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Salāh ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
Sultan of Egypt and Syria
Statue of Saladin in Damascus
Reign 1174–1193
Coronation 1174, Cairo
Full name Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb
Born c. 1137–1138
Birthplace Tikrit, Abbasid Caliphate
Died March 4 1193 CE (aged 55-56)
Place of death Damascus, Syria
Buried Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria
Predecessor Nur ad-Din
Successor Al-ˤAzīz ˤUthmān
Dynasty Ayyubid
Father Najm ad-Dīn Ayyūb

alā ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (Arabic: صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب , commonly knows as: صلاح الدين الأيوبي‎) (c. 1138 - March 4, 1193), better known as Saladin in medieval Europe, was a Kurdish Muslim who was the Sultan of Egypt and Syria. He led the Islamic opposition to the Third Crusade. At the height of his power, the Ayyubid dynasty he founded ruled over Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Hejaz, and Yemen. He led the Muslims against the Crusaders and eventually recaptured the Holy Land from the Kingdom of Jerusalem after his victory in the Battle of Hattin. As such, he is a notable figure in Arab, Kurdish, Persian and Muslim culture. Saladin was a strict practitioner of Sunni Islam. His generally chivalrous behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers, especially in the accounts of the siege of Kerak in Moab.


[edit] Early life

Saladin was born in Tikrit, in modern-day central Iraq. His family was of Kurdish background and ancestry,[1][2] and had originated from the city of Dvin, in Medieval Armenia.[3][4] His father, Najm ad-Din Ayyub, was banished from Tikrit and in 1139 and he, with his brother Asad al-Din Shirkuh, moved to Mosul. He later joined the service of Imad ad-Din Zengi who made him commander of his fortress in Baalbek. After the death of Zengi in 1146, his son, Nur ad-Din, became the regent of Aleppo.[5]

Saladin was reported to have a particular fondness of the city, but information on his early childhood is scarce. About education, Saladin wrote "children are brought up in the way in which their elders were brought up." According to one of his biographers, al-Wahrani, Saladin was able to answer questions on Euclid, the Almagest, arithmetic, and law, but this was an academic ideal and it was study of the Qur'an and the "sciences of religion" that linked him to his contemporaries.[5] Several sources claim that during his studies he was more interested in religion than joining the military.[6] Another factor which may have affected his interest in religion was that during the First Crusade, Jerusalem was taken in a surprise attack by the Christians.[6] In addition to Islam, Saladin had a knowledge of the genealogies, biographies, and histories of the Arabs, as well as the bloodlines of Arabian horses. More significantly, he knew the Hamasah of Abu Tammam by heart.[5]

[edit] Early expeditions

Saladin's military career began when his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh, an important military commander under Nur ad-Din, started training him. In 1163, the vizier to the Fatimid caliph al-Adid, Shawar, had been driven out of Egypt by rival Dirgham, a member of the powerful Banu Ruzzaik tribe. He asked for military backing from Nur ad-Din, who complied and in 1164, sent Shirkuh to aid Shawar in his expedition against Dirgham. Saladin, at age 26, went along with them.[7] After Shawar was successfully reinstated as vizier, he demanded that Shirkuh withdraw his army from Egypt for a sum of 30,000 dinars, but he refused insisting it was Nur ad-Din's will that he remain. Saladin's role in this expedition was minor, and it is known that he was ordered by Shirkuh to collect stores from Bilbais prior to its siege by a combined force of Crusaders and Shawar's troops.[8]

After the sacking of Bilbais, the Crusader-Egyptian force and Shirkuh's army were to engage in a battle on the desert border of the Nile River, just west of Giza. Saladin played a major role, commanding the right wing of the Zengid army, while a force of Kurds commanded the left, and Shirkuh stationed in the center. Muslim sources at the time, however, put Saladin in the "baggage of the center" with orders to lure the enemy into a trap by staging a false retreat. The Crusader force enjoyed early success against Shirkuh's troops, but the terrain was too steep and sandy for their horses, and commander Hugh of Caesarea was captured while attacking Saladin's unit. After scattered fighting in little valleys to the south of the main position, the Zengid central force returned to the offensive; Saladin joined in from the rear.[9]

The battle ended in a Zengid victory, and Saladin is credited to have helped Shirkuh in one of the "most remarkable victories in recorded history", according to Ibn al-Athir, although more of Shirkuh's men were killed and the battle is considered by most sources as not a total victory. Saladin and Shirkuh moved towards Alexandria where they were welcomed, given money, arms, and provided a base.[10] Faced by a superior Crusader-Egyptian force who attempted to besiege the city, Shirkuh split his army. He and the bulk of his force withdrew from Alexandria, while Saladin was left with the task of guarding the city.[11]

[edit] Vizier of Egypt

Saladin's battles in Egypt

Shirkuh of the Kingdom of Jerusalem engaged in a power struggle over Egypt with Shawar and Amalric I, in which Shawar requested Amalric's assistance. In 1169, Shawar was reportedly assassinated by Saladin and Shirkuh died later that year.[12] Nur ad-Din chose a successor for Shirkuh, but al-Adid appointed Saladin to replace Shawar as vizier.[13]

The reasoning behind the Shia al-Adid's selection of Saladin, a Sunni, varies. Ibn al-Athir claims that the caliph chose him after being told by his advisers that "there is no one weaker or younger" than Saladin, and "not one of the emirs obeyed him or served him". However, according to this version, after some bargaining he was eventually accepted by the majority. His advisers were also suspected of attempting to split the Syria-based Zengid ranks. Al-Wahrani wrote that Saladin was selected because of the reputation of his family in their "generosity and military prowess". Imad ad-Din wrote that after the brief mourning period of Shirkuh, during which "opinions differed", the Zengid emirs decided upon Saladin and forced the caliph to "invest him as vizier". Although positions were complicated by rival Muslim leaders, the bulk of the Syrian rulers supported Saladin due to his role in an Egyptian expedition, in which he gained a record impeccable military qualifications.[14]

