AYYŪBID DYNASTY
Ayyūbid dynasty
Muslim dynasty
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Ayyūbid dynasty, Sunni Muslim dynasty, founded by Saladin (Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn), that ruled in the late 12th and early 13th centuries over Egypt and what became Upper Iraq, most of Syria, and Yemen.
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Egypt: The Ayyūbid dynasty (1171–1250)
Under Saladin and his descendants, Egypt was reintegrated into the Sunni world of the eastern caliphate....
Saladin’s father, Ayyūb (in full Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb ibn Shādhī), for whom the Ayyūbid dynasty is named, was a member of a family of Kurdish soldiers of fortune who in the 12th century took service under the Seljuq Turkish rulers in Iraq and Syria. Appointed governor of Damascus, Ayyūb and his brother Shīrkūh united Syria in preparation for war against the Crusaders. After his father’s death in 1173, Saladin displaced the Shiʿi Fāṭimid dynasty, further mobilized Muslim enthusiasm to create a united front against the Crusades, and made Egypt the most powerful Muslim state in the world at that time. The solidarity maintained under Saladin disappeared just before his death (1193): following his distribution of his territories among vassal relations who enjoyed autonomous internal administration of their provinces, the Ayyūbid regime became a decentralized, semifeudal family federation.
The strain of Frankish-Ayyūbid relations was relaxed under the reigns of al-ʿĀdil and al-Kāmil, Saladin’s brother and nephew, and in 1229 Jerusalem was ceded to the Christians. Although Ayyūbid factionalism had been quieted, al-Kāmil’s death in 1238 revived old family disputes, further weakening the dynasty. The Ayyūbid decline in Egypt was completed with the Mamlūk accession to power following the battle at Al-Manṣūrah (1250), but the dynasty persisted in some areas of Syria until 1260; in Ḥamāh, Ayyūbid governance was in place, at least nominally, in the first half of the 14th century. The local Ayyūbid dynasts survived with particular longevity at Ḥiṣn Kayfā, where, following the Mongol invasion in 1260, they continued to govern under Il Khanid and later Turkmen suzerainty until the Ak Koyunlu conquest in the late 15th century.
The Ayyūbids, zealous Sunni Muslims seeking to convert Muslim Shiʿis and Christians, introduced into Egypt and Jerusalem the madrasah, an academy of religious sciences. Culturally an extension and development of the Fāṭimids, the Ayyūbids were great military engineers, building the citadel of Cairo and the defenses of Aleppo.
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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Zeidan, Assistant Editor.
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Egypt: The Ayyūbid dynasty (1171–1250)
Under Saladin and his descendants, Egypt was reintegrated into the Sunni world of the eastern caliphate....…
Syria: The Ayyūbids and Mamlūks
After Saladin’s death his kingdom was split up among members of his family, the Ayyūbids, who established...…
history of Arabia: The Ayyūbids and Rasūlids
The Ayyūbids of Egypt, when they invaded Yemen in 1173, found it parceled out among several dynasties....…
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Wars, Battles & Armed Conflicts
Battle of Arsūf
Third Crusade
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Alternative Title: Battle of Arsouf
Battle of Arsūf, Arsūf also spelled Arsouf, famous victory won by the English king Richard I (Richard the Lion-Heart) during the Third Crusade.
Battle of Arsūf
QUICK FACTS
DATE
September 7, 1191
LOCATION
Arsūf
Israel
PARTICIPANTS
Ayyūbid dynasty
England
CONTEXT
Third Crusade
KEY PEOPLE
Richard I
Richard, having taken Acre in July 1191, was marching to Joppa (Jaffa), but the Muslim army under Saladin slowed down the Crusaders’ progress when they advanced from Caesarea, which they had left on September 1. On September 7, after the Crusaders left the forest of Arsūf, the Muslim attacks became more intensive and were concentrated against the Hospitallers, who constituted Richard’s rear guard. Richard tolerated those attacks in the hope of drawing out the main body of the Muslim army. The Hospitallers, having lost many of their mounts to Muslim cavalry, broke ranks and counterattacked. Richard reinforced that effort with a general charge that overwhelmed Saladin’s army and inflicted heavy losses on the forces attacking to the rear. Seven hundred Crusaders and several thousand Muslims were killed.
The victory at Arsūf enabled the Crusaders to occupy Joppa but was not a crushing blow to the Muslims. Saladin was able to regroup his forces, which the Crusaders had not pursued for fear of ambushes. From September 9 the Muslims renewed their harassing tactics, and Richard did not dare to push on to Jerusalem.
This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.
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Richard I
Richard I, duke of Aquitaine (from 1168) and of Poitiers (from 1172) and king of England,...…
Crusades
Crusades, military expeditions, beginning in the late 11th century, that were organized...…
Acre
Acre, city, northwest Israel. It lies along the Mediterranean Sea, at the north end of...…
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