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Saladin Timeline

Saladin Timeline

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Early Islamic World: Biography

Saladin was born Yusuf ibn Ayyub in 1137 in Tikrit, Iraq. His father was an officer in the army of the Seljuk leader Zangi. When young Yusuf was around seven years old his family moved to Lebanon where his father was in charge of a castle. Growing up, Yusuf likely studied a variety of subjects including Islam, mathematics, philosophy, and law. He also learned about being a soldier including how to use a bow and arrow, how to fight with a sword, and how to ride a horse into battle.

How did he get the name Saladin?

Although he was born Yusuf ibn Ayyub, once Saladin was a great warrior he earned the name Al-Malik An-Nasir Salah al-Din (which means "Mighty Defender, Righteousness of Faith"). The last part of his name, Salah al-Din, was shortened by westerners to "Saladin."

Saladin began his military career around the age of 14 when he went to work for his uncle Shirkuh. Shirkuh was a high ranking officer in the army of the Muslim leader Nur al-Din. Saladin spent his time assisting Shirkuh and learning about battle and politics.

Gaining Power in Egypt

In 1169, Shirkuh and Saladin took their army to Egypt to help fight off the Crusaders from Europe. They were victorious. At that time the Islamic faction that controlled Egypt was the Fatimids. Shirkuh and Saladin remained in Egypt. They said they were going to help the Fatimids, but they really intended to take control. When Shirkuh died, Saladin took control of the army and soon became the Emir of Egypt.

When Saladin's leader, Nur al-Din, died in 1174, this left a gap in power in the Middle East. Many different Islamic groups began to fight for power. Saladin took his army to Damascus and claimed Nur al-Din's position. He spent the next 12 years battling other Islamic factions in order to unify the region. By 1186, Saladin was in control of the Muslim Empire. He then turned his sites on the Crusaders from Europe.

Fighting the Crusaders

The Crusaders were soldiers from Europe who fought to keep the Holy Land (especially Jerusalem) in the hands of Christians. Saladin wanted to remove the Crusaders from the Middle East and regain control of Jerusalem.

Saladin decided to set a trap for the Crusader army. He first attacked the city of Tiberias knowing that the land between the Crusader army and Tiberias was a harsh and dry land. The Crusader army reacted as he had hoped and began to march to Tiberias. When the Crusaders grew tired and thirsty, Saladin sprung his trap and attacked the Crusader army with his full force. Saladin and his army soundly defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin. This opened the way for him to Jerusalem.

In 1187, after defeating the Crusader army, Saladin marched to Jerusalem. His army surrounded the city and began to fire arrows and catapult rocks over the walls. Within a week, the city surrendered and Saladin marched in victorious. Over the next year, Saladin captured most of the Crusader castles in the region.

When the Christians in Europe heard of the defeat of the Crusaders and the loss of Jerusalem, they mounted the Third Crusade under the leadership of King Richard the Lionheart. For the first time in his military career, Saladin suffered major defeats in battle at both Acre and Arsuf.

Despite their victories, the Crusaders soon wore down and realized they would not be able to take Jerusalem. Saladin and King Richard agreed to a truce. In 1192, they signed the Treaty of Jaffa which kept Jerusalem in the hands of the Muslims, but allowed for the safe passage of Christian pilgrims.

Saladin died of a fever on March 4, 1193, a few months after signing the treaty.

History of Jerusalem: The Capture of Jerusalem by Saladin

The Battle of Hattin decimated the knights and soldiers of the Latin states. The remnants of the fighting forces of the Kingdom sought refuge in the fortified coastal cities and especially at Tyre. Through the months of July and August, Saladin successively occupied the remaining towns, cities, and castles of the Holy Land. His initial attack upon Tyre failed, however, and the city was bypassed. Late in September Saladin's armies camped before the Holy City itself.

The Holy City of Jerusalem was besieged on September 20. It was surrounded on every side by unbelievers, who shot arrows everywhere into the air. They were accompanied by frightening armaments and, with a great clamor of trumpets, they shrieked and wailed, “Hai, hai.” The city was aroused by the noise and tumult of the barbarians and, for a time, they all cried out: ”True and Holy Cross! Sepulchre of Jesus Christ's resurrection! Save the city of Jerusalem and its dwellers!“

The battle was then joinedand both sides began courageously to fight. But since so much unhappiness was produced through sorrow and sadness, we shall not enumerate all the Turkish attacks and assemblies, by which, for two weeks, the Christians were worn down. During this time it seemed that God had charge over the city, for who can say why one man who was hit died, while another wounded man escaped? Arrows fell like raindrops, so that one could not show a finger above the ramparts without being hit. There were so many wounded that all the hospitals and physicians in the city were hard put to it just to extract the missiles from their bodies. I myself was wounded in the face by an arrow which struck the bridge of my nose. The wooden shaft has been taken out, but the metal tip has remained there to this day. The inhabitants of Jerusalem fought courageously enough for a week, while the enemy settled down opposite the tower of David.

