Sunni Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origins, ruling from late 12th to the middle of the 13th century over Egypt, Jordan and Syria together with large parts of Yemen, Hijaz and territories in northern Iraq.
The Citadel of Cairo, Egypt.
The Citadel of Aleppo, Syria.
The dynasty was founded by Saladin, but named after his father, Ayyub. Ayyub and his tribe came from the mountains of modern eastern Turkey, establishing themselves as soldiers serving the Seljuq Turkish rulers of Syria and Iraq. As their strength on the battlefield proved to be stronger than that of their employers, they could eventually break free, and form their own dynasty.
Still, within only two decades of its founding, the territory of Saladin had been divided into emirates together forming a decentralized and semi-feudal federation. There would be up to 7 sultans and emirs ruling the federation at one time. The seats of the rulers were Cairo in Egypt, Damascus, Aleppo, Hama and Homs, all in Syria; the area known as Jezira (northern Iraq); and Yemen.
The Ayyubids, largely involved in decades of warfare were allowed fairly little time to build their homelands. Still, the Ayyubids are remembered for the citadel of Cairo and they had the citadel of Aleppo rebuilt, giving it its present shape. Also they founded an academy of religious sciences in Cairo, aiming at converting Shi'is (the former Fatimid rulers belonged to the Isma'ili orientation, which at the time were Shi'is and Muslims) and Christians.
Middle 12th century: Ayyub is appointed governor of Tikrit, later Damascus, serving the Zangid Dynasty of Syria and Iraq. Together with his brother, Shirkuh, Ayyub united Syria, lauching attacks on the Christian Crusader strongholds.
1173: Ayyub dies, and his son, Saladin, soon has the Fatimid rulers of Egypt removed from power. Effectively, he would make himself ruler of Egypt, creating the strongest Muslim power of the time.
1174: The Zangid atabeg (ruler), Nureddin, dies, which gives room for Saladin and his ambitions for expansion.
1193: Saladin divides the Ayyubid territories between the regional vassals. Still, it would survive as an entity in the form of a family federation. Saladin dies shortly after this.
1200: The sultan of Cairo, al-Adil 1, takes control over the entire Ayyubid territory, but he would gradually lose control of it through his 18 years in power.
1218: Al-Adil 1 dies, and the emirs try to break free. The new sultan, al-Kamil, launches campaigns to unite the lands.
The Crusaders invade the Nile Delta. It would take 3 years to drive them out.
1238: Saladin's brother, al-Kamil, dies, and the story repeats itself, when the emirs try to form their own independent lands. Al-Adil 2 manages to reunite the emirates.
Al-Kamil, dies. This causes much disintegration in the Ayyubid federation, and represents the beginning of the eventual decline.
1249: A new Crusade attack is launched on Egypt.
1250: The Mamluks rise to power, killing the sultan of Cairo, Turanshah. They make Aybek the ruler, although allowing Turanshah's successor, Ashraf 2, to hold official power for a few more years.
1260: The Ayyubid country of Syria, under the leadership of Sultan Nasir Yusuf, is conquered and destroyed by the Mongols.