1818: Abdullah ibn Saud, last ruler of the first Saudi state

On this date in 1818, the last ruler of the first state established by the Al Saud who rule the modern state of Saudi Arabia lost his head to the Ottoman Sultan.

The Ottoman state and its (largely independent) vassal Egypt begged to dispute the Wahhabi tribe’s authority in the Arabian peninsula (and its proclivity for raiding Ottoman caravans) and made war on the House of Saud throughout the 1810’s.

The Battle of ad-Dir’iyah in 1818 settled the matter, with our day’s principal Abdullah I surrendering to the Egyptian general Ibrahim Pasha.

We pick up the action from the third-hand, well-after-the-fact reports of the London Times. This, printed on Jan. 16 1819 under the “German Papers” heading:


The last victory over the Wechabites puts an end to the war at once. Ibrahim Pacha, who commanded the Turkish army, sends the captive Abdallah to Constantinople, but he first had his head shaved, and all his teeth pulled out.

On Feb. 6, the Times channeled the Dutch and Flanders mail:

Intelligence from Constantinople, dated the 24th December, states, that the Chief of the Wechabites, Abdallah, and his Iman, were brought prisoners into that capital on the 16th of the same month. After being led, in chains, through the principal streets, they were taken to prison and put to the torture. On the following morning, they were brought before the Sultan and beheaded. Their naked bodies were exposed during three days, and then delivered to the populace.

In addition to Abdullah himself, this affair finished off the city of Diriyah as a Saudi capital.

But of course, the Saud and their state were just getting started.

On this day..

3 thoughts on “1818: Abdullah ibn Saud, last ruler of the first Saudi state

  1. Actully the term “Wahabbi” was used by the renewal movement’s enemies to give to othrer moslems the impration that they are inventing a new islam where they truly are followers of the sunni hammbali teaching that stresses the oness of God and the stricket adherance to the prophate’s teaching and actions.

  2. Yes, the intent of that sentence was to characterize the ruling family as Wahhabi, not to characterize the Wahhabi as a tribe.

    However, that could have been better phrased, to begin with; and, even the intended meaning isn’t quite as precise as it ought to be (“tribe” is sloppily employed there). That’s more than a split hair.

  3. Splitting hairs here, but the Wahhabis weren’t a tribe, per se… just followers of a particular religious leader whose name was applied to them.

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