Fakhr al-Din II – The Rebel Prince

Emir Fakhr al-Din the second is an enigmatic prince shrouded in the mist of time, and a controversial figure that still stirs the imagination, five centuries after his death.

For some, he’s the first federator of the Lebanese identity, and for the others, a defector and an instigator. He’s the first ambitious Levantine prince who, through intrigue, keen military maneuvers, and far-reaching alliances, almost overthrew the Ottoman overlordship in the Levant.

But who was Fakhr al-Din? Was he a heroic military leader, a cunning diplomat, a heavy-set tax collector, or a chivalric, handsome exotic prince?

What we know for sure is that Emir Fakhr al-Din instigated an uprising against the Ottoman Porte, and sought asylum with the Medicis in Florence. The meeting between the Levantine prince and the Medicis was a moment of mutual discovery that benefited both parties.
In order to drive the Ottomans out of the Levant, the Emir sought the assistance of European nations of the time. They were reluctant to help, so the prince was left alone, and he returned home to lead history-marking successful battles against his rivals. The war however ended against Fakhr al-Din; the defeated prince was brought in front of Sultan Murad IV where he met his fate.

Fakhr al-Din is hailed by the Lebanese as the “Father of the Nation” for his contributions to modernizing Lebanon’s mountains, and for forging a common national identity. In this article, we will dive list the facts and attempt to weed out the fiction. 

The many faces of Fakhr al-Din

The prince was variously depicted by multiple orientalists and artists. Some of them had met Fakhr al-Din in person, others drew him from memory or from imagination. 
One account, from the French consul in Sidon the Chevalier d’Arvieux described Fakhr al-Din: 

“Fakhr al-Din was of mediocre height, brown in face; he had a colored complexion, large eyes full of fire, an aquiline nose, a small mouth, white teeth, a beautiful face, a chestnut-blond beard, a very majestic air, of wit infinitely male and harmonious voice.”

– Chevalier d’Arvieux

The majority of contemporary descriptions of Fakhr al-Din’s emphasize his short stature, his olive complexion, and his brilliant black eyes.

Post-mortem portrait of Fakhr al-Din by Giovanni Mariti; painted a century and half after his death in 1787 Fakhr al-Din as depicted in 1646 by the Nazareth-based Franciscan Eugene Roger, who served as the prince’s personal physician in 1632. Fakhr al-Din on the cover of TJ Gorton’s Renaissance Emir book


Fakhr al-Din al-Ma’ni, whose full name is Fakhr al-Din Ibn Qurqumaz Ibn Yunus Maan, was born in  1572, the eldest of at least two sons of Qurqumaz ibn Yunus. He belonged to the Ma’n dynasty, a Druze family of Arab stock established in the Chouf area of Lebanon since 1120. Qurqumaz was a muqaddam (local chieftain) and a multazim (tax farmer) in the service of the Ottoman Empire. It was common to refer to Qurqumaz as “emir” (prince) by the locals, but the title reflected the traditional standing of his family in the community and was not an official title. The territory rules by the Maans was commonly referred to as “the Druze Mountain” due to its predominantly Druze population. Fakhr al-Din’s mother, Sitt Nasab, hailed from the Tanukhs, a noble Druze family settled in the Gharb from at least the 12th century.

The Ottomans sought to punish and disarm the peasants of the Druze Mountain, who evaded taxes and were armed with modern muskets. They sent a number of military expeditions between 1523 and 1585. In 1585, hundreds of the Druze elite were slain by the vizier Ibrahim Pasha and the Bedouin chief Mansur ibn Furaykh of the Beqaa Valley. The Ottomans disarmed the Druze population, but Qurqumaz refused to surrender and died in hiding. Some historical sources tell that the young Emir, who was only 12, and his brother Yunus, were brought up by their maternal uncle Sayf al-Din, the Tanukhid chief of Abeih in the Gharb. Sayfe al-Din bribed the vizier to keep the holdings of the Maans under his control until Fakhr al-Din came of age.