Saladin saw that he was making no progress and that as things were going he could do no damage to the city. Accordingly, he and his aides began to circle around the city and to examine the city's weak points, in search of a place where he could set up his engines without fear of the Christians and where he could more easily attack the town. At dawn on a certain day [Sept 26] the King of Egypt (that is, Saladin) ordered the camp to be moved without any tumult or commotion. He ordered the tents to be pitched in the Vale of Jehosephat, on the Mount of Olives, and on Mount joy, and throughout the hills in that region. When morning had come the men of Jerusalem lifted up their eyes and, when the darkness of the clouds had gone, they saw that the Saracens were pulling up their tents as if they were going to leave. The inhabitants of Jerusalem rejoiced greatly and said: “The King of Syria has fled, because he could not destroy the city as be had planned.” When the turn of the matter was known, however, this rejoicing was quickly turned into grief and lamentation.

The tyrant [Saladin] at once ordered the engines to be constructed and balistas to be put up. He likewise ordered olive branches and branches of other trees to be collected and piled between the city and the engines. That evening he ordered the army to take up arms and the engineers to proceed with their iron tools, so that before the Christians could do anything about it, they would all be prepared at the foot of the walls. The cruelest of tyrants also arrayed up to ten thousand armed knights with bows and lances on horseback, so that if the men of the city attempted a foray they would be blocked. He stationed another ten thousand or more men armed to the teeth with bows for shooting arrows, under cover of shields and targets. He kept the rest with himself and his lieutenants around the engines.

When everything was arranged in this fashion, at daybreak they began to break down the comer of the tower and to attack all around the walls. The archers began shooting arrows and those who were at the engines began to fire rocks in earnest.

The men of the city expected nothing of the sort and left the city walls without guard. Tired and worn out, they slept until morning, for unless the Lord watch the city, he labors in vain who guards it. When the sun had risen, those who were sleep ing in the towers were startled by the noise of the barbarians. When they saw these things they were terrified and overcome with fear. Like madmen they yelled out through the city: “Hurry, men of Jerusalem! Hasten! Help! The walls have already been breached! The foreigners are entering!” Aroused, they hastened through the city as bravely as they could, but they were power less to repulse the Damascenes from the walls, either with spears, lances, arrows, stones, or with molten lead and bronze.

The Turks unceasingly hurled rocks forcefully against the ramparts. Between the walls and the outer defenses they threw rocks and the so­called Greek fire, which bums wood, stone, and whatever it touches. Everywhere the archers shot arrows without measure and without ceasing, while the others were boldly smashing the walls.

The men of Jerusalem, meanwhile, were taking counsel. They decided that everyone, with such horses and arms as could be mustered, should leave the city and march steadily through the gate which leads to Jehosephat. Thus, if God allowed it, they would push the enemy back a bit from the walls. They were foiled, however, by the Turkish horsemen and were woefully defeated&hellip.

The Chaldeans [Saladin and his army] fought the battle fiercely for a few days and triumphed. The Christians were failing so by this time that scarcely twenty or thirty men appeared to defend the city walls. No man could be found in the whole city who was brave enough to dare keep watch at the defences for a night, even for a fee of a hundred besants .With my own ears I heard the voice of a public crier between the great wall and the outer works proclaiming (on behalf of the lord Patriarch and the other great men of the city) that if fifty strong and brave sergeants could be found who would take up arms voluntarily and keep guard during the night over the comer which had already been destroyed, they would receive five thousand besants. They were not found.

Meanwhile, they sent legates to the King of Syria, begging him to temper his anger toward them and accept them as allies, as he had done for others. He refused and is reported to have given this reply: “I have frequently heard from our wise men, the fakih, [from al-Fakih - a wise man] that Jerusalem cannot be cleansed, save by Christian blood, and I wish to take counsel with them on this point.” Thus, uncertain, they returned. They sent others, Balian and Ranier of Naples and Thomas Patrick, offering a hundred thousand besants. Saladin would not receive them and, their hopes shattered, they returned. They sent them back again with others, demanding that Saladin himself say what kind of agreement he wanted. If possible they would comply if not, they would hold out to the death.

Saladin had taken counsel and laid down these ransom terms for the inhabitants of Jerusalem: each male, ten years old and over, was to pay ten besants for his ransom females, five besants boys, seven years old and under, one. Those who wished would be freed on these terms and could leave securely with their possessions. The inhabitants of Jerusalem who would not accept these terms, or those who did not have ten besants, were to become booty, to be slain by the army's swords. This agreement pleased the lord Patriarch and the others who had money .

On Friday, October 2, this agreement was read out through the streets of Jerusalem, so that everyone might within forty days provide for himself and pay to Saladin the tribute as aforesaid for his freedom. When they heard these arrangements, the crowds throughout the city wailed in sorrowful tones: “Woe, woe to us miserable people! We have no gold! What are we to do? . . .” Who would ever have thought that such wickedness would be perpetrated by Christians?

But, alas, by the hands of wicked Christians Jerusalem was turned over to the wicked. The gates were closed and guards were posted. The fakihs and kadis, [judges] the ministers of the wicked error, who are considered bishops and priests by the Saracens came for prayer and religious purposes first to the Temple of the Lord, which they call Beithhalla and in which they have great faith for salvation. They believed they were cleansing it and with unclean and horrible bellows they defiled the Temple by shouting with polluted lips the Muslim precept: “Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar! . . .” [God is Great]

Our people held the city of Jerusalem for some eighty-nine years. . . . Within a short time, Saladin had conquered almost the whole Kingdom of Jerusalem. He exalted the grandeur of Mohammed's law and showed that, in the event, its might exceeded that of the Christian religion.

