Timeline Description: The Ayyubid Dynasty (1171-1250), which followed the Shia Fatimid rule, marked a return to dominance for Sunni Islam. Founded by Saladin, it was comparatively short-lived, but spread an age of economic prosperity and intellectual development.
|1164||The battle for control over Egypt begins.
The Zengid sultan Nur al-Din (based in Syria) sends general Asad ad-Din Shirkuh to Egypt to prevent Crusader forces from gaining control of the region. Shirkuh brings his nephew Saladin with him, and they successfully reinstate the former Fatimid ruler, Shawar. When Shawar orders Shirkuh to leave Egypt, he refuses and starts a battle for control of the region. Shirkuh and Saladin eventually claim victory.
|1169||Saladin becomes vizier of the Fatimids.
When Shirkuh, now vizier of Egypt, dies, the Shi'ite Fatimid caliph al-Adid instates Saladin as the new vizier. He hopes Saladin will be easily influenced due to his lack of experience, but Saladin begins to consolidate power.
|1171||Saladin declares the end of Fatimid rule.
When caliph al-Adid dies, Saladin takes advantage of the power vacuum to seize greater control. He proclaims the return of Sunni Islam to Egypt, and the Ayyubid dynasty, named after Saladin's father Ayyub, begins. Saladin remains loyal to Zengid sultan Nur al-Din only in name.
|1174||Saladin becomes sultan of Egypt and Syria.
Zengid sultan Nur al-Din dies, so Saladin, who is essentially independent, sets out to conquer Syria from the Zengids. Despite being outnumbered, he is victorious. The Abbasid caliph, al-Mustadi, warmly recognizes Saladin as the sultan of Egypt and Syria.
|November 25, 1177||Saladin loses most of his forces at the Battle of Montgisard.
After hearing that the Kingdom of Jerusalem (a Crusader state) has besieged Harim, a city near his territory, Saladin takes a large army against them. He is defeated by Templar Baldwin IV and loses most of his army. He spends years encamped to rebuild his forces.
|October 2, 1187||The Ayyubids seize control of Jerusalem.
After a siege through September and October, the Ayyubids are able to negotiate the handover of Jerusalem. They now control most of the Crusader kingdom, excluding the city of Tyre.
|December 29, 1188||Ayyubid forces are defeated at Tyre.
Crusader Conrad of Montferrat defeats and seizes most of the Muslim fleet at Tyre, which allows for a victory on land immediately afterwards. Saladin's forces meet and agree to withdraw from the city.
|1189||The Third Crusade sends forces against the Ayyubids.
Pope Gregory VIII calls for a Third Crusade to free Jerusalem from Saladin, and the Holy Roman Empire, France, and England all unite against the Ayyubid forces. Despite some initial successes, the Ayyubids are defeated at Acre.
|September 7, 1191||The Crusaders defeat Ayyubid forces at the Battle of Arsuf.
Led by King Richard of England, the Crusaders defeat Saladin's forces at the Battle of Arsuf and seize coastal areas between Jaffa and Beirut. Though they push to Jerusalem, Saladin is able to stop them. Saladin agrees to a peace with Richard, which grants the Crusaders a kingdom outside Jerusalem and gives Christian pilgrims right of access to the city.
|March 3, 1193||Saladin dies.
Saladin dies, leading to fighting between branches of the Ayyubid dynasty, as he has given his heirs control of mostly independent sections of the empire. His two sons, controlling Damascus and Aleppo, fight for power, but ultimately Saladin's brother al-Adil becomes sultan.
|October 17, 1244||The sultan consolidates power over Ayyubid factions.
Various off-shoot families of the Ayyubids ally with the Crusaders against Ayyubid Sultan as-Salih Ayyub, but he is able to defeat them at the Battle of La Forbie. The Kingdom of Jerusalem collapses and he begins to consolidate power over the various Ayyubid factions.
|1248||The Seventh Crusade ends with an Ayyubid victory.
A Crusader fleet lead by Louis IX arrives in Cyprus, and Ayyub rushes back to Egypt to fight them. His health quickly deteriorates and he dies, but his wife and son, the sultan Al-Mu'azzam Turan-Shah, defeat and capture Louis IX. They rely heavily on the help of Mamluk generals Baibars and Aibek.
|April 1250||The Mamluks seize power.
Mamluk general Aibek kills the sultan Turan-Shah and seizes power. He is able to fend off an attack from the more powerful Syrian-based Abbuyids. After freeing Louis IX, Aibek eventually reaches a peace in which the Abbuyids cede control over Egypt to the Mamluks.
|1258||The Mongol invasion further destroys Ayyubid territory.
When the Mongols lead an army of 120,000 into Abbuyid territory, An-Nasir Yusuf flees, but he is captured and killed. This effectively ends Ayyubid power in the region, though various factions that have defected to the Mongols are allowed to retain regional control, most notably in Hama.
|1341||The Ayyubid dynasty ends.
Al-Afdal Muhammad, the last ruling Abbuyid in Hama, loses the favor of the Mamluks and is removed from office. Hama is formally placed under Mamluk control, and the Ayyubid dynasty formally ends.