Ayyūbid dynasty

(1173–1250) Kurdish dynasty founded by Saladin that ruled over Egypt, most of Syria, upper Iraq, and Yemen.

After overthrowing the Fātimid dynasty, Saladin defended Palestine during the Crusades and made Egypt the most powerful Muslim state in the world. After Saladin's death the Ayyūbid regime became decentralized. In 1250 a group of mamlūks (military slaves) exploited a lapse in Ayyūbid succession to take over the government in Egypt and to found the Mamlūk dynasty. Minor Ayyūbid princes continued to rule in parts of the Syria for some years afterward.

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▪ Muslim dynasty
      Sunni Muslim dynasty, founded by Saladin (Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn), that ruled in the late 12th and early 13th centuries over Egypt and what became upper Iraq, most of Syria, and Yemen.

      Saladin's father, Ayyūb (in full, Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb ibn Shādhī), for whom the Ayyūbid dynasty is named, was a member of a family of Kurdish (Kurd) soldiers of fortune who in the 12th century took service under the Seljuq Turkish rulers in Iraq and Syria. Appointed governor of Damascus, Ayyūb and his brother Shīrkūh united Syria in preparation for war against the Crusaders. After his father's death in 1173, Saladin displaced the Shīʿite Fāṭimid (Fāṭimid Dynasty) dynasty, further mobilized Muslim enthusiasm to create a united front against the Crusades, and made Egypt the most powerful Muslim state in the world at that time. The solidarity maintained under Saladin disappeared just before his death (1193): following his distribution of his territories among vassal relations who enjoyed autonomous internal administration of their provinces, the Ayyūbid regime became a decentralized, semifeudal family federation.

      The strain of Frankish-Ayyūbid relations was relaxed under the reigns of al-ʿĀdil and al-Kāmil (Kāmil, al-Malik al-), Saladin's brother and nephew, and in 1229 Jerusalem was ceded to the Christians. Although Ayyūbid factionalism had been quieted, al-Kāmil's death in 1238 revived old family disputes, further weakening the dynasty. The Ayyūbid decline in Egypt was completed with the Mamlūk accession to power following the battle at Al-Manṣūrah (Manṣūrah, Al-) (1250), but the dynasty persisted in some areas of Syria until 1260; in Ḥamāh, Ayyūbid governance was in place, at least nominally, in the first half of the 14th century. The local Ayyūbid dynasts survived with particular longevity at Ḥiṣn Kayfā, where, following the Mongol invasion in 1260, they continued to govern under Il Khanid (Il-Khanid Dynasty) and later Turkmen suzerainty until the Ak Koyunlu conquest in the late 15th century.

      The Ayyūbids, zealous Sunni (Sunnite) Muslims (Islāmic world) seeking to convert Muslim Shīʿites and Christians, introduced into Egypt and Jerusalem the madrassa (madrasah), an academy of religious sciences. Culturally an extension and development of the Fāṭimids, the Ayyūbids were great military engineers, building the citadel of Cairo and the defenses of Aleppo.

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Universalium. 2010.

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