On this day in 1169, Salah ad-Din or Saladin became the emir of Egypt. He was a Kurdish Fatimid and highly educated. He preferred studying and religion to military affairs, but he would go on to conquer Syria and take the Kingdom of Jerusalem from the Levant Christians, effectively making him the leader of one of the greatest Muslim dynasties. He is one of the most influential figures in history.
Saladin is possibly the most recognized and remembered Muslim leader in western history. He is often portrayed by western cultures as the nemesis of Christians during the Second and Third Crusades and an evil Muslim bent on death and destruction, although he was in fact a merciful and strong leader. The fictictious rendering of him in the movie Kingdom of Heaven is closer to the reality than many other fictional versions of him.
Saladin drove the conflicts in the Second and Third Crusades, because of the First Crusade, when Jerusalem was taken from the Fatimids. He won back the lands that his forebears had lost.
And so the consequences of events ripple down through history.
Saladin was the vizier of Egypt before he came to power. When he became the emir, he dissolved the ailing Fatimid empire and founded the Ayyubid dynasty in its place.
If you have read Kiss Across Swords and Kiss Across Seas, the history that prompted Saladin to conquer as he did will be familiar to you, for Alexander, in the Kiss Across Time series, was born in North Africa as a member of the Kurdish Fatimids, shortly before the First Crusade. He was a member of the Emir’s family, and was in Jerusalem when the seige began.
So, in my fictionalized world of the eleventh century, Alexander was Saladin’s ancestor.
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