August 14, 2022

Saladin (1138, Tikrit – 4 March 1193, Damascus; Kurdish: Selahadîne Eyubî; Arabic: Saláh ad-Dín Yúsuf ibn Ayjúb; سلاح الدين يوسف ابن ايوب) was a Kurdish Muslim and military commander who lived in the 12th century. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty that ruled Egypt and Syria. In the West, he is known as "Saladin", which originated from the laqab, the honorific name Salah ad-Dín, which can be translated as "The Pious". Saladin was originally in the service of Nur ad-Din, but he gradually managed to control a large part of the Zengian Empire and unite the Muslims against the Crusaders in the Levant. In 1187, he broke the power of the Crusader states in the Battle of Hattin and forced Jerusalem to surrender. On its reconquest, Pope Gregory VIII declared the third crusade (1189–92), in which the most famous Western European monarchs participated. Later he concluded treaties with Christian states that allowed pilgrims to visit the Holy City. He is recognized in both Christian and Muslim countries for his bravery and military prowess, as well as his nobility.

Path to Power

Saladin was born into the Kurdish family of Najmuddin Ayyub, the governor of Baalbek, but was sent to be educated by his uncle Shirkuh, who was an officer in the court of Nuruddin, the governor of Syria. The latter fought against the Fatimid caliphate for supremacy over Egypt, thanks to which Saladin could become one of Egypt's viziers in 1169. He was supposed to defend Egypt against raids by crusaders from the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which was a very demanding role given his not very strong position. In the end, he managed to effectively control the entire Egyptian empire, although he was still formally subject to Nuruddin. In this capacity, he revitalized the then Egyptian economy and reorganized the entire army.

Saladin's reign

After the death of Núr ad-Dín (Núruddin) (1174), Saladin declared himself Sultan and began an independent policy. This policy was built on expansive military actions, first against the smaller surrounding Muslim states, and then against the Crusaders. As long as he advanced against the Muslim states, he used The Crusader States as a buffer zone against Nur ad-Din's Syria. After conquering Syria, he married Nur al-Din's widow, thereby establishing the legitimacy of his rule and starting battles with the Crusaders. Saladin's personal physician was the Jewish philosopher Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides). Saladin appointed him superior of all Egyptian Jews. He was relatively successful in fighting the Crusaders until November 25, 1177, when he suffered a heavy defeat at the Battle of Montgisard. Ten years later (July 4, 1187) he was able to crush the Crusader army in the Battle of Hattín and shortly thereafter, on October 2, 1187, he conquered Jerusalem. Jerusalem thus fell into Muslim hands after 88 years of Crusader rule. After the conquest of Jerusalem, he conquered most of the Crusader castles and fortresses (except Tyre). This sparked the Third Crusade, when King Richard the Lionheart attempted to retake Jerusalem. There was a special relationship between the two men. Although they fought against each other, they had great respect for each other. For example, at the Battle of Jaffa, when a horse died under Richard, Saladin sent him a new one. Although Richard the Lionheart was not able to conquer Jerusalem, Saladin realized that he was unable to wage such a war for a long time, so in 1192 a truce and the Ramla Agreement were concluded, which ensured free access for Christian pilgrims to the city. This agreement was beneficial to both sides, as the Christians retained some Palestinian ports and Saladin returned the holy Christian relics. The compromise allowed Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Sepulcher and other holy places in Jerusalem, thus ridding Saladin of a dangerous adversary, as the remaining territories of the Crusader states