Saladin

Saladin

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Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb ' onMouseout='HidePop("76480")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Kurdish_language">Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

: سه‌لاحه‌دین ئه‌یوبی, Selah'edînê Eyubî) (c.
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Timeline

1176   The Hashshashin (Assassins) attempt to murder Saladin near Aleppo.

1177   Baldwin IV of Jerusalem and Raynald of Chatillon defeat Saladin at the Battle of Montgisard.

1187   Saladin begins the Siege of Jerusalem.

1187   Siege of Jerusalem: Saladin captures Jerusalem after 88 years of Crusader rule.

1191   Third Crusade: Saladin's garrison surrenders to Conrad of Montferrat, ending the two-year siege of Acre.

1192   Richard the Lion-Heart is captured and imprisoned by Leopold V of Austria on his way home to England after signing a treaty with Saladin ending the Third crusade.

 
Encyclopedia
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb ' onMouseout='HidePop("76480")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Kurdish_language">Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

: سه‌لاحه‌دین ئه‌یوبی, Selah'edînê Eyubî) (c. 1138 – March 4, 1193), better known in the Western world as Saladin, was an Arabized
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

  Kurdish Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, who became the first Sultan of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Syria
Greater Syria
Greater Syria , also known simply as Syria, is a term that denotes a region in the Near East bordering the Eastern Mediterranean Sea or the Levant....

, and founded the Ayyubid dynasty
Ayyubid dynasty
The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

. He led Muslim and Arab opposition to the Franks
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and other European Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 in the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, Kurdistan, Hejaz
Hejaz
al-Hejaz, also Hijaz is a region in the west of present-day Saudi Arabia. Defined primarily by its western border on the Red Sea, it extends from Haql on the Gulf of Aqaba to Jizan. Its main city is Jeddah, but it is probably better known for the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina...

, and Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

.

Under his personal leadership, his forces defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin
The Battle of Hattin took place on Saturday, July 4, 1187, between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty....

, leading the way to his re-capture of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, which had been seized from the Fatimid Egyptians by the Crusaders 88 years earlier. Though the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 would continue to exist for a period, its defeat at Hattin marked a turning point in its conflict with the Muslims and Arabs. As such, Saladin is a prominent figure in Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

, Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

, and Muslim culture
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

. Saladin was a strict adherent of Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 His noble and chivalrous
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

 behavior was noted by Christian chroniclers, especially in the accounts of the Siege of Kerak
Siege of Kerak
The Siege of Kerak took place in 1183, with Saladin's forces attacking and being repelled from the Crusader stronghold.- Prelude :Kerak was the stronghold of Raynald of Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejordain, 124 km South of Amman. The fortress was built in 1142 by Pagan the Butler, Lord of Montreal...

, and despite being the nemesis
Archenemy
An archenemy, archfoe, archvillain or archnemesis is the principal enemy of a character in a work of fiction, often described as the hero's worst enemy .- Etymology :The word archenemy or arch-enemy originated...

 of the Crusaders, he won the respect of many of them, including Richard the Lionheart
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

; rather than becoming a hated figure in Europe, he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry.

Sources


There are many contemporary and near-contemporary sources available for Saladin's career. Among Saladin's admirers who produced personal biographies are the historians: Qadi al-Fadil from Ascalon; Imad al-Din al-Isfahani, and Ibn Shaddad
Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad
Bahā' ad-Dīn Yusuf ibn Rafi ibn Shaddād was a 12th-century Muslim jurist and scholar, an Arabian historian of great note, notable for writing a biography of Saladin whom he knew well.Ibn Shaddād was born in Mosul on 10 Ramadan 539 AH , where he studied the...

, a jurist from Mosul. Ibn al-Athir (d. 1233), on the other hand, produced a more hostile picture.

Early life


Saladin was born in Tikrit
Tikrit
Tikrit is a town in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris river . The town, with an estimated population in 2002 of about 260,000 is the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate.-Ancient times:...

, Iraq. His personal name was Yusuf, the Arabic form of Joseph; Salah ad-Din is a laqab, a descriptive epithet, meaning "Righteousness of the Faith". His family was of Arabized Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 background and ancestry, and had originated from the city of Dvin
Dvin
Dvin was a large commercial city and the capital of early medieval Armenia. It was situated north of the previous ancient capital of Armenia, the city of Artaxata, along the banks of the Metsamor River, 35 km to the south of modern Yerevan...

, in medieval Armenia
Medieval Armenia
-Prelude:Western Armenia had been under Byzantine control since the partition of the Kingdom of Armenia in AD 387, while Eastern Armenia had been under the occupation of the Sassanid Empire starting 428. Regardless of religious disputes, many Armenians became successful in the Byzantine Empire and...

. Despite having Kurdish origin, he couldn't speak Kurdish. His father, Najm ad-Din Ayyub
Najm ad-Din Ayyub
al-Malik al-Afdal Najm ad-Din Ayyub ibn Shadhi ibn Marawan ) was a Kurdish soldier and politician from Dvin, and the father of Saladin. He is eponymous of the Ayyubid dynasty founded by Saladin.-Life and career:Ayyub was the son of Shadhi ibn Marwan and brother of Shirkuh...

, was banished from Tikrit and in 1139, he and his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh, moved to Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

. He later joined the service of Imad ad-Din Zengi who made him commander of his fortress in Baalbek
Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

. After the death of Zengi in 1146, his son, Nur ad-Din, became the regent of Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and the leader of the Zengids.

Saladin, who now lived in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, 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
Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

, the Almagest
Almagest
The Almagest is a 2nd-century mathematical and astronomical treatise on the apparent motions of the stars and planetary paths. Written in Greek by Claudius Ptolemy, a Roman era scholar of Egypt,...

, arithmetic, and law, but this was an academic ideal and it was study of the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and the "sciences of religion" that linked him to his contemporaries. Several sources claim that during his studies he was more interested in religion than joining the military. Another factor which may have affected his interest in religion was that during the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

, Jerusalem was taken
Siege of Jerusalem (1099)
The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099 during the First Crusade. The Crusaders stormed and captured the city from Fatimid Egypt.-Background:...

 in a surprise attack by the Christians. In addition to Islam, Saladin had a knowledge of the genealogies, biographies, and histories of the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

s, as well as the bloodlines of Arabian horse
Arabian horse
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses...

s. More significantly, he knew the Hamasah
Hamasah
Ḥamāsah is a ten-book anthology of Arabic poetry, compiled in the 9th Century by Abu Tammam. Poems are grouped by subject matter....

of Abu Tammam
Abu Tammam
Abu Tammam was an Abbasid era Arab poet and Muslim convert born to Christian parents.- Biography :...

 by heart.

Early expeditions


Saladin's military career began under the tutelage of his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh
Shirkuh
Asad ad-Din Shirkuh bin Shadhi , also known as Shêrko or "Shêrgo" was an important Kurdish military commander, and uncle of Saladin....

, an important military commander under Nur ad-Din. In 1163, the vizier to the Fatimid
Fatimid
The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate or al-Fāṭimiyyūn was a Berber Shia Muslim caliphate first centered in Tunisia and later in Egypt that ruled over varying areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant, and Hijaz from 5 January 909 to 1171.The caliphate was ruled by the Fatimids, who established the...

 caliph al-Adid, Shawar
Shawar
Shawar was a ruler of Egypt, the vizier, from December 1162 until he was assassinated in 1169. He is best known for being part of the three-way power struggle during the Crusades between the Christian King Amalric I of Jerusalem and Shirkuh, a Syrian general and uncle of the man who was to become...

