Righteousness and the Lionheart


Two names are synonymous with the Crusades – King Richard of England and Saladin. But Saladin is simply a western corruption of an Arabic honorific (akin referring to Richard as the Lionheart). The great ruler’s personal name was Yusuf, or Joseph.

Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn is a laqab, a descriptive epithet that means ‘Righteousness of the Faith’. This was easily compressed and corrupted into Saladin. His name was Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, or Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, Sultan of Egypt and Syria and Emir of Damascus to give his full title.

Dr Thomas Asbridge’s three part BBC 2 series ‘The Crusades’ provides a grand overview and a new interpretation of this historic struggle. Definitely worth catching up with it on iPlayer or on repeat.


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