A previous article tackled the rule of King Al-Saleh Ayyub (637-646 AH) (1240-1249), who restored Jerusalem from the Franks with the help of the Khwarezmians, he besieged Damascus and imposed control and assumed its rule. Then things got worse between King Al-Saleh Ayyub and the Khwarezmians because they did not get what they wanted in terms of fiefdoms, so they agreed with the greatest prince of Al-Saleh Ayyub’s dynasty, the ruler of Karak and King Al-Saleh Ismail to fight Al-Saleh Ayyub. The fight ended with Al-Saleh Ayyub’s victory and assuming the rule of Egypt and the Levant.
In 646 AH (1248), King Al-Saleh Ayyub fell ill and left Damascus, returning to Egypt, which became a target for the Franks. He went down to Ashmoum Tannah to confront the Franks if they intended to enter it from Damietta. Damietta was filled with soldiers and ammunition, and the Franks’ boats were anchored in the sea in front of the armies. They then went down to land the next day and set up their tents. Skirmishes occurred between the army of King Al-Saleh led by Fakhr al-Din and the Franks, in which Prince Najm al-Din and Prince al-Waziri were killed, the army retreated to AshmoumTannah, and the residents of Damietta left their city. Ibn Taghri quoted Ibn Wasil: “So Fakhr al-Din Ibn al-Sheikh set out with the people, and cut the bridge with them to the eastern mainland, at which Damietta is located, and retreated to Ashmoum Tannah. Disappointment fell upon the people of Damietta, so they left the city at night and no one remained there. This was a wrong decision taken by Fakhr al-Din, for Damietta was in a state of crisis in 615 with less ammunition and numbers, however the Franks could not seize control of it save after a whole year, but its people fled when they saw the flight of the army and the weakness of the Sultan. When the next day came, the Franks took complete possession of it in terms of equipment, weapons, ammunition, grains, and catapults, it was an unparalleled disaster! When the soldiers and the people of Damietta reached the Sultan, he was enraged because of the brave people who were there but fled, so he ordered all of them to be hanged…” Then Al-Saleh Ayyub departed with the army to Al-Mansoura, where the palace that his father, King Al-Kamel had built. A large number of people and Arabs gathered there, and skirmishes and raids on the Franks began, that situation continued for several months. At that time, King Al-Saleh Ayyub grew severely sick and died, but the news of his death was kept secret and his wife, Shajarat al-Durr, managed the affairs of the country, and the news of his death remained hidden until his son, Turan Shah, came from Hasankeyf and succeeded him.
Historians disagreed in describing the character of King Al-Saleh Ayyub. Some of them mentioned: “He was majestic, honorable, chaste, of pure tongue, upright and faultless, he was not a lover of jest or absurdity, rather very dignified, and very silent. He bought a number of Turkish Mamluks unreached by any of his family, the Mamluks formed most of his soldiers…and he made them his entourage and those surrounding his vestibule, and he called them the navy.” It was also said: “He was a majestic mighty king, endowed with power and majesty. He was eloquent, a good communicator, and abstained from immorality.” During his illness, it was said about him: “He was enduring, and no one knew about his suffering”, while others saw a different side, as it was said: “King Al-Saleh was very imaginative and angry, and would blame for small sins and issues punishment for delusions, he accepted neither offense nor apology, he does not care for someone who had done him a favor, bad deeds were never forgiven, and pleas to him were not accepted, and intercessions with him are not effective, such matters only result in bringing out grudge and retaliation (the pleas and intercessions with him for forgiveness only increase his inclination to revenge and punishment!). He was a tyrannical, arrogant, and extremely powerful king, very arrogant towards his companions, his enemies, and his elite, and heavy-handed…” However, they agreed on his good policy, his prestige, his spending on state missions, and his high determination and great ambitions to take over the entire world! King Al-Saleh ruled Egypt for nine years, seven months and a few days, and was buried in a cemetery next to his school in Cairo. And… Stories about beautiful Egypt never end!
General Bishop Head of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Center