Post-classical history

Al-Afdal (d. 1122)

Military vizier and effectively dictator of Fātimid Egypt (1094-1122).

A Muslim convert of Armenian origin, al-Afdal was the son and successor of Badr al-Jamalii, whose military intervention in 1073 in the civil war that ravaged Egypt restored order in the country and kept the Fātimids in power. Al- Afdal misjudged the aims of the First Crusade (1096-1099) and offered the crusaders cooperation against the Saljûqs. His military response to the advance of the crusaders on Jerusalem was slow, and the army he dispatched to Ascalon (mod. Tel Ashqelon, Israel) suffered a bitter defeat by the crusaders (12 August 1099).

In the wake of the defeat, al-Afdal introduced military reforms and incorporated Turkish military slaves into the Fātimid army. Under his rule Egypt enjoyed a period of stability and prosperity, but the privileged position of Ismālli Islam in the country was eroded. However, in 1122 al-Āmir, the ruling caliph, had al-Afdal assassinated and took the reins of power into his own hands.

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