Post-classical history

Mamistra

Mamistra (mod. Misis, Turkey), the ancient Mopsuestia, was one of the cities of Cilicia.

Located on the river Pyramus (mod. Ceyhan), it is on the road linking Adana and Tarsos (mod. Tarsus) to northern Syrian towns such as ‘Aintab (mod. Gaziantep). Medieval sources suggest that the town had a circuit of walls and a well-known bridge dating from the Roman period.

During the First Crusade (1096-1099) Baldwin of Boulogne expelled the city’s Turkish garrison in 1097, and for much of the first half of the twelfth century, the city was alternately occupied by the Byzantines, the Armenians of Cilicia, or the Franks of Antioch. A Latin archbishop, Bartholomew, was appointed by Bohemund I of Antioch in 1100. The see was later held by Ralph of Domfront, who subsequently became Latin patriarch of Antioch.

In 1137 Cilicia was annexed by the Byzantines and its Latin bishops expelled. After 1151 Mamistra remained largely in the hands of the Armenian Rupenid dynasty, and in the thirteenth century it was part of the kingdom of Cilicia. Following the Mamlûk seizure of the castles of the Amanus Mountains, the Cilician plain on which Mamistra sat was largely undefended. The Mamlûks captured and plundered the town in 1266 and again in 1275, when it was extensively damaged.

The population of Mamistra was probably small, but in the thirteenth century the city did house warehouses for Genoese and Venetian merchants. King Het‘um II of Cilicia temporarily retired to a Franciscan convent in Mamistra around 1293. It is unclear when the Mamlûks finally occupied the city, but it was probably soon after the conquest of Ayas in 1337.

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