Inaugurated as vizier on March 26, Saladin repented "wine-drinking and turned from frivolity to assume the dress of religion". Having gained more power and independence than ever before in his career, he still faced the issue of ultimate loyalty between al-Adid and Nur ad-Din. The latter was rumored to be clandestinely hostile towards Saladin's appointment and was quoted as saying, "how dare he [Saladin] do anything without my orders?" He wrote several letters to Saladin, who dismissed them without abandoning his allegiance Nur ad-Din.[15]

Later in the year, a group of Egyptian soldiers and emirs attempted to assassinate him, but having already known of their intentions, Saladin had the chief conspirator, Mu'tamin al-Khilafa—the civilian controller of the Fatimid Palace—killed. The day after, 50,000 black African soldiers from the regiments of the Fatimid army opposed to Saladin's rule along with a number of Egyptian emirs and commoners staged a revolt. By August 23, Saladin had decisively quelled the uprising, and never again had to face a military challenge from Cairo.[16]

Towards the end of 1169, Saladin with reinforcements from Nur ad-Din defeated a massive Crusader-Byzantine force near Damietta. Afterward, in the spring of 1170, Nur ad-Din sent Saladin's father to Egypt to comply with Saladin's request, as well as encouragement from the Baghdad-based Abbasid caliph, al-Mustanjid, who aimed to pressure Saladin in deposing his rival Caliph al-Adid.[17] Saladin, himself, had been strengthening his hold on Egypt and widening his support base there. He began granting family members high-ranking positions in the region and increased Sunni influence in Cairo; he ordered the construction of a college for the Maliki branch of Sunni Islam in the city, as well as one for the Shafi'i denomination to which he belonged in al-Fustat.[18]

After establishing himself in Egypt, Saladin launched a campaign against the Crusaders, besieging Darum in 1170.[19] Amalric withdrew his Templar garrison from Gaza to assist him in defending Darum, but Saladin evaded their force and befell on Gaza instead. He destroyed the town built outside the city's castle and killed most of its inhabitants after they were refused entry into the castle.[20] It is unclear exactly when, but during that same year, he attacked and captured the Crusader castle of Eilat, built on an island off the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. It did not pose a threat to the passage of the Muslim navy, but could harass smaller parties of Muslim ships and Saladin decided to clear it from his path.[19]

[edit] Sultan of Egypt

Saladin as depicted on a Dirham coin, Circa. 1190.

According to Imad ad-Din, Nur ad-Din wrote to Saladin in June 1171, telling him to reestablish the Abbasid caliphate in Egypt, which Saladin coordinated two months later after additional encouragement by Najm ad-Din al-Khabushani, the Shafi'i faqih, who vehemently opposed Shia rule in the country. Several Egyptian emirs were killed and the caliph al-Adid was told that they were rebelling against him. Al-Adid then fell ill, or was poisoned according to one account. While ill, he asked Saladin to pay him a visit to request that he take care of his young children, but Saladin refused, fearing treachery against the Abbasids, and is said to have regretted his action afterwards.[21] Al-Adid died on September 13 and five days later, the Abbasid khutba was pronounced in Cairo and al-Fustat, proclaiming al-Mustadi as caliph.[22]

On September 25, Saladin left Cairo to take part in a joint attack on the desert castles of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Kerak and Montreal with Nur ad-Din who would attack from Syria. Prior to arriving at Montreal, Saladin withdrew, realizing that if he met Nur ad-Din at Shaubak, he would be refused return to Egypt because of Nur ad-Din's reluctance to consolidate such massive territorial control to Saladin. Also, there was a chance that the Crusader kingdom—which acted as a buffer state between Syria and Egypt—could have fallen had the two men attacked it from the east and the coast. This would have gave Nur ad-Din the opportunity to annex Egypt. Saladin claimed he withdrew amid Fatimid plots against him, but Nur ad-Din did not accept "the excuse".[23]

During the summer of 1172, a Nubian army along with a contingent of Armenian refugees were reported on the Egyptian border, preparing for a siege against Aswan. The emir of the city had requested Saladin's assistance and was given reinforcements under Turan-Shah—Saladin's brother. Consequently, the Nubians departed, but returned in 1173 and were again driven off. This time Egyptian forces advanced from Aswan and captured the Nubian town of Ibrim. By now, seventeen months after al-Adid's death, Nur ad-Din did not take any action regarding Egypt, but expected some return for the 200,000 dinars he allocated to Shirkuh's army which seized the country. Saladin paid this debt in 60,000 dinars, "wonderful manufactured goods", some jewels, an ass of the finest breed, and an elephant. While transporting these goods to Damascus, Saladin took the opportunity to ravage the Crusader countryside. He did not press an attack against the desert castles, but attempted to drive out the Muslim Bedouins who lived in Crusader territory with the aim of depriving the Franks of guides.[24]

On July 31, 1173, Saladin's father Ayyub was wounded in a horse-riding accident, causing his death on August 9.[25] In 1174, Saladin sent Turan-Shah to conquer Yemen to allocate it and its port Aden to the territories of the Ayyubid Dynasty. Yemen also served as an emergency territory, to which Saladin could flee in the event of an invasion by Nur ad-Din.