Rise to power

Fakhr al-Din succeeded his father in 1590 as the muqaddam of the Chouf. He was also appointed tax collector of the province of Sidon and Beirut. Fakhr al-Din cooperated with the Ottomans, unlike his father and predecessors. Fakhr al-Din took advantage of the appointment of the experienced General Murad Pasha as Governor of Damascu. He hosted him upon his arrival to Saida in September 1593, and showered him with expensive gifts. The next month, Murad Pasha, who was impressed with the young muqaddam, appointed him as Emir Liwa (Pronvicial Prince in Arabic) of Sidon and Beirut. While Fakhr al-Din’s ancestors were traditionally referred to as Emirs, he attained the official rank of Emir.

Between 1591 and 1594, Fakhr al-Din seized the opportunity of the Ottomans’ port engrossment with the in Persia and Austria to unify and grow his power. His dominion now reached the Beqaa and South Lebanon,  and he collected taxes form provinces as far as well as Acre. 

Fakhr al-Din’s growing power and influence gained him the enmity of his rivals. This antagonism was further exacerbated when Murad Pasha put Ibn Furaykh to death and commanded Fakhr al-Din to kill Ibn Furaykh’s son Qurqumaz in 1595. The liquidation of the Furaykhs was in the best interest of both Fakr al-Din and the Porte since they were known for their cruelty and mistreatment of the people of the provinces, particularly the Druze population.

In 1598, the beylerbey of Damascus, Seyyed Mehmed Pasha, commissioned Fakhr al-Din to drive out the nahiyas of Beirut and Keserwan Yusuf Sayfa Pasha, the beylerbey of Tripoli and local chief of Akkar, from the nahiyas of Beirut. Fakhr al-Din was worried of Yusuf’s growing proximity to his territories, while Damascus, which had administrative control over Beirut and Keserwan, resented Sayfa’s intrusion. At the Nahr al-Kalb river, Fakhr al-Din routed Yusuf’s army and took control of the two nahiyas for a year before returning them to Yusuf in exchange for money. The battle marked the start of a rivalry between Fakhr al-Din and the Sayfas that would last the rest of his career.

Fakhr al-Din was appointed sanjak-bey (ruler of a Sanjak – a large administratve district that’s smaller than a Vilayet) of Safed in July 1602, after his supporter Murad Pasha was appointed vizier in Constantinople. He was also appointed tax collector of Acre, Tiberias, and Safed. With the Druze of Sidon-Beirut and Safed under his command, Fakhreddin’s power and influence reached an unprecedented height. Despite their frequent clashes, the Druze remained largely loyal to the reigning Sunni Muslim Ottomans. The Shia of the southern nahias antagonized the Ottomans. Fakhr al-military Din’s prowess may have prompted his appointment to the role of sanjak-bey in order to use his Druze power base against the rebellious Shia.

Alliance with the rebellious Janbulad 

In 1606 Fakhr al-Din joined forces with Aleppo’s Kurdish rebel Ali Janbulad against Yusuf Sayfa, his longtime adversary.
To his dismay, Sayfa had been appointed by the Ottomans at the head of an army to subjugate the rebellious Janbulad. Fakhr al-Din challenged orders to join Yusuf’s army and sided with Janbulad instead. Following the battle, Fakhr al-Din joined arms with the Kurdish leader in Hermel in order to expand his reign and territory Northward to Beirut and Keserwan, which were Sayfa territories.

Through the Beqaa Valley, the rebel allies proceeded toward Damascus, where Yusuf was based. Fakhr al-Din and Janbulad layed siege to Damascus with the Shihabs of Wadi al-Taym, who were old Maan allies. They beat Yusuf’s troops on the outside of town and destroyed the city’s suburbs for three days, demanding Yusuf’s surrender. Yusuf escaped by bribing city authorities, while Fakhr al-Din and Janbulad retreated after the officials persuaded them to remove the siege using Yusuf’s money.   Yusuf was chased by Janbulad to his stronghold at the Krak des Chevaliers, where he sought truce, but Fakhr al-Din declined  Fakhr al-Din assumed control of Keserwan during the battle.

In late 1607, Murad Pasha, who had become grand vizier in 1606, launched an attack on Janbulad, demanding that Fakhr al-Din join his imperial forces off the coast of the Gulf of Alexandretta. Fakhr al-Din rejected the invitation, waiting for the war’s conclusion to determine his status.  After Janbulad was beaten, Fakhr al-Din sent 300 warriors under the leadership of his son Ali to Aleppo with significant presents of 150,000 piasters and 150,000 piasters worth of silk to please Murad Pasha.   According to historian Alessandro Ossaretti, the large sum was a testament to the Ma’ns’ riches and proved why Murad Pasha was involved in their relationship.   A Damascene delegation petitioned the Grand Vizier to punish Fakhr al-Din for joining Janbulad and causing damage to their city, but Murad Pasha refused, telling the Damascenes that he would deal with Fakhr al-Din at a later date.

