Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din

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Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Al-Malik al-Afdal
Emir of Damascus
Reign 4 March 1193 – 1196
Coronation 1193
Predecessor Salah ad-Din Yusuf
Successor Al-Adil I
Born c. 1169
Died 1225
Full name
Al-Afdal Ali ibn Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub
Dynasty Ayyubid
Father Salah ad-Din Yusuf

Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din (Arabic: الأفضل بن صلاح الدين‎‎, "most superior"; c. 1169 – 1225) popularly known as Al-Afdal (الأفضل), was one of seventeen sons of Saladin. He succeeded his father as the second emir of Damascus. He was the leader of the Ayyubids in the Battle of Cresson.


Al-Afdal was one of the Ayyubid commanders at the Battle of Arsuf, when Saladin was defeated by Richard I of England and the forces of the Third Crusade. When Saladin died in 1193, al-Afdal inherited Damascus, but not the rest of his father's territories; Egypt was inherited by al-Aziz and Aleppo by az-Zahir. He was very attached to his uncle al-Adil, and sought his aid at various points when he was attacked by his own brother al-Aziz. In 1196, al-Aziz lost his patience as a result of al-Afdal's incompetent reign. He allied with their brother az-Zahir, who was also al-Afdal's enemy, and they both raided Damascus. Al-Afdal was later exiled to Salkhad, Hauran. There are no records of his death but it is supposed that he died there in exile in 1225.

Battle of Cresson[edit]

In 1187, al-Afdal led Saladin's forces in a raid towards Acre. Part of this army encountered Gerard of Ridefort, the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, at the Battle of Cresson. Al-Afdal's troops consisted of between 700 and 7,000 men. Gerard unexpectedly ran into al-Afdal's army on 1 May, and in the subsequent battle, the Muslims feigned a retreat, a common tactic which should not have fooled Gerard; nevertheless, he ordered a charge, against the advice of the Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller, Roger de Moulins, and the knights were separated from the foot-soldiers. The Muslims easily repulsed a direct Christian attack, killing both the exhausted knights, and, later, the foot-soldiers. The contemporary Arab historian Ali ibn al-Athir, states that al-Afdal was not present at the battle, having delegated command of that part of his army involved in the conflict to the emir Muzaffar ad-Din Gökböri. This was supported by a contemporary Frankish chronicle, which gives command during the battle to 'Manafaradin' (the Frankish term for Gökböri).[1][2]

Gerard survived but almost all the others were killed. However, according to the Itinerarium Peregrinorum, a history of the Third Crusade which followed the battle, Gerard did not rashly engage the enemy, but was actually caught unaware and was the victim of an attack himself.


  1. ^ Nicholson, H. and Nicolle, D. (2006) God's Warriors: Knights Templar, Saracens and the Battle for Jerusalem, Osprey Publishing, p. 55
  2. ^ Nicholson, H (trans.) (1997) Chronicle of the Third Crusade: A Translation of the Itinerarium Peregrinorum Et Gesta Regis Ricardi, Ashgate, p. 25

Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din
Born: 1169 Died: 1225
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Salah ad-Din Yusuf
Emir of Damascus
4 March 1193 – 1196
Succeeded by
Al-Adil I