[edit] Acquisition of Syria

[edit] Capture of Damascus

In the early summer of 1174, Nur ad-Din was mustering an army, sending summons to Mosul, Diyarbakir, and al-Jazira in an apparent preparation of attack against Saladin's Egypt. The Ayyubid dynasty held a council upon the revelation of his preparations to discuss the possible threat and Saladin collected his own troops outside Cairo. On May 15, Nur ad-Din died after falling ill the previous week and his power was handed to his eleven-year-old son as-Salih Ismail al-Malik. His death left Saladin with political independence and in a letter to as-Salih, he promised to "act as a sword" against his enemies and referred to the death of his father as an "earthquake shock".[26]

In the wake of Nur ad-Din's death, Saladin faced a difficult decision; he could move his army against the Crusaders from Egypt or wait until invited by as-Salih in Syria to come to his aid and launch a war from there. He could also take it upon himself to annex Syria before it could possibly fall into the hands of a rival, but feared that attacking a land that formerly belonged to his master—which is forbidden in the Islamic principles he followed—could portray him as hypocritical and thus, unsuitable for leading the "holy war" against the Crusaders. Saladin saw that in order to acquire Syria, he either needed an invitation from as-Salih or use the excuse that potential anarchy and danger from the Crusaders could rise.[27]

When as-Salih was removed to Aleppo in August, Gumushtigin, the emir of the city and a captain of Nur ad-Din's veterans assumed guardianship over him. The emir prepared to unseat all of his rivals in Syria and al-Jazira, beginning with Damascus. In this emergency, the emir of Damascus appealed to Saif al-Din (a cousin of Gumushtigin) of Mosul for assistance against Aleppo, but he refused, forcing the Syrians to request the aid of Saladin who complied.[28] Saladin rode across the desert with 700 picked horsemen, passing through al-Kerak then reaching Bosra and according to him, was joined by "emirs, soldiers, Turks, Kurds, and Bedouins—the emotions of their hearts to be seen on their faces."[29] On November 23, he arrived in Damascus amid general acclamations and rested at his father's old home there, until the gates of the Citadel of Damascus were opened to him four days later. He installed himself in the castle and received the homage and salutations of the citizens.[28]

[edit] Further conquests

Leaving his brother Tughtigin as Governor of Damascus, Saladin proceeded to reduce other cities that had belonged to Nur ad-Din, but were now practically independent. He gained Hamah with relative ease, but avoided Hims because of the strength of its citadel.[30] Then he moved north towards Aleppo, besieging it on December 30 after Gumushtigin refused to abdicate his throne.[31] As-Salih, afraid of Saladin, came out of the palace and appealed to the inhabitants not to surrender him and the city to the invading force. One of Saldin's chroniclers claimed "the people came under his spell".[32]

Gumushtigin requested from Rashid ad-Din Sinan, grand-master of the Assassins who were already at odds with Saladin since he replaced the Fatimids of Egypt, to assassinate Saladin in his camp.[33] A group of thirteen Assassins easily gained admission into Saladin's camp, but were detected immediately before they carried out their attack. One was killed by a general of Saladin and the others were slain while trying to escape.[34][32] To make the situation more difficult for him, Raymond of Tripoli gathered his forces by Nahr al-Kabir where he was well-placed for an attack on Muslim territory. He later moved toward Hims, but retreated after being told a relief force was being sent to the city by Saif al-Din.[35]

Meanwhile, Saladin's rivals in Syria and Jazira waged a propaganda war, claiming he had "forgotten his own condition [servant of Nur ad-Din]" and showed no gratitude for his old master by besieging his son, rising "in rebellion against his Lord". Saladin aimed to counter this propaganda by departing the siege to claim he was defending Islam from the Crusaders; his army returned to Hama to engage a Crusader force there. The Crusaders withdrew beforehand and Saladin proclaimed it "a victory opening the gates of men's hearts".[35] Soon after, Saladin entered Hims and captured its citadel in March 1175, after stubborn resistance from its defenders.[36]

Saladin's successes alarmed Saif al-Din. As head of the descendants of Zengid, including Gumushtigin, he regarded Syria and Mesopotamia as his family estate and was angered when Saladin attempted to usurp their holdings. Saif al-Din mustered a large army and dispatched it to Aleppo whose defenders anxiously had awaited them. The combined forces of Mosul and Aleppo marched against Saladin in Hama. Heavily outnumbered, he initially attempted to make terms with the Zengids by abandoning all conquests north of the Damascus province, but they refused, insisting he return to Egypt. Seeing that a confrontation was unavoidable, Saladin prepared for battle, taking up a superior position on the hills by the gorge of the Orontes River. On April 13, 1175, the Zengid troops marched to attack his forces, but soon found themselves surrounded by Saladin's Ayyubid veterans who annihilated them. The battle ended in a decisive victory for Saladin who pursued the Zengid fugitives to the gates of Aleppo, forcing as-Salih's advisers to recognize his control of the provinces of Damascus, Hims, and Hama, as well as a number of towns outside Aleppo such as Ma'arat al-Numan.[37]

After his victory against the Zengids, Saladin proclaimed himself king and suppressed the name of as-Salih in the Friday prayers and Islamic coinage. From then on, he was ordered to be prayed for in all of the mosques of Syria and Egypt as the sovereign king and he issued at the Cairo mint gold coins bearing his name—al-Malik an-Nasir Yusuf Ayyub, ala ghaya "the King Strong to Aid, Joseph son of Job; exalted be the standard". The Abbasid caliph in Baghdad graciously welcomed Saladin's assumption of power and declared him "Sultan of Egypt and Syria".[38]

The Battle of Hama did not end the contest for power between the Ayyubids and the Zengids, the final confrontation occurring in the spring of 1176. Saladin had brought up his forces from Egypt and Saif al-Din was levying troops among the minor states of Diyarbakir and al-Jazira.[39] When Saladin crossed the Orontes, leaving Hama, the sun was eclipsed and despite viewing this as an omen, he continued his march north. He reached the Sultan's Mound, 15 miles (24 km) from Aleppo, where his forces encountered Saif al-Din's army. A hand-to-hand fight ensued and the Zengids managed to overthrow Saladin's left wing, driving it before him, when he himself charged at the head of the Zengid guard. The Zengid forces panicked and most of Saif al-Din's officers were killed or captured—he himself narrowly escaped. The Zengid army's camp, horses, baggage, tents, and stores were taken by the Ayyubids. The Zengid prisoners, however, were given gifts and freed by Saladin and all of the booty of his victory were handed to the army, not keeping a thing for himself.[40]