, 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. After Shawar was successfully reinstated as vizier, he demanded that Shirkuh withdraw his army from Egypt for a sum of 30,000 dinar
Dinar
The dinar is the official currency of several countries.The history of the dinar dates to the gold dinar, an early Islamic coin corresponding to the Byzantine denarius auri...

s, 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
Crusader invasions of Egypt
The Crusader invasion of Egypt was a series of campaigns undertaken by the Kingdom of Jerusalem to strengthen its position in the Levant by taking advantage of the weakness of Fatimid Egypt....

 and Shawar's troops.

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 Kurd
Kürd
Kürd or Kyurd or Kyurt may refer to:*Kürd Eldarbəyli, Azerbaijan*Kürd Mahrızlı, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Goychay, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Jalilabad, Azerbaijan*Kürd, Qabala, Azerbaijan*Qurdbayram, Azerbaijan...

s 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.

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
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 where they were welcomed, given money, arms, and provided a base. 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.

Emir of Egypt


Shirkuh engaged in a power struggle over Egypt with Shawar
Shawar
Shawar was a ruler of Egypt, the vizier, from December 1162 until he was assassinated in 1169. He is best known for being part of the three-way power struggle during the Crusades between the Christian King Amalric I of Jerusalem and Shirkuh, a Syrian general and uncle of the man who was to become...

 and Amalric I
Amalric I of Jerusalem
Amalric I of Jerusalem was King of Jerusalem 1163–1174, and Count of Jaffa and Ascalon before his accession. Amalric was the second son of Melisende of Jerusalem and Fulk of Jerusalem...

 of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, in which Shawar requested Amalric's assistance. In 1169, Shawar was reportedly assassinated by Saladin, and Shirkuh died later that year. Nur ad-Din chose a successor for Shirkuh, but al-Adid appointed Saladin to replace Shawar as vizier.

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 of emirs. Al-Adid's 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
Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani
Muhammad ibn Hamed Isfahani , more popularly known as Imad ad-din al-Isfahani , was a Persian historian, scholar, and rhetorician...

 wrote that after the brief mourning period of Shirkuh, during which "opinions differed", the Zengid emir
Emir
Emir , meaning "commander", "general", or "prince"; also transliterated as Amir, Aamir or Ameer) is a title of high office, used throughout the Muslim world...

s
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 the Egyptian expedition, in which he gained a record of military qualifications.

Inaugurated as Emir 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 to Nur ad-Din.

Later in the year, a group of Egyptian soldiers and emirs attempted to assassinate Saladin, but having already known of their intentions, thanks to his intelligence chief Ali bin Safyan, he had the chief conspirator, Naji, Mu'tamin al-Khilafa—the civilian controller of the Fatimid Palace—arrested, and killed. The day after, 50,000 black African soldiers from the regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

s 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
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

.

Towards the end of 1169, Saladin—with reinforcements from Nur ad-Din—defeated a massive Crusader-Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 force near Damietta
Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

. Afterward, in the spring of 1170, Nur ad-Din sent Saladin's father to Egypt in compliance with Saladin's request, as well as encouragement from the Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

-based Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliph, al-Mustanjid
Al-Mustanjid
Al-Mustanjid was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 1160 to 1170. He was the son of previous Caliph al-Muqtafi. One of al-Muqtafi's wives wanted her own son to succeed. She gained over many Amirs to her side, and had their slave-girls armed with daggers to kill the new Caliph...

, who aimed to pressure Saladin in deposing his rival caliph, al-Adid. Saladin himself had been strengthening his hold on Egypt and widening his support base there. He began granting his family members high-ranking positions in the region and increased Sunni influence in Cairo; he ordered the construction of a college for the Maliki
Maliki
The ' madhhab is one of the schools of Fiqh or religious law within Sunni Islam. It is the second-largest of the four schools, followed by approximately 25% of Muslims, mostly in North Africa, West Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and in some parts of Saudi Arabia...

 branch of Sunni Islam in the city, as well as one for the Shafi'i
Shafi'i
The Shafi'i madhhab is one of the schools of fiqh, or religious law, within the Sunni branch of Islam. The Shafi'i school of fiqh is named after Imām ash-Shafi'i.-Principles:...

 denomination to which he belonged in al-Fustat.

After establishing himself in Egypt, Saladin launched a campaign against the Crusaders, besieging Darum in 1170. Amalric withdrew his Templar garrison from Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 to assist him in defending Darum, but Saladin evaded their force and fell 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. 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
Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is a large gulf located at the northern tip of the Red Sea. In pre twentieth-century and modern sources it is often named the Gulf of Eilat, as Eilat is its predominant Israeli city ....

. 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.

Sultan of Egypt



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
Faqih
A Faqīh is an expert in fiqh, or, Islamic jurisprudence.A faqih is an expert in Islamic Law, and, as such, the word Faqih can literally be generally translated as Jurist.- The definition of Fiqh and its relation to the Faqih:...

, who vehemently opposed Shia rule in the country. Several Egyptian emirs were thus killed, but al-Adid was told that they were killed for rebelling against him. He 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 after realizing what al-Adid had wanted. He died on September 13 and five days later, the Abbasid khutba
Khutba
Khutbah serves as the primary formal occasion for public preaching in the Islamic tradition.Such sermons occur regularly, as prescribed by the teachings of all legal schools. The Islamic tradition can be formally at the dhuhr congregation prayer on Friday...

was pronounced in Cairo and al-Fustat, proclaiming al-Mustadi
Al-Mustadi
Hassan al-Mustadi Ibn Yusuf al-Mustanjid was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 1170 to 1180. Like his predecessor, he continued to occupy a more or less independent position, with a Vazir and courtly surroundings, and supported by only a small force sufficient for an occasional local campaign...

 as caliph.

On September 25, Saladin left Cairo to take part in a joint attack on Kerak
Kerak
Kerak Castle is a large crusader castle located in Kerak in Jordan. It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant.Construction of the castle began in the 1140s, under Pagan, the butler of Fulk of Jerusalem. The Crusaders called it Crac des Moabites or "Karak in Moab", as it is frequently...

 and Montreal
Montreal (Crusader castle)
Montreal is a Crusader castle on the eastern side of the Arabah, perched on the side of a rocky, conical mountain, looking out over fruit trees below...

, the desert castles of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, 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
Buffer state
A buffer state is a country lying between two rival or potentially hostile greater powers, which by its sheer existence is thought to prevent conflict between them. Buffer states, when authentically independent, typically pursue a neutralist foreign policy, which distinguishes them from satellite...

 between Syria and Egypt—could have collapsed had the two leaders attacked it from the east and the coast. This would have given 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."

During the summer of 1172, a Nubia
Nubia
Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.There were a number of small Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504, when Nubia became divided between Egypt and the Sennar sultanate resulting in the Arabization...

n army along with a contingent of Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n refugees were reported on the Egyptian border, preparing for a siege against Aswan
Aswan
Aswan , formerly spelled Assuan, is a city in the south of Egypt, the capital of the Aswan Governorate.It stands on the east bank of the Nile at the first cataract and is a busy market and tourist centre...

. The emir of the city had requested Saladin's assistance and was given reinforcements under Turan-Shah
Turan-Shah
Turan-Shah ibn Ayyub al-Malik al-Mu'azzam Shams ad-Dawla Fakhr ad-Din known simply as Turan-Shah was the Ayyubid governor of Yemen , then Damascus . He is noted for strengthening the position of his younger brother, Saladin, in Egypt and playing the leading role in the Ayyubid conquests of both...

—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
Qasr Ibrim
Qasr Ibrim is an archaeological site in Lower Nubia. It was originally a major city perched on a cliff above the Nile, but the flooding of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan High Dam transformed it into an island and flooded its outskirts. Qasr Ibrim is the only major archaeological...

. Seventeen months after al-Adid's death, Nur ad-Din had not taken any action regarding Egypt, but expected some return for the 200,000 dinars he had allocated to Shirkuh's army which seized the country. Saladin paid this debt with 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.

