The Muslim Near East 1127–74

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Map Code: Ax01025

By the 1120s, most of the Seljuk Empire had disintegrated, with ambitious local warlords vying for dominance. In a highly competitive field, the most ruthless was Zangi, who became atabeg (governor) of Mosul. From 1127, he attacked or double-crossed all local opposition to carve out a powerful fiefdom, before being murdered by his own bodyguard (1146). His son Nur al-Din captured Damascus, and then Nur al-Din’s general, Saladin, overthrew the Fatimids in Egypt (1171). The most concerted Christian opposition at the time came not from the crusaders, who were repeatedly defeated, but from the Byzantine emperors John II Comnenus and Manuel II Comnenus, who managed to open a land route to the crusader kingdoms by capturing Tarsus. Despite their repeated efforts, however, they were unable to dislodge the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, who, for good measure defeated both French and German crusader armies in 1147–48.

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