The dynasty was founded by Imad ed-Din Zengi, who became the Seljuk Atabeg (or Governor) of Mosul in 1127. He quickly became the chief Turkish potentate in Northern Syria and Iraq, taking Aleppo from the squabbling Ortoqid emirs in 1128, and capturing the County of Edessa from the Crusaders in 1144. This latter feat made Zengi a hero in the Muslim world, but he was assassinated by a slave two years later, in 1146.
On Zengi's death, his territories were divided, with Mosul and his lands in Iraq going to his eldest son, and Aleppo and Edessa falling to his second son, Nur ad-Din Mahmud. Nur ad-Din proved to be as competent than his father. In 1149 he defeated and killed Prince Raymond of Antioch in battle, and the next year conquered the remnants of the County of Edessa west of the Euphrates River. In 1154 he capped off these successes by his capture of Damascus from the Burid Emirs who ruled it.
Now ruling from Damascus, Nur ad-Din's success continued. Another Prince of Antioch, Raynald of Chatillon was captured, and the territories of that Principality greatly reduced. In the 1160s, Nur ad-Din's attention was mostly held by a competition with the King of Jerusalem Amalric I for control of the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. Ultimately, Nur ed-Din's Kurdish general Shirkuh was successful in conquering Egypt in 1169, but Shirkuh's nephew and successor as Governor of Egypt, Saladin, rejected Nur ad-Din's control.
Nur ed-Din was preparing to invade Egypt to bring Saladin under control when he unexpectedly died in 1174. His son and successor As-Salih Ismail was only a child, and was forced to flee to Aleppo, which he ruled until 1181, when he was murdered and replaced by his relation, the Atabeg of Mosul. Saladin conquered Aleppo two years later, ending Zengid rule in Syria.
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2 Zengid Atabegs of Aleppo
3 Zengid Atabegs of Damascus
4 Zengid Atabegs of Sinjar (in Northern Iraq)
5 Zengid Atabegs of Jazira (in Northern Iraq)
Zengid Atabegs of Mosul
Zengid Atabegs of Aleppo
Zengid Atabegs of Damascus
Zengid Atabegs of Sinjar (in Northern Iraq)
Zengid Atabegs of Jazira (in Northern Iraq)