On July 31, 1173, Saladin's father Ayyub was wounded in a horse-riding accident, ultimately causing his death on August 9. In 1174, Saladin sent Turan-Shah to conquer Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 to allocate it and its port Aden
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 to the territories of the Ayyubid Dynasty
Ayyubid dynasty
The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

. Yemen also served as an emergency territory, to which Saladin could flee in the event of an invasion by Nur ad-Din.

Capture of Damascus


In the early summer of 1174, Nur ad-Din was mustering an army, sending summons to Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

, and al-Jazira
Al-Jazira, Mesopotamia
Upper Mesopotamia is the name used for the uplands and great outwash plain of northwestern Iraq and northeastern Syria and southeastern Turkey which is known by the traditional Arabic name of Al-Jazira , variously transliterated into Roman script as Djazirah, Djezirah and Jazirah...

 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 being poisoned the previous week and his power was handed to his eleven-year-old son as-Salih Ismail al-Malik
As-Salih Ismail al-Malik
As-Salih Ismail al-Malik was an emir of Damascus in 1174, the son of Nur ad-Din ZangiHe was only eleven years old when his father died in 1174. As-Salih came under the protection of the eunuch Gumushtugin and was taken to Aleppo, while Nur ad-Din's officers competed for supremacy...

. 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."

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 war against the Crusaders. Saladin saw that in order to acquire Syria, he either needed an invitation from as-Salih or warn him that potential anarchy and danger from the Crusaders could rise.

When as-Salih was removed to Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 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
Ghazi II Saif ud-Din
Saif ud-Din Ghazi II was a Zangid emir of Mosul, the nephew of Nur ad-Din Zengi....

 (a cousin of Gumushtigin) of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

  for assistance against Aleppo, but he refused, forcing the Syrians to request the aid of Saladin who complied. Saladin rode across the desert with 700 picked horsemen, passing through al-Kerak then reaching Bosra
Bosra
Bosra , also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria...

 and according to him, was joined by "emirs, soldiers, Kurds, and Bedouins—the emotions of their hearts to be seen on their faces." 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.

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. His army conquered Hamah with relative ease, but avoided attacking Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 because of the strength of its citadel. Saladin moved north towards Aleppo, besieging it on December 30 after Gumushtigin refused to abdicate his throne. As-Salih, fearing capture by Saladin, came out of his palace and appealed to the inhabitants not to surrender him and the city to the invading force. One of Saladin's chroniclers claimed "the people came under his spell."

Gumushtigin requested from Rashid ad-Din Sinan, grand-master of the Assassins
Hashshashin
The Assassins were an order of Nizari Ismailis, particularly those of Persia that existed from around 1092 to 1265...

 of Syria, who were already at odds with Saladin since he replaced the Fatimids of Egypt, to assassinate Saladin in his camp. 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. To deter Saladin's progress, Raymond of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187 and Prince of Galilee and Tiberias in right of his wife Eschiva.-Early life:...

 gathered his forces by Nahr al-Kabir
Nahr al-Kabir
Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi is a river in the Middle East flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. The river flows through the Homs Gap....

 where they were well-placed for an attack on Muslim territory. Saladin later moved toward Homs instead, but retreated after being told a relief force was being sent to the city by Saif al-Din.

Meanwhile, Saladin's rivals in Syria and Jazira waged a propaganda war against him, 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 ending the siege, claiming 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." Soon after, Saladin entered Homs and captured its citadel in March 1175, after stubborn resistance from its defenders.

Saladin's successes alarmed Saif al-Din. As head of the Zengids, including Gumushtigin, he regarded Syria and Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 as his family estate and was angered when Saladin attempted to usurp his dynasty's 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, Saladin initially attempted to make terms with the Zengids by abandoning all conquests north of the Damascus province
Jund Dimashq
Jund Dimashq was the largest of several sub-provinces of the Islamic Caliphate province of Bilad al-Sham under the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, organized soon after the Muslim conquest of Syria in the seventh century. Its capital and largest city, Damascus , bore the district's name...

, but they refused, insisting he return to Egypt. Seeing that confrontation was unavoidable, Saladin prepared for battle, taking up a superior position on the hills by the gorge of the Orontes River
Orontes River
The Orontes or ‘Āṣī is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius...

. On April 13, 1175, the Zengid troops marched to attack his forces, but soon found themselves surrounded by Saladin's Ayyubid veterans who crushed 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 Saladin's control of the provinces of Damascus, Homs and Hama, as well as a number of towns outside Aleppo such as Ma'arat al-Numan.

After his victory against the Zengids, Saladin proclaimed himself king and suppressed the name of as-Salih in Friday prayers and Islamic coinage. From then on, he ordered prayers in all the mosques of Syria and Egypt as the sovereign king and he issued at the Cairo mint gold coins bearing his official title—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."

The Battle of Hama did not end the contest for power between the Ayyubids and the Zengids, with the final confrontation occurring in the spring of 1176. Saladin had gathered massive reinforcements from Egypt while Saif al-Din was levying troops among the minor states of Diyarbakir
Diyarbakir
Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey...

 and al-Jazira. When Saladin crossed the Orontes, leaving Hama, the sun was eclipsed. He viewed this as an omen, but he continued his march north. He reached the Sultan's Mound, c. 25 km from Aleppo, where his forces encountered Saif al-Din's army. A hand-to-hand fight ensued and the Zengids managed to plow Saladin's left wing, driving it before him, when Saladin himself charged at the head of the Zengid guard. The Zengid forces panicked and most of Saif al-Din's officers ended up being killed or captured—Saif al-Din narrowly escaped. The Zengid army's camp, horses, baggage, tents, and stores were seized by the Ayyubids. The Zengid prisoners of war, however, were given gifts and freed. All of the booty from the Ayyubid victory was accorded to the army, Saladin not keeping anything himself.

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
A'zaz
Azaz is a small town in Syria, roughly 20 miles north-northwest of Aleppo . It is most notable for being the site of the Battle of Azaz between the Crusader States and the Seljuk Turks on June 11, 1125.-History:...

 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
Gambeson
A gambeson is a padded defensive jacket, worn as armour separately, or combined with mail or plate armour. Gambeson were produced with a sewing technique called quilting. Usually constructed of linen or wool, the stuffing varied, and could be for example scrap cloth or horse hair...

—and the assailant was soon killed. Saladin was unnerved at the attempt on his life, which he accused Gumushtugin and the Assassins of plotting, and so increased his efforts in the siege.

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 of the dominions he conquered. The emirs of Mardin
Mardin
Mardin is a city in southeastern Turkey. The capital of Mardin Province, it is known for its Arabic-like architecture, and for its strategic location on a rocky mountain overlooking the plains of northern Syria.-History:...

 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 presents.

Campaign against Assassins


Saladin had by now agreed truces with his Zengid rivals and the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 (latter occurred in the summer of 1175), but faced a threat from the Hashshashin
Hashshashin
The Assassins were an order of Nizari Ismailis, particularly those of Persia that existed from around 1092 to 1265...

 sect or "Assassins" led by Rashid ad-Din Sinan. Based in the al-Nusayri Mountains, they commanded nine fortresses built atop high elevations. As soon as he dismissed the bulk of his troops to Egypt, Saladin led his army into the al-Nusayri range in August 1176. He 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. However, the latter's panegyrist claims Saladin departed due to fears for his own life at the hands of the Assassins. He had his guards supplied with link lights and had chalk and cinders strewed around his tent outside Masyaf
Masyaf
Masyaf is a city in Syria, in the Hama Governorate, notable for its large medieval castle.It was used by Hashashins as their headquarters after the destruction of Alamut....

—which he was besieging—to detect any footsteps by the Assassins.

According to this 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. Realizing he was unable to subdue the Assassins, he sought to align himself with them, consequently depriving the Crusaders of aligning themselves against him.

