Today on the 23rd of November in 1174 CE, Salad al-Din Ayyubi entered the Zengid capital of Damascus after bringing it to his control. After the death of his master Nur al-Din Zengi, the Zengid princes of Mosul, Aleppo, Damascus, and other regions started fighting over the legacy of Nur al-Din. Therefore, Salah al-Din had to bring them under his control in order to prepare a strong front against the Crusaders.
Upon his arrival in Damascus, Salah al-Din made the city his capital and founded his authority both in Egpyt and Syria. The death of Nur al-Din was a great shock for Salah al-Din as well as the entire Muslim world.
Nur al-Din was the most important figure of the Second Crusade. He founded a strong base in northern Iraq and Syria in order to strengthen the Muslim front against their Crusader enemies. His ultimate goal was the liberation of Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
When Nur al-Din died, his death left the Zengids in internal conflict for power. Nur al-Din had left his throne for his 11-year old son al-Salih. Al-Salih was too young to rule. Therefore, Damascus started facing political unrest and a struggle for power.
At this time al-Salih had to face two opponents. Gümüshtigin and the young king at Aleppo threatened from one direction. In the west, Amalric, the king of Jerusalem decided to take advantage of the death of Nur al-Din.
Ibn al-Muqaddam was the regent of al-Salih. So he decided to move against Amalric, but instead of fighting the two sides agreed to an alliance. However, with Amarlic’s death, the alliance became void.
Nur al-Din died in May as the ruler of a united kingdom but by mid-July that unity had collapsed. His own nephew attacked the outlying possessions of Aleppo. The rulers of Aleppo were preparing to attack Damascus.
When Salah al-Din came to know about this turmoil, he decided to take an action because the dream of his master Nur al-Din seemed to be dying because of internal conflicts. Therefore, Salah al-Din decided to take Zengids under his own control.
On the other hand, when ibn al-Muqaddam failed to control the threat from Saif al-Din of Mosul and the Crusaders, he wrote to Saladin inviting him to take control of Damascus. Salah al-Din immediately left Egypt and entered Damascus on November 23 in 1174 and took its control.
With Salah al-Din established in Damascus, the sons and brothers of Nur al-Din refused to join his front. So, he spent the next 8 years uniting the Muslim front. Meanwhile, he signed a peace treaty with Raymond, Count of Tripoli, for 10 years realizing that this was not the time to fight.
In 1187 on the 2nd of October, Saladin finally liberated the city of Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
Based on Arab sources
Last updated on March 12th, 2021 at 12:39 am
Sarim is the founder and chief editor of 5-Minute History