Ayyubid Egyptian 1171-1250 AD

DBA list:
1x 3Cv (General): Saladin
5x 3Cv
2x 2LH
1x 3Ax or 3Wb or 7Hd
2x 4Bw or 2Ps
1x 2LHor 2Ps

Salah Ad-din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub or Saladin (c. 1138 - March 4, 1193) was a Kurd born in Tikrit. He founded the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt. Salah ad-Din is an honorific title which translates to "The Righteousness of the Faith". His early military education was under the command of his uncle, Nur ad-Din's lieutenant Asad ad-Din Shirkuh. Nur al-Din, the ruler of Damascus and Aleppo, succeeded his father, Zengi, after that ruler's death. During three military expeditions led by Shirkuh into Egypt to prevent its falling to the Frankish rulers of the states established by the First Crusade, a complex, three-way struggle developed between Amalric I, the Latin king of Jerusalem, Shawar, the vizier of the Egyptian Fatimid caliph, and Shirkuh. Saladin eventually succeeded the defeated Fatimid faction and his uncle as vizier in 1169. When the caliph died, in September 1171, Saladin abolished the Shi'ite caliphate. He became the ruler and proclaimed a return to Sunni Islam in Egypt. With Nur ad-Din's death (1174), he assumed the title of sultan in Egypt. He then declared independence from the Seljuks, and came to be the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty.

Immediately after Nur ad-Din's death, Saladin marched on Damascus and was welcomed into the city. He then married Nur ad-Din's widow to solidify his legitimacy. Aleppo and Mosul, the two other largest cities that Nur ad-Din had ruled, were never taken. However, Saladin managed to impose his influence and authority on them in 1176 and 1186 respectively. At this time, the Syrian Assassin leader Rashideddin's men made two attempts on the life of Saladin. The second time, the assassin came so close that wounds were inflicted upon Saladin.

The crusader kingdoms soon occupied his attentions. At the Battle of Montgisard on November 25, 1177, he was defeated by the combined forces of Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, Raynald of Chatillon and the Knights Templar. Only a tenth of his army returned with him to Egypt. This is the battle mentioned in the movie "Kingdom of Heaven" that Baldwin won in his youth. A truce was declared between Saladin and the Crusader States in 1178.

Saladin spent the subsequent year recovering from his defeat and rebuilding his army, renewing his attacks in 1179 when he defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Jacob's Ford. Crusader counter-attacks provoked further responses by Saladin. Raynald of Chatillon harassed Muslim trading and pilgrimage routes with a fleet on the Red Sea, a water route that Saladin needed to keep open. Raynald threatened to attack the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. In retaliation, Saladin besieged Kerak, Raynald's fortress in Oultrejordain, in 1183 and 1184. Raynald responded by looting a caravan of pilgrims on the Hajj in 1185.

On July 4, 1187, he faced at the Battle of Hattin the combined forces Guy of Lusignan, King consort of Jerusalem, and Raymond III of Tripoli. In the battle alone the Crusader army was largely annihilated by the army of Saladin in what was a major disaster for the Crusaders and a turning point in the history of the Crusades. Saladin captured Raynald de Chatillon and was personally responsible for his execution. In October, 1187, Saladin captured the city of Jerusalem, which was led in defense by Balian of Ibelin.

Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem prompted the Third Crusade, financed in England by a special "Saladin tithe". This Crusade took back Acre, and Saladin's army met King Richard I of England ("the Lionheart") at the Battle of Arsuf on September 7, 1191 at which Saladin was defeated. The Treaty of Ramla was concluded in 1192, whereby the city would remain in Muslim hands but would be open to Christian pilgrimages. The treaty reduced the Latin Kingdom to a strip along the coast from Tyre to Jaffa.

Saladin died on March 4, 1193 at Damascus, not long after Richard's departure.


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