A previous article tackled the failed attempts of Sultan Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi to restore the city of Tyre, and tackledthe Franks’ restoration of the city of Acre led by Philip II Augustus”, the King of France and Richard the Lionheart, King of England. Salah al-Din destructed Ashkelon and Al-Ramla Castle and Al-Matroun Castle, and news reached him about the Franks’ desire for peace. Indeed, peace was concluded in 588 AH (1192 AD), amidst the satisfaction and happiness of all people. Thus, a truce took place for three years and eight months, according to which Jerusalem would remain in the hands of the Muslims while allowing the Christians to make the pilgrimage to it. Affairs became secure and peaceful, historian “IbnTaghri” states: “The people were safe, and the Muslims visited the land of the Franks, and they also came to the Muslim countries, and goods were carried to the country.”
As per the reconciliation, Salah al-Din walked to Bayt al-Maqdis to check its conditions, so he took care of its affairs and spent Ramadan month there, then inspected the conditions of the castles. Afterwards, he entered Damascus, as he loved it the most preferred to reside there more than any other city, his children were there as well: King Al-Afdal, King Al-Zahir and King Al-Zafir, and his little children, he spent there nearly one year. In 589 AH (1193 AD), in the middle of the month of Safar, yellow fever severely struck Sultan Salah al-Din, and he suffered insomnia, getting but a little unsatisfying sleep at night. Illness intensified, leaving him completely feeble; IbnShaddad states in the biography of Salah al-Din: “On the ninth day (after Salah al-Din’s illness), he fell into a coma, and refrained from drinking… people were pervaded with indescribable depression and sadness. On the tenth day, he was given two injections which relieved him to some extent and the illness became less severe, he drank a good amount of barley water, and people rejoiced greatly…” But on the next day, Sultan Salah al-Din’s health conditions worsened, driving the doctors into confusion and perplexity. Meanwhile, King Al-Afdal hastened to make the princes swear an oath to his father, Sultan Salah al-Din during his lifetime, and then to him (Al-Afdal) after the death of the Sultan – and it is reported that none of the Egyptian princes attended. The text of the oath included: “From now on, I have cleared my intentions, and made my oaths faithful to the Victorious King for the duration of his life, and I am still striving to defend his state with my life and money, my sword and my men, complying with his command, obeying whatever pleases him, then my obedience shall be transferred after his death to his sonand heir Al-Afdal Ali. I swear to defend his state with my life and money, my sword and my men, complying with his command, publicly and secretly, God may bear witness to my oath.”
Sultan Salah al-Din died at dawn on Wednesday in 1193 AD, after his illness worsened. Historians mention that the people grieved greatly and wept over him, and it was said about him: “Then those years passed and so did his people, as if they were all dreams.”
As reported, his personal treasury was opened to includeonly little money,it included: forty-seven Nazarene dirhams, and one gold dinar. Sultan Salah al-Din had sixteen sons and one daughter, and he ruled for twenty-two years. Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi was buried in the Damascus Citadel until his son Al-Afdal bought a house in al-Kallaseh neighborhood near the Umayyad Mosque, and built a dome in it, then transferred Salah al-Din’s remains to it in 592 AH (1196 AD).
Salah al-Din divided his state during his life among his children and his family, so the rule of Damascus was assigned for his son Al-Afdal Ali, his eldest son, Egypt was given to his son Al-Aziz Othman, while Aleppo was ruled by his son Al-Zahir Ghazi. As for Karak, Shoubak, Jabar and other cities of the Euphrates, they went to his brother Al-Adil, while Hama was ruled by his nephew Muhammad bin Taqi Al-Din, Homs, Al-Rahba and other countries became under Sultanate of his uncle’s grandson Asad al-Din Shirkuh. Yemen went to Sultan Zahir al-Din Saif al-Islam Tughtekin bin Ayyub, the brother of Salah al-Din. And… stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center