salāh 'ad-dīn yussuf
(1138-1193) First Ayyubid sultan of Egypt, and famous for having conquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
Artistic representation of Saladin.
Statue representing Saladin in Damascus, Syria.
Saladin was of Kurdish heritage, and all through his career he used mainly Kurdish officials as his closest partners.
Saladin managed to revitalize the economy of Egypt, he reorganized the military forces and with the advice of his father, he stayed away from any conflicts with Nureddin, his formal lord, after he had become the real ruler over Egypt. Instead he waited until Nureddin's death, before he started serious military actions first against smaller Muslim states, before directing it against the Crusaders.
Saladin is one of very few personages of the time of the Crusades that managed to be positively described in both Western and Eastern sources. With his high position among his Western opponents, he has become a figure that have fascinated Western writers.
1138: Born in Tikrit in Iraq as son of the Kurdish chief Ayyub.
1152: Starts to work in the service of the Syrian ruler, Nureddin.
1164: He starts to show his military and strategical qualities under 3 campaigns against the Crusaders who were established in Palestine, with the first campaign this year.
1169: Saladin serves as second to the commander in chief of the Syrian army, his uncle Shirkuh. Shirkuh became vizier of Egypt, but died after only 2 months. Saladin then took over as vizier. Despite the nominal limitations to the vizier position, Saladin took little regard to the interests of his superiors, the Fatimid rulers. He turned Cairo into an Ayyubid power base, where he used Kurds in leading positions.
1171: Saladin suppresses the Fatimid rulers of Egypt in 1171, whereupon he unites Egypt with the Abbasid Caliphate. But was not as eager as Nureddin to go to war against the Crusaders, and relations between him and Nureddin became very difficult.
1174: Nureddin dies, and Saladin uses the opportunity to extend his power base.
1175: The Syrian Assassin leader Rashideddin's men made two attempts on the life of Saladin, the leader of the Ayyubids. The second time, the Assassin came so close that wounds were inflicted upon Saladin.
1176: Saladin besieges the fortress of Masyaf, the stronghold of Rashideddin. After some weeks, Saladin suddenly withdraws, and leaves the Assassins in peace for the rest of his life. It is believed that he was exposed to a threat of having his entire family murdered.
1183: Conquers the important north-Syrian city of Aleppo.
1186: Conquers Mosul in northern Iraq.
1187: With his new strength he attacks the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, and after 3 months of fighting he gets control over the city.
1189: A third Crusade manages to enlarge the coastal area of Palestine, while Jerusalem remains under Saladin's control.
1192: With The Peace of Ramla armistice agreement with King Richard 1 of England, the whole coast was defined as Christian land, while the city of Jerusalem remained under Muslim control.
1193 March 4: Dies in Damascus after a short illness.