Fakhr al-Din was maintained as sanjak-bey of Safed, his son Ali was sent to Sidon-Beirut, and the Sublime Porte acknowledged their authority over Keserwan. [56] In early 1610, Murad Pasha directed Fakhr al-Din to help Husayn Pasha al-Jalali, the new beylerbey of Tripoli, in collecting the eyalet’s taxes, despite the meddling of Yusuf, who had been removed but still maintained effective control of Tripoli’s hinterland.

Alliance with Tuscany and exile

The Medici grand dukes of Tuscany became increasingly present in the LEvantine coast during the end of the 16th century, pushing for a new crusade in the Holy Land and supporting the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. Between 1599 and 1602, Fakhr al-Din turned down two Tuscan requests to meet, and Grand Duke Ferdinand I ignored his adviser’s advice in 1605 to converse with Fakhr al-Din about a new crusade and commercial connections with Beirut. Instead, the Tuscans turned to Janbulad before his defeat, requesting his support to establish Tuscan interests in the Levantine ports. Following Janbulad’s loss, the Tuscans turned their attention to Fakhr al-Din, sending him a weapon shipment intended for Janbulad and offering him asylum in Tuscany in 1608 provided he supported their interests. That year, Fakhr al-Din and Tuscany signed a pact. In exchange for backing a future Tuscan invasion of Jerusalem and Damascus, it demanded military help and support from the Maronite Church to the Emir against the Sayfas, who ruled primarily Maronite northern Mount Lebanon.
The Tuscans and Fakhr al-Din secretly corresponded with the Maronite leadership and Pope Paul V entrusted Fakhr al-Din with the safeguarding of the Maronite community in a 1610 letter to then-patriarch John Makhlouf. Fakhr al-Din had reopened the port of Tyre for covert exchanges and commerce with the Tuscans in 1610. The Emir senta Maronite bishop to represent him at Grand Duke Cosimo II’s court and in the Holy See the following year.

With the death of Murad Pasha in July 1611 and the ascension of Nasuh Pasha, Fakhr al-Din fell out of favor in Istanbul.  By that time, the Porte had recovered from its wars with Austria and Persia, as well as other revolts, and had turned its focus to the Levant.  The authorities were concerned about Fakhr al-increasing Din’s domain, his alliance with Tuscany, his illegal fortifications and troops training, and his use of mercenaries.  Nasuh Pasha had long-held grudges against Fakhr al-Din, who had aided the Damascus Janissaries in their standoff with imperial soldiers in Aleppo when the Grand Vizier was governor. In 1612, Fakhr al-Din dispatched his kethuda(deputy)  Mustafa with 25,000 piasters to appease the Grand Vizier, who may have been irritated by the gesture when contrasted to the far bigger present offered to his predecessor. The Grand Vizier ordered Fakhr al-Din to disband his sekmercenary troops, surrender the major castles of Shaqif Arnun and Subayba, and kill his ally, the Baalbek chieftain Yunus al-Harfush. His instructions were disobeyed. Soon after, Fakhr al-Din repelled an attack on Yunus al-Harfush and Ahmad Shihab by the beylerbey of Damascus, Hafiz Ahmed Pasha.
To keep Fakhr al-Din in check, the Ottomans assigned Farrukh Pasha to the sanjaks of Ajlun and Nablus, and drove out two of his allied Bedouin leaders from Ajlun and the Hauran, who both sought sanctuary with the Emir. By postponing the Bedouin chiefs’ demands for aid while waiting for the Porte’s reaction to a gift of money and commodities he sent, he avoided open conflict with the Porte. Nonetheless, at the urging of his Damascene ally Hajj Kiwan, Fakhr al-Din proceeded to return his supporters to their homelands, sending his son Ali with 3,000 soldiers to lead the troops. Ali defeated Farrukh Pasha and the Damascene Janissaries hostile to the Maans at Muzayrib on May 21, 1613, with the support of the Sayfas, who wanted to restore ties with the Maans. Nasuh Pasha responded by appointing Ahmed Pasha to lead 2,000 imperial Janissaries and the forces of 60 beylerbeys and sanjak-beys against Fakhr al-Din. With his mercenaries under the leadership of Husayn Yaziji and Husayn Tawil, Fakhr al-Din garrisoned Shaqif Arnun and Subayba, each of which had five years’ worth of food and weaponry. He dispatched Ali to seek refuge in the desert with his Bedouin supporters, while sending a Sunni team led by Khalidi to Damascus with a peace initiative that included significant payments to the government.  After the proposition was rejected, Ahmed Pasha closed the roads leading from Mount Lebanon into the desert, as well as the port of Sidon, to prevent Fakhr al-Din from fleeing.  He named Muhammad Agha sanjak-bey of Safed, where Fakhr al-Din was based at the time, as his successor, triggering the Emir’s departure to Sidon. Fakhr al-Din bribed the blockade’s deputy admiral to allow him to flee and boarded a European ship bound for Livorno, Tuscany.

