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Rise - The Third Crusade
In 1191, Richard the Lionheart reaches the Holy Land with 30,000 soldiers following him. Saladin, not expecting Richard to be much of a threat, sends an army under the command of El Mahmud the Chivalrous. Richard and Mahmud's armies clash, with Richard emerging victorious. This decisive Crusader victory shocks Saladin, and so he mobilizes the army and leads it himself into battle. Right before the battle, Saladin splits his army in two. 25,000 stayed with Saladin, while 7,000 go behind Richard's army and hits it from the back. Then Saladin's main force smashes into the Crusaders, overwhelming them and slaughtering many. At the end of the battle, 20,000 crusaders were dead, 7000 captured and the rest escaped. Richard was among the captured and so the Third Crusade ended. Saladin spares Richards life but kills Conrad, one of the Crusader leaders. Richard spends time learning about Islam, and soon asks Saladin if he may Convert. Saladin happily agrees and appoints Richard to be the next Sultan. Richard changes his name to Abbas Handam.
Expansion into the East and Arabia.
In 1193, Saladin decides that he wants to extend his empire into the east to reclaim old lands. Since the threat of the Crusaders is gone, he can fully focus on this campaign. Saladin takes an army of 50,000 to the Arabian Peninsula and easily takes it over. Saladin builds a city near the the edge of the peninsula, naming the city Aden. And so, the gulf near it was named the Gulf of Aden. Saladin now looks to the east and takes a larger army of 65,000 with him, many of them recruits from the Arabian peninsula that Saladin trained in Damascus, after his campaign in Arabia. He leads the army to Baghdad and faces Ibn Hubarya of the Abbasids. Almost 20,000 of Hubarya's men join Saladin in fear of being killed in the upcoming battle. A siege lasts for two months, then Saladin sends in a squad of Hashshashin to assassinate Hubarya, and it works, and the following day, Saladin's army rushes into Baghdad and, after a bloody battle that handed high casualties to both sides, Saladin captures Baghdad. Soon, the entire Middle East is under Ayyubid control, and the empire now borders India.
The Rule of Abbas Hamdam
After a long and prosperous rule, Saladin dies peacefully in 1195 in Damascus. Over two million attend his funeral. Abbas Hamdam is crowned sultan of the Ayyubid Empire. Abbas spends some time managing the empire, and in October he declares a military campaign on Morocco. When his fleet reaches Morocco, Abbas starts a siege. Morocco falls within four days and Abbas sends a emissary to the Sultan of the Almohad Dynasty to ask for submission to the Ayyubids. The sultan agrees immediately with the emissary, and the Almohads join the Ayyubids with pleasure. Abbas converts Granada into a massive military fort and base. After that, he starts taking islands in the Mediterranean and soon has several forts on islands throughout the sea.
Abbas realizes he has been exhausting the empire and spending massive amounts of money on military campaigns, so he stops all military activities and orders beginning to reorganize the Empire. New laws are written, a mail system is developed, and for several years the empire is at peace and prospering. In 1204, Abbas knows his Empire is recharged and so, he declares a jihad on the Byzantine Empire. He attacks and occupies dozens of Byzantine forts and begins to move through the mountains to Constantinople. Constantine Lakerlis, Emperor of Constantinople, gathers and army of 140,000 to attack Abbas. Abbas had only 80,000 men with him, but organizes a plan to destroy the army. He lures the massive force into a canyon, where he ambushes them from the mountains above and from all sides. After twelve hours of slaughter, Abbas emerges victorious, with all 140,000 Greeks dead. Abbas dies in 1209 from malaria, but even though he didn't conquer the Byzantine Empire, he crippled it so badly that the Byzantines would take decades to recover.
First Ayyubid-Byzantine War
In 1214, the new Sultan, Amar Hakim came to power, who was to start war on the Byzantine Empire. The son of sultan Abbas Hamdam and one of Saladin’s son's daughters, he was raised to the highest standards, versed in the al-Qur'an, trained in the art of war and taught the refinements of chivalry. But he was too young to take power when his father died of malaria, leading to the effective, but short lived rule of the grandviziers. When Hakim considered himself old enough, he formally took over power from the grandviziers, strengthened his position, and began planning for the most ambitious project of his life. Although he was very young, in fact only 25 years old when he took to the throne, he was full of ambition. His grandfather had been the man who had reunified Muslim lands, his father the one who had started the great jihad against the Byzantines. He was going to crown all of this with the greatest achievement of them all: the capture of Constantinople.
In the months after his ascension, he strengthened his position, overseeing massive construction projects, increased fiscal reform, and a series of inspections of his empire, going out on lengthy tours to see how the citizens of his empire were doing. But this also had another reason, as Amar Hakim could now see how well his army in the different parts of his empire fared.
As he traveled across the land, he saw that the empire was in need of activity. All the years of economic growth had created a population boom, one that had grown up with the jihad on the Byzantine Empire, one that was eager to fight the jihad. Meanwhile, in Constantinople, Constantin Lakerlis, almighty ruler of the Byzantine Empire, lies on the sickbed, having contracted illness and disappointment after his monumental failure in the war against the Ayyubid Empire. He would never recover from the loss of over 140 000 men, nor would his empire. At the same time, Sultan Hakim can see that the diversity of his empire helps him in the military too. The quick, light camel cavalry of the Arabic armies are complemented by heavy, line-breaking Seldjuq-Turkish knights. Big, organized armies of Persia, with light, raiding Bedouins. The skilled and advanced Almohad knowledge of fortifications, coupled with the growing skills of the Barbary Pirates, make for a fearsome combination. Sultan Hakim, even receives, as a part of a peace treaty, war elephants from India. All in all, the experience, strength and diversity of Sultan Hakim’s army, makes him bold enough to actually start scheduling the entire campaign. The time has come for Constantinople to fall.
Calm before the storm
Even though Sultan Hakim was eager, and knew that his people were eager, he also knew that he could not just declare war on the Byzantine Empire without reason. So first he had to come up with a good reason. And it came sooner than he had expected. Constantin Lakerlis had just died, and been replaced by his young son. And unlike his father, Constantin Alexandros VII was full of fervor to restore the Byzantine Empire, to, as he said: “Take back what the infidels have taken that righteously belongs to us!” As Sultan Amar Hakim was marrying the daughter of Ibn Hubarya’s cousin, further strengthening his legitimacy as “Sultan of all of Islam”, the first parts of his plan were already working. The settlers of his empire had gone closer and closer into Byzantine land, even into it, settling new cities, and enraging Constantin Alexandros VII into wanting a war with the Ayyubid Empire, although Constantin’s advisors said no.