Sources: De Expugatione Terrae Sanctae per Saladinum, [The Capture of the Holy Land by Saladin], ed. Joseph Stevenson, Rolls Series, (London: Longmans, 1875), translated by James Brundage, The Crusades: A Documentary History, (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1962), 159-63 on Internet Medieval Source Book

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Saladin's Reign of Jerusalem

Saladin shamed the ruthless Crusaders by treating the city with kindness and keeping every promise he made to its people. Islam controlled Jerusalem from that day until the 20th century.

Saladin hoped to hold all of Palestine. However, Crusaders Richard Lionheart and Philip Augustus of France soon recaptured Acre. Richard Lionheart defeated the Saladin again, dashing Saracen hopes of total control. The Lionheart perpetrated atrocities to equal the other Crusaders. Yet his personal strength and valor made him legendary. He is said to have struck down four hundred men by himself in one battle alone. Faced with such a foe, Saladin finally agreed to a treaty that permitted Europeans to hold ports on the Palestine coast. Christians were allowed to make pilgrimages to sacred shrines in Jerusalem.

Saladin's courage, justice and moderation were rare in that age and have won him lasting respect in the West. Christians thought they were justified in launching the crusades. They argued that their actions were defensive-- preemptive strikes to keep Islam from renewing its attacks on Europe--and that they were just taking back turf the Saracens had snatched earlier. Whether their arguments are valid or not, one thing is certain: They did not live up to Christ's teachings about love after they had conquered the Middle East. What a different tale the Crusaders might have told if they had at least lived up to Saladin's code, even it they were unable to abide by the law of love!

Medieval as Modern: The Historical Accuracy of Kingdom of Heaven

A film based on a well-known historical episode elicits an immediate question: “How accurate is it?” For a controversial episode of history such as the Crusades, the issue of historical accuracy becomes even more relevant. When Ridley Scott released his Crusade epic Kingdom of Heaven in 2005, his film provoked widespread controversy from historians and derision from film critics. The film’s historical denigrators were divided into “Muslim historians offended at the film’s purported misrepresentation of the Saracens and non-Muslim historians offended by misrepresentations of the Christians.” Film critics thought the film’s theatrical cut shallow and truncated.

However valid these criticisms were, many of them were muted by the release of a 192-minute director’s cut of the film in 2006, which was both more historically accurate and artistically satisfying. Important historical episodes like the crowning of the young King Baldwin V were added back into the film, and the characters’ motivations were made clearer with the extra running time.

While it may be going too far to take the view of Dr. Hamid Dabashi and say, “You don’t go to a work of art to learn about history,” the artistic purpose of a film will always trump its need for historical accuracy, even in the case of a historically-based film. Such is the case with Kingdom of Heaven. The film’s historical inaccuracies are not the result of a lack of research, but deliberate creative decisions.

By analyzing the film alongside the historical reality of the situations it depicts, one comes to a better understanding of how Kingdom of Heaven presents a readily comprehensible twenty-first century fable set in the twelfth-century. Through its portrayal of Reynald de Chatillon, Guy de Lusignan and the Templars, Saladin, and Balian of Ibelin, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven sacrifices rigid historical fidelity in order to secure relevance in modern society.

In Kingdom of Heaven Crusaders are seen mostly in a negative light, with Reynald de Chatillon, Guy de Lusignan, and the Templars occupying the necessary roles of villains. The depiction of Reynald is the most historically accurate portrait of any character in the film. According to a contemporary Muslim historian Ibn al-Athir, “Prince Reynald, lord of Kerak, was one of the greatest and wickedest of the Franks, the most hostile to the Muslims and the most dangerous to them.” As the film depicts, Reynald had a running rivalry with Saladin, raiding his caravans and even capturing his sister in a raid that became the provocation for Saladin’s invasion of Jerusalem. Even Christian historians agreed that Reynald was an evil figure. William of Tyre saw Reynald’s aggression towards Muslims and his illegal raiding of caravans as the “pretext for the loss of the kingdom of Jerusalem.” The twelfth-century Muslim view of Crusaders was that they were courageous and skilled warriors, but barbaric in all other aspects.

Kingdom of Heaven certainly portrays the Crusaders in such a light. Although King Baldwin IV and Tiberias are seen as moderates with a philosophical commitment to religious pluralism – things they were not in reality – Reynald, Guy, and the Templars embody the ultraviolent religious fanaticism that the Crusades are known for. In actuality, Guy de Lusignan was little more than an ineffective king who had won the heart of Sibylla. However, because the film includes a romance between Balian and Sibylla, the need for an antagonist to Balian arises, and Guy is made more villainous to fill the role. He is a counterpoint to Balian – a knight who demonstrates all the negative qualities of knighthood just as Balian demonstrates all of its positive qualities. He becomes closely associated with Reynald, a man who in reality thought him a pathetic king, in order to assert his villainy.

Together, Reynald, Guy, and the Templars become both an embodiment of our twenty-first century view of the “barbaric” Crusaders and a reflection of the arch-villain of our own time: the religious fanatic. It is no accident that because Kingdom of Heaven was made after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the film depicts violence done in the name of religion as the ultimate evil. The Templars’ belief in their divine authority – “God wills it!” – and their overzealous hatred of Muslims defines them as such villains.

