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Zangid Dynasty
Other spelling: Zengid

Zangid Dynasty: Great Mosque, Aleppo, Syria

Photo: Katrina Thomas/Saudi Aramco

Zangid Dynasty: Coins

Muslim Turkish dynasty of Syria and northern Iraq in the 12th and 13th centuries.
The main cities of the Zangid period were Mosul, Sinjar and Aleppo. For large parts of the Zangid period, there were independent rulers at each of these cities.
The Zangid Dynasty did not exist to create firm state structures, few organizations would survive each ruler. While the early rulers were apt administrators and warriors, able to expand their territory and consolidate power, later rulers appear much weaker and unable to defend their territories properly.
Still, the Zangid period has perhaps some of the clearest types of economic growth and stability within a society; a rich and dynamic culture.
Among the most interesting cultural advances were the development of metalwork and painting, originating in Mosul, and supported by Zangid rulers. These techniques involved metal inlay using bronze and silver. The Zangid art of painting dealt with miniatures, popular at markets far away.
The foremost monument of the Zangids, is the Great Mosque in Aleppo (picture). While not finished by the Zangids, rather the Ayyubids, several of the most central elements here are classified as Zangid; include a tall and square minaret, contrasted by a marble-floored court.

1127: Zangi becomes atabeg of Mosul, from where he would quickly start exercising his military strength.
1128: Zangi conquers Aleppo.
1144: He conquers most of the Christian County of Edessa.
1146: Zangi is assassinated. His territory is divided between Nureddin (Syria and Edessa) and Sayf ad-Din Ghazi (Jazira, corresponding to northern Iraq).
1149: Nureddin defeats Prince Raymond of Antioch in battle.
1150: He conquers the remainder of the County of Edessa.
1154: Nureddin takes control over Damascus from the Burid emirs.
1168: Nureddin conquers Egypt.
1169: Shirkuh, the hired Kurdish general of Nureddin conquers Egypt. Saladin becomes governor of Egypt, but refuses to accept the control of Nureddin.
1170: Zangids take control of Sinjar, forming a 3rd independent Zangid state.
1174: While preparing for an attack on Egypt, Nureddin dies.
1181: The Syrian territories fall to the atabeg of Mosul, allowing the reunification of the Zangid territory.
1182: Saladin takes control over most of the Syrian territory of the Zangids. He then advances on Mosul, but does not succeed in capturing it. Still he is able to place it under his suzerainty.
1185: Saladin launches a second attack on Mosul, still without being able to capture it.
1190: The Great Mosque of Aleppo is opened, becoming the finest of all monuments from the Zangids.
1222: The former slave, Badr ad-Din Lu'lu', makes himself atabeg of Mosul.
1220's: The Zangids of Sinjar lose their power.
1259: Mosul falls to the Mongols.

By Tore Kjeilen