He continued towards Aleppo which still closed its gates to him, halting before the city. On the way, his army took Buza'a, then captured Manbij. From there they headed west to besiege the fortress of A'zaz on May 15. A few days later, while Saladin was resting in one of his captain's tents, an assassin rushed forward at him and struck at his head with a knife. The cap of his head armor was not penetrated and he managed to grip the assassin's hand—the dagger only slashing his gambeson—and the assailant was soon killed. Saladin was unnerved at the attempt on his life whom he accused Gumushtugin and the Assassins of plotting, and so increased his efforts in the siege.[41]

A'zaz capitulated on June 21, and Saladin then hurried his forces to Aleppo to punish Gumushtigin. His assaults were again resisted, but he managed to secure not only a truce, but a mutual alliance with Aleppo, in which Gumushtigin and as-Salih were allowed to continue their hold on the city and in return, they recognized Saladin as the sovereign over all the dominions he conquered. The emirs of Mardin and Keyfa, the Muslim allies of Aleppo, also recognized Saladin as the King of Syria. When the treaty was concluded, the younger sister of as-Salih came to Saladin and requested the return of the Fortress of A'zaz; he complied and escorted her back to the gates of Aleppo with numerous gifts.[41]

[edit] Campaign against Assassins

Saladin had by now agreed truces with his Zengid rivals and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (summer of 1175), but faced a threat from the Assassins led by Sinan. Based in the al-Nusayri Mountains, they had nine fortresses atop high elevations. As soon as he dismissed the bulk of his troops to Egypt, Saladin led his army into al-Nusayri range in August 1176, but retreated the same month, after laying waste to the countryside, but failing to conquer any of the forts. Most Muslim historians claim that Saladin's uncle mediated a peace agreement between him and Sinan.[42] However, the latter's panegyrist claims Saladin departed due to fears for his own life at the hands of the Assassins. He had chalk and cinders strewed around his tent outside Masyaf—which he laid a siege against—to detect any footsteps by the Assassins and had his guards supplied with link lights.[43]

According to his version, one night, Saladin's guards noticed a spark glowing down the hill of Masyaf and then vanishing among the Ayyubid tents. Presently, Saladin awoke from his sleep to find a figure leaving the tent. He then saw that the lamps were displaced and beside his bed laid hot scones of the shape peculiar to the Assassins with a note at the top pinned by a poisoned dagger. The note threatened that he would be killed if he didn't withdraw from his assault. Saladin gave a loud cry, exclaiming that Sinan himself was the figure that left the tent. As such, Saladin told his guards to settle an agreement with Sinan.[43] Realizing he was unable to subdue the Assassins, he sought to align himself with them, consequently depriving the Crusaders of a secret weapon.[44]

19th century depiction of a victorious Saladin.

[edit] Return to Cairo and forays in Palestine

After leaving the al-Nusayri Mountains, Saladin returned to Damascus and had his Syrian soldiers return home. He left Turan Shah in command of Syria, and left for Egypt with only his personal followers, reaching Cairo on September 22. Having been absent roughly two years, he had much to organize and supervise in Egypt, namely fortifying and reconstructing Cairo. The city walls were repaired and their extensions laid out, while the construction of the Cairo Citadel was commenced.[44] The 280 feet (85 m) deep Bir Yusuf ("Joseph's Well") was built on Saladin's orders. The chief public work he commissioned outside of Cairo was the large bridge at Giza, which intended to form an outwork of defense against a potential Moorish invasion.[45]

Saladin remained in Cairo supervising its improvements, building colleges such as the Madrasa of the Sword Makers and ordering the internal administration of the country. In November 1177, he set out upon a raid into Palestine; the Crusaders had recently forayed into the territory of Damascus and so Saladin saw the truce was no longer worth preserving. The Christians sent a large portion of their army to besiege the fortress of Harim north of Aleppo and so southern Palestine bared few defenders.[45] Saladin found the situation ripe, and so marched to Ascalon, which he referred to as the "Bride of Syria". William of Tyre recorded that the Ayyubid army consisted of 26,000 soldiers, of which 8,000 were elite forces and 18,000 were black slave soldiers from the Sudan. This army proceeded to raid the countryside, sack Ramla and Lod, and dispersed themselves as far as the Gates of Jerusalem.[46]

[edit] Battles and truce with Baldwin

The Ayyubids did allow King Baldwin to enter Ascalon with his Gaza-based Templars without taking any precautions against a sudden attack. Although the Crusader force consisted only of 375 knights, Saladin hesitated to ambush them due to the presence of highly-skilled generals. On November 25, while the greater part of the Ayyubid army was absent, Saladin and his men were surprised at Tell Jezer, near Ramla. Before they could form up, the Templar force hacked the Ayyubid army down. Initially, Saladin attempted to organize his men into battle order, but as his bodyguards were being killed, he saw that defeat was inevitable and so with a small remnant of his troops mounted a swift camel, riding all the way to the territories of Egypt.[47]

Not discouraged by his defeat at Tell Jezer, Saladin was prepared to fight the Crusaders once again. In the spring of 1178, he was encamped under the walls of Hims and a few skirmishes occurred between his generals and the Crusader army. His forces in Hama won a victory over their enemy and brought the spoils, together with many prisoners of war to Saladin who ordered the captives to be beheaded for "plundering and laying waste the lands of the Faithful". He spent the rest of the year in Syria without a confrontation with his enemies.[48]

