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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 567

Ch. XVIII THE RISE OF SALADIN 567Cf. above, chapter IV, p. 123. 
Aleppo and threw Nür-ad-DIn's lieutenants into his dungeons. The unity
of Islam in face of the crusaders was disrupted. In reply to Saladin's remonstrances
and hints of intervention, the emirs appealed to him to be loyal to the house
that had raised him up. His answer was categorical: "In the interests of
Islam and its people we put first and foremost whatever will combine their
forces and unite them in one purpose; in the interests of the house of the
atabeg we put first and foremost whatever will safeguard its root and its
branch. Loyalty can only be the consequence of loyalty. We are in one valley
and those who think ill of us are in another." 
 It was therefore with full consciousness of his mission as the true heir
of NUr-ad-Din that he set himself to rebuild the shattered edifice of his
empire, and on an urgent appeal from the commandant at Damascus occupied
it, almost without opposition, on October z8, 1174. Fully justified as Saladin's
action was to himself and in the light of history, his contemporaries and
rivals could not be expected to see it in the same light. In their eyes,
naturally enough, he was only one of themselves and presumably inspired by
the same motives of self-interest and lust for power, cloak them as he might
by high-sounding appeals to the principles and interests of Islam. His occupation
of Damascus seemed only a clever move to forestall them. When he appointed
his brother Tughtigin as its governor, and himself pressed northwards in
December with a small force to occupy Horns and Harnah and to demand that
Aleppo should open its gates to him as the rightful guardian of as-Sãlili,
they concluded that he was bent upon nothing but the aggrandizement of his
own house at the expense of the house of Zengi. 
 This is the view of Saladin which is presented by the Mosul chronicler,
and it was the view of as-~alili himself, who appealed to the population
of Aleppo to protect him from his self-appointed deliverer. The emirs had
recourse to the familiar expedients: the hiring of assassins (Arabic singular,
ficla'i) from Sinãn, the "Old Man of the Mountain," to assassinate
Saladin, an agreement with Raymond of Tripoli, the bailli of the.kingdom
of Jerusalem, that in return for favors past and to come he should execute
a diversion by attacking Horns, and an appeal to Mosul in the name of family
solidarity. The attempted assassination failed, but Saladin withdrew to defend
Horns.3 Two months later, in face of the combined forces of Mosul and Aleppo,
he consented to retrocede northern Syria and content himself with holding
Damascus as the lieutenant 

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