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(săl`ədĭn), Arabic Salah ad-Din, 1137?–1193, Muslim warrior and Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, the great opponent of the Crusaders, b. Mesopotamia, of Kurdish descent. He lived for 10 years in Damascus at the court of Nur ad-DinNur ad-Din
, 1118–74, ruler of Syria. He was the son of the conqueror Zangi, and he succeeded to power in 1145. He defeated the Seljuk Turks in Asia Minor and fought with Baldwin III of Jerusalem.
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, where he distinguished himself by his interest in Sunni theology. He accompanied his uncle, Shirkuh (or Shirkoh), a lieutenant of Nur ad-Din, on campaigns (1164, 1167, 1168) against the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. Shirkuh became vizier there and on his death (1169) was succeeded by Saladin. Saladin later caused the name of the Shiite Fatimid caliph to be dropped from the Friday prayer, thus deposing him.

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 CrusadesCrusades
, series of wars undertaken by European Christians between the 11th and 14th cent. to recover the Holy Land from the Muslims. First Crusade

In the 7th cent., Jerusalem was taken by the caliph Umar.
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), and he put the rulers of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (see Jerusalem, Latin Kingdom ofJerusalem, Latin Kingdom of,
feudal state created by leaders of the First Crusade (see Crusades) in the areas they had wrested from the Muslims in Syria and Palestine. In 1099, after their capture of Jerusalem, the Crusaders chose Godfrey of Bouillon king; he declined the title,
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) on the steadily weakening defensive. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to conquer the AssassinsAssassin
, European name for the member of a secret order of the Ismaili sect of Islam. They are known as Nizaris after Nizar ibn al-Mustansir, whom they supported as caliph; the European term Assassin is derived from the Arabic for "users of hashish.
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 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. RaymondRaymond,
c.1140–1187, count of Tripoli (1152–87), great-great-grandson of Raymond IV of Toulouse. He played a leading part in the last years of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Captured (1164) by the Muslims, he was released c.
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 of Tripoli was at first his ally, but then joined the other Crusaders, and the great battle of HattinHattin, Battle of
, battle on July 4, 1187, in N Palestine, where Saladin's Muslim forces defeated the Christian armies of Guy de Lusignan. When Saladin attacked Tiberias in July, 1187, Christian forces attempted to aid the besieged city but were roadblocked; they waited on a
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 (near Tiberias) in 1187 found Christians matched against Muslims. Saladin won brilliantly, capturing Guy of LusignanGuy of Lusignan
, d. 1194, Latin king of Jerusalem (1186–92) and Cyprus (1192–94), second husband of Sibylla, sister of King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. In 1183 he was briefly regent for his brother-in-law, who was incapacitated by leprosy, but Baldwin made Guy's
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 and Reginald of ChâtillonReginald of Châtillon
, d. 1187, Crusader, lord of Krak and Montreal in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. He came to the Holy Land in the Second Crusade and married (1153) Constance, daughter of Bohemond II of Antioch.
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. 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 IRichard I,
 Richard Cœur de Lion
, or Richard Lion-Heart,
1157–99, king of England (1189–99); third son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
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 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).



(Yusuf ibn Ayyub Salah-al-Din). Born 1138; died Mar. 4, 1193, in Damascus. Ruler of Egypt (from 1171). Founder of the Ayyubid dynasty.

Of Kurdish descent, Saladin was the son of Ayyub ibn Sha-dhi, a military commander of Nureddin, the Syrian sultan who fought successfully against the Crusaders. From 1164 to 1169, Saladin took part in military campaigns against Egypt. In 1169 he was made vizier of Egypt. In 1171, after the death of the last caliph of the Fatimid dynasty, he seized power in Egypt and proclaimed the suzerainty of the Abbasids, from whom he received the title of sultan in 1174. After the death of Nureddin, Saladin subjugated Nureddin’s Syrian territories and certain lands of petty Iraqi rulers in the period 1174–86. On July 3 and 4, 1187, his army routed the Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin (Palestine). On Oct. 2, 1187, the army took Jerusalem and then drove the Crusaders out of most of Syria and Palestine.

Saladin’s domestic policy was characterized by the development of a feudal-military system (seeIQTA), some reduction in taxes, and the strengthening of Sunni orthodoxy.


Semenova, L. A. Salakh ad-din i mamliuki v Egipte. Moscow, 1966.
Lane-Poole, S. Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. London, 1926.



Saracen leader, in doctor’s garb, cures Richard’s illness. [Br. Lit.: The Talisman]


Arabic name Salah-ed-Din Yusuf ibn-Ayyub. ?1137--93, sultan of Egypt and Syria and opponent of the Crusaders. He defeated the Christians near Tiberias (1187) and captured Acre, Jerusalem, and Ashkelon. He fought against Richard I of England and Philip II of France during the Third Crusade (1189--92)
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