The film ignores the fundamental Crusader concept that violence done in the name of God can be good and just, because such a concept is impossible to relate to the modern moviegoer. Modern audiences see violence done in the name of religion as indisputably evil and medieval opinions that would endorse said violence are unacceptable. This is why the heroes of Kingdom of Heaven are religious skeptics and the Templars are the film’s villains. In order for Kingdom of Heaven to relate to modern audiences, the villains had to embody the Crusader as he has come to be seen in the post-colonial world.

In medieval Christendom there existed two opposing views of Saladin. One was that he was a murderous infidel prince, an apocalyptic figure connected with End Times concepts from the Book of Revelation. The other was a romanticized infidel king, the best of the non-Christian rulers as portrayed in The Divine Comedy by Dante. The version of Saladin found in Kingdom of Heaven is the latter. Saladin is viewed as a humanist ruler.

When Balian first meets Tiberias, Tiberias comments that “Saladin and the King between them would make a better world.” Saladin is presented as the Muslim counterpart to Baldwin, another skeptical, moderate king who rules with honour and justice. In reality, Saladin was seen as magnanimous but also ruthless by both Christians and Muslims. Saladin became the hero of the Islamic world by uniting the Muslim kingdoms together in order to oppose the Crusaders. It was his dream to drive the Crusaders out of Jerusalem and reinstate Islamic control of the Holy Land. In a few instances, Kingdom of Heaven does show glimpses of Saladin’s ruthlessness. The episode where he slits Reynald’s throat and then beheads him after the Battle of Hattin is an example of his desire for revenge, a scene taken right out of historical fact. However, for the most part Saladin is seen more as the romanticized philosopher king. A significant event that is left out of the film is Saladin ordering his Sufi mystics to execute the Templar prisoners after the Battle of Hattin. Saladin’s demand for ransom for the people of Jerusalem is also omitted from the film, simplifying the climax’s resolution and making Saladin seem more generous.

The Saladin in Kingdom of Heaven is a deliberate depiction of the moderate Muslim, an olive branch-of-sorts to Muslim viewers of the film. Kingdom of Heaven’s Saladin is religious, but does not allow religion to make him a fool. In one instance he lectures one of his angry generals, asking him, “How many battles did God win for the Muslims before I came?” In order to have a hero on both the Christian and the Muslim sides, Saladin could not be presented in radical terms, and thus, both his religiosity and ruthlessness are downplayed. Instead like Balian and Baldwin, it is his moderate nature and honour that is emphasized, and he is one of the few characters in the film whose virtue remains intact throughout. If nothing else, Kingdom of Heaven’s Saladindefies the stereotypes of Hollywood’s Muslim, becoming the film’s non-Western hero and mitigating any perceived western bias.

Balian of Ibelin as presented in Kingdom of Heaven has almost no basis in history. The only historical facts that the film’s Balian shares with the real Balian are his name, his renown, and his defense and surrendering of Jerusalem to Saladin. The historical Balian of Ibelin was not born in France, but in Ibelin was not the illegitimate son of Godfrey but the legitimate son of Barisan of Ibelin did not have a relationship with Sibylla, princess of Jerusalem, but was married to Maria Comnena, the widow of the father of Baldwin and Sibylla and fought at the Battle of Hattin.

The main reason for the disparity between fact and fiction is the convention in historical fiction to have a completely fictional protagonist whom the audience sympathizes with. The filmmakers were adamant that their hero be the man who surrendered Jerusalem to Saladin, but that was where their fidelity to history ended. The filmmakers made Balian an outsider of Jerusalem so that the audience would be introduced to the world of the Holy Land along with him. He is the audience’s window into the film, the reluctant perfect knight with whom we sympathize throughout the film.

Although the biographical details of Kingdom of Heaven’s Balian of Ibelin have no basis in history, the moral character of Balian does. In the historical accounts, Balian is seen as the one Christian to retain his wisdom and composure leading up to and after the disaster of the Hattin. The film uses Balian as the template for a perfect knight, portraying his journey to Jerusalem to seek forgiveness for himself and his dead wife as an example of the purer motivations of the Crusades. Balian characterizes the medieval ideals of knighthood: honour, courage, chivalry, and military prowess. The historical Balian was such a revered knight “whose standing…was equal to that of the king” that the Patriarch of Jerusalem begged him to defend the city against Saladin’s impending attack, being the last defender of Jerusalem just like in the film. Balian’s speech to Saladin at the defense of Jerusalem – “Before I lose it, I will burn it to the ground. Your holy places – ours. Every last thing in Jerusalem that drives men mad.” – is very similar to Balian’s actual speech to Saladin, which persuaded Saladin to offer terms.

The Balian of Kingdom of Heaven may lack all the historical details of the actual Balian, but he shares his namesake’s attributes of a perfect knight. Historically, it was “thanks largely to Balian’s perseverance and diplomacy [that] the majority of the people [of Jerusalem] were escorted to Christian-held territory.” The film’s Balian of Ibelin becomes our window into the world of the Crusades and an example of both modern and medieval concepts of a perfect knight.

