He courted their scholars and preachers, founded colleges and mosques for their use, and commissioned them to write edifying works, especially on the jihad itself.
Through moral regeneration, which was a genuine part of his own way of life, he tried to re-create in his own realm some of the same zeal and enthusiasm that had proved so valuable to the first generations of Muslims when, five centuries before, they had conquered half the known world.
Saladin also succeeded in turning the military balance of power in his favour—more by uniting and disciplining a great number of unruly forces than by employing new or improved military techniques. When at last, in , he was able to throw his full strength into the struggle with the Latin Crusader kingdoms, his armies were their equals.
So great were the losses in the ranks of the Crusaders in this one battle that the Muslims were quickly able to overrun nearly the entire kingdom of Jerusalem. Saladin planned to avenge the slaughter of Muslims in Jerusalem in by killing all Christians in the city, but he agreed to let them purchase their freedom provided that the Christian defenders left the Muslim inhabitants unmolested.
His sudden success, which in saw the Crusaders reduced to the occupation of only three cities, was, however, marred by his failure to capture Tyre , an almost impregnable coastal fortress to which the scattered Christian survivors of the recent battles flocked. It was to be the rallying point of the Latin counterattack. Most probably, Saladin did not anticipate the European reaction to his capture of Jerusalem, an event that deeply shocked the West and to which it responded with a new call for a Crusade.
In addition to many great nobles and famous knights, this Crusade, the third , brought the kings of three countries into the struggle. The magnitude of the Christian effort and the lasting impression it made on contemporaries gave the name of Saladin, as their gallant and chivalrous enemy, an added lustre that his military victories alone could never confer on him.
The Crusade itself was long and exhausting, despite the obvious, though at times impulsive, military genius of Richard I the Lion-Heart.
Therein lies the greatest—but often unrecognized—achievement of Saladin. With tired and unwilling feudal levies, committed to fight only a limited season each year, his indomitable will enabled him to fight the greatest champions of Christendom to a draw. The Crusaders retained little more than a precarious foothold on the Levantine coast, and when King Richard left the Middle East , in October , the battle was over. Saladin withdrew to his capital at Damascus. Soon the long campaigning seasons and the endless hours in the saddle caught up with him, and he died.
While his relatives were already scrambling for pieces of the empire, his friends found that the most powerful and most generous ruler in the Muslim world had not left enough money to pay for his grave. Saladin Article Media Additional Info. The leader of Zimbabwe since its independence in , Robert Mugabe was one of the longest-serving and, in the latter years of his reign, most infamous African rulers.
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