Mount Lebanon 1500-1600
The Ottoman Invasions 1500-1517
The early 1500’s saw relative stability in Mount Lebanon in light of the Ottoman invasion of the Levant. However, soon after the Ottoman victory against the Safavid Empire in 1514 during the Battle of Tshaldiran, the Ottomans set eye on the Western Levant, modern day Lebanon. The Ottoman conquest of the Levant in 1516 would however soon spill into Mount Lebanon and the lands surrounding it, which constitute the current borders of the Lebanese Republic. The Ottoman seizure of ‘Lebanese’ territory resulted in the lands division among various dynasties whom had been living in Lebanon since a diversity of time-periods from the times of the early Arabian conquests of the Levant up to the times of the Crusades and even the Mongol invasion.
Such dynasties incorporated the congregation of the Seven Families of Beirut, and the ruling Assaf dynasty, whom controlled the peninsula of modern-day Beirut and an additional strip of land which connected the Lebanese coast around Beirut. Given that Beirut was under Sunni rules, the Ottomans did not pose any threat to it, yet the balance of power in Beirut shifted from the noble families of the city whom had aligned their interests with the Mamluks, to other more powerful families whom pledged their allegiance to the Ottomans.
The First Rebellion 1518-1520
In Chouf region of Mount Lebanon, the Ma’anites or the Ma’ans were the ruling dynasty where they had thrived financially through feudalism and their militaristic power, which acted as a deterrent to other competing dynasties. In the Eastern region of the Nabatiyeh, the Shehab dynasty was equally as dominant as the Ma’ans through their vast lands and united subjects. In the Beqaa region, the was the Sunni Hanashites were the ruling dynast whom have kept close ties with Istanbul but not with Cairo. By 1520, the demographics of Mount Lebanon would begin to shift and change following the catalyst events of 1518-1519, or what was known as the Rebellion of 1518. The rebellion was ignited by the Ma’ans who sought ending the reign of the engulfing dynasties in the Bekaa and Anti-Lebanon regions. The rebellion was quashed by the Ottomans, who then prosecuted the Ma’ans and their allies.
A new aggravating event would be caused by Druze clans of Lebanon finding out about the envoy delegation, which was sent during late 1516 by Ludwig II of Hungary to the Safavid Empire to forge an economic and military alliance between them against the Ottoman Empire. The reason for that revolved around the Maronite Monk Petrus de Monte Libano, whom had been part of the envoy delegation sent to Persia. He had been identifiable by the Ma’ans and the Arslan dynasty given his popularity among the Maronite majority living under the feudal clans of Mount Lebanon. This offered as a mean of recourse, which the Ma’ans could use to reimburse the Ottomans for the bloodshed resulting from the failed revolt.
The Rise of the First Ma’anite Order 1521-1532
Soon after the failed revolt, the Ottomans turned their attention back towards the Safavid Empire in the East, whom sought to reconquer their losses in Mesopotamia and Anatolia back in 1514. The bitterness of the 1518 Rebellion between the Ma’ans and Ottomans would be replaced with an alliance under the leadership of Fakhreddine I, who took advantage of the Ottoman Empire’s hostility towards the powerful Persian Safavids, the suzerains of the rivalling Hanashites in the Beqaa. As a reward of their streak of victories against the Safavids and their allies, Fakhreddie I would be hailed by the Ottomans as Sanjakbey of his proclaimed territories in the Chouf and later on in Beirut despite the resistance of the Beirutis.
In the early 1520’s, the Ottomans detracted from confronting the Safavids, however the patronage of Persia over Bitlees and its Bey resulted in Bitlees’s loyalty falling to the Safavids. This would compel the Ottomans to prepare for a new war. The death of Shah Ismail of the Safavids in 1524 would give more leverage to the Ottomans, as the Safavids quarrelled to hail Tahmap I as the succeeding Shah of Persia. By 1531 it had seemed that Mesopotamia had fell back under the influence of the Safavids, which forced the Grand Vizier of the Ottomans Ibrahim Pasha to prepare a new army for a new and bigger war.
The First Ottoman Safavid War: The Battle of the Rafidayn (Two-Iraqs) 1532-1536
The first war between the Ottomans and Safavids began in 1532 when the Grand Vizier and Sultan Suleiman attacked the lands in Eastern Anatolia, which had re-pledged its allegiance it the Safavids. The Ottomans swiftly recaptured Bitlees and then Tabriz before fully invading Iraq from the north. By 1534, the Ottomans would have captured Baghdad, the capital of the deceased Abbasid Caliphate that was once the greatest city in the world. The Ma’ans took this opportunity to firmly control their grip over Lebanon by militarily asserting their dominance over the Chouf, Beirut, Sidon and the Beqaa Valley. This allowed the Ma’ans to prepare for their waves of diplomatic marriages aimed towards unifying the blood of the competing feudal dynasties of Mount Lebanon and the Western Levant.
The Establishment of the Second Ma’anite Order 1544-1549
In 1544, Rüstem Pasha replaced Ibrahim Pasha as the new Grand Vizier. The Ottomans waged their second campaign on the Safavids under what became known as the Battles of Van. Later during that year, Fakhreddine I passed away, leading to a political vacuum within the Ma’anite Order. Emir Korkomaz would succeed him in 1544 and would carry on the Druze dynasty’s firm grip over Lebanon for the time being, in light of the Ottomans efforts far from Lebanon in the east. In 1547, Sultan Suleiman re-attacked Persia with the entire might of the Ottoman army and annexed Armenia, Tabriz, Van and the entirety of Anatolia. With the Ottomans now diminishing Persian superiority, they would begin firmly controlling their subjects to avoid the re-occurrence of the dissidence in Bitlees and other areas. This meant ransacking and plundering all of those who did not submit. Such policies would not allow the peace between Mount Lebanon and Istanbul to last forever.