When discussing the Crusades in the twenty-first century it is necessary to rethink the Eurocentric notions that have dominated such discussions over the centuries. A modern film dealing with the Crusades has to be sensitive to the East-West dialectic that has arisen due to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Although Kingdom of Heaven veers starkly from the historical records, it depicts characters that are relevant to the modern-day moviegoer and also helps us reevaluate the world of the Crusades. Every consecutive culture has a particular way of understanding the past. Although it does not accurately depict the fall of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, Kingdom of Heaven is a valid exploration of the clash of Crusader and Muslim over the Holy Land, albeit astutely packaged for modern day sensibilities.

Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin)

Saladin captured Raynald and was personally responsible for his execution in retaliation for his attacks against Muslim caravans. Strategically, it would have made more sense for Saladin to capture Tyre before Jerusalem Saladin, however, chose to pursue Jerusalem first because of the importance of the city to Islam. Although he was short of salahufdin, Saladin also allowed the departing Zangi to take all the stores of the citadel that he could travel with and to sell the remainder—which Saladin purchased himself.

It is equally true that his generosity, his piety, devoid of fanaticism, that flower of liberality and courtesy which had been the model of our old chroniclers, won him no less popularity in Frankish Syria than in the lands of Islam. Seeker of the Sacred Knowledge on April 24, Saladin has become a prominent aslahuddin in MuslimArab sallahuddin, Turkish and Kurdish culture[9] and he has often been described as being the most pf Kurd in history.

She suckled it for some time and then Saladin ordered a horse to be fetched for her and she went back to camp. This video is produced by Why-Islam. Seven centuries later, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany donated a slaahuddin marble sarcophagus to the mausoleum. Al-Zahir Dawud, whom Imad listed eighth, is recorded as being his twelfth son in a letter written by Saladin’s minister. Because droughts and bad harvests hampered his commissariatSaladin agreed to a truce. A Muslim of Kurdish origin, Saladin led the Muslim opposition He reported to the caliph and his own subordinates in Yemen and Baalbek that was going to attack the Armenians.

Others again say that the king of England, on deciding to attempt the conquest of Ascalon, thought it unwise to leave so many prisoners in the town after his departure. Saladin attacked the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem inand after three months of salahuddim he gained control of the city.

Salah al-Din al-Ayubbi (“Saladin”)

Saladin wrote in a letter to al-Adil: In military Sholahuddin admired when Richard injuries, Saladin offers treatment in time of war at which time medical science has advanced and the Muslims believe. Saladin’s recapture of Palestine from the European Crusaders is considered an inspiration for modern-day Arabs’ opposition to Zionism.

With this victory, Saladin decided to call in more troops from Egypt he requested al-Adil to dispatch 1, horsemen. Saladin made further conquests in northern Syria and Jaziraescaping two attempts on his life by the ” Assassins “, before returning to Egypt in to address bioography there.

Salah al Din became a legend in the East and West for his role in clearing the Crusaders from Jerusalem. The subject ordered the churches repurposed as horse stables and the church towers destroyed.

All of the booty from the Ayyubid victory was accorded to the army, Saladin not keeping anything himself. Although the Crusader force consisted of only knights, Saladin hesitated to ambush them because of the presence of highly skilled generals.

Biography of Salahuddin Ayyubi is a free software application from the Reference Tools subcategory, part of the Education category. There have been only innumerable expenses, the sending out of troops The Crusades represent the maddest and the longest war in the history of mankind, in which the storm of savage fanaticism of the Christian West burst in all its fury over western Asia.

In this emergency, the emir of Damascus appealed to Saif al-Din of Mosul a cousin of Gumushtigin for assistance against Aleppo, but he refused, forcing the Syrians to request the aid of Saladin, who complied.

Saladin offered no opposition to these transactions in order to respect the treaty he previously made with the Zengids.

He viewed this as an omen, but he continued his march north. For an unknown xyubi he apparently biograaphy his plans regarding the pilgrimage and was seen inspecting the Nile River banks in June.


After the death of Nur ad-Din, who was planning to campaign against his too powerful subordinate, Saladin proclaimed himself sultan of Egypt, thus beginning the Ayyubid dynasty. He spread his conquests westward on the northern shores of Africa as far as Qabis and also conquered Yemen. He took over Damascus after Nur ad-Din's death and undertook to subdue all of Syria and Palestine. He had already come into conflict with the Crusaders (see Crusades), and he put the rulers of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (see Jerusalem, Latin Kingdom of) on the steadily weakening defensive. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to conquer the Assassins in their mountain strongholds, but he took Mosul, Aleppo, and wide areas from rival Muslim rulers and became the principal warrior of Islam.

Gathering a large force of Muslims of various groups—but all called Saracens by the Christians—he set out to attack the Christians. Raymond of Tripoli was at first his ally, but then joined the other Crusaders, and the great battle of Hattin (near Tiberias) in 1187 found Christians matched against Muslims. Saladin won brilliantly, capturing Guy of Lusignan and Reginald of Châtillon. The city of Jerusalem also fell to him. The Third Crusade was gathered (1189) and came to the Holy Land to try to recover Jerusalem. Thus it was that Richard I of England and Saladin met in the conflict that was to be celebrated in later chivalric romance. The reputation that Saladin had among the Christians for generosity and chivalry does not seem to have been a legend, and there seems no doubt that Saladin admired Richard as a worthy opponent. The Crusaders, however, failed in their purpose and succeeded only in capturing Akko. In 1192, Saladin came to agreement with the Crusaders upon the Peace of Ramla, which left the Latin Kingdom only a strip along the coast from Tyre to Yafo. The Christians were never to recover from their defeat.

