Salah al-Din: a deliverer from the Crusaders

From nobles to the military

Salah al-Din is in fact not the name of the commander and sultan of Egypt and Syria, who in the West is called Saladin. This is an honorary nickname, meaning "piety of faith." It should be noted that Saladin confirmed his veracity with his life and career. The name was Sultan Yusuf Ibn Ayub, he came from a family of mercenaries, and this predicted his military career. Saladin was proud of his pedigree and said that "the Ayyubids were the first to whom the Most High granted victory." However, the young Saladin showed no interest in military affairs. He was fascinated by philosophy, could answer the questions of Euclid and Almagest, knew arithmetic and Islamic law. Saladin was fond of religion, which was greatly influenced by the seizure of Jerusalem by Christians during the First Crusade. Saladin was fond of genealogy, knew the biography and history of the Arabs, and could even recite the ten-volume book of Arabic poetry Abu Tammam by heart.

None of his hobbies told a future brilliant military career until, at the insistence of relatives, he did not have to do military work under the patronage of his uncle Asad al-Din Shirkuh. Together with him, he won several high-profile victories and conquered Egypt in 1169.

Unexpected power

But that same year, his uncle passed away. Amir of Damascus Nur ad-Din chose a new successor to the post of Grand Vizier of Egypt, but unexpectedly the Shiite caliph al-Adid gave power to Sunni Saladin. Perhaps the Caliph did so, because he considered Saladin a weak and insecure ruler. “There is no person among us who is weaker and younger for years than Saladin, so they need to be led, and he will not leave our care. The time will come, and we will find the means to incline the warriors to our side, and when the army supports us and we become stronger in the country, we will easily get rid of Saladin. ” But as soon as Saladin received power, he showed himself as a decisive and independent leader, which Nur ad-Din was furious with. Saladin immediately opened a campaign against the Crusaders in 1170 and at the same time captured the castle of Eilat, which served as a threat to the passage of Muslim ships.

After the death of al-Adid in 1171, Saladin became the Sultan of Egypt and restored the Sunni faith there. Officially, despite the full power, Saladin continued to represent Nur ad-Din in Egypt. Saladin decides to independently attack the fortresses of the Jerusalem state, but Nur ad-Din learns about this and sends his troops from Syria, Saladin turns off the camp and returns to Egypt, and Nur ad-Din sends his sincere apologies. He does not accept them, the tension between them increases. In 1173, after the death of his father Saladin Nur ad-Din begins to prepare a campaign against Egypt. By the summer of next year, Saladin collects troops from Cairo, preparing for an attack, but suddenly Nur ad-Din dies and Saladin gains political independence. Now he has two ways - to go to the Crusaders or to conquer Syria, which the vassals of Nur ad-Din will now divide.

Conquest of Syria

Saladin could take Syria before the enemies arrived, but the attack on the land of his master contradicts the Islamic traditions, which he earnestly honored. This may make him an unworthy leader in the war against the Crusaders. Then Saladin decides to take the position of defender of 11-year-old heir Nur ad-Din al-Saleh and writes him a letter in which he promises to be "his sword." At the same time, invaders came to Aleppo and al-Saleh was forced to go there with his army to put down the insurgency. While the heir remains in Aleppo, Saladin advances to Damascus a detachment of 700 horsemen who are let into the city by people devoted to his family. The commander left the city to one of his brothers and set about capturing the rest of the lands that once belonged to Nur ad-Din. He takes Ham and Aleppo. Saladin owed his military successes to his well-trained regular army of Mamluks, which included mainly horse archers and cavalry lancers.


Battle of Hattin

Gradually he subjugates Syria. In 1175, he forbids mentioning the name of al-Salih in prayers and beating him on coins and soon receives formal recognition from the Baghdad Caliph. The following year, he concludes an agreement with the heir Nur ad-Din. Saladin returns from Damascus to Cairo, where he is building a new stronghold. Finally, Saladin subjugates the last independent ruler and the Jerusalem state is left alone with a powerful adversary.

Fighting the Crusaders

Saladin united the Muslims of the East to fight the Crusaders. After the final subordination of Syria, he completely concentrated on the idea of ​​expelling Christians from Jerusalem and swore on the Koran that he would get rid of the enemies of Islam. Prince Arnaut, who once found himself in Muslim captivity and was personally freed by Saladin, contributed to decisive action. The Sultan of Egypt, as a measure to combat the Crusaders, imposed an economic blockade. Then the main export product, which earned the knights, were spices and spices, exported by caravans and ships across the Red and Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Saladin controlled the Red Sea and land caravan routes. In 1187, Prince Arnaut attacked an Egyptian caravan, which was also accompanied by Saladin’s sister. But Saladin was a wise ruler and decided not to respond with aggression to aggression. He addressed the King of Jerusalem, Guido de Lusignan, and demanded that the damage be punished and punished. But after his request was left unanswered, Saladin announced a march on Jerusalem.


Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin

The decisive battle took place at Hattin Hill. The Crusaders could not long fight in the desert without water and shade, so the Egyptian Sultan took advantage of his troops and inflicted a crushing defeat on the King of Jerusalem. The king himself and many other representatives of the orders of knights were captured. Interestingly, Saladin spared almost all the prisoners, except for the representatives of the Templar and the Hospitaller, the most violent enemies of Islam. They were executed. The king and Arnaut appeared before Saladin. The Sultan met the King affably and even offered him a soft drink, and with Arnaut, as a traitor, he was strict and cruel. Saladin offered him to accept Islam and when he refused, he cut off Arnaut’s arm, and the soldiers of the Sultan then beheaded him. Soon Saladin captured Jerusalem, the city almost surrendered without a fight. There were a huge number of prisoners, but Saladin spared them and gave them the right to redeem themselves. Many were able to do this, for others they paid knight orders, the poor were enslaved. So Saladin destroyed the first Jerusalem state.


Saladin and the Christians of Jerusalem

Saladin subjugated almost all of Palestine. The Crusaders organized the Third Crusade, in which Richard the Lionheart participated, but the attempt to win back the land ended ingloriously. Saladin and Richard signed a peace treaty in which Jerusalem remained behind Egypt, while the crusaders remained a small piece of the coast of the Mediterranean.

Noble knight

Despite his implacable struggle with the Crusaders, in the memory of Europeans, Saladin remained a true knight. He showed mercy to Christians during the seizure of Jerusalem, and after the Third Crusade, granted the pilgrims immunity and protection so that they could quietly visit the Holy Land. Under his rule, Jerusalem became a truly Holy City, where there was no place for violence and cruelty.


Saladin and Guido de Lusignan

The special position of the Europeans, he earned when he let go of the King of Jerusalem Guido de Lusignan. He was a wise ruler and a great commander, but he had to admit that his army, consisting of slaves, was not capable of anything, without his direct guidance to it. He united the Islamic countries under his own hands to fight the invaders, but he never left his code of laws to his descendants. After the death of Saladin, all lands were divided between his relatives.

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