During the campaign, most of Fakhr al-sekbans Din’s defected to Ahmed Pasha, and most of Fakhr al-allies Din’s and other local chiefs, such as the Shihabs, Harfushes, Turabays, Hayars, and Qansuhs, joined the Ottomans, with the exception of his Bedouin ally, Mafarija chief Amr ibn Jabr, who refused. The operation was utilized by the Sayfas to reestablish their relations with the Porte and reclaim their old dominance.

Husayn, Yusuf’s son, backed Ahmed Pasha’s siege of Shaqif Arnun and set fire to Deir al-Qamar, the Mans’ homeland.  The Druze lords Muzaffar al-Andari and Abu Harmush aided Ahmed Pasha and the Sayfas in their Chouf invasion. The Ma’ans, commanded by Fakhr al-Din’s brother Yunus, petitioned Ahmed Pasha for peace, sending theseptuagenarian Sitt Nasab and a group of thirty Druze religious leaders, along with a 25,000-piaster payment to him personally and a pledge of 300,000 piasters to the Porte.  Ahmed Pasha agreed, and Husayn was commanded to put an end to the burning of Deir al-Qamar. Sitt Nassab was taken hostage until the remainder of the pledged sum was duly paid. 

Fakhr al-Din traveled to Florence one week after arriving in Livorno on November 3 1613.  The Medicis were taken aback by his visit and offered to transport him back to Mount Lebanon, but he declined. Soon afterward, to avoid igniting a naval conflict with the Sultan, Paul V told the Medicis of his objection to military help for Fakhr al-Din. The Medicis also wanted to avoid confrontation, and in 1614, Nasuh Pasha offered amnesty to Fakhr al-Din in exchange for confining Sidon’s port to internal commerce with the Ottoman ports of Constantinople, Alexandretta, and Alexandria. Negotiations between the Ottomans and the Tuscans about the Emir’s destiny lasted until 1615. Fakhr al-Din began attempting to reconcile with the Porte after Nasuh Pasha’s death in 1614. Fakhr al-permanent Din’s residence was Livorno, although he stayed in Pope Leo X’s room in the Palazzo Vecchio on his visits to Florence. In May, he wrote a letter seeking permission to remain in the nation until it was safe to return to Mount Lebanon, following which he moved to the Palazzo Medici Riccardi, where he stayed until July 1615.

Following that, Fakhr al-Din was invited to Messina, Sicily, by its viceroy, Pedro Téllez-Girón of the Spanish Hapsburgs. The Spanish Hapsburgs, who were the main proponents of a new crusade, most likely imprisoned Fakhr al-Din for the following two years, possibly to frighten the Ottomans. Later in 1615, the Viceroy permitted him to make a reconnaissance trip to Mount Lebanon. He was not allowed to exit; instead, Yunus and other relatives and supporters met him on board and told him that the Chouf people were looking forward to his homecoming. He stopped in Malta on his way back to Sicily. Fakhr al-Din accompanied the Viceroy on his successive trips to Palermo and Naples.

