Saladin is a campaign in Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings. The campaign is based on the exploits of An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, called Saladin by Europeans (1137 – March 4, 1193), who founded the Ayyubid dynasty of Egypt and Syria and led the Muslims to recover Jerusalem from the Western Crusaders who had held it for almost a century.
|“||Outraged that the Holy Land is ruled by the Saracens, knights from Europe have descended upon the Middle East in a series of Crusades. Now four European kingdoms have sprung up in the desert. The Saracen king, Saladin, rallies his troops in an attempt to drive back the invaders. In response to European Crusades, the Saracens have organized a Jihad. In response to European vileness, the once-cultured Saracens have become treacherous. But will it be enough to save their homeland?||”|
|—In-game campaign description|
The Saladin campaign consists of 6 scenarios. The player plays as the Saracens, and the player color is green.
- An Arabian Knight
- Lord of Arabia
- The Horns of Hattin
- The Siege of Jerusalem
- The Lion and the Demon
The campaign is narrated by an anonymous knight from Normandy who gets lost in the desert while en route to join the Crusader invasion of Egypt. He is found by, and surrenders to, Saracen horse archers (who he initially mistakes for Turks), and they take him to their leader, the titular Saladin. The knight soon becomes fascinated with the chivalrous Saladin and Saracen civilization in general. Years later, he chooses to turn down Saladin's offer to recover his freedom and continues serving him willingly.
Other campaign appearances
Saladin (or at least his Saracen forces) appears as an opponent in the last two scenarios of the Barbarossa campaign. Since it depicts the Third Crusade from the Holy Roman Empire's point of view, Saladin appears as one of the enemy factions the player will encounter. Like in his own campaign, Saladin's forces are represented by the Saracens under the color green.
- Barbarossa's March - An AI player with the name 'Saracen Navy' appears as one of the enemy factions encountered in the scenario. In the scenario's pre-cutscene, it is emphasized that the Saracens are led by Saladin, who is evicting every Crusader from the Holy Land.
- The Emperor Sleeping - An AI player with the name Saladin is the most powerful enemy in the scenario.
- Saladin himself was of Kurdish origin. Still, he was possibly chosen as the protagonist for the Arabic-speaking Saracens' campaign because of his status as a Muslim military leader against the crusading Christians.
- In contrast to previous campaigns that take place over a few years in the lives of William Wallace and Joan of Arc, the first scenario in Saladin is separated from the second by 15 years. Consistently, Saladin's appearance in the cutscenes changes from a young man with black mustache and goatee in the cutscenes to an older man with full beard.
- Save for a few indirect allusions, the campaign omits Saladin's wars against other Muslim powers and concentrates on his battles against European Crusaders.
- After the Third Crusade (1189–1192), Saladin achieved great fame in the West as a wise and honorable ruler who represented the European ideals of Chivalry better than the Crusader kings he fought. In the Muslim world, however, he faded into obscurity and didn't become popular until the 20th century, when he was vindicated by Arab nationalists as an anti-imperialist icon. He is still unpopular among Shi'ites, due to his wars against them in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.
- The narrator of the campaign might be Jean Gale, a knight who had been excommunicated from the Christian community for murder and had found refuge with Saladin in Muslim territory. Saladin charged Gale with the education of his nephew, but wanting to regain his standing among the Christians, Gale turned over Saladin's nephew to the Knights Templar, driving Saladin to vengeance. In 1188, Saladin placed La Roche-Guillaume Castle, located near the Syrian Gates in what is now the Hatay Province of Turkey, under siege because Gale was there. Saladin may have taken Roche-Guillaume, but news from Palestine that King Guy de Lusignan had led knights into Tripoli as forebearers of the Third Crusade brought an early end to his siege of the castle.