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
Cairo Citadel
The Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification in Cairo, Egypt. The location, on Mokattam hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city...

 was commenced. The 280 feet (85.3 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.

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
Harem, Syria
Harem is a Syrian city administratively belonging to Idlib Governorate. Harem has an altitude of 160 meters. It has a population of 21,934. Harem is situated exactly on the border of Turkey...

 north of Aleppo and so southern Palestine bore few defenders. Saladin found the situation ripe, and so marched to Ascalon
Ashkelon
Ashkelon is a coastal city in the South District of Israel on the Mediterranean coast, south of Tel Aviv, and north of the border with the Gaza Strip. The ancient seaport of Ashkelon dates back to the Neolithic Age...

, which he referred to as the "Bride of Syria." William of Tyre
William of Tyre
William of Tyre was a medieval prelate and chronicler. As archbishop of Tyre, he is sometimes known as William II to distinguish him from a predecessor, William of Malines...

 recorded that the Ayyubid army consisted of soldiers, of which 8,000 were elite forces and were black slave soldiers from the Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

. This army proceeded to raid the countryside, sack Ramla
Ramla
Ramla , is a city in central Israel. The city is predominantly Jewish with a significant Arab minority. Ramla was founded circa 705–715 AD by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik after the Arab conquest of the region...

 and Lod
Lod
Lod is a city located on the Sharon Plain southeast of Tel Aviv in the Center District of Israel. At the end of 2010, it had a population of 70,000, roughly 75 percent Jewish and 25 percent Arab.The name is derived from the Biblical city of Lod...

, and dispersed themselves as far as the Gates of Jerusalem.

Battles and truce with Baldwin


The Ayyubids did allow King Baldwin
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem
Baldwin IV of Jerusalem , called the Leper or the Leprous, the son of Amalric I of Jerusalem and his first wife, Agnes of Courtenay, was king of Jerusalem from 1174 to 1185. His full sister was Queen Sibylla of Jerusalem and his nephew through this sister was the child-king Baldwin V...

 to enter Ascalon with his Gaza-based Templars
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

 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 near Ramla in the battle of Montgisard
Battle of Montgisard
The Battle of Montgisard was fought between the Ayyubids and the Kingdom of Jerusalem on November 25, 1177. The 16 year old King Baldwin IV, seriously afflicted by leprosy, led an out-numbered Christian force against the army of Saladin...

. 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
Camel
A camel is an even-toed ungulate within the genus Camelus, bearing distinctive fatty deposits known as humps on its back. There are two species of camels: the dromedary or Arabian camel has a single hump, and the bactrian has two humps. Dromedaries are native to the dry desert areas of West Asia,...

, riding all the way to the territories of Egypt.

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 Homs 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
Decapitation
Decapitation is the separation of the head from the body. Beheading typically refers to the act of intentional decapitation, e.g., as a means of murder or execution; it may be accomplished, for example, with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by other more sophisticated means such as a guillotine...

 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.

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 lighting 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
Quneitra
Quneitra is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in south-western Syria. It is situated in a high valley in the Golan Heights at an elevation of 1,010 metres above sea level...

 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.
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
Banias
Banias is an archaeological site by the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi, located at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights...

 plain (the plain was divided by the Muslims and the Christians). Saladin had offered 100,000 gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 pieces for Baldwin to abandon the project which was peculiarly offensive to the Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, but to no avail. He then resolved to destroy the fortress, called Chastellet and manned by the Templars, 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 rallying 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
Battle of Jacob's Ford
Jerusalem has been and is considered by many to be one of the holiest cities in the world. For this reason, Christians and Muslims fought for control of the Holy City over several centuries. Around 1095, Christians from Europe marched to the Holy Land to retake control of Jerusalem. By 1099, the...

 which fell on August 30, 1179.

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
Commissariat
A commissariat is the department of an army charged with the provision of supplies, both food and forage, for the troops. The supply of military stores such as ammunition is not included in the duties of a commissariat. In almost every army the duties of transport and supply are performed by the...

, Saladin agreed to a truce. Raymond of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187 and Prince of Galilee and Tiberias in right of his wife Eschiva.-Early life:...

 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.

Domestic issues


In June 1180, Saladin held a reception for Nur al-Din Muhammad, the Artuqid emir of Keyfa
Hasankeyf
Hasankeyf is an ancient town and district located along the Tigris River in the Batman Province in southeastern Turkey. It was declared a natural conservation area by Turkey in 1981...

, 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
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. Previously, Saladin offered to mediate relations between Nur al-Din and Kilij Arslan II
Kilij Arslan II
Kilij Arslan II was a Seljuk Sultan of Rûm from 1156 until his death in 1192.As Arnold of Lübeck reports in his Chronica Slavorum, he was present at the meeting of Henry the Lion with Kilij-Arslan during the former's pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1172...

—the Seljuk
Seljuq dynasty
The Seljuq ; were a Turco-Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries...

 Sultan of Rum
Sultanate of Rûm
The Sultanate of Rum , also known as the Anatolian Seljuk State , was a Turkic state centered in in Anatolia, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya. Since the court of the sultanate was highly mobile, cities like Kayseri and Sivas also functioned at times as capitals...

—after the two came into conflict. The latter demanded Nur al-Din return the lands given to him as a dowry
Dowry
A dowry is the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings forth to the marriage. It contrasts with bride price, which is paid to the bride's parents, and dower, which is property settled on the bride herself by the groom at the time of marriage. The same culture may simultaneously practice both...

 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.

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
Malatya
Malatya ) is a city in southeastern Turkey and the capital of its eponymous province.-Overview:The city site has been occupied for thousands of years. The Assyrians called the city Meliddu. Following Roman expansion into the east, the city was renamed in Latin as Melitene...

, 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.

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
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

 in Egypt and then make the hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

pilgrimage to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

. 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.

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
Zabid
Zabid is a town with an urban population of around 23,000 persons on Yemen's western coastal plain. The town, named after Wadi Zabid, the wadi to its south, is one of the oldest towns in Yemen...

 in Yemen—while he was entertaining Imad ad-Din
Imad ad-Din al-Isfahani
Muhammad ibn Hamed Isfahani , more popularly known as Imad ad-din al-Isfahani , was a Persian historian, scholar, and rhetorician...

 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
Aden
Aden is a seaport city in Yemen, located by the eastern approach to the Red Sea , some 170 kilometres east of Bab-el-Mandeb. Its population is approximately 800,000. Aden's ancient, natural harbour lies in the crater of an extinct volcano which now forms a peninsula, joined to the mainland by a...

 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."

Empire expansions



Conquest of Mesopotamian hinterland


Saif al-Din had died earlier in June 1181 and his brother Izz al-Din
Izz ad-Din Mas'ud
Izz ad-Din Mas'ud I bin Mawdud was a Zangi emir of Mosul....

 inherited leadership of Mosul. 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 Izz al-Din, as he was the only Zengid ruler strong enough to oppose Saladin. Izz 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 Zangi, in exchange for Sinjar
Sinjar
Sinjar is the name of a town and district in northwestern Iraq's Ninawa Governorate near the Syrian border. Its population at the time of the 2006 census was 39,875....

. Saladin offered no opposition to these transactions in order to respect the treaty he previously made with the Zengids.

On May 11, 1182, Saladin along with half of the Egyptian Ayyubid army and numerous non-combatants left Cairo for Syria. On the evening before he departed, he sat with his companions and the tutor of one of his sons quoted a line of poetry: "enjoy the scent of the ox-eye plant of Najd
Najd
Najd or Nejd , literally Highland, is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula.-Boundaries :The Arabic word nejd literally means "upland" and was once applied to a variety of regions within the Arabian Peninsula...

