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Baldwin, M. W. (ed.) / Volume I: The first hundred years

XVIII: The rise of Saladin, 1169-1189,   pp. 562-589 PDF (13.3 MB)

Page 564

564 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES1 Ibn-abi-Taiyi, quoted by abü-Shãmah,
I, lao. 
Aleppo and became one of his close associates, "never leaving him whether
on the march or at court."1 Later on he again held the office of deputy commandant
of Damascus for an unspecified period. Apart from his skill at polo, inherited
from his father, and an interest in religious studies, probably inspired
by his admiring emulation of NUr-ad-Din, almost nothing else is known of
his early years. 
 During the first campaigns in Egypt Saladin had played a sub ordinate but
not inglorious part under the command of Shirküh. When, for the third
time, ShIrküh was ordered into Egypt at the end of 1 i68, at the urgent
entreaty of the Faimid caliph al_cAçIid, Saladin, on his own statement,
submitted unwillingly to Nür-ad DIn's command to accompany him. It seems
evident that the occupation was intended to be a permanent one this time;
ac cording to Ibn-al-AthIr, the Fãimid caliph had even made pro vision
for the allocation of fiefs to the Syrian officers. Saladin's first exploit
on this occasion was the seizure of the intriguing vizir, Shavar, who had
been responsible for calling in the Franks, and his execution on the caliph's
orders. Shirküh was invested with the vizirate, and the administration
was directed on his behalf by Saladin. 
 When ShIrküh died suddenly nine weeks later, Saladin was thus his natural
successor, although some of Nür-ad-DIn's Turkish officers resented his
appointment and returned to Syria. The voluminous diploma of his investiture
on March z6, 1169, with the official title of al-malik an-nãir, is
still extant. It was composed by his devoted friend and counsellor the qäqi
al-FãçIil, and among its grandiloquent periods there is one
strikingly prophetic phrase: 
"As for the holy war [Arabic, jihãcl], thou art the nursling of its
milk and the child of its bosom. Gird up therefore the shanks of spears to
meet it and plunge on its service into a sea of swordpoints..., until God
give the victory which the Commander of the Faithful hopeth to be laid up
for thy days and to be the wit ness for thee when thou shalt stand in his
 His fiist task was to meet the problems raised by his position in Egypt.
In effect, though Saladin was officially designated vizir, he was "the sultan",
and was generally called by that title, with al—QaçII al-Façlil
as his vizir. The apparent anomaly of a Sunnite vizir of a Fãimid
caliph was no novelty; for nearly a century there had been Sunnite vizirs
at intervals in Egypt. But until recently the cAbbãsid caliphs had
been the more or less passive instruments 

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