The mamluks were among the most professional soldiers in the Medieval world, with their origins going back to the 8th century. Largely recruited from Turkish peoples, they were the property of their masters as ‘slaves’, but because of their status as the military elite, they were well-treated and could rise to prominent positions. Following their takeover of the Ayyubids in 1250, the Mamluk Sultanate fought against a plethora of opponents, defeating the Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260 and successfully besieging the city of Acre in 1291, effectively ending Crusader influence in the Middle East.
The mamluks in the above picture appear just before the Ottoman conquest in 1517. One trooper (left) is wearing a lamellar cuirass; a common type of armour in many Muslim armies. The horseman (centre) has his mail hauberk reinforced by bronze plates covering the front, back and sides. The two mamluks on the right cover their armour with short jackets, and wear finely-decorated helmets with nose guards.