Saladin (1169-1193)

Although the reign of Saladin was short, it is considered a great period in the Muslim history in Egypt. Born in 1137-1138, Saladin was the son of Ayyub, a Kurdish officer in the court of the Baghdad Caliphate, and later, Governor of Damascus. For 10 years in the court of Nur-ed-Din, Saladin played no prominent role. He accompanied the three expeditions to Egypt and he became famous after the Battle of Baban and his defense of Alexandria.
After the death of his uncle, Shirkuh, he was appointed the Vizier of the Fatimid Caliph; because the Fatimids believed that they could bring him under their control if necessary.
The positions Saladin assumed were very peculiar. He was the Prime Minister of the Shiite Fatimid Caliph while he was Lieutenant (an officer) of the Sunni King. His main aim behind this was to win the loyalty of the people and to strengthen himself against his King Nur-Ed-Din, King of Syria. Moreover, he prepared the way to cancel the Shiite Caliphate and the foundation of an independent dynasty in Egypt.
After two years of his reign, the Fatimid Dynasty came to an end and Egypt was ruled directly by Nur-Ed-Din, but the real authority was in the hands of Saladin.
Saladin had to face many difficulties such as the revolts led by Sudanese soldiers. Succeeding in defeated those soldiers, he arrested their chief leader. Then, he sent an expedition to Sudan under the leadership of his brother, Turanshah, who conquered it and succeeded in putting an end to the revolts there.
After the death of El-Adid, Saladin took the throne of Egypt and kept the Fatimids in the royal palace treating them very nicely to keep them away from the throne. Therefore, a revolt led by a poet called Omara El-Yamani (who wanted to regain the throne of the Fatimids) broke out. He gave Saladin the title of 'The Young Mameluke'. However, he was able to group the Sudanese and Turkmen soldiers against Saladin. He also persuaded the king of Cyprus and the King of Jerusalem to send their troops to invade Egypt. The King of Cyprus sent 282 ships which attacked Alexandria. However, the Ayyubid garrison in Alexandria succeeded in defeating the troops of Cyprus, until they escaped to their ships. When the King of Jerusalem knew about the defeating of Cyprus troops, he decided not to send his army. Saladin knew the news of the revolt in Cairo from one of his spies and he arrested everyone who participated in the revolt. At the end, Omara-El-Yamani was killed and some of his followers were sent to Upper Egypt.
Saladin had to face a third revolt led by a man called Kenz-Ed-Dawlah in Aswan and Qoos. Kenz-Ed-Dawlah went to Aswan and gathered some of the Sudanese soldiers and supporters of the Fatimids and he wrongly thought that he would defeat Saladin. But Saladin defeated him.
At first, Saladin was very loyal to Nur-Ed-Din and he put the name of Nur-Ed-Din on the coins, under the name of the Abbassid Caliph mentioning his name in Friday orations. But when Saladin refused to help Nur-Ed-Din in his wars against the Crusaders-Seljuks and the Arabs, Nur-Ed-Din started to hate Saladin. Besides, Nur-Ed-Din was against Saladin's ambition to make Egypt an independent country under his control. Nur-Ed-Din was afraid of the increasing authority of Saladin between the Arab countries, but soon he died and Saladin became the sole ruler of Muslims.
Later, Saladin worked on strengthening his position in Egypt. Then, he sent his army to invade Africa and the African Sea from Barca to Crete fell under his control in 1172. Saladin's elder brother, Turanshah, followed the blacks into Nubia and took the city of Abrim. After the Sudan expedition, Saladin sent his brother from Nubia to conquer Yemen which also fell completely under his family's rule for 55 years.
After the death of Nur-Ed-Din, Saladin became the leader of the Muslims in the Near East, but with two competitors to face:
1- El-Malik-Es-Saleh (the son of Nur-Ed-Din) who was a child king.
2- Seyf-Ed-Din (the nephew of Nur-Ed-Din) who was the Prime of Mosul and Chief of the Family of Zengi.
At first, Saladin started with the child King who was in the hands of bad emirs who were making relations with the Crusaders. So, going with 700 horsemen to Damascus, he invaded it and passed through Emsa. Then, he achieved a great victory at Horns of Hama against the two enemies: El-Malik-Es-Saleh and Seyf-Ed-Din. Then, he followed his enemy until the Gates of Aleppo and achieved a second victory over Seyf-Ed-Din, at an area called Mesopotamians. A peace treaty was signed between Saladin and the young King of Aleppo, Malik-Es-Saleh. According to it, "Saladin had the full control over the countries which he had invaded, from Egypt to Euphrates". After the death of Malik-Es-Saleh, the Mesopotamian princes made a treaty with the Crusaders, so Saladin went to Mesopotamia and entered the whole country except El-Mosul. After being surrendered, Mosul accepted to be under the control of Saladin. According to a new treaty, the Northern Mesopotamian and a part of Kurdistan became under the full control of Saladin. "Now, Saladin unified all the Muslims and became the most powerful Muslim leader, who could fight the Crusaders".
id: 851
  • Back to Article : The Ayyubid Dynasty (1171-1250)