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14 June 2008

On this day in history: Ottomans conquer Kingdom of Sennar, 1821

The Kingdom of Sennar was created at the dawn sixteenth-century when the Funj people led by Amara Dunqas conquered much of modern day Sudan. About twenty years later the Amara Dunqas converted from a fusion of Christianity and animism to Islam and took the title Sultan. Later that century Sennar reached its peak, having conquered many of its neighbours and posing a credible threat to Ethiopia to the south and Egypt to the north.

The seventeenth century was a period of slow decline for the Sultanate, as the monarch lost control of the economy, due to an influx of foreign currency, and the law, as Islamic legal scholars asserted their authority. Between 1769 and 1788 the Sultans were merely puppets of the Hamaj who following a successful revolt held the reigns of power as regents. As the sultans struggled to re-establish their rule and the regents fought to maintain their hold over the running of the country, the country became weakened and a target for the imperial ambitions of foreign powers.

In 1821, the army of general Ismail bin Muhammed Ali, son of the khedive of Ottoman Egypt, invaded Sennar. The forces of the sultan, Badi VII, offered no resistance and on 14th June surrendered to Ismail, offering gifts and then having to watch the Ottoman troops loot his capital. Badi was restored as nominal rule of his lands, which were henceforth part of the Ottoman Empire.