The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh

The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir for the Crusading Period from al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh

Translated by D.S. Richards

Ashgate Publishing, 2006-8

The Chronicle of Ibn al-Athir (1160–1233 AD), entitled “al-Kamil fi’l-Ta’rikh”, is one of the outstanding sources for the history of the mediaeval world. It covers the whole sweep of Islamic history almost up to the death of its author and, with the sources available to him, he attempted to embrace the widest geographical spread; events in Iraq, Iran and further East run in counterpoint with those involving North Africa and Spain. From the time of the arrival of the Crusaders in the Levant, their activities and the Muslim response become the focus of the work. 

This work was published in three volumes, the first of which came out in 2006:


Volume 1: This part covers the establishment of the Crusader states and the initial weak and divided response of Muslim regimes in the area, the moribund Fatimid caliphate in Egypt and competing emirs in Syria and Mesopotamia. The strengthening of the Muslim reaction is typified by the career of Zanki, which also illustrates the important links with events in the orbit of the Abbasid caliphate and the Saljuq sultanate.

Volume 2: While continuing with the aim of comprehensive coverage, the years in this part are dominated by the careers of Nur al-Din and Saladin, the champions of the Jihad, sometimes called the ‘counter-crusade’. Of special interest is the historian’s partiality for the House of the former, and his perceived hostility to Saladin.


Volume 3: A significant portion of this third part deals with the internal rivalries of the Ayyubid successors of Saladin, their changing relations with the Crusader states and in particular the events of the Damietta Crusade. As always, these events are portrayed against the wider background, with considerable emphasis on events in the eastern Islamic world, the fortunes of the Khwarazm Shahs and the first incursions of the Mongols.

Click here to read our Interview with D.S. Richards

Click here to read the Introduction to Volume 3 (PDF file)

Translation of Ibn al-Athir’s description of the Mongol invasions of 1220-21

Review of Volume 1, by Timothy May, De Re Militari

Review of Volume 1, by Stephen Mossman, Medium Aevum

Ibn al-Athīr’s Accounts of the Rūs: A Commentary and Translation, by William E. Watson