Lebanon in History from the Earliest Times to the Present

By Philip K. Hitti | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV THE PRINCES OF THE MOUNTAIN: THE MAʿNS

WITH the Ottoman conquest the Maʿns replace the Buḥturs and the Tanūkhs as masters of central and southern Lebanon:1 "The sun of the Tanūkh amīrate sets and the sun of the Maʿn amīrate rises".2 The eponymous founder of the house, Maʿn al-Ayyūbi, has no certain Arab genealogy. He appears for the first time in 1120, receiving orders from Ṭughtagīn, Saljūq governor of Damascus,3 to proceed and settle with his tribe on the south-western slopes of Mount Lebanon and harass the Crusaders on the maritime plain. In al-Shūf, "which was still desolately unpopulated", the Maʿns gave up their tents and chose "desert-like" Baʿaqlīn for headquarters.4 About half a century later the Shihābs, of the noble Quraysh family, forsook their abode in Ḥawrān in favour of a new one in Southern Lebanon, at Wādi al-Taym. The two families, destined to play the leading rôle in feudal Lebanon, became allied through treaty and marriage. Early in their career the Maʿns adopted the prevailing religion among their people, Druzism, whereas the Shihābs, except for a branch which maintained Islam, embraced Maronitism.

The Maʿn hegemony, founded by Fakhr-al-Dīn I (d. 1544),5 reached its apex under his grandson, Fakhr-al-Dīn II (1590- 1635), then followed a downward course and was extinguished with the death of Aḥmad ( 1697),6 a grand-nephew of this Fakhr. The Shihābs replaced the Maʿns and controlled Lebanon till about the middle of the nineteenth century.7 As contemporaries and at times competitors the Maʿns had to the immediate north the banu-ʿAssāf of Kisrawān. Originally a Turkoman family settled there since 1306,8 the ʿAssāfs were among those who

The ʿAssāfs and Sayfas

____________________
2
Shidyāq, pp. 250-1.
4
Muḥammad al-Muḥibbi, Khulāṣat al-Athar fi Aʿyān al-Qarn al-Ḥdi ʿAshar ( Cairo, 1284), vol. iii, p. 266; Shidyāq, p. 247.

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