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Shawar allied himself with Amalric and then betrayed him, bringing the Crusader forces into Egypt. Again in , Shirkuh and Saladin advanced to Cairo, but the Crusaders were able to foil their ambitions. Finally, in , they attacked again as the Crusaders, now against the Fatimids, were beseiging Cairo.

Amalric I to retreated from the siege of Cairo with his Crusader forces. Saladin apparently lured Shawar into an ambush and killed him on January 18, Shirkuh was now ruler of Egypt himself. Two months later he died however, possibly by poison.

The Sultan Saladin & the Knights Templar

Nur al Din decided that it was prudent to make the weak, scholarly and youthful nephew of Shirkuh rulter of Egypt, as he would be a pliant subordinate. Thus Saladin came to power. Saladin was initially obedient to Nur al Din, expunging the Shia rite from Egypt and restoring the the popular majority Sunni rite in Egypt, thereby gaining the fidelity of the masses.


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Saladin turned Egypt into an Ayyubid power base. He installed many Kurds in key army positions and rebuilt Cairo as a cosmopolitan city rather than an army garrison town or seat of power. By , Nur al Din, under repeated attacks from Crusaders, was determined to crush the independent Saladin.

He prepared for war against Saladin, but he died on May 15, leaving his 11 year old son as heir. At the age of 38, in , Saladin controlled both Syria and Egypt. Saladin began expanding his territories. The Frankish rule in Jerusalem was never far from the mind of Saladin and the Muslim world, if we believe the legends. While Nur al Din was alive, Saladin thought it best to leave the Crusader state as a safety buffer between Egypt and Syria. However, with the death of Nur al Din, Saladin now controlled both Syria and Egypt, and the Crusader state was in the way.

It was not just an ideological or religious issue or an abstract geopolitical concern, since Crusader armies were continually trying to expand their rule and renegade Crusader rulers, especially Raynard, raided caravans, stole merchandise and took captives for ransom. Saladin's armies had a number of skirmishes with Crusaders. In he lost the battle against Baldwin IV, the teen age leper king of Jerusalem, who ambushed Saladin at Mont Gisard near modern Ramla with a tiny force that carried a relic of the true cross.

The Chastellet fortress would have controlled a major pathway between the two halves of Saladin's empire. Saladin first tried to buy off Baldwin with a huge bribe. When this failed, he besieged Chastellet and dug a tunnel under it, mined and burned the fortress, killing and taking about captive. Baldwin, arriving from Tiberias, was too late to save the fort.

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The next year, Baldwin and Saladin signed a truce. However, Raynald, the feudal lord of Kerak South of Amman in Transjordan, continued to harass Saladin by land and sea. Raynald and Saladin had signed several truces, but according to the accounts left to us, Raynald was continuously breaking them. Saladin mounted an unsuccessful siege of Kerak in In , Raynald ambushed a Hajj pilgrimage caravan. According to one story, he kidnapped Saladin's sister and held her for ransom.

In Saladin was busy attempting to pacify Mosul in Northern Iraq. However, in he turned is attention to the Crusader "Kingdom of Jerusalem" again. He was opposed by Raymond of Tripoli, who held Tiberias. Raymond invited Saladin to Tiberias. Saladin invaded Palestine and camped near "Karnei Hittin" the horns of Hattin.

He beseiged Tiberias, hoping to lure the Christians, camped at Zippori Sephoris into battle.


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  • Guy and Raymond reconciled. The Christian armies, bringing with them a relic of the true cross, fell for the obvious trap and were slaughtered at the Horns of Hittin. Guy and Raynald were captured, Raymond escaped, though he later died of pleurisy. Saladin killed Raynald, as he had betrayed trust and was therefore not a worthy king, but spared Guy. The Templars and Hospitaller knights who did not convert to Islam were slaughtered, Saladin's fabled clemency notwithstanding:. With him was a whole band of scholars and sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics, each begged to be allowed to kill one of them, and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve.

    Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais, the unbelievers showed black despair" Madden, Thomas, Crusades The Illustrated History. On October 2, , Saladin conquered Jerusalem. His reputation for clemency may stem from his sparing of Christians in that city, unlike the Christian conquerors, who had slaughtered and expelled the Muslims. He also allowed clerics to remove the very considerable treasury of the church, though this went a bit beyond the provisions of the treaty.

    Richard began an attack on Jerusalem, but was forced to return to England in order to deal with the machinations of his brother, John. He therefore signed a peace treaty with Saladin, under which Christian pilgrims would be allowed to visit Jerusalem and church property would be respected. The map shows the extent of the conquests of Saladin. Click here for a larger map of the Conquests of Saladin.

    Saladin died of a protracted fever and the effects of the usual incompetent medieval ministrations on March 4, , at Damascus. He called his standard bearer, according to legend, and said:. You, who have borne my banner in the wars, carry now the banner of my deth.