See biographies by A. R. H. Gibb (1973), M. C. Lyons and D. E. Jackson (1982), S. Lane-Poole (1985), G. Regan (1988), and A.-M. Eddé (2011) J. Reston, Jr., Warriors of God: Richard the Lionheart and Saladin in the Third Crusade (2001).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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Siege of Acre, August 1189-12 July 1191

1187 saw the crusader kingdoms reach their low point. The crusaders fought amongst themselves, while at the same time Saladin was unifying large parts of the Muslim world, eventually coming to surround the crusaders. Despite this, the crusaders failed to observe their truce with Saladin, and eventually Saladin decided on war. In June 1187 he invaded Palestine. Guy of Lusignan, king of Jerusalem, was able to raise an army of almost equal size to Saladins', but it was badly led, and the crusaders suffered a decisive defeat at the battle of Hattin (4 July 1187). Guy was captured, while the most able Crusader leader, Raymond of Tripoli, died of his wounds after the battle. The aftermath of the defeat saw the effective end of all but a tiny remnant of the crusader kingdoms. With their garrisons lost, Saladin was able to capture most cities, including Tiberias, Acre and Ascalon. Only at Tyre, where a combination of strong defences, and the arrival of Conrad of Montferrat with fresh troops thwarted Saladin. From Tyre, he moved on Jerusalem, which surrendered to him on 2 October 1187. News of the loss of Jerusalem broke on a stunned Europe, where moves were soon in hand for a fresh crusade, the Third. However, for the moment those crusaders left in Palestine has to survive.

The defences of Tyre were amongst the strongest in Palestine, with land access to the city only along a narrow isthmus, heavily defended by a series of walls. After the fall of Jerusalem, Saladin returned to besiege the city with a stronger army, complete with a siege train, and combined with a fleet. However, the siege engines proved to be unequal to the task, and his fleet was destroyed in a battle with the crusaders. Saladin withdrew to besiege Krak des Chevaliers, leaving the crusaders with a safe port for reinforcements. However, the crusaders continued to squabble amongst themselves. When Guy of Lusignan, released by Saladin under oath not to take up arms, found a priest to declare the oath invalid, Conrad refused to give him control of Tyre. Luckily, Saladin concentrated on the Crusader castles in northern Syria, before in March 1189 returning to Damascus.

The Siege Begins

Reinforcements for the crusaders has been slowly arriving at Tyre. Early in 1188 two hundred Sicilian Knights had arrived, while in April 1189 an expedition from Pisa joined them. This party soon argued with Conrad, and accepted the leadership of Guy, then camped outside Tyre. Encouraged by this reinforcement, Guy decided on a desperate move to regain himself a capitol, and at the end of August marched towards Acre. The expedition should have been a total disaster. The garrison of Acre was twice the size of Guy's army, while Saladin with his main army was in the area. A combination of illness and cautious advice decided Saladin against such a move, and Guy was allowed to reach Acre, arriving on 28 August 1189.

Acre had been the favourite residence of the kings of Jerusalem, as well as the richest of the crusader cities, and was strongly defended, by the sea to the west and south and by strong land walls to the north and east. Saladin had visited the city several times since capturing it, and it was well garrisoned and supplied. Three days after arriving at the city, and despite the disparity of numbers, Guy launched a direct assault on the city, which predictably failed.

Reinforcements arrive

It was soon clear that Saladin had made a grave mistake in not attack Guy before he reached Acre. New parties of crusaders, motivated by the fall of Jerusalem were beginning to arrive in Palestine, and Guy's active siege of Acre attracted most of them. In early September a Danish fleet (which allowed a blockade by sea) and a Flemish and French contingent arrived, while by the end of September a German party arrived. These were all small contingents, and the main body of crusaders were not to arrive until 1191, but they were sufficient to alarm Saladin, who moved to attack Guy's camp on 15 September. Although the attack failed, contact was made with the garrison, and the two forces found themselves camped very close to each other.

Soon after this attack, Guy was strengthened by a truce of sorts with Conrad of Montferrat, who agreed to join the siege although not to obey Guy. With this reinforcement, the crusaders decided to launch an attack on Saladin's camp (4 October). Confusion within the Muslim forces nearly handed the crusaders a great victory. Saladin's nephew Taki, commander of the right wing, feinted a retreat, with the intention of luring the Templers into a foolish attack. Unluckily, he also fooled Saladin, who moved troops from the centre to help his nephew. Saladin's right and centre broke and fled, with the crusaders in pursuit. Saladin then counter attacked with his undefeated left wing, forcing the crusaders to retreat into their fortified camp, where Saladin was unwilling to follow. The battle had been a victory for Saladin, but still left the crusader siege in place.


