Saladin - Dr. Sullivan History of Crusades and the Image of...

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Dr. Sullivan History of Crusades and the Image of Islam 9/27/08 Saladin When discussing the Crusades in any historical context, certain names will surface repeatedly. Whether it is the way man records his history, or how the masses enjoy learning their history, or how history actually happened: certain events are routinely boiled down to several important names. A name that is paramount to one’s knowledge of the crusades is that of Salah al-Dīn Yusuf ibn Ayyub. A man that consolidated Muslim power in the wake of its icon’s death, a man that re-conquered Jersusalem, a man that fought the military genius of Richard the Lionheart to a standstill: Saladin Saladin, for short, was an ambitious youth with his eyes on power from an early age. At first perhaps studying to be a holy man, Saladin “As a youth, his pursuits tended more toward the religious and scholarly than toward the military, but this changed when he joined the staff of his uncle, a military commander” (Walker). From there, Saladin has a clear indication of the direction he craved in life. Most of Saladin’s youth is lost in time. After all, if one isn’t important enough, there is no one around to record his or her life. Also seeing as Saladin did not endorse a proper autobiographical effort, much of his early life is fragmented in recorded history. One could argue this is a wholly unimportant aspect of Saladin’s life. His crowning moments involved the consolidation of power and Siege of Jerusalem. He was not sure what his life would entail, for “Saladin’s dependence at the start of his career…lay
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outside his control. He could only prepare himself for what opportunities might arise…” (Jackson 9) Saladin’s adult career occurred due to family ties. His formal career began when he joined the staff of his uncle Asad ad-Din Shirkuh, an important military commander under the emir Nureddin, who was the son and successor of Zangi. During three military expeditions led by Shirkuh into Egypt to prevent its falling to the Latin-Christian (Frankish) rulers of the states established by the First Crusade, a complex, three-way struggle developed between Amalric I, the Latin king of Jerusalem; Shawar, the powerful vizier of the Egyptian Fatimid caliph; and Shirkuh. After Shirkuh's death and after ordering Shawar's assassination, Saladin, in 1169 at the age of 31, was appointed both commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fatimid caliphate there. His relatively quick rise to power must be attributed not only to the clannish nepotism of his Kurdish family but also to his own emerging talents. As vizier of Egypt, he received the title king (malik), although he was generally known as the sultan. (Walker) This was a jump off point upon which Saladin would launch his powerful military career from local matters to multi-country spanning military campaigns. Following Nur ad-Din’s death in 1174, there was a great struggle of power
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Saladin - Dr. Sullivan History of Crusades and the Image of...

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