The Moslem knights of the opposition armies during the medieval crusades were primarily led by the Egyptian General “Saladin”, properly pronounced “Salahadin.” His full name was Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (1137-1193 AD), the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, first Sultan of Egypt and Syria, and later the Sultan of Mesopotamia, Yemen, and parts of North Africa.
Christian contemporary chroniclers and historians noted the “noble and chivalrous” behavior of Saladin. Despite being the nemesis of the Crusaders, won deep respect from many of them, including King Richard the Lionheart of England, and throughout Europe and among Templars worldwide he became a celebrated example of the principles of chivalry.
During one of the most important battles of the Crusades, at which Saladin was defeated by Richard the Lionheart, when King Richard lost his horse, Saladin graciously sent him two replacement horses as a personal gift, to enable his worthy opponent to continue leading the Knights Templar. Touched by Saladin’s pious honor, King Richard proposed that his own sister, Joan of England, Queen of Sicily, should marry Saladin’s brother, and offered that Jerusalem (for which they had both fought) could be their wedding gift.
Despite the differences in genuine religious beliefs, the Moslem Saladin earned great respect from Christian noble lords and Templars. King Richard once praised Saladin as a “Great Prince,” saying that he was without a doubt the greatest and most powerful leader in the Islamic world. Saladin reciprocated by declaring that there was not a more honorable Christian lord than Richard.
The historical record documents that in 1191 AD, when a Christian woman’s 3 month old baby had been stolen from her camp and sold on the market, the Franks urged her to approach General Saladin in person to seek help. In response to the humanitarian request, Saladin used his own money to buy the child back, personally returned the baby to its mother, and ordered a horse to bring her and the baby back to her camp.
It was also reported that one time when King Richard was wounded in battle, Saladin offered the services of his personal physician, a noble show of great favor, since Moslem medicine was renowned as the best in the Western world at the time.