Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaitbay was born in Kipchak on the Volga River in present-day Russia. He was bought by a slave merchant named Mahmoud Ibn Rustum. He was brought to Egypt in 839 after Hijra (AD 1435) at the age of thirteen. He was bought by Sultan Barsbay for his garrison at the Citadel.
In the reign of Sultan Jaqmaq, he was manumitted and appointed Master of the Robes, then Khasqi, the head of the internal affairs of the Royal Court, and then Dawadar, or Chancellor. He rose in the ranks to become Commander of the Armies in 872 after Hijra (AD 1467). In that year there was an uprising among the Mamluk princes that resulted in the ousting of Sultan Al-Zahir Tamurbugha from power.
The Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustanjid Billah swore allegiance to Qaitbay as Sultan, at which point Qaitbay burst into tears because he was afraid of being murdered by his princes. This was how Sultan Qaitbay came to power as ruler of Egypt and Great Syria. He reigned until his death in 901 after Hijra (AD 1496). It was during his rule that Ottoman aspirations to take over Egypt began.