The Mirdasid dynasty (Arabic: المرداسيون, romanized: al-Mirdāsiyyīn), also called the Banu Mirdas, was an Arab dynasty that controlled the Emirate of Aleppo more or less continuously from 1024 until 1080.
The Mirdasids were members of the Banu Kilab, an Arab tribe that had been present in northern Syria for several centuries. Like the other Arab tribes of the region, the Mirdasids were Shi'a Muslims. Such Arab tribes were susceptible to the propaganda of the Qarmatians, who denounced the wealth of the urban Sunni population. As a result, they were given to Shia sympathies. However, as a result of the expansion of the Seljuk Turks into the area they were constrained to convert to Sunni Islam under Rashid al-Dawla Mahmud.
Unlike other Arab tribes of the Syrian province that managed to establish their autonomy or independence in the late 10th/early 11th centuries, the Mirdasids focused their energies on urban development. As a result, Aleppo prospered during their reign. The Mirdasids demonstrated a high degree of tolerance to Christians, favoring Christian merchants in their territories and employing several as viziers. This policy, no doubt influenced by comparatively good relations with the Christian Byzantine Empire, often upset the Muslim population.
The early history of the Mirdasid dynasty is characterized by constant pressure from both the Byzantines and the Fatimids of Egypt. By mixing diplomacy (the Mirdasids were vassals of both the Byzantines and Fatimids several times) and military force, the Mirdasids were able to survive against these two powers.
Militarily, the Mirdasids had the advantage of light Arab cavalry, and several Arab groups in the region, such as the Numayrids of Harran and their own Kilabi brethren, provided valuable assistance. Later on, the Seljuks supplanted the Byzantines and Fatimids as their primary antagonist; the Turks' light cavalry was superior to their own and the Mirdasids had a much more difficult time dealing with them. The Mirdasids had resorted to recruiting Turkic mercenaries into their armies, although this caused its own problems, as the Turks began to acquire an increased role in the government.
List of Mirdasid emirs
||Salih ibn Mirdas
||18 January 1025
||12 May 1029
||Nasr ibn Salih
- Eldest son of Salih.
- Ruled jointly with his brother Thimal until ousting the latter from Aleppo in 1030.
- By 1033, the Emirate of Aleppo was limited to the Mirdasids' northern Syrian and Upper Mesopotamian possessions; Nasr ruled the former and received the governorship of Hims in 1037.
||Thimal ibn Salih
- Second eldest son of Salih
- Ruled Aleppo jointly with Nasr between May 1029 and 1030, after which he ruled from al-Rahba.
- Restored to the emirate in May 1038 but Aleppo was brought under direct Fatimid rule in June 1038.
- Made a deal with the Fatimids in 1057 in which he exchanged Aleppo for the governorships of Jubayl, Bayrut and Akka.
||Mahmud ibn Nasr
- Son of Nasr and the Numayrid princess al-Sayyida Alawiyya bint Waththab.
||Thimal ibn Salih
||Atiyya ibn Salih
- Son of Salih and Tarud
- Ruled Aleppo and the eastern part of the Mirdasid emirate extending from al-Rahba in the east to the north–south Azaz–Qinnasrin line in the west.
||Mahmud ibn Nasr
- Ruled the western part of the Mirdasid emirate until defeating Atiyya in 1065.
- The emirate lost al-Rahba in 1068 and Manbij in 1069/70, but Mahmud regained the former in 1072/73.
||Nasr ibn Mahmud
- Eldest son of Mahmud.
- Emirate regained Manbij in October 1075.
||Sabiq ibn Mahmud
- Son of Mahmud.
- Surrendered Aleppo to the Uqaylid ruler Sharaf al-Dawla Muslim and given a fief in the vicinity of al-Rahba.
- Last Mirdasid emir of Aleppo.
Genealogy of the Mirdasid dynasty
After the overthrow of the Hamdanids in 1004, Aleppo had been ruled by several princes nominally subordinate to the Fatimids. It was from these individuals that Salih ibn Mirdas took the town in 1024. When he died fighting the Fatimids five years later, his two sons Shibl al-Daula Nasr and Mu'izz al-Daula Thimal succeeded him, although Nasr quickly became sole amir. Despite a victory over the Byzantines in Azaz in 1030, in the next year he became a Byzantine vassal. Later he transferred his allegiance to the Fatimids. However, the Fatimid governor of Damascus, Anushtakin al-Dizbari, killed Nasr in battle and took Aleppo 1038.
Nasr's brother Thimal managed to recover Aleppo in 1042 and eventually made peace with the Fatimids. He was a vassal of both the Byzantine Emperor and Fatimid Caliph. Troubles with the Kilab, however, caused him to give up Aleppo to the Fatimids in exchange for several coastal towns. The Kilab threw their support behind Thimal's nephew Rashid al-Daula Mahmud, who took Aleppo in 1060. Thimal returned and in 1061 regained Aleppo from Mahmud, but died a year later.
After Thimal's death a succession dispute emerged between Mahmud and Thimal's brother 'Atiyya ibn Salih, leading to a split in the Mirdasid domains. Mahmud controlled the western half, while 'Atiyya controlled the east. In order to gain an edge over Mahmud, 'Atiyya recruited a band of Turks, but they later defected to Mahmud, forcing 'Atiyya to give up Aleppo in 1065.
The Turks began moving into northern Syria in greater numbers, forcing Mahmud to convert to Sunni Islam and become a vassal of the Seljuk sultan. Mahmud's death in 1075, followed by that of his son and successor Nasr ibn Mahmud in 1076, resulted in Nasr's brother Sabiq ibn Mahmud becoming amir. Conflicts between him and members of his family, along with several different Turkish groups, left the Mirdasid domains devastated, and in 1080, prompted by Sabiq, the Uqailid Sharaf al-Daula Muslim took over Aleppo. The Mirdasids maintained a level of influence in the region after the loss of Aleppo, and attempted to stem the advance of the First Crusade.
According to the Sharafnama, the Kurdish Mirdasi dynasty, ruling Eğil, Palu and Çermik, took its name from the Mirdasids. Part of the Mirdasids had fled to this region after Salih ibn Mirdas had been killed in 1029. The ruling dynasty allegedly commenced in the early 11th century, when a mystic by the name of Pir Mansour travelled from Hakkari to the village of Pîran, close to the fortress of Egil. He attained widespread fame among the local Kurds and Mirdasids, and his son Pir Bedir took the fortress of Egil by force and initiated the dynasty's rule over the region.
- ^ a b c Burns, Ross (2013). Aleppo, A History. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 9780415737210.
- ^ Bianquis 1993, p. 115.
- ^ a b c d e Bianquis 1993, p. 117.
- ^ Bianquis 1993, p. 116.
- ^ a b c d Bianquis 1993, p. 118.
- ^ a b c Bianquis 1993, p. 119.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bianquis 1993, p. 120.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Bianquis 1993, p. 121.
- ^ Bedlîsî, Şerefxanê (2014). Şerefname: Dîroka Kurdistanê. Translated by Avci, Z. Viranşehir: Azad. ISBN 978-605-64041-8-4.
- ^ Minorsky, Vladimir (1978). The Turks, Iran, and the Caucasus in the Middle Ages. London: Variorum Prints. ISBN 0-86078-028-7.