, for after this evening it will come no more." Saladin took this as an evil omen and he never saw Egypt again. Knowing that Crusader forces were massed upon the frontier to intercept him, he took the desert route across the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

 to Ailah at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is a large gulf located at the northern tip of the Red Sea. In pre twentieth-century and modern sources it is often named the Gulf of Eilat, as Eilat is its predominant Israeli city ....

. Meeting no opposition, Saladin ravaged the countryside of Montreal
Montreal (Crusader castle)
Montreal is a Crusader castle on the eastern side of the Arabah, perched on the side of a rocky, conical mountain, looking out over fruit trees below...

, whilst Baldwin's forces watched on, refusing to intervene. He arrived in Damascus in June to learn that Farrukh-Shah had attacked the Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, sacking Daburiyya
Daburiyya
Daburiyya is an Arab village east of Nazareth that gained local council status in Israel's North District in 1961. Its jurisdiction extends over 7,200 dunams. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, Daburiyya is home to approximately 8,500 residents. The town's population is...

 and capturing Habis Jaldek, a fortress of great importance to the Crusaders. In July, Saladin dispatched Farrukh-Shah to attack Kawkab al-Hawa
Kawkab al-Hawa
Kawkab al-Hawa is a depopulated former Palestinian village located11 km north of Baysan. Kawkab al-Hawa contained the Crusader fortress of Belvoir. The Crusader names for the Frankish settlement at Kuwaykat were Beauvoir, Belvoir, Bellum videre, Coquet, Cuschet and Coket...

. Later, in August, the Ayyubids launched a naval and ground assault to capture Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

; 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
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

.

Kukbary, the emir of Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

, 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. Prior to his march to Jazira, tensions had grown between the Zengid rulers of the region, primarily concerning their unwillingness to pay deference to Mosul. Before he crossed the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, 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 Hisn Kayfa and the combined forces captured the cities of Jazira, one after the other. First, Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

 fell, followed by Saruj, then ar-Raqqah, Karkesiya and Nusaybin. Ar-Raqqah was an important crossing point and held by Qutb al-Din Inal, who had lost Manbij to Saladin in 1176. Upon seeing the large size of Saladin's army, he made little effort to resist and surrendered on the condition that he would retain his property. Saladin promptly impressed the inhabitants of the town by publishing a decree that ordered a number of taxes to be canceled and erased all mention of them from treasury records, stating "the most miserable rulers are those whose purses are fat and their people thin." From ar-Raqqah, he moved to conquer al-Fudain, al-Husain, Maksim, Durain, 'Araban, and Khabur—all of which swore allegiance to him.

Saladin proceeded to take Nusaybin which offered no resistance. A medium-sized town, Nusaybin was not of great importance, but it was located in a strategic position between Mardin and Mosul and within easy reach of Diyarbakir. 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." Meanwhile, in Aleppo, the emir of the city Zangi raided Saladin's cities to the north and east, such as Balis, Manbij, Saruj, Buza'a, al-Karzain. He also destroyed his own citadel at A'zaz to prevent it from being used by the Ayyubids if they were to conquer it.

Possession of Aleppo



Saladin turned his attention from Mosul to Aleppo, sending his brother Taj al-Mulk Buri to capture Tell Khalid, 130 kmnortheast of the city. A siege was set, but the governor of Tell Khalid surrendered upon the arrival of Saladin himself on May 17 before a siege could take place. According to Imad ad-Din, after Tell Khalid, Saladin took a detour northwards to Ain Tab, but he gained possession of it when his army turned towards it, allowing to quickly move backward another c. 100 km towards Aleppo. On May 21, he camped outside the city, positioning himself east of the Citadel of Aleppo
Citadel of Aleppo
The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace in the centre of the old city of Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC...

, while his forces encircles the suburb of Banaqusa to the northeast and Bab Janan to the west. He stationed his men dangerously close to the city, hoping for an early success.

Zangi did not offer long resistance. He was unpopular with his subjects and wished to return to his Sinjar, the city he governed previously. An exchange was negotiated where Zangi would hand over Aleppo to Saladin in return for the restoration of his control of Sinjar, Nusaybin, and ar-Raqqa. Zangi would hold these territories as Saladin's vassals on terms of military service. On June 12, Aleppo was formally placed in Ayyubid hands. The people of Aleppo had not known about these negotiations and were taken by surprise when Saladin's standard was hoisted over the citadel. Two emirs, including an old friend of Saladin, Izz al-Din Jurduk, welcomed and pledged their service to him. Saladin replaced the Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 courts with Shafi'i administration, despite a promise he would not interfere in the religious leadership of the city. Although he was short of money, Saladin also allowed the departing Zangi to take all the stores of the citadel that he could travel with and to sell the remainder—which Saladin purchased himself.

In spite of his earlier hesitation to go through with the exchange, he had no doubts about his success, stating that Aleppo was "the key to the lands" and "this city is the eye of Syria and the citadel is its pupil." For Saladin, the capture of the city marked the end of over eight years of waiting since he told Farrukh-Shah "we have only to do the milking and Aleppo will be ours." From his standpoint, he could now threaten the entire Crusader coast.

After spending one night in Aleppo's citadel, Saladin marched to Harim, near the Crusader-held Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. The city was held by Surhak, a "minor mamluk
Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

." Saladin offered him the city of Busra and property in Damascus in exchange for Harim, but when Surhak asked for more, his own garrison in Harim forced him out. He was then arrested by Saladin's deputy Taqi al-Din on allegations that he was planning to cede Harim to Bohemond III of Antioch. When Saladin received its surrender, he proceeded to arrange the defense of Harim from the Crusaders. He reported to the caliph and his own subordinates in Yemen and Baalbek
Baalbek
Baalbek is a town in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, altitude , situated east of the Litani River. It is famous for its exquisitely detailed yet monumentally scaled temple ruins of the Roman period, when Baalbek, then known as Heliopolis, was one of the largest sanctuaries in the Empire...

 that was going to attack the Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

ns. Before he could move, however, there were a number of administrative details to be settled. Saladin agreed to a truce with Bohemond in return for Muslim prisoners being held by him and then he gave A'zaz to Alam ad-Din Suleiman and Aleppo to Saif al-Din al-Yazkuj—the former was an emir of Aleppo who joined Saladin and the latter was a former mamluk of Shirkuh who helped rescue him from the assassination attempt at A'zaz.

Fight for Mosul



As Saladin approached Mosul, he faced the issue of taking over a large city and justifying the action. The Zengids of Mosul appealed to an-Nasir
An-Nasir
An-Nasir li-Din Allah was the 34th Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 1180 until his death. His laqab literally means The Victor for the Religion of God. He attempted to restore the Caliphate to its ancient dominant role and achieved a surprising amount of success, despite the fact that the...

, the Abbasid caliph at Baghdad whose vizier favored them. An-Nasir sent Badr al-Badr (a high-ranking religious figure) to mediate between the two sides. Saladin arrived at the city on November 10, 1182. Izz al-Din would not accept his terms because he considered them disingenuous and extensive, and Saladin immediately laid siege to the heavily fortified city.

After several minor skirmishes and a stalemate in the siege that was initiated by the caliph, Saladin intended to find a way to withdraw from the siege without damage to his reputation while still keeping up some military pressure. He decided to attack Sinjar which was now held by Izz al-Din's brother Sharaf al-Din. It fell after a 15-day siege on December 30. Saladin's commanders and soldiers broke their discipline, plundering the city; Saladin only managed to protect the governor and his officers by sending them to Mosul. After establishing a garrison at Sinjar, he awaited a coalition assembled by Izz al-Din consisting of his forces, those from Aleppo, Mardin, and Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. Saladin and his army met the coalition at Harran in February 1183, but on hearing of his approach, the latter sent messengers to Saladin asking for peace. Each force returned to their cities and al-Fadil writes "They [Izz al-Din's coalition] advanced like men, like women they vanished."

