Abstract Prof. Dr. Jonathan Phillips: Saladin: Life and Legend – From the Medieval Age to the 21st Century

The Sultan Saladin remains one of the most iconic figures of the medieval age. As the man who recovered Jerusalem from the crusaders in 1187 he became the hero of Sunni Islam. Intriguingly, in the course of his clash with Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade he became hugely admired in the Christian West, in large part because of his reputation for generosity and courtesy. Many centuries after his death, Saladin continues to be an immensely potent symbol of religious and military resistance to the West, attractive to Arab Nationalist leaders such as Nasser of Egypt and Islamists such as Osama bin Laden. His image also endures in aspects of contemporary culture such as ballet, television cartoons and pop songs.

This lecture will review Saladin’s career and look at how his reputation was formed and preserved over the centuries, considering the influences of his legacy in both the Islamic world and the West.