Mount Lebanon Emirate

1844 map of Druze Lebanon, showing the Nahr al-Kalb as the northern boundary of the Druze.

The Emirate of Mount Lebanon was an autonomous subdivision in the Ottoman Empire. The Emirate is considered to be an historical precursor of the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate established in 1861, which was, in turn, the precursor of the Lebanese Republic of today.[1] Historians have given different names to this entity: Shuf Emirate, Emirate of Jabal Druze, Emirate of Mount Lebanon, as well as Ma'an Emirate.[2] The boundaries were not well defined.[2] The town of Baakleen was the capital of the emirate during the Ma'an period until Fakhr-al-Din II chose to live in Deir el Qamar due to a water shortage in Baakleen. Dar el Qamar remained the capital until Bashir Shihab II ascended to the throne and made Beiteddine the capital. Beiteddine remains the capital of the Chouf District today.[2]

Fakhr-al-Din II, the Druze prince and Lebanon's most prominent leader, was a strongman who was given leeway by the Ottomans to subdue and destroy other provincial leaderships in Ottoman Syria on their behalf, and who was himself destroyed in the end, to make way for a firmer control by the Ottoman state over the Syrian eyalets.[1] The 'emir' was thus the dominant warlord in the Lebanese mountains.[3]

Fakhr al-Din established a subtle symbiosis between the Maronites of Kisrawan and the Druzes of the Shuf mountains. After his downfall, the Ottomans tried different ways to break up this symbiosis, but all efforts failed. In the end, they returned power to the Maans in the person of Ahmad al-Maani, the grandnephew of Fakhr al-Din, in 1667.[1]

The Maan and Shihab government of different parts of Mount Lebanon, between 1667 and 1841, was an Ottoman iltizam, or tax farm, rather than a dynastic principality, and the multazims were never reigning princes.[1] The relations between the Porte and the Shihab emirs revolved around the payment of taxes, and the official legitimation of their position as multazims.[4] Such was the precariousness of their position that over the more than three centuries of the two dynasties (1516–1840) only two significantly strong leaders emerged, Fakhr-Al-Din I (1516–1544) and his grandson Fakhr al-Din II (1591–1635). Bashir Shihab II (1788–1840) was also an important prince but he was viewed as a tyrant at the period rather than a leader. That led to the 1840 revolution against Bashir and his Egyptian allies .[5]

Maanid dynasty

Flag of the Maanid Emirs: * Fakhr-al-Din I (1516–1544) * Korkmaz I (1544–1584) * Fakhr-al-Din II (1572–1635) * Malham al Maani (1635–1658) * Karkum II (1658–1662) * Ahmad al Maani (1662–1697)

The Ma‘ans came to power in the early 16th century, and both Fakhr al-Din I and Fakhr al-Din II greatly expanded the territory of the original Imarat al-Shuf while acting as the principal local tax farmer (multazim) for the Ottoman state.[5]

In general, the tax-farming system meant that the multazims always served at the sultan's pleasure, and given this degree of insecurity they would try to collect as much tax as they could, within the limits of the taxpayers' physical ability to pay.[5]

Fakhr al-Din I (1516–1544)

Fakhr al-Din I (1516–1544), was supposedly awarded with the emirate of the Shuf after fighting on the side of Selim I at the Battle of Marj Dabiq.[5] In any case, he emerged soon afterwards as a local force, and was the first member of the Ma'an dynasty to serve the Ottomans.[5]

The Ottomans divided the territories they conquered from the Mamluks into wilayas, sanjaks and nahiyas, and assigned qadis and military governors to the larger administrative divisions. However, they farmed out the task of tax collection to powerful local leaders, who maintained their positions by a combination of bribing local Ottoman officials and asserting themselves over less local power-holders.[5]

The Ma'an family holdings (muqata'ah) were originally divided among the three wilayas of Damascus, Tripoli, and Sidon. The family had not been prominent under the Mamluks, but was strong enough under the Ottomans to be in charge of dividing the tax-farms assigned to it among a number of lesser local notables. By the end of his reign, Fakhr al-Din I's authority extended from the borders of Jaffa to Tripoli.[5]