On March 2, al-Adil from Egypt wrote to Saladin that the Crusaders had struck the "heart of Islam." Raynald de Châtillon had sent ships to the Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is a large gulf located at the northern tip of the Red Sea. In pre twentieth-century and modern sources it is often named the Gulf of Eilat, as Eilat is its predominant Israeli city ....

 to raid towns and villages off the coast of the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

. It was not an attempt to extend the Crusader influence into that sea or to capture its trade routes, but merely a piratical move. Nonetheless, Imad al-Din writes the raid was alarming to the Muslims because they were not accustomed to attacks on that sea and Ibn al-Athir adds that the inhabitants had no experience with the Crusaders either as fighters or traders.

Ibn Jubair was told that sixteen Muslim ships were burnt by the Crusaders who then captured a pilgrim ship and caravan at Aidab
Aidab
Aidab is a small town in the far south of Egypt near to the border with Sudan. It is a port that was used for traveling to Saudi Arabia especially for hajj....

. He also reported they intended to attack Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

 and remove Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's body. Al-Maqrizi
Al-Maqrizi
Taqi al-Din Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrizi ; Arabic: , was an Egyptian historian more commonly known as al-Maqrizi or Makrizi...

 added to the rumor by claiming Muhammad's tomb was going to be relocated to Crusader territory so Muslims would make pilgrimages there. Fortunately for Saladin, al-Adil had his warships moved from Fustat and Alexandria to the Red Sea under the command of an Armenian mercenary Lu'lu. They broke the Crusader blockade, destroyed most of their ships, and pursued and captured those who anchored and fled into the desert. The surviving Crusaders, numbered at 170, were ordered to be killed by Saladin in various Muslim cities.

From Saladin's own point of view, in terms of territory, the war against Mosul was going well, but he still failed to achieve his objectives and his army was shrinking; Taqi al-Din took his men back to Hama, while Nasir al-Din Muhammad and his forces had left. This encouraged Izz al-Din and his allies to take the offensive. The previous coalition regrouped at Harzam some 140 km from Harran. In early April, without waiting for Nasir al-Din, Saladin and Taqi al-Din commenced their advance against the coalition, marching eastward to Ras al-Ein unhindered. By late April, after three days of "actual fighting" according to Saladin, the Ayyubids had captured Amid. He handed the city Nur al-Din Muhammad together with its stores—which consisted of 80,000 candles, a tower full of arrowheads, and 1,040,000 books. In return for a diploma granting him the city, Nur al-Din swore allegiance to Saladin, promising to follow him in every expedition in the war against the Crusaders and repairing damage done to the city. The fall of Amid, in addition to territory, convinced Il-Ghazi of Mardin to enter the service of Saladin, weakening Izz al-Din's coalition.

Saladin attempted to gain the Caliph an-Nasir's support against Izz al-Din by sending him a letter requesting a document that would give him legal justification for taking over Mosul and its territories. Saladin aimed to persuade the caliph claiming that while he conquered Egypt and Yemen under the flag of the Abbasids, the Zengids of Mosul openly supported the Seljuks (rivals of the caliphate) and only came to the caliph when in need. He also accused Izz al-Din's forces of disrupting the Muslim "Holy War" against the Crusaders, stating "they are not content not to fight, but they prevent those who can." Saladin defended his own conduct claiming that he had come to Syria to fight the Crusaders, end the heresy of the Assassins, and to end the wrong-doing of the Muslims. He also promised that if Mosul was given to him, it would lead to the capture of Jerusalem, Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, and the lands of the Almohad
Almohad
The Almohad Dynasty , was a Moroccan Berber-Muslim dynasty founded in the 12th century that established a Berber state in Tinmel in the Atlas Mountains in roughly 1120.The movement was started by Ibn Tumart in the Masmuda tribe, followed by Abd al-Mu'min al-Gumi between 1130 and his...

s in the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

, "until the word of God is supreme and the Abbasid caliphate has wiped the world clean, turning the churches into mosques." Saladin stressed that all this would happen by the will of God and instead of asking for financial or military support from the caliph, he would capture and give the caliph the territories of Tikrit
Tikrit
Tikrit is a town in Iraq, located 140 km northwest of Baghdad on the Tigris river . The town, with an estimated population in 2002 of about 260,000 is the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate.-Ancient times:...

, Daquq
Daquq
Daquq or Daquqa, Dakuk, Daqooq, Tavuk or Tawuq is a historic town in Iraq south of Kirkuk. It is the capital of Daquq District, one of the four Districts of Kirkuk Governorate...

, Khuzestan, Kish Island, and Oman
Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

.

Wars against Crusaders


On September 29, 1182 Saladin crossed the Jordan River to attack Beisan which was found to be empty. The next day his forces sacked and burned the town and moved westwards. They intercepted Crusader reinforcements from Karak and Shaubak along the Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 road and took a number of prisoners. Meanwhile, the main Crusader force under Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan was a Poitevin knight, son of Hugh VIII of the prominent Lusignan dynasty. He was king of the crusader state of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1192 by right of marriage to Sibylla of Jerusalem, and of Cyprus from 1192 to 1194...

 moved from Sepphoris
Tzippori
Tzippori , also known as Sepphoris, Dioceserea and Saffuriya is located in the central Galilee region, north-northwest of Nazareth, in modern-day Israel...

 to al-Fula
Afula
Afula is a city in the North District of Israel, often known as the "Capital of the Valley", referring to the Jezreel Valley. The city had a population of 40,500 at the end of 2009.-History:...

. Saladin sent out 500 skirmishers to harass their forces and he himself marched to Ain Jalut. When the Crusader force—reckoned to be the largest the kingdom ever produced from its own resources, but still outmatched by the Muslims—advanced, the Ayyubids unexpectedly moved down the stream of Ain Jalut. After a few Ayyubid raids—including attacks on Zir'in
Zir'in
Zir'in was a Palestinian Arab village of over 1,400 in the Jezreel Valley, located north of Jenin. Identified as the Canaanite town of Yizre'el, it was known as Zir'in during Islamic rule, and was near the site of the Battle of Ain Jalut, in which the Mamluks halted Mongol expansion southward...

, Forbelet
Taibe, Galilee
Taibe , meaning "The goodly", is a Bedouin village in northeastern Israel. Located in the Jezreel Valley, it falls under the jurisdiction of Gilboa Regional Council. In 2008 it had a population of 2,000.- History :...

, and Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor
-Places:*Mount Tabor, a hill in Israel near Nazareth believed by many to be the site of the Transfiguration of ChristIn the United States:*Mount Tabor, Indiana, an unincorporated community...

—the Crusaders still were not tempted to attack their main force
Battle of Al-Fule (1183)
In the campaign and Battle of Al-Fule, a Crusader force led by Guy of Lusignan skirmished with Saladin's Ayyubid army for more than a week in September 1183. Tactically the battle was a draw, but the Crusaders prevented Saladin from capturing any strongholds and caused him to retreat...

, and Saladin led his men back across the river once provisions and supplies ran low.

However, Crusader attacks provoked further responses by Saladin. Raynald of Châtillon
Raynald of Chatillon
Raynald of Châtillon was a knight who served in the Second Crusade and remained in the Holy Land after its defeat...

, in particular, harassed Muslim trading
Trade
Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

 and pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

 routes with a fleet on the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, a water route that Saladin needed to keep open. In response, Saladin built a fleet of 30 galleys to attack Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 in 1182. Raynald threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

 and Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

. In retaliation, Saladin twice besieged Kerak
Siege of Kerak
The Siege of Kerak took place in 1183, with Saladin's forces attacking and being repelled from the Crusader stronghold.- Prelude :Kerak was the stronghold of Raynald of Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejordain, 124 km South of Amman. The fortress was built in 1142 by Pagan the Butler, Lord of Montreal...

