(1173–1250) Kurdish dynasty founded by Saladin that ruled over Egypt, most of Syria, upper Iraq, and Yemen. After overthrowing the Fatimid dynasty, Saladin defended Palestine during the Crusades and made Egypt the most powerful Muslim state in the world. After Saladin's death the Ayyubid regime became decentralized. In 1250 a group of mamluks (military slaves) exploited a lapse in Ayyubid succession to take over the government in Egypt and to found the Mamluk dynasty. Minor Ayyubid princes continued to rule in parts of the Syria for some years afterward.
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