Saladin

Saladin

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Salah al-Din Yusuf bin Ayub or Saladin as he more commonly known was born in 1138 A.D. The meaning of his Arabic name is "righteousness of the faith." As a child Saladin was a studious boy who studied the Koran as well as poetry. He was known to love studying the Koran and other literature more than joining and fighting in the military. At the age of fourteen, he entered into the military service of his uncle Nur ed-Din, another great and respected Arab warrior. Another teacher of the young Saladin was the Saracen chief Zenghi who in 1144 overthrew the city of Edessa, which had been an outpost of the Western world for many years because of its proximity to Antioch. Saladin learned his military lessons well and began to stand out among Nur ed-Din's forces.
In 1169 A.D. Saladin served with another uncle named Shirkuh as second to the commander in chief of the Syrian army. Shirkuh died just two months after Saladin received his new position. As the leader of a foreign army from Syria, he also had no control over the Shi'ite Egyptian army, which was led in the name of the weak and powerless caliph (Muslim religious leader or Muslim Pope) Al-Adid. When the caliph died in September 1171, Saladin had the imams pronounce the name of Al-Mustadi, the caliph in Abbasid in Baghdad, at sermon before Friday prayers instead of Al-Adid. The people liked this decision and the name of Al-Adid was forgotten. Saladin took control of Egypt, being the natural choice since the caliph in the region was dead, and since the people needed a new leader.
Now Saladin ruled Egypt, but officially representing Nur ad-Din, his old lord who himself also recognized the Abbasid caliph. Saladin revitalized the economy of Egypt, reorganized the military forces and, following his father's advice, stayed away from any conflicts with Nur ad-Din, his formal lord, after he had become the sultan of Egypt. He waited until Nur ad-Din's death before evoking forced military militia risings for power at the smaller Muslim states such as Damascus, Syria, Alleppo, Mawsil and Iraq, and taking them under his control.
While Saladin was building up his power, he gerenally avoided any conflict with the Crusader kingdom, even though whenever he fought them, he defeated them. One exception was the Battle of Montgisard on November 25, 1177.

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He was defeated by the combined forces of Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, Raynald of Chatillon and the Knights Templar. Only one tenth of his army made it back to Egypt. Saladin quickly decided to form a truce between him and the Crusader states in 1178 A.D. while he rebuilt his army. The Crusaders readily agreed, for they did not want to concentrate their military might on one lone Muslim sultan. As soon as he army was rebuilt again, Saladin one year later attacked several Crusader outposts, defeated them. In response to this, Reynald of Chatillon declared that if Saladin were to continue his attacks, he would attack the holy city of Mecca. Saladin responded to this by besieging Raynald's fortress Kerak, destroying it and taking everyone in it prisoner except Reynald, who fled.
In July, 1187, Saladin invaded the Kingdom of Jerusalem. On July 4, 1187, he faced at the Battle of Hattin the combined forces of Guy of Lusignan, King Consort of Jerusalem, and Raymond III of Tripoli. All of the Crusader army was defeated and beheaded, except for Guy of Lusignan, whose life was spared. After this victory, Saladin used the gigantic momentum of his mounted army to take back almost every city the Crusaders had taken, and Jerusalem. Saladin at first was unwilling to grant surrender to the people of Jerusalem until Balian of Ibelin, the general of the army in Jerusalem, threatened to kill every Muslim in the city, which there were about 3,000. He also threatened to destroy Islam's holy shrines such as the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque if quarter was not given. Saladin consulted with his council and the terms were accepted. Ransom was to be paid for each Frank in the city whether man, woman, or child. 7,000 men and 8,000 women were believed not to have had their ransom and were taken into slavery.
Hattin and the fall of Jerusalem prompted the Third Crusade, financed in England by a special fund created just for the purpose of stopping Saladin. This Crusade took back Acre, and Saladin's army met King Richard I of England at the Battle of Arsuf on September 7, 1191 at which Saladin was defeated. Saladin's relationship with Richard was one of chivalrous mutual respect as well as military rivalry. When Richard was wounded, Saladin offered the services of his personal physician. At Arsuf, when Richard lost his horse, Saladin sent him two replacements. Saladin also sent him fresh fruit with snow, to keep his drinks cold. Richard had suggested to Saladin that his sister could marry Saladin's brother - and Jerusalem could be their wedding gift. The two eventually stopped fighting and came to and agreement in 1192 and signed the Treaty of Ramala, which stated that the city would remain in the hands of Muslims but would be open to pilgrimages from any religion.
Saladin died In February of 1193 when Saladin rode out to meet some pilgrims returning from Mecca. That evening he became bed ridden due to pain and fever and in a couple of days fell into a coma from which he never returned. Saladin died in Damascus on March 3rd 1193 at the age of 55. When they opened Saladin's treasury they found there was not enough money to pay for his funeral, he had given most of his money away to charity
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