The Year 597 [1200–1201]
This chapter deals with the events of the year 597 (1200-1201) in the lifetime of Ibn al-Athir. It gives an account of how al-Zahir, lord of Aleppo, took Manbij and other places in Syria and how he and his brother al-Afdal besieged the city of Damascus and then withdrew. The Egyptian emirs made contact with [‘Uthman’s] brothers, al-Zahir in Aleppo and al-Afdal in Sarkhad, and letters and messages went to and fro between them, inviting them both to attack and besiege Damascus to make al-‘Adil move against them. The chapter describes how Ghiyath al-Din and his brother took what Khwarazm Shah held in Khurasan. The Isma‘ilis in Gunabad feared Shihab al-Din greatly and asked for terms to allow them to leave. He gave them terms, sent them out and took the city which he gave to one of the Ghurs, who instituted prayers there and normative practices of Islam. The year also witnessed a serious famine in Egypt.