A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans or Kipchak and later Circassian and Georgian. The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior class, was of great political importance and was extraordinarily long-lived, lasting from the 9th to the 19th century AD. Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies. Particularly in Egypt, but also in the Levant, Iraq, and India, mamluks held political and military power. In some cases, they attained the rank of sultan, while in others they held regional power as amirs or beys. Most notably, mamluk factions seized the sultanate for themselves in Egypt and Syria in a period known as the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517). The Mamluk Sultanate famously beat back the Mongols at the Battle of Ayn Jalut and fought the Crusaders effectively driving them out from the Levant by 1291 and officially in 1302 ending the era of the Crusades.
They were predominantly drawn from Turkic tribes, the Cumans and Kipchaks, depending on the period and region in question. While mamluks were purchased, their status was above ordinary slaves, who were not allowed to carry weapons or perform certain tasks. In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubib dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords," with social status above freeborn Muslims.