, Raynald's fortress in Oultrejordain
Oultrejordain
Lordship of Oultrejordain or Oultrejourdain was the name used during the Crusades for an extensive and partly undefined region to the east of the Jordan river, an area known in ancient times as Edom and Moab...

, in 1183 and 1184. Raynald responded by looting a caravan of pilgrims on the Hajj
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 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, instead 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 ʻIzz ad-Dīn (Masʻūd ibn Mawdūd ibn Zangi), around Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

, which he had begun with some success in 1182. However, since then, Masʻūd had allied himself with the powerful governor of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Jibal
Jibal
Jibāl was a short-lived Arab-ruled province located in western Iran, under the Abbasid Caliphate of Baghdad. It was roughly coterminous with the ancient country of the Medes. In 10th century it came back under Persian rule ....

, who in 1185 began moving his troops across the Zagros Mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

, 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.

In July 1187 Saladin captured most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On July 4, 1187, at the Battle of Hattin
Battle of Hattin
The Battle of Hattin took place on Saturday, July 4, 1187, between the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem and the forces of the Ayyubid dynasty....

, he faced the combined forces of Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan
Guy of Lusignan was a Poitevin knight, son of Hugh VIII of the prominent Lusignan dynasty. He was king of the crusader state of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1192 by right of marriage to Sibylla of Jerusalem, and of Cyprus from 1192 to 1194...

, King Consort
King consort
King consort is an alternative title to the more usual "prince consort" - which is a position given in some monarchies to the husband of a reigning queen. It is a symbolic title only, the sole constitutional function of the holder being similar to a prince consort, which is the male equivalent of a...

 of Jerusalem and Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli
Raymond III of Tripoli was Count of Tripoli from 1152 to 1187 and Prince of Galilee and Tiberias in right of his wife Eschiva.-Early life:...

. In this battle alone the Crusader army was largely annihilated by the motivated army of Saladin. It was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades. Saladin captured Raynald de Châtillon and was personally responsible for his execution in retaliation for his attacking Muslim caravans. The members of these caravans had, in vain, besought his mercy by reciting the truce between the Muslims and the Crusaders, but he ignored this and insulted their prophet Muhammad before murdering and torturing a number of them. Upon hearing this, Saladin swore an oath to personally execute Raynald.

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

Capture of Jerusalem


Saladin had captured almost every Crusader city. Jerusalem capitulated to his forces on October 2, 1187, after a siege
Siege of Jerusalem (1187)
On July 4, 1187 the Kingdom's army was defeated at the Battle of Hattin by Saladin and only Balian of Ibelin commanding a small number of soldiers remained in Jerusalem. The Siege of Jerusalem lasted from September 20 to October 2, 1187. On October 2, 1187 Balian of Ibelin surrendered Jerusalem to...

. When the siege had started, Saladin was unwilling to promise terms of quarter to the Frankish inhabitants of Jerusalem until Balian of Ibelin
Balian of Ibelin
Balian of Ibelin was an important noble in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century.-Early life:Balian was the youngest son of Barisan of Ibelin, and brother of Hugh and Baldwin. His father, a knight in the County of Jaffa, had been rewarded with the lordship of Ibelin after the...

 threatened to kill every Muslim hostage, estimated at 5000, and to destroy Islam's holy shrines of the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 and the al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as al-Aqsa, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem...

 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, but most of the foot soldiers were sold into slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. Upon the capture of Jerusalem, Saladin summoned the Jews and permitted them to resettle in the city. In particular, the residents of Ashkelon, a large Jewish settlement, responded to his request.

Tyre, on the coast of modern-day Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, 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
Conrad of Montferrat
Conrad of Montferrat was a northern Italian nobleman, one of the major participants in the Third Crusade. He was the de facto King of Jerusalem, by marriage, from 24 November 1190, but officially elected only in 1192, days before his death...

, 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
Sibylla of Jerusalem
Sibylla of Jerusalem was the Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon from 1176 and Queen of Jerusalem from 1186 to 1190. She was the eldest daughter of Amalric I of Jerusalem and Agnes of Courtenay, sister of Baldwin IV and half-sister of Isabella I of Jerusalem, and mother of Baldwin V of Jerusalem...

. They went first to Tripoli, then to Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

. 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.

Third Crusade



Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem prompted the Third Crusade
Third Crusade
The Third Crusade , also known as the Kings' Crusade, was an attempt by European leaders to reconquer the Holy Land from Saladin...

, financed in England by a special "Saladin tithe
Saladin tithe
The Saladin tithe, or the Aid of 1188, was a tax, or more specifically a tallage, levied in England and to some extent in France in 1188, in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187.-Background:...

". Richard I of England
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 (Richard the Lionheart) led Guy's siege of Acre
Acre, Israel
Acre , is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country....

, conquered the city and executed 3,000 Muslim prisoners, including women and children. 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."

The armies of Saladin engaged in combat with the army of King Richard at the Battle of Arsuf
Battle of Arsuf
The Battle of Arsuf was a battle of the Third Crusade in which Richard I of England defeated Saladin at Arsuf. Following a series of harassing attacks by Saladin's forces, battle was joined on the morning of 7 September 1191...

 on September 7, 1191, at which Saladin's forces were defeated. After the battle of Arsuf, Richard moved his forces towards Ascalon. Anticipating Richard's next move, Saladin emptied the city and camped a few miles away from the city. When Richard arrived at the city, he was stunned to see the city abandoned and the towers demolished. The next day when Richard was preparing to retreat to Jaffa, Saladin attacked his Army. After a furious battle, Richard managed to save some of his troops and retreated to Ascalon. This was the last major battle between the two forces. All military attempts and battles made by Richard the Lionheart to re-take Jerusalem were defeated and failed. Richard only had 2,000 fit soldiers and 50 fit knights to use in battle. With such a small force, Richard could not hope to take Jerusalem even though he got near enough to see the Holy City. However, Saladin's relationship with Richard was one of chivalrous mutual respect as well as military rivalry. At Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Saladin sent him two replacements. Richard proposed that his sister, Joan of England, Queen of Sicily
Joan of England, Queen of Sicily
Joan of England was the seventh child of Henry II of England and his queen consort, Eleanor of Aquitaine.Joan was a younger maternal half-sister of Marie de Champagne and Alix of France...

, should marry Saladin's brother and that Jerusalem could be their wedding gift. 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
Treaty of Ramla
The Treaty of Ramla was signed by Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in June 1192 after the Battle of Arsuf. Under the terms of the agreement, Jerusalem would remain under Muslim control. However, the city would be open to Christian pilgrimages. Also, the treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a...

 in 1192, whereby Jerusalem would remain in Muslim hands but would be open to Christian pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

s. The treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a strip along the coast from Tyre to Jaffa
Jaffa
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa was incorporated with Tel Aviv creating the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.-Etymology:...

.

Death


Saladin died of a fever on March 4, 1193, at Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, not long after Richard's departure. In Saladin’s possession at the time of his death were
1 piece of gold and 47 pieces of silver. He had given away his great wealth to his poor
subjects and there was none left to pay for his funeral. He was buried in a mausoleum
Mausoleum of Saladin
The Mausoleum of Saladin holds the resting place and grave of the medieval Ayyubid Sultan Saladin. It is located next to the northwest corner of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria. The mausoleum was built in 1196, three years after the death of Saladin...

 in the garden outside the Umayyad Mosque
Umayyad Mosque
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus or formerly the Basilica of Saint John the Baptist , is located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world...

 in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

.

Seven centuries later, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany donated a new marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 sarcophagus
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

 to the mausoleum. Saladin was, however, not placed in it. Instead the mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

, which is open to visitors, now has two sarcophagi: the empty one made of marble and the original wooden one, which holds Saladin.

