AYYUBIDS AND MAMLUKS
When Saladin died in 1193, the sultanate built by him, extending from the Nile to the Tigris, was partitioned among his heirs, none of whom inherited his genius. His son al- Afdal succeeded to his father's throne in Damascus, but in 1 196 he was replaced by his uncle al-Adil of Egypt. In 1250 the Damascus branch was incorporated with that of Aleppo, only to be swept away after a decade by the Mongol ava- lanche of Hulagu. Saladin's second son, al-Aziz, followed his father on the Egyptian throne, but al-Aziz' son was sup- planted in 1 198 by the same al-Adil, who in both cases took advantage of the dissension among his nephews. It was these dynastic feuds which afforded the Franks an oppor- tunity to regain some of their lost territory. Saladin's third son, al-Zahir, succeeded his father at Aleppo. Other branches were founded at Hamah, Horns, Baalbek and al- Karak (Krak de Montreal) and in Mesopotamia and Yemen.
Of the many Ayyubid branches the Egyptian was the chief. Several of this line held both Cairo and Damascus. One of them was al-AdiPs grandson al-Salih Najm-al-Din, who died in 1249 leaving a widow Shajar-al-Durr (the tree of pearls). Formerly a Turkish or Armenian slave in the harem of the Abbasid caliph, Shajar had been freed by al- Salih after having borne him a son. For three months she kept the news of her husband's death a secret, pending the return from Mesopotamia of his son Turan-Shah, who soon lost the loyalty of his slaves (mamluks) and was murdered with the connivance of his stepmother. The daring and energetic woman thereupon proclaimed herself queen of the Moslems and for eighty days exercised sole sovereignty over the lands which had produced Zenobia and Cleopatra.