Saladin or Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf (in Arabic: صلاح الدين يوسف) and Selahedînê Eyûbî (in Kurdish: سەلاحەدینی ئەییووبی), born in Tikrit in 1138 and died in Damascus on March 4, 1193, is the first dynasty ruler of the dynasty which takes its name from his father Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb and who ruled Egypt from 1169 to 1250 and Syria from 1174 to 1260. Saladin ruled Egypt from 1169 to 1193, Damascus from 1174 to 1193 and Aleppo from 1183 to 1193.
Of Kurdish origin, Saladin first served the Zengid emir of Syria, Nur ad-Din. Sent to Egypt, where the declining Fatimid dynasty reigned, he was appointed vizier in 1169 and abolished the Fatimid caliphate in 1171. He seized power in Syria after the death of Nur ad-Din in 1174. He then concentrated his efforts against the various Latin States of the East, of which he is the main adversary during the last third of the 12th century, and leads the Muslims to the reconquest of Jerusalem in 1187. He then faces the third crusade, led by the kings of France Philippe Auguste and of England Richard the Lionheart, and concludes a peace with Richard which allows him to keep Jerusalem.
His full name during his reign was Al-Malik an-Nāsir Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf. An-Nāsir means in Arabic "the one who receives the victory of God", and Saladin (Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn) the "rectitude of the Faith".
Yûsuf, son of Ayyûb, is the son of a Kurdish officer born in Tikrit, on the Tigris, to a family originating from Dvin, ancient Armenia. Shortly after his birth, his family left Tikrit and went to the court of Zengi, atabeg of Mosul. The latter appoints Ayyub governor of Baalbek and Shirkuh (Saladin's uncle) officer in his army. He entered the service of Nur al-Din (or Nour ed-Dîn) son and heir of Zengi, atâbeg (or lord) of Mosul and Aleppo, founder of the Zengid dynasty.
The conquest of Egypt
In 1163, Nur ad-Din, Zengi's son, sent Shirkuh to restore Shawar to the vizirate. Nur ad-Din, a Sunni, was reluctant to interfere in the affairs of the Fatimid Shia Caliphate, but he cannot afford to let the Franks occupy the country. The first expedition ends in half success, Shawar is restored, but has not paid the indemnities to Shirkuh. In 1167, a second expedition was sent to Egypt, during which Saladin accompanied his uncle. Saladin notably assures the defense of Alexandria, while Shirkuh fights in Upper Egypt. Finally, a peace is made between Egyptians, Franks and Zengids and the Frankish and Zengid armies evacuate Egypt. In 1169, a third expedition enabled Shirkuh to seize the vizirate, but he died soon after, on March 23, 1169.
The advisers of the Fatimid caliph Al-Adid advise him to appoint Saladin as vizier, hoping to take advantage of his youth and inexperience. But Saladin does not allow himself to be controlled and replaces the Egyptian officials whose loyalty is not judged to be foolproof by his relatives. The Caliph's trusted man, eunuch named al-Mûtamen al-Khilâfa, tried to appeal to the Franks: his message was intercepted and Saladin had him discreetly beheaded on August 20, 1169. The Black Guard, whose members were closely linked to the disgraced officials, revolt: Saladin sends his brother Fakhr al-Dîn Tûranshâh to fight them and the guards are massacred after two days of very harsh fighting, on August 23. Saladin brought most of his family to him and settled them in Egypt on estates confiscated from wealthy landowners who had supported the revolt.
On October 16, 1169, the Frankish army led by King Amaury I of Jerusalem left Ascalon and reached Egypt on October 25 and, joined by a Byzantine fleet, laid siege to Damietta. Saladin suspects situation in Cairo is uncertain