Saladin's intelligence services reported to him that the Crusaders were planning a raid into Syria. As such, he ordered one of his generals, Farrukh-Shah, to guard the Damascus frontier with a thousand of his men to watch for an attack, then to retire avoiding battle and lightning warning beacons on the hills on which Saladin would march out. In April 1179, the Crusaders led by King Baldwin expected no resistance and waited to launch a surprise attack on Muslim herders grazing their herds and flocks east of the Golan Heights. Baldwin advanced too rashly in pursuit of Farrukh-Shah's force which was concentrated southeast of Quneitra and was subsequently defeated by the Ayyubids. With this victory, Saladin decided to call in more troops from Egypt; he requested 1,500 horsemen to be sent by al-Adil.[49]

In the summer of 1179, King Baldwin had set up an outpost on the road to Damascus and aimed to fortify a passage over the Jordan River, known as Jacob's Ford, that commanded the approach to the Banias plain (the plain was divided by the Muslims and the Christians). Saladin had offered 100,000 gold pieces for Baldwin to abandon the project which was peculiarly offensive to the Muslims, but to no avail. He then resolved to destroy the fortress, moving his headquarters to Banias. As the Crusaders hurried down to attack the Muslim forces, they fell into disorder, with the infantry falling behind. Despite early success, they pursued the Muslims far enough to become scattered and Saladin took advantage by rallied his troops and charged at the Crusaders. The engagement ended in a decisive Ayyubid victory and many high-ranking knights were captured. Saladin then moved to besiege the fortress which fell on August 30, 1179.[50]

In the spring of 1180, while Saladin was in the area of Safad, anxious to commence a vigorous campaign against the Kingdom of Jerusalem, King Baldwin sent messengers to him with proposals of peace. Due to droughts and bad harvests hampering his commissariat, Saladin agreed to a truce. Raymond of Tripoli denounced the truce, but was compelled to accept after an Ayyubid raid in his territory in May and upon the appearance of Saladin's naval fleet off the port of Tartus.[51]

[edit] Alliance with Artuqids

In June 1180, Saladin held a reception for Nur al-Din Muhammad, the Artuqid emir of Keyfa, at Geuk Su, in which he presented him and his brother Abu Bakr gifts, valued at over 100,000 dinars according to Imad al-Din. This was intended to cement an alliance with Artuqids and to impress other emirs in Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Previously, Saladin offered to mediate relations between Nur al-Din and Kilij Arslan II—the Seljuk Sultan of Rum—after the two came into conflict. The latter demanded Nur al-Din return the lands given to him as a dowry for marrying his daughter when he received reports that she was being abused by him and was used to gain to Seljuk territory. Nur al-Din requested assistance from Saladin, but Arslan refused.[52]

After Nur al-Din and Saladin met at Geuk Su, the top Seljuk emir, Ikhtiyar al-Din al-Hasan, confirmed Arslan's submission, after which an agreement was drawn up. Saladin was enraged to receive a message from Arslan soon after, complaining of more abuses against his daughter. He threatened to attack the city of Malatya, saying it is two days march for me and I shall not dismount [my horse] until I am in the city". Alarmed at the threat, the Seljuks pushed for negotiations. Saladin felt the Arslan was right to care for his daughter, but Nur al-Din had taken refuge with him, and therefore he could not betray him. It was finally agreed that the woman would be sent away for a year and that if Nur al-Din failed to comply, Saladin would abandon his support for him.[52]

[edit] Last stay in Egypt and problems in Yemen

Leaving Farrukh-Shah in charge of Syria, Saladin returned to Cairo at the beginning of 1181; According to Abu-Shama, he intended to spend the fast of Ramadan in Egypt and then make the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. For an unknown reason he apparently changed his mind about the pilgrimage and was seen inspecting the Nile River banks in June. He was again embroiled with the Bedouin; he removed two-thirds of their fiefs to use as compensation for the fief-holders at Fayyum which he intended to take over. The Bedouin were also accused of trading with the Crusaders and so their grain was confiscated and they were forced to move westward. Later, warships were waged against Bedouin river pirates who were plundering the shores of Lake Tanis.[53]

In the summer of 1181, Saladin's former palace administrator Qara-Qush led a force to arrest Majd al-Din—a former deputy of Turan-Shah in the town of Zabid in Yemen—while he was entertaining Imad ad-Din at his estate in Cairo. Saladin's intimates accused him of misappropriating the revenues of Zabid, but Saladin himself replied there was no evidence against him. He realized the mistake and had Majd al-Din released in return for a payment of 80,000 dinars to him and other sums to Saladin's brothers al-Adil and Taj al-Muluk Bari. The controversial detainment of Majd al-Din was a part of the larger discontent associated with the aftermath of Turan-Shah's departure from Yemen; although his deputies continued to send him revenues from the province, centralized authority was lacking and internal quarrel arose between the Izz al-Din Uthman of Aden and Hittan of Zabid. Saladin wrote in a letter to al-Adil: "this Yemen is a treasure house... We conquered it, but up to this day we have had no return and no advantage from it. There have been only innumerable expenses, the sending out of troops... and expectations which did not produce what was hoped for in the end."[54]

[edit] Conquest of Mesopotamia

On December 4, the crown-prince of the Zengids, as-Salih, died in Aleppo. Prior to his death, he had his chief officers swear an oath of loyalty to Saif al-Din of Mosul, as he was the only Zengid ruler strong enough to oppose Saladin. Saif al-Din was welcomed in Aleppo, but possessing it and Mosul put too great of a strain on his abilities. He thus, handed Aleppo to his brother Imad al-Din, in exchange for Sinjar. Saladin offered no opposition to these transactions in order to respect the treaty he previously made with the Zengids.[55]