Return to Lebanon

To limit Ma’nid influence, the Porte restructured Fakhr al-Din’s possessions in June 1614, uniting the sanjaks of Sidon-Beirut and Safed into a distinct eyalet named Sidon and assigning a beylerbey from Constantinople to it. Control of the Druze Mountain’s tax farmimg was dispersed among pro-Ottoman Druze rulers, with the Maans’ iltizam restricted to the Chouf.  With the execution of Nasuh Pasha in November 1614, the disintegration of the Sidon Eyalet in early 1615, and the removal of Ahmed Pasha in Damascus in April 1615, political events throughout the Empire quickly altered in the Maans’ favor. Around the same period, the Ottoman–Safavid conflicts restarted, diverting Ottoman forces from the Levant to the Persian front. In December 1615, the authorities decided to negotiate with Yaziji on behalf of the Maans, offering to nominate Ali to the governorships of Sidon-Beirut and Safed in exchange for enormous sums of money. The dismantlement of Maanid-held Shaqif Arnun and Subayba, the Porte’s main goal, was accomplished in May 1616 as a consequence of collaborative operations with Yunus al-Harfush and Yaziji. 

Despite their formal appointments, the Ma’ans were met with resistance from their traditional Druze opponents, who were backed by the Sayfas. In four battles in the interior of the Druze Mountain, the Mans vanquished them. The Maans reclaimed Beirut and Keserwan from the Sayfas during the war. In his sanjak, Ali mostly handed tax collection to his uncle Yunus and the Maans’ supporters from the Tanukh and Abu al-Lama families.  The Shias of Safed Sanjak’s growing antagonism to the Ma’ans peaked in their support for Yaziji’s aspirations to succeed Ali as sanjak-bey and their association with the Shia Harfushes in 1617–1618. Yaziji was assassinated nearly as soon as he took office at Safed in June 1618, and Ali was restored to the position.

Fakhr al-Din was pardoned by the Ottomans and returned to Mount Lebanon, landing at Acre on September 29, 1618.  There was no more active Druze opposition to Fakhr al-Din after that.  In Acre, the Emir hosted a feast for the Levant’s provincial elites who had come to meet him, including all those who had participated in the 1613 campaign against the Maans. He detained a Shia leader and freed him after Yunus al-Harfush paid a ransom. He was concerned about the burgeoning relations between the Harfushes and the Shia chiefs of Safed.  In December, he took over tax collection in the primarily Shia Bilad Bishara district, forcing the Shia significant families of Ali Saghir, Munkir, Shukr, and Daghir to flee to Yunus al-Harfush and avoid paying their taxes. Fakhr al-Din retaliated by burning down their dwellings. After that, the sanjak Shia leaders agreed to return and submit to Fakhr al- Din’s he then freed the Shia hostages. Later in his military exploits, Shia recruits joined his troops.

Battles with rivals and zenith

Fakhr al-Din had chastised the Sayfas for their enmity during the previous five years at his welcome of the Levantine leaders in Acre. He marched against the Sayfas with the Porte’s approval in 1618 or 1619, ostensibly to aid Tripoli’s beylerbey Umar Kittanji Pasha in collecting taxes in his eyalet, which remained under Sayfa rule. He besieged Yusuf and his Druze allies in the Krak des Chevaliers on February 4, 1619, and seized and sacked their stronghold of Hisn Akkar. During the siege, word reached Fakhr al-Din that the Porte had reappointed Yusuf to the governorship of Tripoli, presumably to avert a total Ma’n triumph. Fakhr al-Din continued the siege and demanded 150,000 piasters from the Sayfas, as well as sending a force to demolish the Sayfas’ home hamlet of Akkar and gaining the defection of the Sayfas’ troops in Byblos and Smar Jbeil.  In Homs and Hama, respectively, the beylerbeys of Damascus and Aleppo assembled their soldiers in support of Yusuf, who convinced Fakhr al-Din to take a pledge payment of 50,000 piasters and relieve the blockade in March.

In May, Yusuf accepted Fakhr al-administration Din’s of the Byblos and Batroun nahiyas, as well as his earlier lease of their iltizam from Umar Kittanji, in place of the promised payment.

In June/July 1621, the Porte tasked Fakhr al-Din with collecting tax arrears from Yusuf, allowing the Emir imperial cover to attack the Sayfas once more.
 He besieged the Citadel of Tripoli and seized the Bahsas fort on Tripoli’s southern suburbs. Yusuf agreed to sell Fakhr al-Din his properties in Ghazir and Antelias, both in Keserwan, and Beirut, under duress, in exchange for the cancellation of Yusuf’s personal obligations. The siege was sustained until Yusuf persuaded the imperial authorities that Fakhr al-Din was using his imperial commission to seize Tripoli by paying the tax arrears to the Porte. Fakhr al-Din departed from Tripoli on the Porte’s orders on October 2, 1621. 

