Saladin, or Salahaddin, remains in history as one of the most important and influential Muslim sultans of Egypt and Syria. Moreover, not only does he demonstrate the skills to wage war, he proves that nothing can stand against Western armies. He managed to capture Jerusalem in 1187 and then stop another crusade.
In addition to knowledge in war, this is a person who also knows diplomacy as a weapon. One of the hallmarks in this regard is the proposal for a holy war against the infidels. He remains known among his opponents for his ability to be restrained, sensible, generous, and even to show incredible chivalry, which is hitherto unknown in the West.
This skill put him in the spotlight in the following centuries and even today continues to be one of the most famous figures in the Middle Ages. Before he died in his favorite gardens in Damascus in 1193, he left a bright mark on history. History knows him as Saladin, but his real name is al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Dunya val-Din Abul Muzafar Yusuf Ibn Shadi al-Kurdi, son of Ayub, a famous Kurdish mercenary. He was born in 1337 in Takrit Castle, north of Baghdad. His life will begin with intensive training and exploration of military ranks, passing through them instantly. He and his uncle set out on a campaign against Egypt in 1169.
He is described as a short man with a round face, a dark beard and always awake and startled black eyes. When his relatives holding some of the most important posts in Egypt die and the Islamic State begins to crack, he automatically declares himself heir and preserves Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt, he turned his attention to Syria. In 1174 he succeeded in capturing Damascus and began working on the unification of the Muslim world. His attempts have led to the building of a more stable coalition, especially at a time when there are too many independent cities. His skills boil down to a choice between war and diplomacy, further building the image of the only worthy man to stand up to Christians. However, this in no way bothers him to wage war against Muslims, forcing even Baghdad to recognize him as governor of Egypt, Syria and Yemen.
Aleppo never manages to conquer and is ruled by Nur ad-Din’s son – as he himself will always play the role of a special thorn in the side, especially since he will be his only opponent. Several times they send assassins to eliminate it, but this only leads to devastation of territories and looting of territories. Using his relatives, he managed to consolidate diplomacy to the extent that he forged diplomatic routes. Most importantly, on his way he managed to conquer many important fortresses on the Jordan River and thus put an end to Western influence in the Middle East. It’s time to build him into a role that will make him a charismatic leader. It is for this reason that his sense of justice and the generosity he demonstrates towards Muslims are beginning to be emphasized. In 1183 he managed to capture Aleppo and then began working with the Egyptian fleet.
While the West was engaged in the battle for Jerusalem, he decided to strike Kerak Castle. He gives his son al-Afdal the right to move with his forces forward to Acre as he gathers a huge army of Egyptians, Syrians and residents of Aleppo and Jazeera. The Franks, as he called all Western soldiers, gathered their forces and the two armies met in Khatin. Initially, Western powers went to lift the blockade of Tiberias, but unfortunately they found themselves facing something much more brutal. On July 3, 1187, Saladin sent his archers to attack from a distance and then retreat quickly. The high speed of the attack continued to plague the Franks, with one Muslim historian recalling that the flags with lions were so well decorated with arrows that they eventually resembled hedgehogs.
Saladin managed to lead an army of nearly 20,000 men. His opponent, Guy Lusinyan, managed to gather about 15,000 infantry soldiers and only 1,300 knights. Another headache is the lack of water, which the enemy had in abundance thanks to the camel caravans, which regularly provided supplies. The situation became even worse after Saladin ordered the dry grass to be burned. After the infantry broke down, disillusioned and tired of the long marches, the Frankish cavalry was led by Raymond of Tripoli, who managed to cross the enemy’s defensive lines, but the army remained trapped anyway. The victory is for Saladin, against the largest assembled army in the west.
The king received ice sherbet as a form of hospitality, but everyone else, like Reynold of Chatillon, did not enjoy this fate, he was killed for the constant attacks on Muslim caravans. The knights, known as special fanatics for whom no one will pay a ransom, were executed. In September 1187, Jerusalem had almost no protection. This is a very nice reward for Saladin. The battle turned into a massacre, with most Christians being redeemed or sent as slaves. Eastern Orthodox Christians were given the right to remain in the city, and many of the churches became mosques. Only God’s tomb does not change and does not touch. Of all the cities conquered, the only one with Western influence in the Middle East is Tire in Lebanon.
Sultan Saladin not only managed to establish himself as a leader of the Muslims, he quickly hired two bibliographers to record his works. Allowing his provincial governors to enjoy this glory as well, the interesting thing is that Saladin was seldom excited about riches, although he had won many. Even after his death, children will find a handful of gold and 47 dirhams of silver. He often told his children that for some people, gold had the value of sand. In 1187, Pope Gregory III will call for another crusade and the return of Jerusalem. Frederick I Barbarossa, King of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, Philip II of France and Richard I the Lionheart will be ready to join the battle. Guy of Lusignan also took part in battles with a small army of 7,000 infantry and 400 knights.
With these forces he attacked the city of Acre in August 1189. Saladin managed to hold the city until the armies of Philip and Richard arrived. The city fell on July 12, 1191. The Franks managed to capture about 70 ships – much of Saladin’s fleet. The Crusaders marched south to Jerusalem, all the while being harassed by Saladin’s armies. A more serious battle took place on September 7, 1191. The Crusaders won the battle, but the casualties of the Muslims were extremely small. Realizing that there was no other option, Saladin withdrew his troops to a safe distance. Losses have another value, they turn out to be a special problem for the reputation of their leader.
This does not bother him much. However, the sultan’s strategy is always the same, to let the armies get tired, and in general so far no battle has been fought in open battle. The Middle East preferred to wage wars against everyone else, subjecting it to a much more peculiar and difficult ordeal. Besides, no king will leave his kingdom unattended for long, so time is on his side. The Crusaders’ attempt to reach Jerusalem came at the cost of exhaustion, while Saladin simply waited. In 1192, Richard I received very little for his attempts to break through enemy territory and decided to negotiate peace.
With the end of the Third Crusade, Saladin not only managed to play with time and win, but also definitely remains a leader in this battle, achieving all this with minimal effort. Either way, he fails to dress for the next honors. He died on March 4, 1193, believed to be between 55 and 56 years old. Some believe that he died of exhaustion, there are versions that he was overthrown by typhus, but this is the last ruler who managed to keep the Muslims as a whole.
His death led to the collapse of the empire he was building, and his three sons were ready to plunder and take control immediately. One takes Egypt, the other chooses Damascus, and the third begins to control Aleppo. Relations with the other emirates are maintained to some extent. The dynasty managed to survive until 1250 in Egypt and until 1260 in Syria. In addition to victories, the sultan kept a huge archive of literature. By the way, the same is much richer than some European sources.