On May 11, 1182, Saladin left Cairo for Syria. Knowing that Crusader forces were massed upon the frontier to intercept him, he took the desert route across the Sinai Peninsula to Ailah at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Meeting no opposition, Saladin ravaged the countryside of Montreal, whilst Baldwin's forces watched on, refusing to intervene.[56] He arrived in Damascus in June to learn that Farrukh-Shah had attacked the Galilee, sacking Daburiyya and capturing Habis Jaldek, a fortress of great importance to the Crusaders. In July, Saladin dispatched Farrukh-Shah to attack Kawkab al-Hawa. Later, in August, the Ayyubids launched a naval and ground assault to capture Beirut; Saladin led his army in the Bekaa Valley. The assault was leaning towards failure and Saladin abandoned the operation to focus on issues in Mesopotamia.[57]

Kukbary, the emir of Harran, invited Saladin to occupy the Jazira region, making up northern Mesopotamia. He complied and the truce between him and the Zengids officially ended in September 1182. Before he crossed the Euphrates River, Saladin besieged Aleppo for three days, signaling that the truce was over. Once he reached Bira, near the river, he was joined by Kukbary and Nur al-Din of Keyfa and the combined forces captured the cities of Jazira, one after the other. First, Edessa fell, followed by Saruj, then ar-Raqqah, Karkesiya and Nusaybin. In the midst of these victories, Saladin received word that the Crusaders were raiding the villages of Damascus. He replied "Let them... whilst they knock down villages, we are taking cities; when we come back, we shall have all the more strength to fight them."[58]

[edit] Wars against Crusaders

However, Crusader counter-attacks provoked further responses by Saladin. Raynald of Chatillon, in particular, harassed Muslim trading and pilgrimage routes with a fleet on the Red Sea, a water route that Saladin needed to keep open. In response, Saladin built a fleet of 30 galleys to attack Beirut in 1182. Raynald threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In retaliation, Saladin twice besieged Kerak, Raynald's fortress in Oultrejordain, in 1183 and 1184. Raynald responded by looting a caravan of pilgrims on the Hajj in 1185. According to the later thirteenth century Old French Continuation of William of Tyre, Raynald captured Saladin's sister in a raid on a caravan, although this claim is not attested in contemporary sources, Muslim or Frankish, rather stating that Raynald had attacked a preceding caravan, and Saladin set guards to ensure the safety of his sister and her son, who came to no harm.

Following the failure of his Kerak sieges, Saladin temporarily turned his attention back to another long-term project and resumed attacks on the territory of ˤIzz ad-Dīn (Masˤūd ibn Mawdūd ibn Zangi), around Mosul, which he had begun with some success in 1182. However, since then, Masˤūd had allied himself with the powerful governor of Azerbaijan and Jibal, who in 1185 began moving his troops across the Zagros Mountains, causing Saladin to hesitate in his attacks. The defenders of Mosul, when they became aware that help was on the way, increased their efforts, and Saladin subsequently fell ill, so in March 1186 a peace treaty was signed.[59]

In July 1187 Saladin captured most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On July 4, 1187, he faced at the Battle of Hattin the combined forces of Guy of Lusignan, King Consort of Jerusalem and Raymond III of Tripoli. In this battle alone the Crusader army was largely annihilated by the motivated army of Saladin in what was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades. Saladin captured Raynald de Chatillon and was personally responsible for his execution in retaliation for his attacking Muslim caravans, who when in vain besought his mercy reciting the truce between the Muslims and Crusaders, he insulted their prophet Muhammad before murdering and torturing a number of them. Upon hearing this, Saladin swore an oath to personally execute Raynald.[60]

Guy of Lusignan was also captured. Seeing the execution of Raynald, feared he would be next. But his life was spared by Saladin with the words;

It is not the wont of kings, to kill kings; but that man had transgressed all bounds, and therefore did I treat him thus[61].

[edit] Capture of Jerusalem

Saladin had almost captured every Crusader city. Jerusalem capitulated to his forces on October 2, 1187 after a siege. Before the siege, Saladin had offered generous terms of surrender, which were rejected. After the siege had started, he was unwilling to promise terms of quarter to the Frankish inhabitants of Jerusalem until Balian of Ibelin threatened to kill every Muslim hostage, estimated at 5000, and to destroy Islam’s holy shrines of the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque if quarter was not given. Saladin consulted his council and these terms were accepted. Ransom was to be paid for each Frank in the city whether man, woman or child. Saladin allowed many to leave without having the required amount for ransom for others.[62][63] Though Saladin’s offer included the poor, several thousand apparently were not redeemed and probably were sold into slavery.[64]

Tyre, on the coast of modern-day Lebanon was the last major Crusader city that was not captured by Muslim forces (strategically, it would have made more sense for Saladin to capture Tyre before Jerusalem--however, Saladin chose to pursue Jerusalem first because of the importance of the city to Islam). The city was now commanded by Conrad of Montferrat, who strengthened Tyre's defences and withstood two sieges by Saladin. In 1188, at Tortosa, Saladin released Guy of Lusignan and returned him to his wife, Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem. They went first to Tripoli, then to Antioch. In 1189, they sought to reclaim Tyre for their kingdom, but were refused admission by Conrad, who did not recognize Guy as king. Guy then set about besieging Acre.

