Ayn Jalut: Mamluk Sucess or Mongol Failure?
By John Masson Smith, Jr.
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 44:2 (1984)
Introduction: The battle of Ayn Jalut, where the Mamluks of Egypt defeated the invading Mongols on 3 September 1260, is usually presented as the turning point in the tide of Mongol conquest. This, it is usually suggested, was the Mongols’ only opportunity to complete the subjugation of the Middle East, and the opportunity was lost. Hulegu had to withdraw most of his troops from Syria owing to the death of the supreme khan, Mongke, and the incipient struggle over the succession; the small army he left under Kedbuqa to secure and extend his conquests in the Levant was then overwhelmed by the numerically-superior Mamluks. Thereafter, because of the divisive outcome of the the succession struggle, the hostility of the Golden Horde prevented the Mongols of Persia from using their full power against the Mamluks. Examination of the Mongol campaigns in detail, however, will show that these interpretations are inaccurate or inadequate.