Yusuf was sacked once more in late 1622 for failing to pay the pledged taxes, but he refused to pass down authority to his replacement, Umar Kittanji, who then asked Fakhr al-Din’s assistance. In exchange for the tax farm of Dinniyeh, Bsharri, and Akkar, he obliged. Yusuf left Tripoli for Akkar when Fakhr al-Din departed Ghazir. The Emir then dispatched his Maronite ally Abu Safi Khazen, the brother of his mudabbir (adviser) Abu Nadir Khazen, to conquer Maronite-populated Bsharri, thereby ending the late-14th-century reign of the local Maronite muqaddams.  Fakhr al-Din murdered the dismissed muqaddam and his son soon after in connection with the son’s attack on a Maronite monastery in Hasroun.

The departure of the muqaddams, who failed to safeguard the interests of their church and community, was welcomed by the Maronites of Bsharri. 
On March 13, 1623, Fakhr al-Din gained the defection of Yusuf’s son Beylik, and their united troops reentered Tripoli. A few days later, an imperial edict reappointed Yusuf to the eyalet. Umar Kittanji tried to fight his removal, but Fakhr al-Din, who had gained control of the majority of the eyalet at that point, insisted on the Porte’s directives being implemented. He then led the departing beylerbey to Beirut and told Beylik to go back to his father. Fakhr al-Din gathered his soldiers at Bsharri in late spring to help Yusuf’s rebellious nephew Sulayman, who ruled Safita. Yusuf had proceeded against Sulayman, but with Fakhr al-Din’s inervention, Yusuf backed down, cementing the Maans as Safita’s rulers. Beylik, who had been assigned to administer Akkar by his father, removed Yusuf’s mercenaries from the nahiyas and announced his allegiance to Fakhr al-Din. Yunus al-Harfush enraged Fakhr al-Din by prohibiting the Chouf Druze from farming their lands in the southern Beqaa in 1623.

He stationed mercenaries in the hamlet of Qabb Ilyas in August/September 1623 and displaced the Harfushes. Meanwhile, in June/July, the Porte appointed Ali, Fakhr al-Din’s son as sanjak-bey of Safed, and Husayn and Mustafa Kethuda, Fakhr al-Din’s other sons, as sanjak-beys of Ajlun and Nablus, respectively, alongside local opponents of Fakhr al-Din.

The Maans were quickly restored to Ajlun and Nablus by the Porte, but not to Safed. The Maans then sought to take control of Ajlun and Nablus, causing Yunus al-Harfush to ask Janissary chief Kurd Hamza, who had great influence over Damascus’ beylerbey, Mustafa Pasha, to stop them. The appointment of Yunus al-Harfush to Safed was subsequently gained by Kurd Hamza, followed by an unsuccessful attempt by Fakhr al-Din to outbid him for the governorship.
In northern Palestine, Fakhr al-Din made an attack against the Turabays and Farrukhs, but was defeated in a fight at the Awja River near Ramla. Fakhr al-Din received word from the Porte that his sons and associates had been sent to Safed, Ajlun, and Nablus while returning to Mount Lebanon from the failed Palestine war. The Porte’s reversal was tied to Sultan Murad IV’s (r. 1623–1640) and Grand Vizier Kemankeş Ali Pasha’s successions, the latter having been persuaded by Fakhr al-Din’s envoy in Istanbul to return the Maans to their previous sanjaks.

Regardless, Mustafa Pasha and Kurd Hamza launched an expedition against the Maans. On the 22nd of October, Fakhr al-Din reached in Qabb Ilyas and immediately set out to reclaim lost funds and supplies from the Palestine battle by invading the Harfushe-held settlements of Karak Nuh and Sar’in.