Richard the Lion Heart

In March 1191, the first corn ship to reach the camp outside Acre arrived. As welcome as the food was the news that Richard I of England and Philip II Augustus of France had finally arrived in the east. Philip arrived at Acre first, on 20 April 1191, but it was the arrival of Richard, eight weeks later on 8 June, that made the difference. Luck played a part in his success. Philip had spent his time building siege engines and pounding the walls, but it needed someone of Richard's military background and ability to energize the attackers. Despite a serious illness, Richard quickly became the effective leader of the crusaders, but every attempt to take the city was foiled by a counter attack from Saladin's forces. However, the newly arrived crusader fleets had regained control of the seas, and the defenders of Acre were close to surrender. A first offer of surrender on 4 July was refused, but after a failed attack by Saladin the next day, and a final battle on 11 July, another surrender offer was accepted the following day. The terms of the surrender were honourable. The most important clauses were that the 2,700 Saracens captured in Acre were to be swapped for 1,600 Christian prisoners and the true cross, captured by Saladin. Richard's reputation is blotted by his actions after the siege. When some of the named Christian prisoners were not turned over, apparently because they had not yet arrived at Acre, he took the chance to rid himself of the Saracen prisoners, and on 20 August they were massacred by the vengeful crusaders.

The recapture of Acre was of major importance for the survival of the crusader kingdoms. It reversed the trend of conquest, and marked the beginning of a new period of crusader success, as well as becoming the new capitol of the crusader kingdom. Symbolically, Acre was the last crusader possession in Palestine, finally falling in 1291, one hundred years after the end of the siege.

Saladin - Hero of Islam, Geoffrey Hindley. An invaluable, evenly-paced, full length biography of Saladin that spends as much time looking at his activities within the Islamic world as at his better known campaigns against the Crusader Kingdoms and the conquest of Jerusalem. A valuable look at the life of a leader who was respected on both sides of the religious divide in the Holy Land [read full review]

Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole. Originally published in 1898, but relying mainly on Arabic sources written by Saladin&rsquos contemporaries, supported by accounts of the Third Crusade for the later part of the book. Provides a very readable account of Saladin&rsquos career, from his unexpected promotion to ruler of Egypt, through his conquest of Syria and on to the defeat of the Crusaders at Hattin, the conquest of Jerusalem and the successful defence of the city against the forces of the Third Crusade. Generally favourable towards Saladin, although without becoming overly biased, and largely accurate due to the reliance on the main contemporary sources(Read Full Review)

Richard the Lionheart and the Battle of Jaffa, 1192

Richard I, king of England and known as “Richard the Lionheart,” had fought his way into legend as leader of the Third Crusade (1189- 92). So had his Muslim opponent, the Sultan of Egypt, Saladin(0000ooooooooooooooooooo). Seldom in history had two commanders been so well matched in skill, and their high regard for each other added nobility to their contest.However, there was one major difference between the two: Saladin himself did not engage in combat, while Richard lived for it and was a ferocious fighter. Not since Alexander the Great had an army been led by a king who was without doubt the deadliest man in his entire host.

In July 1192, Richard realized that his goal of recapturing Jerusalem simply was not attainable, despite inflicting a severe defeat upon Saladin at the Battle of Arsuf the previous September. Richard also had received disturbing reports that his throne in England was in danger from his treacherous brother John and the king of France. Thus,Richard prepared to return to his homeland.

At this critical point, Saladin shrewdly identified the port of Jaffa in southern Palestine – which had served as the base for Richard’s unsuccessful drive to Jerusalem– as a target to be easily taken. Striking on July 25, Saladin’s troops fought their way into the city, despite the garrison’s desperate resistance. Once it became clear that Jaffa had fallen, many members of the garrison surrendered. Yet others found refuge inside the citadel and were able to hold onto that strong point.

The Muslim troops broke into a frenzy,slaughtering the pigs in the city and throwing the bodies of the dead Crusaders among those of the killed swine. In the confusion,one of the garrison’s defenders had the presence of mind to send word to Richard, who was up the coast at Acre.

Richard acted immediately,despite his French and German allies refusing to help. Loading 55knights, several hundred men-at-arms and 2,000 Pisan and Genoese crossbowmen onto seven ships, he sailed to Jaffa. When he arrived on August 1, at first sight it indeed appeared the city had fallen. Muslim banners floated from Jaffa’s walls and Saladin’s troops thronged the shore outside them.

Just then, however, a priest leapt from the citadel and swam toward Richard’s ship to tell the king that all was not lost. This was all the encouragement Richard needed. He jumped into the surf with battle-ax in hand and shield slung over his shoulder. The power of his example was awe-inspiring, and the rest of the outnumbered Crusader force followed instantly.

Richard hacked his way to the city gates as the Muslim troops panicked at the onslaught. The Crusaders burst into Jaffa,aided by the garrison’s survivors, who roseup and seized weapons. The Muslims were soon overwhelmed, and those who survived fled and kept running for five miles. Now their dead were thrown among the slaughtered swine while the Crusaders received decent burials.

Saladin called for reinforcements to concentrate at Jaffa, and by August 5 his host totaled 20,000 light and heavy cavalry. But rather than endure a siege, Richard led his small force out from behind Jaffa’s walls.He placed his knights and men-at-arms in a single line, with each man kneeling on one knee and thrusting the butt of his spear or lance into the sand to present a hedge of steel.Between and behind these men he placed his crossbowmen in pairs, one to fire and one to reload, so as to achieve the highest rate of fire.

The Muslims attacked in waves, but the Crusaders’ storm of crossbow bolts easily penetrated the Muslims’ light armor, slaying both man and beast. Saladin’s troops turned away, unwilling to charge into the Crusaders’ hedge of steel.

Richard counter charged with 15 mounted knights. No enemy was safe within his reach, and twice he rescued knights who had become overwhelmed. The battle then paused, but Richard was now on foot after his only warhorse had been killed. Saladin, seeing his enemy’s predicament, exclaimed that such a man should not fight without a mount and sent Richard two splendid warhorses.

