Emirate Of Transjordania - Encyclopedia




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"TRANSJORDANIA, EMIRATE OF, sometimes called Kerak, a dominion extending some 200 m. S. from the Yarmuk and from the Jordan eastwards to the desert. It comprises Gilead, Amman, Moab and part of Edom of the Old Testament, and El Belga, the southern portion of the former Turkish vilayet of Damascus. After forming the independent kingdom of Ghassan under a succession of Arab dynasties from A.D. 165 onwards it was conquered by the Moslems during the joint reigns of Amr IV. and Jabala V. and VI. in 637, and under the name of Kerak became one of the six kingdoms into which Syria was divided under the khalifs of Bagdad and the Seljuk Turks. As the Emirate of Kerak it was a separate State during the Middle Ages and again became an independent principality in 1920 with its capital at Amman (pop. 2,300). The other principal towns are Kerak (pop. 2,500), Madeba (pop. 2,000), Es Salt (pop. 8,000), Ma'an (pop.3,000), Jerash (pop. 1,500). Its inhabitants possibly number 180,000, varying according to the season and the movements of the nomads; they are partly settled Arabs - many of whom are Christians - with some colonies of Circassian Moslems and a number of nomads. It contains many interesting classical and mediaeval ruins. The physical features, flora and fauna are similar to those of southern Syria.

During the Crusades Kerak (see 15.753) was the capital of the great fief of the Oultrejourdain and, of its Christian lords, the most notable were Philip de Milly (1161-8), formerly lord of Nablus (1142-61), who surrendered the fief in order to join the Templars, subsequently becoming their Grand Master, and Reginald de Chatillon (1177-87), a former Prince of Antioch (1153-60), who was beheaded by Saladin after the battle of Hattin (1187). Saladin's brother El Adil (" saphadin ") took Kerak in 1188 and was its emir until he became Sultan of Egypt (1200). His grandson En Nasr Da`ud, after being deposed from the throne of Damascus (1229), reigned in Kerak for 20 years and recaptured Jerusalem from the Christians in 1239. When the Ayyubid dynasty was overthrown in Egypt, his nephew El Mugith, a prisoner of the new Sultan Aibek, was released by his gaolers in Shobek and placed on the throne of Kerak (1250). He was deposed in 1262 (and later strangled) by Sultan Baibars of Egypt whose own son was glad to find a throne at Kerak after losing that of Egypt (1279). Berekeh's brother Masud, who succeeded him in Kerak, was in turn deposed (1286) and another fugitive Sultan of Egypt, En Nasr, reigned in Kerak (1294-9) until his restoration to power in Name Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y. (I) Plattsburg Barracks, N.Y. (2) Madison Barracks. N.Y.

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Cairo, only to return to Kerak (1308-10) after a fresh deposition while awaiting a second and final restoration. For many years Kerak, which was the treasure-city of the Mameluke sultans in 1355, slipped out of history, and during much of the Ottoman period (1517-1918) enjoyed an uneasy if obscure independence, only coming under direct Turkish civil administration after the construction of the Hejaz railway.

Kerak was captured by the Emir Faisal on April 7 1918. General Allenby's troops operated in Transjordania in the spring of 1918 and the retreating Turkish garrison of Ma`an, forming part of the IV. Army, surrendered to Gen. Chaytor with the Australian Light Horse at Qastal on Sept. 29 1918 which marked the end of the Ottoman period. Transjordania formed part of the Emir Faisal's dominions, even after he lost Damascus, until the spring of 1921, when it was transferred to his brother the Emir 'Abdalla. (II. P.-G.)

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