D I S T I N G U I S H E D   D R U Z E
rince Fakhr-al Din II
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Profiled in
Al Fajr - The Dawn Druze
International Magazine
ABU SALEH, Dr. Abbas
Issue 18
AL ATRASH,  Sultan Pasha
Issue 1
Issue 14
Issue 35
ARSLAN, Prince Shakib
Issue 11
Issue 50
ASSAF, Toufic
Issue 30
Issue 25
Issue 40
Issue 2
KASEM, Casey
Issue 55
NAJJAR, Dr. Abdallah
Issue 5, 12
NAJJAR, Anissa Rawda
Issue 9
NAJJAR, Dr. Samir
Issue 15
OBEID, Dr. Anis
Issue 1, 45
SAAB, Afifi & her sisters
Fatina Saab & Zhebad Saab
Issue 4
SALMAN, Dr. Nour
Issue 7
TAKEDINE,  Judge Halim
Issue 8
Issue 6
Issue 11
TALEEH, Rashid
Issue 19

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Prince Fakhr-al Din II, also transliterated Fakhreddine, is one of the
princes of Lebanon from Maan al-Druze whose family ruled the Emirate of
Shouf from about 1120 until 1623.   

Born in Baakline to a Druze family, he was the son of Prince Qorqmaz ibn
Maan Arabic: الامير قرقماز بن معن  and Sit Nasab Arabic: الست نسب   of the
Tanukhi family, he was given the title "Emir" or Prince in Arabic because
the Maan family was pre-eminent in the Shouf and, periodically, a larger
area. He is often referred to as "Fakhr al-Din II" because of his
grandfather was Fakhr al-Din I.  There are conflicting versions of his early
life, but it is certain that his father died when he was 13.  According to
some accounts he was raised by Sheikh Ibrahim Abou Sakr, a prominent
Maronite from the Khazen family, in the Lebanese village of Ballouneh.

He and members of his family were from time to time appointed
governor/tax-collector of districts like Sidon or Beirut. His period was
characterized by economic and cultural prosperity, and he had fought
other Lebanese families to unite the people of Lebanon and seek
independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Fakhreddine was politically shrewd, he extended the emirate to include
most of Greater Syria, and was able to acquire Ottoman state recognition
of his sovereignty over all this land, even though the Ottoman state at that
time was still at the peak of its glory and power.  From 1606, Fakhreddine
began forging alliances with the Italian Grand Duchy of Tuscany (the
alliance contained both a public economic section and a secret military
one) and with Spain.  The country prospered and trade increased with
Europe and neighboring countries, people lived in prosperity and peace.
Fakhreddine's ambitions, popularity and unauthorized foreign relationships alarmed the Ottomans who sanctioned an attack on
Lebanon in 1613 in order to reduce his growing power. Faced with an army of 50,000 men, Fakhreddine chose exile in Tuscany,
leaving affairs in the hands of his brother Emir Yunis and his son Emir Ali Beg. They succeeded in defending and keeping most of
the forts such as Banias (Subayba) and Niha which were a mainstay of Fakhreddine’s power. Before leaving, the Prince paid his
standing army of mercenaries 2 years wages in order to secure their loyalty.

Hosted in Tuscany by the Medici Family, Fakhreddine was welcomed by the grand duke Cosimo II, who was his host and sponsor
for the two years he spent at the court of the Medici. He spent a further three years as guest of the Spanish Viceroy of Sicily and
then Naples, the Duke Osuna. Fakhreddine had wished to enlist Tuscan or other European assistance in a "Crusade" to free his
homeland from Ottoman domination, but was met with a refusal as Tuscany was unable to afford such an expedition.  The prince
eventually gave up the idea, realizing that Europe was more interested in trade with the Ottomans than in taking back the Holy
Land. His stay nevertheless allowed him to witness Europe's cultural revival in the 17th century, and he brought back some
Renaissance ideas and architectural features.

By 1618, political changes in the Ottoman sultanate had resulted in the removal of many of Fakhreddine’s enemies from power,
allowing his return to Lebanon, whereupon he was able quickly to reunite all the lands of Lebanon beyond the boundaries of its
mountains  The first thing he did was to exact revenge on Emir Yusuf Pasha ibn Siyfa, attacking his stronghold in Akkar,
destroying his palaces and taking control of his lands, and regaining the territories he had to give up in 1613 - Sidon, Tripoli,
Bekaa among others.  

In 1623, the Prince angered the Ottomans by refusing to allow an army on its way back from the Persian front to winter in the
Bekaa. This (and instigation by the powerful Janissariy garrison in Damascus) led Mustafa Pasha, Governor of Damascus, to
launch an attack against him, resulting in the battle at Majdel Anjar where Fakhreddine's forces although outnumbered managed
to capture the Pasha and secure the Lebanese prince and his allies in a much needed military victory. The famous Battle at
Majdel Anjar is captured in painting above.  This victory allowed him to expand and oversee all of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and
East Jordan.  In order to maintain control over such a vast area, he controlled a large well trained army and built Castle in
Antioch, Palmyra is still known today as the “son of Maan Castle”  and a number of others.
The Ottomans realized that his popularity, alliances and increased authority was too great as he could become a serious threat
and sent a large military force to Lebanon.  

This time, the prince had decided to remain in Lebanon and resist the offensive, but the death of his son Emir Ali Beik in Wadi el-
Taym was the beginning of his defeat. He later took refuge in Jezzine's grotto, where he surrendered to the Ottoman general
Jaafar Pasha in 1633.  He was taken to Istanbul and kept in prison for two years.  Sultan Murad IV summoned him and accused
him of treason, ordered him executed with one or two of his sons on April 13, 1635.

He is the most famous Prince of the Levant and Lebanon in particular, many historians consider him the greatest national figure
known to Lebanon during the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  He defended his homeland and was considered the great
unifier of the country.  He declared his country’s liberty, equality, and sovereignty, while also moving his country forward with
bringing modern culture, Renaissance Art and Literature which he had experienced during his exile in Europe.  
Under his rule, he encouraged the opening of schools for the dissemination of science;  printing presses were introduced and
Jesuit priests and Catholic nuns encouraged to also allowed to open schools throughout the land.  He built bridges, expanded
roads and extended channels along with renovating castles and towers.  

During his reign over the area he brought a more tolerant view toward the religious minorities in the area.  He was respectful of
the religionious minorities and honored its leaders.  At this time, he was known for equality and justice along with granting freedom
of worship openly which was previously not allowed.  Christians, Jews, Sunni and Shiites were generally content under his
leadership as he did not oppose their religious rulings.

There had been the injustice towards religious minorities for the ten centuries before him.  He had a broad education and having
experienced diverse cultures and peoples, he acquired a more tolerant outlook which served him well politically.  He empowered
and authorized his appointed officials to lawfully impose justice, this resulted in definitive laws with a more respectful attitude
towards all within his borders.  This position served him well as many minorities were also able to prosper which maintained order
and peace in the region.  

Fakhreddine is therefore considered to be the first "Man of Lebanon" as he sought to gain the right for sovereignty of modern-
day Lebanon.  It was his wise leadership that had a great impact to peace and prosperity over all the Levant during his time.