    And let it be a vile rag which you shall bear through all Damascus upon a lance and proclaim, 'Lo at his death the King of the East could take nothing with him save this cloth only. Supposedly Saladin had given most of his money away for charity, as was discovered after his death. He had founded numerous universities and hospitals, none of which were to be named for him. He was buried first in the citadel, and then about two years later in an impressive mausoleum in the garden beside the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria.

    Engraved on his tomb were the words: "Almighty God!

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    Let his soul be acceptable to thee and open to him the gates of Paradise, that being the last conquest for which he hoped. In the 19th century, Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany donated a new marble sarcophagus to the mausoleum. Saladin was an extraordinary general, scholar and personality in his own right. In the West, his reputation was magnified by two circumstances.

    He was the first real contact that Europeans had with a representative of superior Muslim civilization. Compared to the semi-barbarous, venal, cruel, superstitious and quarrelsome European knights, Saladin really loomed larger than life. Saladin was also an enemy who had beaten the Europeans and the status of this enemy had to be commensurate with the size of the defeat. In the Muslim world he was gratefully remembered as the liberator of Jerusalem from the Crusaders. Paradoxically, he became a hero of Arab nationalists, though he was a Kurd and not an Arab. However, today's antagonism does not reflect earlier relations between Christians and the Arabic-speaking world.

    Prior to the rise of Islam, the settled Arabs of the Roman East were rapidly assimilated into the empire. By the third to fifth centuries, Christianity had become widely accepted among Arabs. Under the tutelage of the Arab client kings of Byzantium and imperial administrators, Arabic was elevated from a spoken language to a literary language, and a distinctly Arab Christian culture developed in the fifth and sixth centuries, with Arab bishops, Arab saints, and, perhaps, Arabic liturgy and religious poetry. But in , five years after the death of Muhammad, the Patriarch Sophronius surrendered Jerusalem to Caliph Umar, and less than two years later died of a broken heart.

    In the city that was once the very heart of Christianity, the Dome of the Rock was built with the skills and crafts of Christian artisans, some from as far afield as Constantinople. Christians in the East soon learned, at a cost, how to live with their Muslim conquerors. The early Christians considered Islam a Christian heresy, while Muslims saw Christianity as an heretical distortion corrected by Islam.

    The great theologian John of Damascus circa , had been a childhood friend of the future Umayyad caliph, al-Yazid. He had a discerning knowledge of the Quran, and argued that Islam was a heresy formed through Muhammad's ill-assorted contact with Christians and Arians. Indeed, Islam addresses a number of debates current in Christianity at the time, including the unity of God, the nature of Jesus, the controversy over images and icons in worship, and the place and role of priesthood.

    In the century coinciding with the Umayyad rule, no fewer than five Syrians and three Greeks - refugees fleeing from Islam - became Popes in Rome. But Islamic rule in the lands at the heart of the Bible story caused no fear in Western Christendom while those rulers were Arabs. The West was stunned by the ravages in Jerusalem by the Caliph al-Hakim in , but the military response to the Islamic presence in the Holy Land came only after the Great Schism in and following the capture of Jerusalem by the Seljuk Turks in The first Crusade was proclaimed by Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont in with the object of securing the safety of pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem.

    Antioch was captured in , Jerusalem was taken in and Godfrey was crowned King of Jerusalem in During the next 20 years, scores of Latin states were established in Syria and Palestine, and the Crusaders' Latin Kingdom lasted until The Second Crusade, provoked by the fall of Edessa in and proclaimed by Bernard of Clairvaux in , ended in failure in with the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, who was neither an Arab nor a Turk but a Kurdish chieftain.

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    The Third Crusade failed to recapture Jerusalem, while the Fourth Crusade was diverted to Constantinople with the approval of Pope Innocent in an effort to assert papal claims to universal primacy. Christians rather than Muslims had become the enemies of the Crusades, the New Rome was sacked and the Emperor and the Patriarch fled.

    During the fifth Crusade, Francis of Assisi had a famous encounter with Saladin's nephew at Damiettea, when he prayed for the Sultan and disavowed the sword. But the Crusades remained a Papal obsession, and Crusaders were granted indulgences and given the status of martyrs in the event of death in battle, penances at home were lifted, debts remitted and pardons pledged.

    As the Crusades petered out and the papacy came to accept that the Holy Land was to remain in Muslim hands, canon lawyers for the first time began to discuss human rights and the protection of minorities. Nevertheless, the Crusades left a bitter and lasting legacy. There was the obscenity of the Children's Crusade in , and the cruelty of the crusades against heretics, especially the Albigenses in southern France. In the east, the Crusades left a permanent trauma in the soul of Arab Christianity, who were treated better under the rule of Muslim Arabs and Turks than they were by Latin Crusaders, and who continue to suffer from the Western equation of Arab with Muslim.

    Pius II died in , having failed to organise a further Crusade. Western Christianity, having long abandoned early Christian pacifism, would take a long time to recover from the bloodshed it had inflicted and to develop theories of the just war and human rights. Bishop Kenneth Cragg says that Western Christianity, "in cherishing the sacrament of places.