The Damascenes, Harfushes, and Sayfas then marched out of Damascus, while Fakhr al-Din gathered his Druze troops, sekbans, and Shia levies. The Shihabs were ordered to serve as his vanguard in the tower of Anjar, but by the time Fakhr al-Din arrived in early November 1623, the Shihabs had been pushed out and the Sayfas and Harfushes had taken over the tower.  At Anjar, Fakhr al-Din routed the Damascene Janissaries and seized Mustafa Pasha, while Kurd Hamza and Yunus al-Harfush made their way to Aleppo.  Fakhr al-Din obtained approval of the Ma’ans’ governorships from the beylerbey, as well as his nomination as governor of Gaza Sanjak, his son Mansur as governor of Lajjun Sanjak, and Ali as governor of the southern Beqaa nahiya. Due to objections from local powerholders, the nominations to Gaza, Nablus, and Lajjun were not enacted. 

After a months-long siege, Fakhr al-Din ravaged Baalbek and seized and destroyed its castle on March 28. According to Duwayhi, Yunus al-Harfush was imprisoned by the beylerbey of Aleppo and killed in 1625, the same year that Fakhr al-Din was appointed governor of the Baalbek nahiya. The Porte had dismissed Mustafa Pasha in January 1624, but the new beylerbey could not take office in Damascus without Fakhr al-approval. Mustafa Pasha remained in power, and Fakhr al-Din obtained for his Shihab proxy Qasim ibn Ali the administration of the Zabadani nahiya from him. By March, the Emir had turned against Mustafa Pasha, and appointed a new beylerbey in his place, but the new beylerbey died shortly after, and Mustafa Pasha was reinstated in April. Fakhr al-Din and Mustafa Pasha’s relationship deteriorated as a result.

Due to the deaths of his primary contemporaneous biographers and the growing silence of Ottoman government sources, information concerning Fakhr al-Din’s career after 1624 is sparse. Duwayhi provides the majority of information concerning his post-1624 years. Fakhr al-Din backed Umar Kittanji in 1624 after the latter was refused admission into Tripoli by Yusuf, who had opposed Umar Kittanji’s reappointment to the eyalet the previous year. Fakhr al-Din halted military action in April after organizing in Batroun in support of Umar Kittanji, while talking with Yusuf for financial reductions. Byblos, Batroun, and Bsharri were all given another four-year to the Emir to tax farm. Yusuf was restored as beylerbey in August, but his control was limited to the city of Tripoli, the Krak des Chevaliers, Koura, and the Jableh sanjak, with Fakhr al-Din or his allies and sons-in-law among Yusuf’s sons and nephews holding the majority of the remaining zones, including Homs. Fakhr al-Din launched an unsuccessful attack on Tripoli a few months after Yusuf’s death in July 1625. He aided Mustafa Pasha ibn Iskandar, the eyalet’s new beylerbey, in the latter’s attack against the Sayfas. He drove his old ally Sulayman Sayfa out of the Safita citadel, and Yusuf’s sons eventually gave him the fortifications of Krak des Chevaliers and Marqab. Fakhr al-Din urged the beylerbey to leave the Sayfas alone in exchange. He took the citadel of Salamiyah in September 1626, followed by Hama and Homs, and appointed his delegates to administer them.

Fakhr al-Din was appointed beylerbey of Tripoli in 1627, after the appointments of two other beylerbeys to the eyalet. Fakhr al-Din governed Tripoli until his demise, For the majority of 1625—1630, he held the tax collection duties of  he Tripoli nahiyas of Arqa, Akkar, Dinniyeh, Safita, Krak des Chevaliers, Byblos, and Batroun, as well as that of Sidon-Beirut, Safed, and Baalbek, according to Ottoman government documents. In 1628–1629, his taxing domain was extended to Jableh and Latakia. The Emir had taken numerous areas near Damascus, possessed thirty strongholds, and commanded a vast army of sekbansmercenaries by the early 1630s.

Fall of favor and execution

Fakhr al-Din refused to let imperial troops returning from an unsuccessful campaign against Persia to spend the winter in territory under his control in 1630 or 1631. Fakhr al-Din’s army and authority, was of concern to the Ottomans who feared he would take Damascus. The Emir’s rising presence in northern Syria, near the Empire’s Anatolian backbone, concerned Murad IV.  The Sultan received several complaints about the Emir. Victories against the Safavids in 1629 freed up Ottoman soldiers to deal with Fakhr al-Din and other insurgents around the Empire.

