Battle of Nikiou

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Battle of Nikiou
Part of the Muslim conquest of Egypt
(Arab–Byzantine Wars)
Cairo Amr 1.jpg
Amr Mosque in Cairo, located where Nikiou triumphed
Date 646
Location Nikiou, Egypt
Result Muslim victory
Rashidun Caliphate Byzantine Empire
Commanders and leaders
Amr ibn al-A'as Manuel
15,000 Unknown
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Nikiou was a battle between Arab Muslim troops under General Amr ibn al-A'as and the Byzantine Empire in Egypt in May of 646.[1]


Following their victory at the Battle of Heliopolis in July 640, and the subsequent capitulation of Alexandria in November 641, Arab troops had taken over what was the Roman province of Egypt. The newly installed Byzantine Emperor Constans II was determined to re-take the land, and ordered a large fleet to carry troops to Alexandria. These troops, under Manuel, took the city by surprise from its small Arab garrison towards the end of 645 in an amphibious attack. In 645 the Byzantine thus temporarily won Alexandria back.[2] Amr at the time may have been in Mecca, and was quickly recalled to take command of the Arab forces in Egypt.[3]

The battle took place at the small fortified town of Nikiou, about two-thirds of the way from Alexandria to Fustat,[4] with the Arab forces numbering around 15,000, against a smaller Byzantine force. The Arabs prevailed, and the Byzantine forces retreated in disarray, back to Alexandria.[1]

Although the Byzantines closed the gates against the pursuing Arabs, the city of Alexandria eventually fell to the Arabs, who stormed the city sometime in the summer of that year. The defeat of Manuel's forces marked the last attempt by the Byzantine Empire to recapture Egypt for some 500 years, with only Emperor Manuel I Komnenos sending a failed expedition there in the 12th century.[5][6]

Then Amr ibn al-A'as wrote back to the Caliph:

"I have taken a city of which I can only say that it contains 4,000 palaces, 400 theatres, 1,200 greengrocers and 40,000 Jews."


As ordered by the Caliph, he then left Alexandria and established a new capital, Fustat.[3][7]


  1. ^ a b Crawford, Peter (July 16, 2013). The War of the Three Gods: Romans, Persians and the Rise of Islam. Pen and Sword. p. 174. ISBN 9781848846128. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Castleden, Rodney. Conflicts that Changed the World. Canary Press eBooks. ISBN 9781907795633. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Haag, Michael (2003). The Rough Guide History of Egypt. Rough Guides. p. 202. ISBN 9781858289403. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  4. ^ Cosman, Madeleine Pelner; Jones, Linda Gale (2009). Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, 3-Volume Set, Volumes 1-3. Infobase Publishing. p. 47. ISBN 9781438109077. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors". Roman Emperors. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Manuel I Comnenus". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  7. ^ a b "Alexandria - A Historical Outline by Colin Clement". Greece. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Charles, R. H. The Chronicle of John, Bishop of Nikiu: Translated from Zotenberg's Ethiopic Text, 1916. Reprinted 2007. Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-87-9. [1]
  • Butler, Alfred J. The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty years of Roman Dominion Oxford, 1978.