Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Baum




saladin, western, century, man, world


The West loves Saladin. Hero of Islam, Conqueror of Jerusalem, Great Sultan, Prince of Chivalry, all these names refer to one man, Salah al-Din. Known throughout the Western world as Saladin, this Muslim ruler of the 12th century is legendary for his virtue, justice, generosity, devotion to his religion and his defense against the Crusaders. Saladin’s victory against the Franks should have led to a hatred for the man, but the Western world has fallen for this heroic figure. The legend of Saladin starts with the efforts of his Arab chroniclers, and to a certain extent, the Latin chroniclers of the Crusades. The influence of these sources led to the positive portrayal of Saladin in 14th century Italian poetry. From these poems of praise, Saladin retained his noble figure until the latter half of the twentieth century. During this time, Western scholars began to reassess the image of Saladin. No longer was Saladin a saintly hero, but an ambitious man, who abused his position as Sultan of Egypt and Syria in order to increase his own prestige. However, the Western world is not willing to give up on one of the few noble figures from the Crusading era. Through popular culture, the romantic image of Saladin endures.