Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole

Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem, Stanley Lane-Poole

This book was originally published in 1898, at a time when western attitudes to the Middle East were very different. The entire area was still part of the Ottoman Empire, so there was none of the baggage that resulted from the fighting in the First World War, the post-war settlement of the area, the Arab-Israeli conflict or modern fears of terrorism. At the same time the modern tendancy to automatically see the crusaders as the villains of the story is also absent, although Lane-Poole was robustly critical of many aspects of their behaviour, from their constant refusal to actually honour any agreements they made with Moslem leaders to Richard I’s massacres of prisoners. On occasion the author’s tone comes across as rather patronising when discussing the inhabitants of the area, but not to the same extent as many of his own contemporaries.

Lane-Poole made a point of relying as much as possible on contemporary sources, and had access to the main Arab sources on Saladin’s life – the pro-Saladin account of Baha ad-din, who actually worked for Saladin for several years, and the more hostile account of Ibn al-Athir, a supporter of the dynasty that Saladin effectively overthrew. In the introduction he works through the sources he used, discussing the level of knowledge of the author and any bias to be found. Despite the age of this book, this reliance on the main sources means that in general the main outline of events is accurate.  The one exception is Saladin’s early military experience, which was much more extensive than Lane-Poole realised.

This is a very readable account of Saladin’s life and achievements, from his involvement in Nuradin’s repeated attempts to conquer Fatamid Egypt, which swiftly led to Saladin’s unexpected promotion to Vizier of Egypt, his strained relations with Nuradin and on to the conquest of Syria in the aftermath of Nuradin’s death.  We then move onto Saladin’s victory over the Crusader States at Hattin, the conquest of Jerusalem and most of the Crusader States, and his final campaign, against the forces of the Third Crusade. Saladin’s life had more than enough interest to justify a biography, and it is somewhat surprising that this was the first one in English, especially considering how popular he was in Medieval literature, and his role as the great opponent of Richard the Lion Heart, one of the great heroes of Victorian England. 

Part I: The Life of Saladin
I - Saladin's World
II - The First Crusade, 1098
III - The Harbinger, 1127
IV - The Fall of Edessa, 1127-1144

Part II: Egypt, 1138-1174
V - Saladin's Youth, 1138-1164
VI - The Conquest of Egypt, 1164-1169
VII - Vezir of Egypt, 1169-1171
VIII - Saladin at Cairo, 1171-1173

Part III: Empire, 1174-1186
IX - The Conquest of Syria, 1174-1176
X - Truces and Treaties, 1176-1181
XI - The Conquest of Mesopotamia, 1181-1183
XII - Damascus, 1183-1186

Part IV: The Holy War, 1187-1191
XIII - The Battle of Hittin, 1187
XIV - Jerusalem Regained, 1187
XV - The Rally at Tyre, 1187-1188
XVI - The Battle of Acre, 1189
XVII - The Siege of Acre, 1189-1191

Part V: Richard and Saladin, 1191-1192
XVIII - The Loss of Acre, 1191
XIX - The Coast March, Aug-Sept 1191
XX - In Sight of Jerusalem, Sept 1191-July 1192
XXI - The Last Fight at Jaffa, 1192
XXII - At Rest, 1192-1193
XXIII - Saladin in Romance

I - Dynasties of Western Asia
II - The Family of Saladin
III - Kings of Jerusalem, Princes of Antioch and Counts of Tripolis
IV - The Great Lords of Palestine

Author: Stanley Lane-Poole
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 288
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2016 edition of 1898 original

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