|Emir of Yemen (1174-1180)
Emir of Baalbek (1179)
Emir of Damascus (1176-1179)
Emir of Alexandria (1180)
|Full name||Shams ad-Din Turan-Shah ibn Ayyub al-Malik al-Mu'azzam Shams ad-Dawla Fakhr ad-Din|
|Died||June 27, 1180|
|Place of death||Alexandria, Egypt|
|Successor||Tughtekin ibn Ayyub|
|Father||Najm ad-Din Ayyub|
|Religious beliefs||Sunni Islam|
Shams ad-Din Turan-Shah ibn Ayyub al-Malik al-Mu'azzam Shams ad-Dawla Fakhr ad-Din known simply as Turan-Shah (Arabic: توران شاه بن أيوب) (d. June 27, 1180) was the Ayyubid prince (emir) of Yemen (1174-1180), Baalbek (1179), Damascus (1176-1179) and finally Alexandria where he died in 1180. He is noted for strengthening the position of his younger brother, Saladin, in Egypt and playing the leading role in the Ayyubid conquests of both Nubia and Yemen. Like many of the Ayyubids, little is known of his early life before his arrival in Egypt.
Arrival in Egypt
Nur ad-Din Zangi, the Sultan of Syria at the time, allowed Turan-Shah to join Saladin in Egypt where he was vizier to the Fatimid caliph in 1171 when tensions between Nur al-Din and Saladin were rising. Nur al-Din empowered Turan-Shah to supervise Saladin, hoping to provoke dissension between the brothers. However, this attempt failed as Turan-Shah was immediately granted an immense amount of lands by Saladin who was in the process of reforming the power structure of the Fatimid state around him and his relatives. The iqta' or "fief" given to Turan-Shah composed of the major cities of Qus and Aswan in Upper Egypt as well as the Red Sea port of Aidab. Turan-Shah was the main force behind the deposition of a revolt staged in 1171 by the Black African garrisons of the Fatimid army in 1171.
Turan-Shah developed a close relationship with the poet courtier 'Umara, who had been a power player in Fatimid politics before Saladin's ascendancy to the vizierate in 1169. On September 11, 1171, the last Fatimid caliph al-Adid died and the Ayyubid dynasty gained official control of Egypt. A number of accusations of murder against Turan-Shah arose following his death. According to a eunuch in the service of al-Adid's widow, al-Adid died after hearing that Turan-Shah was in the palace looking for him. In another version, Turan-Shah is said to have killed al-Adid himself after the latter refused to reveal the location of state treasures that were hidden in the palace. After his death, Turan-Shah settled in Cairo in a quarter formerly occupied by Fatimid emirs.
Conquest of Nubia
The Nubians and Egyptians had long been at engaged in a series of skirmishes along the border region of the two countries in Upper Egypt. After the Fatimids were deposed, tensions rose as Nubian raids against Egyptian border towns grew bolder ultimately leading to the siege of the valuable city of Aswan by former Black Fatimid soldiers in late 1172-early 1173. The governor of Aswan, a former Fatimid loyalist, requested help from Saladin.
Saladin dispatched Turan-Shah with a force of Kurdish troops to relieve Aswan, but the Nubian soldiers had already departed. Nonetheless, Turan-Shah conquered the Nubian town of Ibrim and began to conduct a series of raids against the Nubians. His attacks appear to have been highly successful, resulting in the Nubian king based in Dongola, requesting an armistice with Turan-Shah. Apparently eager for conquest, he was unwilling to accept the offer until his own emissary had visited the King of Nubia and reported that the entire country was poor and not worth occupying. Although the Ayyubids would be forced to take future actions against the Nubians, Turan-Shah set his sights on more lucrative territories. He managed to acquire considerable wealth in Egypt after his campaign against Nubia, bringing back with him many Nubian and Christian slaves.
Conquest of Yemen
Following his success in Nubia, Turan-Shah still sought to establish a personal holding for himself while Saladin was facing an ever increasing amount of pressure from Nur al-Din who seemed to be attempting invading Egypt. Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad, Saladin's aide, suggested that there was a heretical leader in Yemen who was claiming to be the messiah, and that this was the principal reason that Saladin dispatched Turan-Shah to conquer the region. While this is likely, it also appears 'Umara had considerable influence on Turan-Shah's desire to conquer Yemen and may have been the one who pushed him to gain Saladin's approval to use such a large part of the military forces in Egypt when the showdown with Nur al-Din seemed to be so near. Turan-Shah's departure from Egypt did not bode well for his adviser, 'Umara, however, as the poet found himself caught up in an alleged conspiracy against Saladin and was executed.
Turan-Shah set out in 1174 and quickly conquered the town of Zabid in May and the strategic port city of Aden (a crucial link in trade with India, the Middle East, and North Africa) later that year. In 1175, he drove out the Hamdanid emir, Ali ibn Hakim al-Wahid, from Sana'a after the latter's army was weakened by continuous raids from the Zaidi tribes of Sa'dah. Turan-Shah then devoted much of his time to securing the whole of southern Yemen and bringing it firmly under the control of the Ayyubids. Although al-Wahid managed to escape Yemen through its northern highlands, Yasir, the head of the Shia Banu Karam tribe that had ruled Aden was arrested and executed on Turan-Shah's orders. The Kharijite rulers of Zabid — Mahdi Abd al-Nabi and his two brothers — shared the same fate. Turan-Shah's conquest held great significance for Yemen which was previously divided into three states (Sana'a, Zabid, and Aden) and was united by the Ayyubid occupation.
Transfers of power
Although Turn-Shah had succeeded in acquiring his own territory in Yemen, he had clearly done so at the expense of his power in Cairo. Saladin rewarded him rich estates in Yemen as his personal property. Turan-Shah did not feel comfortable in Yemen however, and repeatedly requested from his brother to be transferred. In 1176, he obtained a transfer to Syria which he governed from Damascus. In addition, he was given large fiefs in Baalbek that used to belong to his father Najm ad-Din Ayyub.
Upon leaving Yemen, the administrator of his estates there was unable to promptly transfer the revenue from his properties to Turan-Shah. Instead, he left Turan-Shah behind roughly 200,000 dinars in debt, but this was paid off by Saladin. In 1179, he was transferred to govern Alexandria and died soon after on June 27, 1180. His body was taken by his sister Sitt al-Sham Zumurrud to be buried beside a madrasa built by her in Damascus.
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