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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:04 AM   #21

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Excellent bio, Star of Genoa. Renaissance Italy certainly seems to have been home to some very strong women.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:10 AM   #22

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Originally Posted by Clemmie View Post
Thanks for adding the sources for further reading. Great post, btw.
Thank you! I learned a lot from your bio of mathilda (I need to read more about that age, i did so love Pillars of the Earth (Starz, aired last fall).

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Excellent bio, Star of Genoa. Renaissance Italy certainly seems to have been home to some very strong women.
Wonderful lady! She would have been something to behold:

"[An envoy, Bello da Castrocaro] was sent by Florentine diplomat Puccio Pucci to question the Countess as to the passage of some Milanese troops, and was admitted into her presence. Her youthful lover [Giacomo Feo], in a scarlet satin coat with a short cloak of cloth-of-gold negligently thrown across his shoulders, was seated on a window sill. Near him sat [Caterina] on a "cathedra," or heavy wooden chair, wearing a loose gown of white brocade with a black scarf." Bello wrote:

"In beauty, they were like two suns."

- Pasolini, p.188

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:52 AM   #23

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Al-Ashraf Khalil, Sultan of the Bahri Mamluk Sultanate

lived 1262 - 1293 (reigned as sole sultan 1290 - 1293)


Khalil was born in 1262, in Cairo, the son of al-Mansur Qalawun. At the time, his father (a Kipchak Turk in origin) was one of the favorite emirs of Sultan Baibars. Qalawun himself, known for his piety and his skill as a warrior and general, ruled as sultan from 1279 to 1290. Little is known of Khalil's life. His father had barely even learned to speak Arabic, and that which he did master he spoke with a strong Turkish accent. Khalil himself, however, had been born in Egypt to an Arab mother, and had a more cultured upbringing.

By the 1280s, Khalil had a mixed reputation. On one hand, his bravery and his martial skill had already become the stuff of legend. He was pious, passionate, and strong-willed. He was also pigheaded, suspicious, extremely argumentative, and rather naive. His tendency to speak his mind without thinking - and his hot temper - had earned him the loathing of many of his father's emirs.

Despite his talents as a soldier and leader, Khalil was not able to win his father's confidence before the latter's death in the fall of 1290. On his deathbed, Qalawun said to his advisor Fath ad-Din "I cannot let Khalil lead the Muslims". Qalawun apparently intended for the senior emir Hosam ad-Din Turuntay to succeed him.

Khalil would not take no for an answer. Leaving his father on his deathbed, he declared that even if it wasn't Qalawun's will that Khalil rule the Muslims, it may yet have been Allah's. Khalil declared himself sultan. Hosam ad-Din Turuntay was executed, and another senior emir, the Mongol Kitbugha, was imprisoned for a time. Khalil's full name as sultan was al-Malik al-Ashraf Salah ad-Din Khalil ibn Qalawun. His few surviving coins reveal his bloated ego - he saw himself as the "Revitalizer of the 'Abbasids".

Khalil was an angry young ruler with many enemies in the nobility and army. Nonetheless, he was able to unite the Mamluk Sultanate in a campaign that became famous in the West - a final campaign against the Crusader states of Outremer, now centered on Acre. He sent messengers to Acre, informing the Franks of his intentions to take the city. A French knight named Philip Mainebeuf was sent to persuade Khalil, but he only succeeded in angering the "Saracen" sultan. He was imprisoned, and Khalil began mustering an army.

Khalil mustered one of the more impressive armies in the history of medieval Egypt. It was particularly conspicuous for contingents of Mongol and Khwarezmian cavalry - the finest of their day - and for a number of massive catapults and other artillery pieces. A number of figures destined for later greatness held commands in the army that marched on Acre. The European mamluk Hosam ad-Din Lajin commanded the army of Damascus - he would later become sultan in 1297. The future historians Abu Al-fida' Isma'il ibn 'ali ibn Mahmud Imad ad-Din and Baibars ad-Dewadar both held minor commands.

The brutal but relatively short siege of Acre endured for April and May of 1291, and ended in a crushing victory for the Mamluks. Khalil's men entered the city, pillaging and destroying much of it. At the insistence of his emirs Khalil behaved with relative clemency towards noble captives, though many were paraded through the streets of Syria in chains before being released.

Khalil spent most of the rest of his short reign capturing the other major cities and castles occupied by Crusaders. He famously took Tyre without a fight, and most of the other cities only offered token resistance. Western Europe was shocked and horrified - in just two years, Khalil had brought the entirety of Outremer back into the Dar al-Islam.

Khalil returned to Cairo late in 1292. Here he seems to have done little more than cultivate trouble for himself. Tactless and arrogant, he brought about intense rivalries and infighting amongst the mamluks by openly favoring Circassians and Europeans over Turks for promotions. He brought about open hatred in the ranks of the emirs by promoting Ibn al-Salus -a lower-class merchant - to a number of important government positions, and by turning a blind eye to the former merchant's disrespect for the mamluks.