For the intention of removing Fakhr al-Din, the Porte assigned veteran commander Kuchuk Ahmed Pasha to the governorship of Damascus and raised him to the high position of vizier in 1632. Near Khan Hasbaya in Wadi al-Taym, Kuchuk led a strong army against Mount Lebanon, defeating the Maans headed by Ali, who was killed. Fakhr al-Din and his retinue sought sanctuary in a cave stronghold of Niha, in the southern Chouf. Because he couldn’t get into the cave, Kuckuk set fire to it. As a result, Fakhr al-Din and his troops surrendered to Kuchuk. The Pasha had previously arrested his sons Mansur and Husayn, the latter of whom was stationed at Marqab. During the trip, Kuckuk murdered his sons Hasan, Haydar, and Bulak, as well as his brother Yunus and nephew Hamdan ibn Yunus.

The money and things in the Emir’s possession were confiscated by the Pasha. Fakhr al-Din was described as “a man well renowned for having revolted against the magnificent Sultanate” in a 1634 document from the Sharia Court in Damascus, which recorded the confiscation and disposition of his estate. Kuchuk led him around Damascus, tied to a horse, where local poets sung the Pasha’s praises for overthrowing the Emir. Fakhr al-Din was then dispatched to Constantinople. He was imprisoned at Yedikule.

On Murad IV’s instructions, Fakhr al-Din was decapitated and Mansur was strangled and thrown into the sea in March or April 1635. The body of the Emir was on display at the Hippodrome. Complaints against the Ma’ans, notably the actions of Fakhr al-Din’s nephew Mulhim ibn Yunus against the Emir’s government-appointed replacement in the Chouf, Ali Alam al-Din, may have motivated the killings. His wives, who were all imprisoned in the Citadel of Damascus, were all hung after his execution. Alam al-Din assassinated all of his maternal kin, the Tanukh. Husayn was spared death since he was still a young man, and he went on to become a high-ranking imperial official and ambassador.

Fakhr al-Din’s influence and legacy

Following Fakhr al-Din’s defeat the Ottomans sought, but failed, to undermine the alliance that Fakhr al-Din had built between the Druze-dominated Chouf and the Maronite-dominated Keserwan. The Porte rebuilt the Sidon Eyalet in 1660, and in 1697, it granted Fakhr al-Din’s grandson Din Ahmad ibn Mulhim the tax farming of the Chouf, Gharb, Jurd, Matn, and Keserwan mountain nahiyas. The Shihab clan’s sole dominance over the mountain nahiyas established what subsequent historians dubbed the “Lebanese emirate,” a title that was not used until the days of Shihab ruler Bashir II (r. 1789–1840). Nonetheless, the Shihabs constructed a system of fiscal cantons in Mount Lebanon in 1711, which was a prelude to the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate, which was a precursor to the contemporary Lebanese Republic.

Fakhr al-Din is regarded by the Lebanese as the founder of the modern country, despite the fact that he did not actually establish a Lebanese state. For the first time in history, he united the Druze and Maronite districts of Mount Lebanon, the neighboring Mediterranean coastal cities, and the Beqaa Valley under one authority. Fakhr al-Din’s political legacy was the symbiotic union of the Maronites and the Druze, which eventually became an important development in Mount Lebanon’s later history. Fakhr al-Din ushered in a new age of contact between the Druze, Maronites, Shia, and Sunni communal leaders of contemporary Lebanon’s component areas, especially Mount Lebanon, Jabal Amil, the Beqaa Valley, and the coast.

Architectural legacy:

Fakhr al-Din asked the Medicis for help in constructing contemporary defences in his lands. In 1631, Tuscan specialists arrived in Sidon, including architect Francesco Cioli and builder Francesco Fagni. Fakhr al-Din had a strong interest in the arts, poetry, and music, according to D’Arvieux. Cioli may have designed his palace Din in Beirut, which included a marble fountain and large gardens and mixed Arabic and Tuscan architectural influences. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had been destroyed. Except for its arched entryway entrance with alternating yellow and white bands of limestone, the Emir’s palace at Deir al-Qamar was built in the Mamluk architectural style with minimal embellishment. 

Fakhr al-Din constructed a number of palaces in Beirut, Sidon, Deir el Qamar and Tyre. His most remarkable contributions however were in his seaside headquarters of Sidon where he built a grand palace (now a school) and many Khans, shops, mills, a soap factory and hammams.

17th-century                                             history                                         lebanese_history