Family


According to Imad al-Din, Saladin had fathered five sons before he left Egypt in 1174. Saladin's eldest son, al-Afdal
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-din popularly known as Al-Afdal was one of seventeen sons of Saladin. He succeeded his father as the second emir of Damascus. He was the leader of the Ayyubids in the Battle of Cresson.-Biography:...

 was born in 1170 and Uthman
Al-Aziz Uthman
Al-Malik Al-Aziz Osman bin Salahadin Yusuf was the second Ayyubid Sultan of Egypt. He was the second son of Saladin.Before his death, Saladin had divided his dominions amongst his kin: Al-Afdal received Palestine and Syria, Al-Aziz was made ruler of Egypt, Al-Zahir received Aleppo, Al-Adil...

 was born in 1172 to Shamsa who accompanied Saladin to Syria. Saladin had a third son named, Az-Zahir Ghazi, who later became Lord of Aleppo. Al-Afdal's mother bore Saladin another child in 1177. A letter preserved by Qalqashandi records that a twelfth son was born in May 1178, while on Imad al-Din's list, he appears as Saladin's seventh son. Mas'ud was born in 1175 and Yaq'ub in 1176, the latter to Shamsa. Nur al-Din's widow, Ismat al-Din Khatun, remarried to Saladin in September 1176. Ghazi and Da'ud were born to the same mother in 1173 and 1178, respectively, and the mother of Ishaq who was born in 1174 also gave birth to another son in July 1182.

Muslim world



In 1898 German Emperor
German Emperor
This article is about the emperors of the German Empire. For full list of German monarchs before 1871, see List of German monarchs.The German Emperor was the official title of the Head of State and ruler of the German Empire, beginning with the proclamation of Wilhelm I as emperor during the...

 Wilhelm II visited Saladin's tomb to pay his respects. The visit, coupled with anti-colonial sentiments, led nationalist Arabs to reinvent the image of Saladin and portray him as a hero of the struggle against the West. The image of Saladin they used was the romantic one created by Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

 and other Europeans in the West at the time. It replaced Saladin's reputation as a figure who had been largely forgotten in the Muslim world, eclipsed by more successful figures such as Baybars of Egypt.

Modern Arab states have sought to commemorate Saladin through various measures, often based on the image created of him in the 19th century west. A governorate
Governorates of Iraq
||Iraq is composed of 18 provinces :#Baghdād #Salāh ad-Dīn #Diyālā #Wāsit #Maysān #Al-Basrah #Dhī Qār #Al-Muthannā #Al-Qādisiyyah...

 centered around Tikrit and Samarra
Samarra
Sāmarrā is a city in Iraq. It stands on the east bank of the Tigris in the Salah ad-Din Governorate, north of Baghdad and, in 2003, had an estimated population of 348,700....

 in modern-day Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Salah ad Din Governorate, is named after him, as is Salahaddin University
Salahaddin University
Salahaddin University is an educational institution in in Arbil , capital of Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. One of the oldest and largest institutions of higher learning in Kurdistan Region, Salahaddin University was established in 1968 and was originally based in Sulaimaniya. It was...

 in Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

, the largest city of Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan
Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region of Iraq. It borders Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the south. The regional capital is Arbil, known in Kurdish as Hewlêr...

. A suburb community of Arbil
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

, Masif Salahaddin, is also named after him.

Few structures associated with Saladin survive within modern cities. Saladin first fortified the Citadel of Cairo
Cairo Citadel
The Saladin Citadel of Cairo is a medieval Islamic fortification in Cairo, Egypt. The location, on Mokattam hill near the center of Cairo, was once famous for its fresh breeze and grand views of the city...

 (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
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

, and Saladin introduced this essential feature to Egypt.

Although the Ayyubid dynasty
Ayyubid dynasty
The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

 that he founded would only outlive him by 57 years, the legacy of Saladin within the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 continues to this day. With the rise of Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology celebrating the glories of Arab civilization, the language and literature of the Arabs, calling for rejuvenation and political union in the Arab world...

 in the Twentieth Century, particularly with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Saladin's heroism and leadership gained a new significance. Saladin's liberation of Palestine from the European Crusaders
Crusaders
The Crusaders are a New Zealand professional rugby union team based in Christchurch that competes in the Super Rugby competition. They are the most successful team in Super Rugby history with seven titles...

 was put forth the inspiration for the modern-day Arabs' opposition to Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

.

Moreover, 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
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser Hussein was the second President of Egypt from 1956 until his death. A colonel in the Egyptian army, Nasser led the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 along with Muhammad Naguib, the first president, which overthrew the monarchy of Egypt and Sudan, and heralded a new period of...

. For this reason, the Eagle of Saladin
Coat of arms of Egypt
The coat of arms of Egypt is a golden eagle looking towards the viewer's left .-Appearance:The "Eagle of Saladin" holds a scroll on which the name of the state appears in Arabic script, Gumhūriyyat Miṣr al-ʿArabiyyah . The eagle carries on its breast a shield with the flag's colors — but...

 became the symbol of revolutionary Egypt, and was subsequently adopted by several other Arab states (United Arab Emirates, Iraq
Coat of arms of Iraq
The coat of arms or state emblem of Iraq is a golden black eagle looking towards the viewer's left dexter. The eagle is the Eagle of Saladin associated with 20th-century pan-Arabism, bearing a shield of the Iraqi flag, and holding a scroll below with the Arabic words الجمهورية العراقية .- History...

, the Palestinian Territory, and Yemen
Coat of arms of Yemen
The national emblem of Yemen depicts a golden eagle with a scroll between its claws. On the scroll is written the name of the country in Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية or Al-Jumhuriyyah Al-Yamaniyah . The chest of the eagle contains a shield that depicts a coffee plant and the Marib Dam, that are...

).


Western world


His fierce struggle against the crusaders was where Saladin achieved a great reputation in Europe as a chivalrous
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

 knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

, so much so that there existed by the fourteenth century an epic poem about his exploits. Though Saladin faded into history after the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, he appears in a sympathetic light in Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

's novel The Talisman (1825). It is mainly from this novel that the contemporary view of Saladin originates. According to Jonathan Riley-Smith
Jonathan Riley-Smith
Jonathan Simon Christopher Riley-Smith, K.St.J., Ph.D. MA, Litt.D., FRHistS is an historian of the Crusades, and a former Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History...

, Scott's portrayal of Saladin was that of a "modern [19th Century] liberal European gentlemen, beside whom medieval Westerners would always have made a poor showing." 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
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 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
Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali , , is a British Pakistani military historian, novelist, journalist, filmmaker, public intellectual, political campaigner, activist, and commentator...

's novel The Book of Saladin.

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. 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.

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. According to Bahā' al-Dīn, Saladin used his own money to buy the child back:
According to some sources, British Commander General Edmund Allenby during World War I, proudly declared "today the wars of the Crusaders are completed " by rising up his sword towards statue of Saladin after capture of Damascus from Turkish troops
Military of the Ottoman Empire
The history of military of the Ottoman Empire can be divided in five main periods. The foundation era covers the years between 1300 and 1453 , the classical period covers the years between 1451 and 1606 , the reformation period covers the years between 1606 and 1826 ,...

. This quotation is incorrectly attributed to Allenby, as throughout his life he vehemently protested against his conquest of Palestine in 1917 being called a "Crusade". In 1933 Allenby reiterated this stance by saying: "The importance of Jerusalem lay in its strategic importance, there was no religious impulse in this campaign". As well British press celebrated his victory with cartoons of Richard the Lion-Hearted looking down at Jerusalem above the caption "At last my dream come true."

See also


  • Sharaf Khan Bidlisi
  • History of Kurdish people
  • List of rulers of Damascus
  • List of rulers of Egypt


Secondary sources


External links