Upon the capture of Jerusalem, Saladin summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city[65] in particular the Jews of Ashkelon which was a large Jewish settlement responded his request.[66]

[edit] Third Crusade

It is equally true that his generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy which had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria than in the lands of Islam.
René Grousset (writer)[67]

Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem prompted the Third Crusade, financed in England by a special "Saladin tithe". Richard I of England led Guy's siege of Acre, conquered the city and executed 3000 Muslim prisoners including women and children.[68] Saladin retaliated by killing all Franks captured from August 28 - September 10. Bahā' ad-Dīn writes, "Whilst we were there they brought two Franks to the Sultan (Saladin) who had been made prisoners by the advance guard. He had them beheaded on the spot."[69]

The armies of Saladin engaged in combat with the army of King Richard I of England at the Battle of Arsuf on September 7, 1191, at which Saladin was defeated. All attempts made by Richard the Lionheart to re-take Jerusalem failed. However, Saladin's relationship with Richard was one of chivalrous mutual respect as well as military rivalry. When Richard became ill with fever, Saladin offered the services of his personal physician. Saladin also sent him fresh fruit with snow, to chill the drink, as treatment. At Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Saladin sent him two replacements. Richard suggested to Saladin that Palestine, Christian and Muslim, could be united through the marriage of his sister Joan of England, Queen of Sicily to Saladin's brother, and that Jerusalem could be their wedding gift.[citation needed] However, the two men never met face to face and communication was either written or by messenger.

As leaders of their respective factions, the two men came to an agreement in the Treaty of Ramla in 1192, whereby Jerusalem would remain in Muslim hands but would be open to Christian pilgrimages. The treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a strip along the coast from Tyre to Jaffa. This treaty was supposed to last three years.

[edit] Death

Saladin died of a fever on March 4, 1193, at Damascus, not long after Richard's departure. Since Saladin had given most of his money away for charity when they opened his treasury, they found there was not enough money to pay for his funeral.[70] And so Saladin was buried in a magnificent mausoleum in the garden outside the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. Seven centuries later, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany donated a new marble sarcophagus to the mausoleum. Saladin was, however, not placed in it. Instead the mausoleum, which is open to visitors, now has two sarcophagi: one empty in marble and the original in which Saladin is placed, made of wood. The reason why he was not placed in the tomb would most likely to have been as a result of respect, and not to disturb Saladin's body.

The tomb of Saladin near the northwestern corner of the Umayyad Mosque, Damascus, Syria.

[edit] Recognition and legacy

His fierce struggle against the crusaders was where Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous knight, so much so that there existed by the fourteenth century an epic poem about his exploits. Saladin appears in a sympathetic light in Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman (1825). Despite the Crusaders' slaughter when they originally conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Saladin granted amnesty and free passage to all common Catholics and even to the defeated Christian army, as long as they were able to pay the aforementioned ransom (the Greek Orthodox Christians were treated even better, because they often opposed the western Crusaders). An interesting view of Saladin and the world in which he lived is provided by Tariq Ali's novel The Book of Saladin.[71]

Notwithstanding the differences in beliefs, the Muslim Saladin was respected by Christian lords, Richard especially. Richard once praised Saladin as a great prince, saying that he was without doubt the greatest and most powerful leader in the Islamic world.[72] Saladin in turn stated that there was not a more honorable Christian lord than Richard. After the treaty, Saladin and Richard sent each other many gifts as tokens of respect, but never met face to face again.

In April 1191, a Frankish woman's three month old baby had been stolen from her camp and had been sold on the market. The Franks urged her to approach Saladin herself with her grievance. After Saladin used his own money to buy the child, "he gave it to the mother and she took it; with tears streaming down her face, and hugged it to her breast. The people were watching her and weeping and I (Ibn Shaddad) was standing amongst them. She suckled it for some time and then Saladin ordered a horse to be fetched for her and she went back to camp."[73]

A Knight without fear or blame who often had to teach his opponents the right way to practice chivalry.
An inscription written by Kaiser Wilhelm II on a wreath he lay on Saladin's Tomb.[67]

The name Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn means "Righteousness of Faith", and through the ages Saladin has been an inspiration for Muslims in many respects. Modern Muslim rulers have sought to commemorate Saladin through various measures. A governorate centered around Tikrit and Samarra in modern-day Iraq, Salah ad Din Governorate, is named after him, as is Salahaddin University in Arbil. A suburb community of Arbil, Masif Salahaddin, is also named after him.

Saladin's grave.

Few structures associated with Saladin survive within modern cities. Saladin first fortified the Citadel of Cairo (1175 - 1183), which had been a domed pleasure pavilion with a fine view in more peaceful times. In Syria, even the smallest city is centred on a defensible citadel, and Saladin introduced this essential feature to Egypt.

Among the forts he built was Qalaat al-Gindi, a mountaintop fortress and caravanserai in the Sinai. The fortress overlooks a large wadi which was the convergence of several caravan routes that linked Egypt and the Middle East. Inside the structure are a number of large vaulted rooms hewn out of rock, including the remains of shops and a water cistern. A notable archaeological site, it was investigated in 1909 by a French team under Jules Barthoux.[74]

The Ayyubid dynasty he founded continued fifty-seven years after his death. The legacy of Saladin within the Arab World continues to this day. With the rise of Arab nationalism in the Twentieth Century, particularly with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Saladin's heroism and leadership gained a new significance. The glory and comparative unity of the Arab World under Saladin was seen as the perfect symbol for the new unity sought by Arab nationalists, such as Gamal Abdel Nasser. For this reason, the Eagle of Saladin became the symbol of revolutionary Egypt, and was subsequently adopted by several other Arab states (Iraq, Palestine, and Yemen).

