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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 571

Ch. XVIII THE RISE OF SALADIN 57' 7 cImAd..~d.Din, Barq, iii, f. 25v (quoted
by abU-Shãmah, 1, 275). See also below, chapterXIX, p. 595. 
out a kingdom for himself in the west, an attempt which was ultimately to
lead to a clash with the Muwaliliid (Almohad) sultan of Morocco. Saladin,
so far as the evidence goes, took no hand in organizing these expeditions,
but certainly connived at them, and even took credit for them in his despatches
to Baghdad. 
 In August I 177 the news of the arrival in Palestine of Philip of Flanders
gave the signal for fresh preparations for war. Whether or not he was informed
of the proposals made to Philip to invade Egypt, it was a condition of the
truce with the Franks that "if any king or great noble arrived they were
free to give him assistance, and the armistice should be renewed on his withdrawal."7
As the crusaders, after attacking Hamah, moved up to besiege Ilãrim,
Saladin planned a large-scale raid on Ascalon and Gaza. dImãd~ad~Din
gives a vivid picture of the light-hearted confidence of the Egyptian troops
as they assembled at the advance base and dispersed on plundering raids over
the countryside. Baldwin TV's well-timed surprise attack on the regiment
of guards at Mont Gisard on November 25 threw the whole force into confusion,
and the remnants straggled back to Egypt as best they could, harassed by
the Franks and the bedouins, and by lack of both food and water. To Saladin
himself, who owed his escape to the loyalty and foresight of al-Qaçli
al-Façlil, it was a lesson that he never forgot. 
 So far from decisive was this defeat, however, that only four months later
he was able to set out again with a refitted army, and yet leave sufficient
forces behind to guard the security of Egypt. The expedition this time had
the definite object of attacking the besiegers of iEIãrim, and although
Saladin was forestalled in this by the raising of the siege on payment of
an indemnity by the government of Aleppo, he pushed on to Homs and encamped
there in readiness to take the field at the first opportunity. The withdrawal
of the count of Flanders automatically brought the armistice into effect
again; in addition, a bad year had brought severe scarcity in Syria. Yet
Saladin was eager to resume the jihad, and although all the eloquence of
al-Qaçli al-Fãçlil was exerted to persuade him to hold
his hand until conditions were more favorable, he was already assuring the
caliph's ministers that, if all went well and if the troops duly mustered,
he would attack Jerusalem in the following year. 

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