Previous articles tackled Pope Youhanna VI, who suffered many wars and was saved by God, his era witnessed a number of wars and conflicts, in addition to the events that took place in Egypt such as the advent of the Franks’ campaign on Damietta, towards Rosetta and the city of Foh, the decline of the Nile waters, the calamity of the high prices, and the pandemic that severely impacted the people. However, a number of rich people at that time – Muslims and Christians – gave alms to the poor, each according to his ability, so that God would have mercy on His people. Pope Youhanna VI departed in 1216 AD, after a papacy period of 27 years. All Egyptians, Muslims and Copts, grieved him sorrowfully. The chair of St. Mark remained vacant after his departure for nearly 19 years, until Pope Kyrillos III (Ibn Luqluq), was ordained as the seventy-fifth patriarch of Alexandria.
The pontificate of Pope Youhanna VI was during the days of Sultan Salah al-Din (died in 589 AH / 1193 AD), who divided his state during his life among his children and family members: Egypt was the share of his son, Al-Aziz Othman. Conflicts arose between Salah al-Din’s two sons; Al-Afdal and Al-Aziz, which encouraged the Franks to besiege the fortress of Jubail. Al-Aziz left Egypt twice to fight Al-Afdal, but he returned to Egypt. Al-Asadiya (followers of Asad al-Din Shirkuh) incited King Al-Adel, Al-Aziz’s uncle, to go to Egypt and take it, so Al-Adel and Al-Afdal landed in Belbeis, then King Al-Adel asked to meet Al-Qadi Al-Fadel, who mediated between Kings Al-Adel and Al-Aziz, managing to restore their good relationship. It is reported that Al-Adel resided in Egypt for four months, during which he agreed with Al-Qadi Al-Fadel to give Al-Asadiya their property back, and asked Al-Afdal to be reconciled with his brother, Al-Aziz, he did so then returned to Damascus.
Afterwards, Al-Adel and Al-Aziz moved once again towards Damascus in order to fight Al-Afdal, as the latter’s minister, Al-Jazari became of worse behavior and committed the worst deeds ever, while Al-Afdal was consent to his deeds. This prompted the notables of the state to write to Al-Adel complaining about the state of their country; so he sent to Al-Afdal saying: “Raise the hand of this fool of bad management and little success.” Yet Al-Afdal refused! In response, Al-Adel and Al-Aziz moved towards Damascus and entered it without fight. Ibn Taghri stated that Al-Afdal went to his brother Al-Aziz and his uncle Al-Adel, “and wept bitterly, so Al-Aziz ordered him to move from Damascus to Sarkhad, so he hid his minister Al-Jazari at night among the chests lest he should be killed, so he took great amounts of money and fled to his country.” Al-Aziz resided for some time in Damascus, during which he built a dome at the tomb of his father, Salah al-Din, and a school next to it. In 592 AH (1196 AD), he moved his father to Al-Kallasa. Historians have mentioned that Al-Aziz appointed Al-Adel as his deputy in Damascus, then he granted the city to Al-Adel’s son, Al-Muazzam Isa in 594 AH (1198 AD), then he returned to Egypt.
Thus, Al-Aziz continued ruling Egypt. It was said, “Affairs were settled in his days, he was just among the subjects, and abstained from looting their money.” It was said about Al-Aziz, “He was a blessed king of bounties, so generous and beneficial to people, believing in goodness”, and “When he became king, he made a good conduct, and let all that was taken from merchants and others as taxes be called Zakat. He prepared ten thousand dinars for Bayt Al-Maqdis to be spent on its interests, he also was generous towards his father’s friends”. He was also characterized by courage, justice and fairness.
Al-Aziz died in 595 AH (1198 AD), after he went to Fayoum to hunt, where he had an accident, he was carried to Cairo and died there at the age of 27 years and few months (and it was said 28). Al-Aziz willed his son, Nasir al-Din Muhammad, the rule of Egypt. And… stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
The General Bishop
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center