In 1963 an Egyptian film about Saladin was directed by Youssef Chahine and was released, titled Al Nasser Salah Ad-Din. In the 1965 Doctor Who serial The Crusade he was played by Bernard Kay. 2005's Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott, has Saladin portrayed by Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud. In the 2007 Swedish film Arn – The Knight Templar (Arn – Tempelriddaren), Saladin is portrayed by the British Asian actor and supermodel Milind Soman. An animated television series based on Saladin, entitled Saladin: The Animated Series, has been produced in Malaysia and will begin airing in 2009. The crusades from the point of view of Saladin and the Saracens is one of the campaigns in the computer game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Encyclopedia of World Biography on Saladin" (in English). Retrieved on 2008-08-20. 
  2. ^ The medieval historian Ibn Athir relates a passage from another commander: "...both you and Saladin are Kurds and you will not let power pass into the hands of..." Minorsky (1957).
  3. ^ Bahā' al-Dīn (2002), p 17.
  4. ^ (Armenian) Ter-Ghevondyan, Aram N. (1965). Արաբական Ամիրայությունները Բագրատունյաց Հայաստանում (The Arab Emirates in Bagratuni Armenia). Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences. p. 218. 
  5. ^ a b c Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.3.
  6. ^ a b "Who2 Biography: Saladin, Sultan / Military Leader" (in English). Retrieved on 2008-08-20. 
  7. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.6-7
  8. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.8.
  9. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.14.
  10. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.15.
  11. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.16.
  12. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.25.
  13. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.28.
  14. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.28-29.
  15. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.32-33.
  16. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.34 and p.36.
  17. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.38.
  18. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.41.
  19. ^ a b Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.43.
  20. ^ Pringle, 1993, p.208.
  21. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.45.
  22. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.46-47.
  23. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.46-47.
  24. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.60-62.
  25. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.64.
  26. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.73-74.
  27. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.74-75.
  28. ^ a b Lane-Poole, 1901, p.136.
  29. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.81.
  30. ^ Lane-Poole, 1901, p.13.
  31. ^ Lane-Poole, 1901, p.137.
  32. ^ a b Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.87.
  33. ^ Lane-Poole, 1901, p.138.
  34. ^ Lane-Poole, 1901, p.139.
  35. ^ a b Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.88-89.
  36. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.140.
  37. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.141.
  38. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.141-142.
  39. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.143.
  40. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.144.
  41. ^ a b Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.144-146.
  42. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.148.
  43. ^ a b Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.149-150.
  44. ^ a b Lane-Poole, 1906, p.151.
  45. ^ a b Lane-Poole, 1906, p.153.
  46. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.154.
  47. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.155.
  48. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.156.
  49. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.136.
  50. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.157-159.
  51. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.160-161.
  52. ^ a b Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.148.
  53. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, p.156.
  54. ^ Lyons and Jackson, 1984, pp.158-159.
  55. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.164-165.
  56. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, p.167.
  57. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.168-169.
  58. ^ Lane-Poole, 1906, pp.169-170.
  59. ^ C. Bosworth et al. Encyclopaedia of Islam, page 781 Brill (1989) ISBN 9004092390, via Google Books accessed 2008-05-18
  60. ^ Saladin Or What Befell Sultan Yusuf by Beha Ed-din, Baha' Al-Din Yusuf Ib Ibn Shaddad, Kessinger Publishing, 2004, p42, p114
  61. ^ Saladin Or What Befell Sultan Yusuf by Beha Ed-din, Baha' Al-Din Yusuf Ib Ibn Shaddad, Kessinger Publishing, 2004, p. 115.
  62. ^ Runciman
  63. ^ "E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936". 
  64. ^ The era of the Second and Third Crusades » The Crusader states to 1187, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  65. ^ Chronicle of Jewish History: From the Patriarchs to the 21st century Sol Scharfstein, Dorcas Gelabert, KTAV Publishing House 1997, p145
  66. ^ Where Heaven Touches Earth: Jewish Life in Jerusalem from Medieval Times to the PresentDovid Rossoff, Feldheim Publishers 2001, p. 6.
  67. ^ a b Grousset (1970).
  68. ^ Richard The Lionheart Massacres The Saracens, 1191, Beha-ed-Din, his account appears in Archer, T.A., The Crusade of Richard I (1889); Gillingham, John, The Life and Times of Richard I (1973).
  69. ^ Bahā' al-Dīn (2002) pp 169-170
  70. ^ Bahā' al-Dīn (2002) pp 25 & 244.
  71. ^ (London: Verso, 1998)
  72. ^ Lyons & Jackson (1982), p. 357.
  73. ^ Bahā' al-Dīn (2002), pp. 147–148.; Lyons & Jackson (1982), pp. 325-326.
  74. ^ Schreurs, J. (February 2001). "Saladin". Retrieved on 2007-03-17. 

[edit] Sources

  • Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad (2002). The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3381-6. 
  • Bowman, Alan K. (1986). Egypt After the Pharaohs. 
  • Gabrieli, Francesco (1984). Arab Historians of the Crusades. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 978-0-710-20235-2. 
  • Gibb, H.A.R. (1973). The Life of Saladin: From the Works of Imad ad-Din and Baha ad-Din. Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-86356-928-9. 
  • Gillingham, John (1999). "Richard I". Yale English Monarchs. Yale University Press. 
  • Grousset, Rene (1970). The Epic of the Crusades. New York. 
  • Hindley, Geoffrey (2007). Saladin: Hero of Islam. Pen & Sword. ISBN 1-84415-499-8. 
  • Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani (1888). C. Landberg. ed. Conquête de la Syrie et de la Palestine par Salâh ed-dîn. Brill. 
  • Lane-Poole, Stanley (1898). Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Putnam. 
  • Lyons, M. C.; D.E.P. Jackson (1982). Saladin: the Politics of the Holy War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31739-9. 
  • Minorsky, V. (1957). Studies in Caucasian history. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Reston, James (2001). Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade. New York: Anchor Books. ISBN 0-385-49562-5. 
  • Runciman, Steven. A History of the Crusades: Volume 2, The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Shahnaz, Husain (1998). Muslim Heroes of the Crusades. ISBN 1-8979-4071-8. 

[edit] External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Fatimid Caliph of Egypt
Sultan of Egypt
Succeeded by
Al-Aziz Uthman
Preceded by
As-Salih Ismail al-Malik
Emir of Damascus
Succeeded by
Al-Afdal ibn Salah al-din

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