During the pause, Muslim soldiers had slipped back into the city, and the troops Richard had left inside frantically retreated to their ships. The king rushed back through Jaffa’s gates with a small party, killing enemy soldiers left and right. He then rode to the ships and shamed the men whohad fled and sent them back into the fight before rejoining his battle line for the next wave of attacks.

Again Richard charged into the mass of Muslim cavalry, leaving a circle of dead around him. He penetrated so deeply that those in his battle line lost sight of him. At this point, a richly armored Muslim champion rode out to fight Richard one-on-one as both sides stopped to look on. With single blow of his sword, Richard cleaved his opponent through the neck and downward so that the head and right shoulder went flying as the horse and the rest of the blood-spurting body rode on.

Upon witnessing this horror, the members of the Muslim host lost heart and retreated. Saladin, too, had seen enough. He withdrew, leaving 700 dead men and 1,500 slain horses on the battlefield.

Richard, meanwhile, reported losing only two men and an unknown number of wounded. His brilliant victory was a supreme instance of leadership and personal example that triumphed over 10-to-1 odds. Yet after the win at Jaffa, Richard was forced to settle for a three-year truce (Treaty of Jaffa) with Saladin before sailing home in October 1192.

Peter Tsourasis the author of 26 books on military history. He served in the Army and Army Reserve and worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency until retiring in 2010 to devote himself to writing, his roses and his grandchildren.

Further Reading: For more about “Richard the Lionheart,” see Battlefield Leader in the January 2012 issue of Armchair General

Originally published in the March 2015 issue of Armchair General.

Jerusalem timeline: a city rich with history, steeped in change

An unidentified Israeli American's passport shows that she was born in Jerusalem with no country named, in a photographic copy of the passport made in Jerusalem, 08 June 2015. The United States Supreme Court has struck down a disputed law that would have allowed American who are born in Jerusalem to also list Israel as the country of birth. (Photo: JIM HOLLANDER, EPA)

The Supreme Court ruling Monday that refuses to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to have their passports changed to reflect Israel as their birthplace is another watershed moment for the heavily-disputed city.

The city has a complex and diverse history spanning thousands of years.

Jerusalem was first settled in 4500-3500 BCE and underwent a long series of power shifts throughout its history. The city has been controlled by Jewish, Arab and Christian populations, creating an intricate history of the city's meaning for many communities.

Victor Lieberman, a history professor at the University of Michigan who teaches a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said the heated topic of debate regarding Jerusalem is indicative of its complicated history.

"It's obviously a complex ethnic mosaic with a long history of separate communities," Lieberman said. "What's important to understand is how the current arrangement originated."

Lieberman noted the most recent chapter in the city's history, as the state of Israel was formed in 1948 and captured Jerusalem's Old City and its eastern half from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967.

"Jews and Arabs have separate narratives, which are self-justifying. It's very hard to get a compromise and understanding that both sides can accept," Lieberman said. "The Palestinians see themselves as victims of injustices, and the Israelis see themselves as victims of injustice."

The timeline below reflects some of the critical periods in the city's history:

4500-1000 BCE – The first settlement of Jerusalem appears near the Gihon Spring. The city is later conquered by the Canaanites, who live there before King David conquers the city. He establishes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish Kingdom and establishes the first Jewish temple.

701-600 BCE – Assyrian ruler Sennacherib sieges Jerusalem, cutting off supplies to the Jewish population. The Babylonian Empire conquers Jerusalem, destroying the city and the first Jewish temple.

539 BCE – The Persian ruler Cyrus the Great conquers the Babylonian Empire, which included Jerusalem at the time. A second Jewish temple is built in the city to replace the original.

63 BCE- 629 CE – Roman General Pompey the Great gains control of Jerusalem. During Roman rule, Jesus was crucified in the city. After his crucifixion, Romans destroy the city and the second Jewish temple, rebuilding Jerusalem as a Roman city based in Christian religion. Though Persians captured the city, the Byzantine Christians reclaimed Jerusalem.

632 - 638 – Prophet Muhammad dies at the age of 63. Caliph Umar, a companion of Prophet Muhammad, conquers Jerusalem, which extends the Islamic empire and asserts Arab rule.

661-1099 – The Arab rule continues in the city as the Umayyad Dynasty takes control, which will later be replaced by the Abbasid Dynasty. At this point, Jerusalem became a sacred city for them and the religions of Islam and Christianity.

1099 – 1244 – The Crusaders conquer Jerusalem, taking the control away from Arabs. Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt, fought against the Crusaders and led the Muslim opposition, though the two groups fought for control of the city for decades.

1517 – The Ottoman Empire captures Jerusalem, and allows for the return of the Jewish population. The number of Jewish people living in the city and the surrounding area increases heavily under the Ottoman rule.

1917 – The British capture Jerusalem during World War I.

1948 – 1967 – The State of Israel is established after World War II. In an agreement with Jordan, Jerusalem was divided into East Jerusalem (on the Jordanian side) and West Jerusalem (on the Israeli side). Later, Israel claimed Jerusalem's Old City and its eastern half in Six-Day War of 1967.

Watch the video: Saladin - Kingdom of Heaven Theme (May 2022).