Saladin (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: In a period of disunity in the Muslim world, Saladin conquered and unified warring factions. Then, as Sultan of Syria, Saladin defeated King Richard I of England in the Third Crusade and drove the Christian rulers from Jerusalem.
Al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din aba l-Mussafer Yusuf ibn Ayyub ibn Shadi—or Saladin, as he has been known since his own time—learned diplomacy at his father’s knee. Born in the town of Tikrit on the banks of the Tigris River, Saladin was the third of eight children of the Kurdish Najm al-Din Ayyub. Ayyub had risen to prominence in the decade before Saladin’s birth in the service of the Seljuk Empire and was ruler of Tikrit. As an ethnic outsider, Ayyub had developed administrative skills that made him useful to his overlord, but he was also ambitious for wealth and power. After performing a favor for a rival leader, Ayyub was forced—on the very night of Saladin’s birth—to flee Tikrit with his family. Despite this episode, Ayyub’s status as an outsider made him a logical compromise candidate for later positions in an atmosphere of jealousy and intrigue; later, Saladin would be elevated for similar reasons.
Ayyub became governor of Baalbek, in Syria, and it was here that Saladin spent his childhood. Like many other well-born youths of his era, Saladin became an accomplished horseman and hunter—lion and gazelle were favored prey—and he...
(The entire section is 1948 words.)
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Saladin (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Sultan Saladin’s victory at Hattin restored Jerusalem and most of Palestine to Muslim control, but at Arsuf, Saladin was defeated by the crusaders, and in 1192, he concluded a treaty with Richard I, allowing Christian pilgrims to visit Jerusalem.
Saladin’s ethnicity was Kurdish and his faith, Sunni Muslim. He received the education of a young Muslim gentleman, which was largely theological studies. When Saladin became a teenager, he joined the army service. His father, Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, was the governor of Damascus. Shirkuh, Saladin’s uncle, was the right-hand man to the ruler of Syria, Nur al-Dīn. Shirkuh killed the crusader Raymond II of Antioch in single combat at the Battle of Inab in 1149. This garnered Shirkuh glory and distinction. With powerful and influential advocates, Saladin’s military future was secure.
By the time Saladin was eighteen, he was regularly at the side of Nur al-Dīn on military campaigns. In 1164, Nur al-Dīn sent Shirkuh and the twenty-six-year-old Saladin to help the Fatimid Dynasty in Egypt fend off attacks from the crusader Amalric I. However, Shirkuh used Nur al-Dīn’s soldiers to appoint himself vizier (prime minister) under the Fatimids. Saladin succeeded his uncle as vizier when Shirkuh died in 1169. Saladin elevated himself from vizier to sultan of Egypt in 1171. He ended the Shīite Fatimid dynasty and started the Sunni Ayyūbid...
(The entire section is 696 words.)