JOHN XIII, ninety-fourth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (1484-1524). John's life before joining the Monastery of Our Lady, known as DAYR AL-MUHARRAQ, is unknown.
After the death of JOHN XII, the bishops, the clergy, and the archons remained undecided about the selection of a candidate for patriarch for approximately two years. Finally they chose another monk of Dayr al-Muharraq whom they consecrated as John XIII. Perhaps the most memorable fact of his patriarchate was its length of forty years, eleven months, and twenty-six days. He acceded to the throne of Saint Mark during the reign of the Burji Mamluk sultan Qa’itbay (1468-1495), and he was a contemporary of the last five Mamluk sultans. After the conquest of Egypt by the Ottomans, he lived through the sultanate of Selim I (1512-1520) and Sulayman I the Magnificent (1520-1566), during whose reign he died.
In 1517, after the battle of Marj Dabiq, the Ottoman dynasty ruled Egypt. Copts suffered during the latter days of Mamluk rule. The sultans, whose rule was endangered by the imminent encroachments of the Ottoman hosts, descended upon the country with excessive and extraordinary financial imposts, which bordered on outright pillage, under the pretext of the defense of their northern frontier. The Christians and the Jews, known as the people of the Covenant (AHL AL-DHIMMAH), suffered the most. The situation was worsened by the rise of famine and the outbreak of one plague after another. And for the first time a new, incurable plague appeared that the sources called the Frankish beans (al-habb al-afranji), which may be identified as smallpox. It is said that a considerable percent of the population and especially the labor corps in Egypt succumbed during these plagues.
At the advent of the Ottoman invaders and the change of regimes the misery of the population, both Coptic and Muslim, was so complete that the change in dynasties could have caused little reaction. The Islamic sources estimate that the sixteen campaigns conducted by Qa’itbay alone cost the country the enormous sum of 7,065,000 dinars, at a time when the resources of the country were depleted by the successive plagues that mowed down the working class everywhere. This situation recurred during the successive sultanates until the end of Mamluk rule.
John died in relative peace under Ottoman rule, which was conducted from the rather remote seat of power in Constantinople, unlike the Mamluks, who had preyed upon the people from neighboring Cairo.
SUBHI Y. LABIB
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