Mercedes García-Arenal
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The figure of Salah al-Din Yusuf, Kurdish official in the service of the sultan of Syria Nur al-Din, and later in the service of the Fatimids sultans of Cairo, who became the lord of Egypt, and later of Damascus and Aleppo, after conquering Jerusalem in 1187 and founding the Ayyubid Empire. A figure surrounded by controversy in his time, would end up becoming a hero of Islam for posterity. For his adversaries,  the Eastern Franks, he was a matter of curiosity: in the sources of the 12th century he was initially represented as an unscrupulous adventurer, especially due to the absence of fidelity for his sovereigns and the military blows he gave to the crusaders. But little by little, the knightly traits and a shared ethos with Christians and Muslims predominated, and thid is what is highlighted by the 13th century Christian sources, following the crusades, who even provide the figure with an aspiration to a Christian death. Regarding the arabic sources, in those of the 13th century he is presented as the ideal prince capable of establishing a unified power, champion of Islam, and defeater of the Franks. But it is at the beginning of the 20th century when Saladin becomes a hero for the contemporary causes of Islam. In this presentation we will attempt to make a historical review of the figure of Saladin and, at the same time, examine the mythical characteristics (in this case, of different sign) that reached both the Western countries and the Middle East.
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