Qurqumaz (1544–1585)

Fakhr al-Din was succeeded by his son Qurqumaz, who was involved in frequent conflicts both with his neighbours and with the Ottomans, as the tax-farming system involved constant power struggles.[5]

In 1544 the emir Qurqumaz succeeded his father Fakhr al-Din. In 1585, a caravan transporting the taxes collected in Egypt and Syria was plundered at Djun 'Akkar. The Ottomans, suspecting the Ma‘an of complicity and of having sheltered the criminals, invaded Lebanon. The emir Qurqumaz shut himself up in the inaccessible rock of Shakif Tirun near Jezzine and died there, 'of chagrin or poison', in 1585.[6]

Qurqumaz was succeeded by his thirteen-year-old son, who became Fakhr al-Din II in 1591, after a hiatus of six years.[5]

Fakhr-al-Din II (1591–1635)

Fakhr-al-Din II (1591–1635) was the most renowned of the Maanid rulers, although his position was as precarious as that of his predecessors and his successors.[5]

In 1587, with the accession of Shah Abbas I, Safavid power began to revive, and the Ottoman–Persian Wars were soon resumed. In Syria, the Safavids could use local Shiite political leverage against the Ottomans.[1]

To reduce the Shiite danger, the Ottomans turned to the Maans, who stood chastened and subservient after the successful Ottoman expedition sent against them in 1586. Their choice fell on Fakhr al-Din Maan, the son of Qurqumaz. In about 1590, Fakhr al-Din was appointed governor of the Sanjak of Sidon, to which the Sanjak of Beirut was subsequently attached. In 1598, as the wars between the Safavids and the Ottomans broke out again, he was also appointed governor of the Sanjak of Safad, which gave him direct control over the pro-Safavid Shiites of Jabal Amil.[1]

In the 1610s he defeated his two principal opponents, Yusuf Sayfa and Amir Mansur ibn Furaykh. This, coupled with his attack on Damascus in 1607 (together with other local lords), evidently alarmed the Ottomans.[5] In an attempt to achieve independence for Lebanon, he concluded a secret agreement with Ferdinand I of Tuscany, pledging to support each other against the Ottomans. After discovering the agreement, the Ottomans ordered Ahmad al Hafiz, governor of Damascus, to attack him.[7] Fakhr al-Din temporarily abdicated in favour of his brother Yunus and his son Ali, and spent the next five years in exile in Europe.[5] He only returned when his friend Silihdar Mehmed Pasha became governor of Damascus in 1618.[7] When he returned to Lebanon he ruled more or less unchallenged for the next fifteen years, as the Ottomans were too engrossed in their wars with the Safavids to give any serious attention to the situation.[5]

In 1623, Mustafa Pasha, the new governor of Damascus, engaged him in battle, and was decisively defeated at Battle of Anjar near Anjar in the Biqa Valley. Impressed by the victory, the Ottoman Sultan gave him the title of "Sultan al Barr" (Sultan of the Mountain).[7]

Fakhr al-Din, in his later years, came to control the whole territory of modern Lebanon. Even then, the Shuf remained his power base. The control of the Sanjak of Safad, and also of the Sanjak of Ajlun and other parts of Transjordan, were at least as important, politically, as the control of the sanjaks of Beirut and Sidon, or the different mountain nahiyas of the Sanjak of Tripoli, in the Eyalet of Tripoli.[1]

Eventually, however, the wali of Damascus, Kücük Ahmed Pasha, was despatched at the head of an army against Fakhr al-Din, who was defeated, captured and taken to Istanbul, where be was executed in 1635 along with Yunus and Ali.[5]

Later emirs

The dynasty continued, greatly weakened, until the death of Ahmad (reigned 1658–1697) when its functions were taken over by the Shihab family.[5]