Battle of Anjar on 1 November 1623l. Emir Fakhreddine II (right) and the Ma’anite flag (left).

Battle of Anjar on 1 November 1623l. Emir Fakhreddine II (right) and the Ma’anite flag (left).

Emir Fakhreddine II of the Ma’an Dynasty.

Emir Fakhreddine II of the Ma’an Dynasty.

Grand Duke Fernando de Medici

Grand Duke Fernando de Medici

MOUNT LEBANON 1600 - 1649

The Rise and Fall of the Great Emirate of Mount Lebanon 


 The 1600’s saw the continued rise of the Ma’ani Dynasty in Mount Lebanon. The Ma'ans, or Ma’anites, and Shihabis at that period of time had little disputes over sectarian and demographic affairs, which brought stability to Mount Lebanon.The dynasties of Mount Lebanon also settled disputes with the Beiruti families by agreeing and drafting a treaty which decreed that Beirut would remain neutral irrespective of sectarian, demographic and political conflicts between the Emirate and the Ottomans. The rise of Emir Fakhreddine II in the 1600’s after succeeding his father, Emir Korkomaz al-Ma’ani I, who died in 1844, would flare hostility between Mount Lebanon and Sultan Muret IV. 

An imminent war would subsequently threaten the very existence of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, as Beirut was hailed by Fakhreddine II as the pearl of the Mount Lebanon Emirate, while Sidon being its capital city. The triggering catalyst would be the Jumblat-Ma’anite Alliance of 1605, which intended to unite the Druze of Mount Lebanon and the Kurds of Aleppo to wage a successful revolution against their Ottoman rulers. Fakhreddine II signed this mutual pact with Muhafiz Ali Jumblat, and soon after began joint revolt. The revolt yet again failed just as what happened to Fakhreddine I, a century back. While Jumblat was eliminated by the Ottomans, Fakhreddine II was able to withstand the defeat, but he would now be on his own.


Following the obsoleting of the Jumblat-Ma’ainte Alliance of 1605 in 1607, the Ma’anites sought to form new alliances. Fakhreddine had met Duke Fernando de Medici and initially contacted the Grand Duchy of Tuscany through his alliance with the Jumblats. The year of 1608 saw the economic alliance between the Emirate of Mount Lebanon and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The secret agreement was enacted between Emir Fakhreddine II and Duke Fernando de Medici, whereby the Ma’ans would provide critical raw material to Tuscany, in return of the Grand Duchy’s military equipment.

In 1609, Cosimo de Medici became the new Grand Duke of Tuscany and his rule brought even closer ties with Fakhreddine, by cementing economic ties. The new Duke was positive towards Fakhreddine, which led to Fakhreddine integrating Maronites into his political assembly by famously appointing member of the Khazen family in his advisor council. This was emboldened by fall of Keserwen to the Sayfars, which made the Ottomans rely on Fakhreddine to annex Keserwen, following the weakening of the relationship between the Ottomans and Assaf dynasty. The Assaf’s rule would permanently end after the death of Emir Yusuf in 1625.

The Ma’anite-Medician alliance would be strenghted to also become a militaristic one in 1611 following the envoy sent by Fakhreddine to the Vatican, which included the Maronite Bishop George, whom forged this alliance with the consent of the Pope Gregory XIII.  In 1613, the Governor of Damascus Hafiz Ahmet Pasha was enraged by the forged alliance, and attacked Mount Lebanon with an army’s strength of 40,000 troops, but strategically failed to quash Fakhreddine.

A peace treaty would force the Emir to go into exile before he had been caught by the Ottomans. The Emir fled to Tuscany and appointed his brother Emir Yunus I to keep the Emirate in one piece until the right time came to wage war on the Ottomans. The Ottomans returned sooner than the return of the Emir in order to eliminate Emir Yusuf; yet, the Emirate managed to defend Mount Lebanon with 5,000 soldiers. The result forced a stalemate, putting the Damascus Governor in serious trouble back in Istanbul with the Sultan. Fakhreddine would not return to Mount Lebanon until 1618 and would then improve the Lebanese Emiri Army from 9,000 troops to a mere 20,000, but this was still dwarfed by the Ottoman army.


In late 1622, war broke out between Fakhreddine II and the Ottomans resulting in a chain of decisive victories for Fakhreddine. His victories in the Beqaa over Moustapha Pasha would positively be aggravated by deposing of Sultan Uthman II at the hands of his Janissaries. The chain of events allowed Fakhreddine to capture the Lebanese coast and Bcharre the holy land of the Maronite Christians. The Battle of Anjar in 1623 would prove to be one of Lebanon’s greatest victories and one of the Ottomans’ worst defeats. The Lebanese Emiri (Royal) Army wielded 25,000 troops, aggrandised by its Tuscan allies, whilst the Ottomans dwarfed them at a hefty 50,000.

The Emiri Army inflicted a loss of 7,500 troops to the Ottoman army at the cost of 2,000 during the battle. This victory brought autonomy to Mount Lebanon but stagnated Beirut economically and politically due to the cut of trade routes. In 1633, the Emir laid siege to Tripoli and conquered it allowing him to firmly have a base to wage battles further into Aleppo in Homs, Hama and Tartus. The Ottomans would eventually embargo the lands of the Great Emirate of Lebanon which spanned from Mount Lebanon to the Galilee and Damascus at an area of 25,000 km2, almost three times modern day Lebanon’s size.


Following the ending of the Ottoman-Persian Wars in early 1630, the Ottomans refortified its army by the year 1634. Their target was now set on the Emirate of Mount Lebanon, which had begun destabilising the region by encouraging revolts in other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Fakhreddine’s prominence was short lived. He would face crushing defeats in the anti-Lebanon mountain chain later on, which led to his capture and execution in 1635. Mount Lebanon was then heavily sanctioned by the Ottomans in the remaining years of the 17th century; thus, affecting the supply of food to Mount Lebanon and Beirut. 

The Emirate of Mount Lebanon was reduced to an autonomous Mutasarrifate, governed partially by the Lebanese and majorly by their Ottoman rulers. The remnants of Fakhreddine was the restoration of producing dye as taken from the Phoenician ancestors of the Lebanese, which was now applied to the thriving silk and textile industry. This encouraged the Maronites to move to the Chouf and other Druze areas, which would eventually become primarily Christian. This would be a turning point in history leading to the Mount Lebanon Civil War of 1860 between the Druze and the Christians. Fakhreddine would be succeeded by his nephew Melhem I, in 1635 becoming absolutely subordinate to his Ottoman rulers. He would retain limited control over the Chouf and the coastal cities between Beirut and Byblos.