the third or fourth[a] of the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt in the Turkic line. He reigned for less than a year, from 1259 until his assassination in 1260.
Sold into slavery in Egypt, he rose to vice-Sultan over 20 years, becoming the power behind the throne. He was prominent in defeating the Seventh Crusade, which invaded Egypt in 1249–50. When Egypt was threatened by the Mongols in 1259 he took the lead militarily and then deposed the reigning Sultan, 15-year-old Sultan Al-Mansur Ali. The centers of Islamic power in Syria and Baghdad were conquered by the Mongols, and the center of the Islamic Empire transferred to Egypt, which became their next target. Qutuz led an Egyptian Mamluk army north to confront the Mongols, having made a pact with Egypt's long-time enemy the Crusaders.
The battle of Ain Jalut was fought on 3 September 1260 in southeastern Galilee, between the Egyptian Mamluk army and the Mongols. The Mongols were crushingly defeated by Qutuz's forces, in what has been considered a historical turning point. Qutuz was assassinated by a fellow Mamluk leader, Baibars, on the triumphant return journey to Cairo. Although Qutuz's reign was short, he was one of the most popular Mamluk sultans in the Islamic world and holds a high position in Islamic history.
Qutuz was an Iranian prince of Turkic origin. Captured by the Mongols during the fall of Khwarazmian dynasty c. 1231, he was taken to Damascus, Syria where he was sold to an Egyptian slave merchant who then sold him to Aybak, the Mamluk sultan in Cairo. According to some sources, Qutuz claimed that his original name was Mahmud ibn Mamdud and he was descended from Ala ad-Din Muhammad II, a ruler of the Khwarezmian Empire.
1258 Mongols sacked Baghdad
He became the most prominent Mu'izi Mamluk of Sultan Aybak and he became his vice-Sultan in 1253. Aybak was assassinated in 1257 and Qutuz remained vice-Sultan for Aybak's son al-Mansur Ali. Qutuz led the Mu'izi Mamluks who arrested Aybak's widow Shajar al-Durr and installed al-Mansur Ali as the new Sultan of Egypt. In November 1257 and April 1258 he defeated raids of the forces of al-Malik al-Mughith[b] of Al Karak which were supported by the Bahriyya Mamluks[c] and included Shahrzuri Kurds.[d] The raids caused a dispute among the Bahriyya Mamluks in Al Karak as some of them wanted to support their followers in Egypt.[e]
In February 1258, the Mongol army sacked Baghdad, massacred its inhabitants and killed the Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta'sim. It then advanced towards Syria which was ruled by the Ayyubid king an-Nasir Yusuf, who received a threatening letter from Hulagu.[f] Vice-Sultan Qutuz and the Egyptian Emirs were alarmed by a message from an-Nasir Yusuf in which he appealed for immediate help from Egypt. The emirs assembled at the court of the 15-year-old Sultan Al-Mansur Ali and Qutuz told them that because of the seriousness of the situation, Egypt should have a strong and a capable Sultan who could fight the Mongols. On 12 November 1259, Al-Mansur Ali was deposed by Qutuz. When Qutuz became the new sultan, he promised the emirs that they could install any other sultan after he defeated the Mongols.
Qutuz kept Emir Faris ad-Din Aktai al-Mostareb[g] as the Atabeg of the Egyptian army and began to prepare for battle.