Dr. Walid Phares

عربي

 

Dr. Walid Phares

www.walidphares.com

The battle of the "Triangle" 1293


On this Veterans' Day in America, here is a map, published in my book "Pluralism" (al Taadudiya Fi Lubnan) showing the army movements during the most powerful battle in Lebanon's history and the single largest victory of what was then a "Lebanese Resistance" against the Mameluk invading armies. My book was published in May 1978, after three years of research and writing, by the Kasleek University research Center. Part I of the book retraced the evolution of what was known as the "Marada states" (dawlat al Marada) which lasted from circa 680 AD to circa 1305 AD, close to seven centuries. These chapters were the first ever written material about the strategic evolution of an "Aramaic speaking Mountain state" which borders evolved, expanded and shrunk. Previously Father Butros Daou had included some of this information based on Ibn al Qala3i medieval chronicles. Unfortunately Lebanon's educational system had erased any reference to the "Marada states" since 1943, and thus students never learned about these important events at school.
The battle of the "Triangle" or "al Muthalath" was fought in 1293 AD, as one battle of the Mameluk war on Mount Lebanon which lasted close to a century. The battle involved three locations, Byblos in the center, Fidar in the south and Madfun in the north. The Mameluks were attempting to end the independence of the Marada state in Mount Lebanon by seizing the entire coast between Beirut and Tripoli and capturing the only port city which linked Mount Lebanon to the rest of the world, including Byzantium and Europe. According to several accounts, a Mameluk army of 100,000 (unsure about these numbers) advanced from Beirut towards Byblos-Jbeil, while another army of 60,000 marched from Tripoli towards Byblos. The Moqaddamins (civilian-military commanders) of the Maradas met in Maad (Jbeil district) and decided on a battle plan. Since their numbers were close to 30,000 (some say 40,000) they were at a disadvantage. They placed a force around Fidar, another around Madfun and positioned the rest on the hills above Byblos. They've asked the population of Jbeil to sail away with all the ships and act as if the inhabitants had left in a rush, leaving behind them most belongings and their homes with all the possessions.
The Fidar ambush allowed the first Mameluk army to cross unharmed reaching Jbeil by afternoon. The conquerors found the city empty of its inhabitants and rushed to perform "Ghazu" (spoils) and reap the benefits of the victory. By nightfall, the core of the Mameluk army was at rest and the battle formations have almost dismantled. The Marada forces descended from the hills and wreck havoc within the conquerors camp, reaching the Mameluk commanding group and eliminating them. The Mameluks fled by the thousands towards the south, were the Fidar ambush destroyed most of them and towards the north where the Madfun ambush terminated them. The name "Madfun" came from the notion of how many soldiers were buried in that battle. Accounts about these three battles in Fidar, Jbeil and Madfun are extraordinary. The second Mameluk army coming from Tripoli arrived the next day only to find all Marada forces of 30,000 (unsure about these numbers) re-gathered in a defensive position and blocking their way at Madfun. News of the crushing defeat arrived to the commanders of the Northern Mameluk army which decided, after few skirmishes- to pull back and return to Tripoli.
The battle of the Triangle gave the Maradas, couple decades more before they were defeated in 1305 AD. "Jbeil-Fidar-Madfun' was fought by an army of 30,000 against combined armies of 160,000. It was without a doubt the most stunning victory of the people of Mount Lebanon in its history. When I published "Al Taadudiya" (at the young age of 23) I was a law student at St Joseph University. I had hoped that more historians would dig deeper and excavate the enormous archives of the Marada states. Regrettably most capable historians and writers of that era were interested in who would be the next President of Lebanon. Little was done. In the hope that younger historians would do what their predecessors have failed to do, I will be summarizing some of the sections in English, when time allows.