The Crusades, Part 5: Saladin Strikes Back

Hey all! As promised a few hours ago, here is another post on the Crusades! In this post, we are going to be looking at Saladin, the ruler of the Ayyubids.

I will give a quick summary of the second crusade; it was pretty unimportant. A bunch of renegade knights travel to the levant after the County of Edessa, a minor Crusader state, is taken by Muslim forces. They pillage several cities and towns and take back several cities from the Islamic forces and conquer the island of Cyprus and form an additional crusader state there.

Now, you may be wondering why any of these past Crusades were successful. The ill-supplied crusaders, and sometimes peasants, had left their homes to make war in a land far from their homes. They crossed forests, plains, mountains, deserts, seas, rivers, and more mountains. They fought massive army’s and terrible plagues. They did all this and more, and when they got to the holy they still managed to take hundreds of miles of land from one of the most powerful and developed nations in the world at the time. How was this possible?

Well, in fact it was not only because of the Crusader’s completely persevering spirit, but also because of a civil war in Egypt. You see, Egypt had long been culturally divided between three groups. The West African Berbers, the local Black Africans, and the Arabs. The economic and agricultural strain which had recently been put on this already serious divide resulted in increasing levels of violence between the three groups. So when the empire finally broke into civil war, Saladin and his uncle, (a father figure to him,) conquered Egypt. This marked the end of the Fatimid Caliphate. Saladin instated in it’s place the Ayyubid Sultanate and replaced the Fatimid royal family’s with the Ayyubid dynasty, his clan. He was fed up with the numerous crusades and set to work reconquering the Levant.

He took several cities from the crusaders, and eventually provoked them enough that they marched on him. At the head of the army was Guy of Lusignan, along with two other commanders at his side. Saladin destroys the wells along the way, crushing the Crusader army in thirst. In fact, he even has his soldiers pour water out in front of the parched crusaders and has his soldiers beat drums and yell through the night so the crusaders will get no sleep. He then crushes the parched, tired crusaders in battle the next day.

Guy de Lusignan does a desperate retreat behind two hills, known as the Horns of Hattin, and then charges again. There is a brutal battle, and then Saladin begins to get the upper hand. He shouts encouragements to his troops, and pushes the crusaders back. His son yells “We have won!” but Saladin responds “Not until Guy’s tent falls!” Then, Guy’s tent promptly fell. Saladin went down on his knees and thanked God. He found the enemy commanders, executed one for attacking pilgrims, but took the rest prisoner. He massacred a lot of the prisoners he took, pretty dishonourable if you ask me, and proceeded to conquer several cities including Jerusalem now that it’s defenders were gone. He had taken back Jerusalem, but soon enough he would have to deal with the final crusade….. to cap off my crusades series, I am going to be publishing my final crusade post at some point this next week. Next Monday we are going to be starting something new and special…… and I am not going to tell you what it is. That’s all, folks!

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