Above Image: Cover image of Yaacov Lev’s excellent book Saladin in Egypt (Leiden: Brill, 1999).
The Egyptian Sultan Saladin (r. 1171-1193), a Sunni Muslim Kurd, is often celebrated for his chivalrous virtues and deeds during the crusading era. In popular modern film and literature, in both the east and the west, Saladin is depicted as a man of honor and reason, not swept up in the religious passions of his day, and thus a sort of modern role model for enlightened behavior in times of conflict. Yet such heroic popular narratives of medieval military leaders are rarely, if ever, fully accurate and in Saladin’s case there is considerable evidence to demonstrate he was much more of a man of his times than suggested by otherwise romanticized views of his career. Continue reading