Egypt Map Under Saladin Ayyubid During the time of Saladin Ayyubid, Egypt was a major power in the region. Saladin became the sultan of Egypt in 1171 after his forces had gained control of the country from the previous rulers, the Fatimids. Saladin’s empire stretched across Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and parts of Iraq and Arabia. He established his capital in Cairo, which remained the capital of Egypt under the Ayyubid dynasty. Saladin is particularly remembered for his role in the Crusades. He led the Muslim forces against the Christian Crusaders from Europe who were attempting to gain control of the Holy Land. Saladin was successful in recapturing Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187. During Saladin’s rule, Egypt saw an increase in economic and cultural activity. Trade routes were established, and Cairo became a major center for commerce, art, and education. Mosques and other architectural landmarks were built throughout the city.

Establishment in Egypt

In 1164, Nur al-Din dispatched Shirkuh to lead an expeditionary force to prevent the Crusaders from establishing a strong presence in an increasingly anarchic Egypt. Shirkuh enlisted Ayyub’s son, Saladin, as an officer under his command. They successfully drove out Dirgham, the vizier of Egypt, and reinstated his predecessor, Shawar. After being reinstated, Shawar ordered Shirkuh to withdraw his forces from Egypt, but Shirkuh refused, claiming it was Nur al-Din’s will that he remains. Over the course of several years, Shirkuh and Saladin defeated the combined forces of the Crusaders and Shawar’s troops, first at Bilbais, then at a site near Giza, and in Alexandria, where Saladin would stay to protect while Shirkuh pursued Crusader forces in Lower Egypt.Shawar died in 1169 and Shirkuh became vizier, but he too died later that year. After Shirkuh’s death, Saladin was appointed vizier by the Fatimid caliph al-Adid because there was “no one weaker or younger” than Saladin, and “not one of the emirs obeyed him or served him”, according to medieval Muslim chronicler Ibn al-Athir. Saladin soon found himself more independent than ever before in his career, much to the dismay of Nur al-Din who attempted to influence events in Egypt.