Jerusalem in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods

Authored by: Zayde Antrim

Routledge Handbook on Jerusalem

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138936935
eBook ISBN: 9781315676517
Adobe ISBN:


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The 330 years of Ayyubid and Mamluk rule in Jerusalem (1187–1517) brought an extended period of prestige to the holy city. Salah al-Din, known in English as Saladin, triumphantly reclaimed Jerusalem for Islam and for his own Ayyubid dynasty after defeating a Crusader army at the Battle of Hattin in 1187. While this was an enormous victory, and one upon which Saladin certainly capitalized, it did not mark the end of Crusader activity in the region, or even of Crusader rule in Jerusalem. Nonetheless, among the legacies of Saladin’s career were the unification of Syria and Egypt, a geopolitical configuration that would persist, with varying levels of cohesiveness, through both Ayyubid and Mamluk periods, and the casting of Jerusalem as a powerful symbol of legitimacy for the political elite. Long revered as a sacred site among Muslims, Jerusalem now became a prime object of public piety and patronage. Consequently, the primary sources for Ayyubid and Mamluk Jerusalem are rich, especially those concerning its religious importance and the attention lavished on it, both material and rhetorical, in recognition. These sources have informed secondary scholarship on the city, which tends to focus on three areas: its architectural efflorescence, its popularity as a subject for literary encomia, and its status as a pilgrimage destination.

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