Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online publication date: April 2021

1 - The Rise and Fall of the Kurdish Emirates (Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries)

from Part I - Historical Legacies


The Kurdish principalities that were renown since the Middle Ages have soon developed an ambiguous relationship with central states. They used the social and political specificities of their lands and the binarity of imperial powers situation in order to thrive. The Mamluk (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries) and Ottoman (sixteenth to twentieth centuries) eras seem to share some features as for the Kurdish configuration. Both realms intended to integrate while keeping a differentiated Kurdish space aside their core territory as a resource against Iranian (Ilkhani and Safavi) attacks. Although the Mamluks did not fully aggregate a Kurdish entity, two centuries later the Sublime Porte finally made this leap and created a fully Ottoman Kurdistan. The circumstances under which autonomy was granted to Kurdish principalities that recognized the one and only Ottoman rule were multifaceted. To take a few factors at stake, the troubled political situation that preceded the incorporation of Kurdistan, the deal that the Ottoman bureaucrats, among which the infamous Idrîs Bidlisi, crafted for the Kurdish mirs as well as their religious siding, were crucial. However, the process of full integration of Kurdish lands into the Ottoman imperium resumed at the end of the nineteenth century by crushing the weapons it once utilized against their neighbours.