The Ayyubid Dynasty (1171-1250)

The Fatimid Dynasty became very weak for many reasons: the weakness of the Caliphs; the conflicts between the viziers on the throne; the strong famine which happened because of the low level of the Nile; the spread of dangerous diseases (especially plague) and the Caliphs being a game in the hands of the viziers . Then a new danger appeared: the Crusaders came to Egypt and Syria with the excuse of saving the Sacred City of Jerusalem from the Seljuk rulers . In Syria , Nur-Ed-Din Mahmoud (the Islamic warrior) noticed the value of Egypt , so he thought of invading it to siege the Crusaders between two sides . He took the opportunity of the conflict between the two Fatimid viziers (Shawar and Dirgham) to interfere in Egypt's affairs .
Shawar , the Arab governor of Upper Egypt , became a vizier after El-Adil Ruzzik . Dirgham succeeded to be the vizier of Egypt to dismiss Shawar from Cairo . Then , Shawar went to Nur-ed-Din at Damascus and asked his help . Shawar offered to pay the cost of the expedition and promised Nur-ed-Din to pay him a third of the revenue of Egypt if he restored his power in Egypt .
Some ruined parts within El Kamel Ayyoub Madrasa
/> Knowing that Shawar made a treaty with Nur-ed-Din , Dirgham tried to make strong relations with the Crusaders and the King of Jerusalem against Nur-ed-Din and Shawar . Then , supported by a strong army led by Shirkuh and his nephew Saladin , Shawar came to Egypt .
Shirkuh defeated the Egyptians and Crusaders and Dirgham was killed . When Shawar restored his power , he broke all his promises and refused to pay the tribute . But , he made a strong relation with the Crusaders against the Seljuks . Then , Shirkuh insisted that Nur-ed-Din allow him to invade Egypt , because the government of Egypt was very weak and the country enjoyed no security in it . Finally , Nur-ed-Din gave orders to Shirkuh to invade Egypt with 2000 horsemen .
When Shirkuh reached the Nile , at Atfih (south of Cairo) , he knew that Amalric left Palestine quickly and went to Egypt as soon as he heard of Shirkuh's move . Amalric's army camped near Fustat , while Shirkuh's army camped at Giza . The two armies met at an area called The Two Gates (El-Baban) , south of Minya . Shirkuh defeated Amarlic's army and Shawar's army and the two armies came back to Cairo . But Shirkuh did not follow them . Rather , he went north by a desert route and entered Alexandria without any fight .
Shirkuh appointed Saladin Governor of Alexandria and left with him one half of his army . Then , Shirkuh went with the other half to Upper Egypt in order to collect money . Then , the Crusader and Egyptian armies together with the Christian fleet sieged Alexandria .
Finally , a peace treaty was signed between the Crusaders and Shirkuh . According to this treaty:
a- Both the Crusaders and Shirkuh should leave Egypt to the Egyptians .
b- Alexandria was to surrender to Shawar .
c- Prisoners were to be exchanged .
d- Shirkuh returned with his tired army to Damascus .
When the Seljuks pressed the Crusaders in Palestine , the Crusaders found that it is better to invade Egypt to increase their power . Therefore , the King of Jerusalem entered Egypt for the third time , as an enemy not as a friend . When he arrived at Bilbys , he mercilessly killed a large number of people . After that , he went to Fustat , but Shawar burnt Fustat to prevent the Crusaders from taking it as their camp . The fire lasted for 54 days .
At that time , the Fatimid young Caliph , El-Adid , wrote a letter to Nur-ed-Din , asking him to come to rescue Egypt . Moreover , attached with the letter , El-Adid sent some of his wives' hair as a strong sign of supplication . When the letter reached Nur-ed-Din , he prepared the third expedition , headed by Shirkuh and supported by Saladin . When Shirkuh arrived in Egypt , he defeated the Crusaders and dismissed them . Then , the Caliph El-Adid appointed Shirkuh his vizier after Shawar had been killed because of his treason . Then , the Caliph gave Shirkuh the title of El-Malik-el-Nasr .
Shirkuh stayed two months in his position till he died suddenly . Following Shirkuh was his nephew , Saladin . Two years later , Saladin got rid of the Fatimids completely founding the Ayyubid Dynasty .

Overall view of the rich archeological site of Sarabit Al-khadem



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