Khalil was murdered just outside of Alexandria in December of 1293, by a party of senior emirs. The first blow was struck by Baydara al-Mansuri, whom Khalil had recently insulted in an argument. Other conspirators included Hosam ad-Din Lajin and Bahadir Ras Nubah. Ibn al-Salus was arrested by the conspirators and beaten to death. Khalil's loyal emir Kitbugha, however, drove the conspirators out of Cairo and declared Khalil's nine year-old brother an-Nasir Muhammad the new Sultan.

Khalil was not an unintelligent man, but he had the mind and spirit of a soldier, not a statesman. A warlord at heart, he had neither the charm nor the cunning necessary to survive the deadly politics of his kingdom. Contemporary chroniclers depict Khalil as a courageous warrior, a talented besieger, and a devout Muslim, but also as a boastful, hotheaded fool prone to acting rashly and making provocative statements.

Nothing is known about the woman/women in Khalil's life, but he is said to have sired only two children - both daughters. Their names and how long they lived are both unknown. Khalil, like most of the early Bahri sultans, was an accomplished horseman and swordsman who played polo and practiced archery in his spare time. He was also an avid reader and learned in many fields.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:56 AM   #24

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Excellent post, Salah. It's good to have some bios of non-Europeans included.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 08:59 AM   #25

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Excellent post, Salah. It's good to have some bios of non-Europeans included.
Thank you! Mesoamericans and "Saracens" are really the only ones I'll be qualified to write about anyways
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Old January 25th, 2011, 09:31 AM   #26

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Thank you! Mesoamericans and "Saracens" are really the only ones I'll be qualified to write about anyways
Beautiful job Salah ad-Din. Now, *rubs hands together* I am waiting impatiently for those Mesoamericans! Just kidding, on another thread of course.

I wonder if there is an American West Biography thread? That is the only other subject besides 15th century Europeans that I can write knowledgably about.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 10:11 AM   #27

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Originally Posted by Salah ad-Din View Post
Al-Ashraf Khalil, Sultan of the Bahri Mamluk Sultanate

lived 1262 - 1293 (reigned as sole sultan 1290 - 1293)

Thank you for the post Salah.Always nice to see such biographies from a 'western' view.
Hopefully there will be more to come.
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Old January 31st, 2011, 12:48 PM   #28

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Ippolita Maria Sforza

(1446-1484) Duchess of Calabria, Kingdom of Naples.
Ippolita (or Ippolyta) Maria Sforza was the daughter of famed condottiero Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan and Bianca Maria Visconti. Francesco became duke after his marriage to Bianca, who was the only heir to the Visconti ducal throne. Ippolita was his eldest daughter. Her siblings - all of them high-ranking officials or lords - were Galeazzo Maria, heir to the throne, Filippo Maria, Count of Corsica, Sforza Maria, Duke of Bari, Ludovico Maria, Regent of Milan (de facto duke from 1480), Ascanio Maria, Cardinal of Milan, Elisabetta, Marchesa of Montferrato, and Ottaviano, Count of Lugano.

She married Alfonso, Duke of Calabria in 1466. Alfonso was the eldest legitimate son of Ferrante I, King of Naples. Their union was part of a political strategem which aimed to cement a new alliance between Milan and Naples. The Peace of Lodi (1454) itself was the official provisional peace, but important noble families made these assurances in the chivalric manner of the day (and for the most part adhered to the honorable preseravtion of these family ties). This helped considerable to maintain peace and stability across all Italy. her children were Ferrante II, later King of Naples briefly, Isabella of Naples, duchess consort of Milan, and Piero di Rossano.

Ippolita was tutored by the eminent Greek scholar Constantine Lascaris who came to Milan after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It was through scholars such as he that the revival of classical learning was embraced by the elite of the day. Her influence at court as a balance to Alfonso's debauchery is undeniable, but the most lasting impact of her life is that she is one of the very first women to be a model ideal for the growing trend of the educated noblewoman as a tool for political gain. The fame of her house no doubt preceeded her great intelliegence and erudition, nonetheless, she was highly thought of by her powerful and learned contemporaries (such as her great friend Lorenzo de Medici).

Her legacy to Italy is one of indirect facilitation of the Medici hegemony in Tuscany, and the later settling of the Pazzi War that ended the troubles between Florence and the papacy in the 1470s. Her legacy to Italian culture is that she became an idol and role model for Italian noblewomen of the Renaissance, a prototype for well-placed Renaissance ladies such as Isabella d'Este, Elisabetta Gonzaga, Emilia Pia, Vittoria Colonna, Veronica Gambara and others.

Sources/For Further Reading:

The Education of Italian renaissance Women (M. Blade)
Illustrious Ladies of the Italian Renaissance (C. Hare)
Magnifico: the Brilliant Life and Violent Times of Lorenzo de' Medici (M. Unger)
History of Italy (F. Guicciardini)
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Old January 31st, 2011, 02:20 PM   #29

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Excellent bio, Star.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 06:50 AM   #30

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Thank you, Clemmie! I warn you, though - I might attempt all of the interesting and notable 15th century Sforzas as this thread remains alive. The family lost their importance after the fall of Ludovico the Moor (one of my favorite) and of course after the close of the Italian Wars.

I'm looking forward to reading everyone's short bios of the historical figures that interest them.
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