Given the smile on his face you can bet there's some Ottoman corpses out of frame.
And we broke them and slaughtered of them three hundred and seventy men.
And God restored to us our kinsmen of the family of Saud that were prisoners in their hands
...And, by Almighty God, but two of the bedouin at our side were slain. Then we returned to the villages of our friends
And they had taken the castle and laid hold of the family of Yassim and those with them...
And our intention, by the Grace of God, is that we should speed to Buraida, if God wills. Thus far. Greeting."
Translation of a battle dispatch by Ibn Saud, from The Desert King by David Howarth.
Ibn Saud lived in the turn of the 20th century, but he lived the life of an Epic hero
. He was a successful Bedouin warlord who founded what is now Saudi Arabia. For a long time the Arabian Peninsula was in a three-way struggle for dominance among the Al-Rashid, the Hashemite (see Warriors Of The Desert Wind
),and the Al-Saud tribes
. During his early life the Saudis were in exile, and the Rashidis held the upper hand. Ibn Saud, while little more then a boy, led a war party into the desert to seize the old capital city of Riyadh in a sudden coup. Such a yarn-worthy feat of arms made for splendid propaganda among the bedouin and he quickly had an army. He was able to fight his way to the top and become sultan of what is now Saudi Arabia.
Ibn Saud was a charismatic ruler of magnanimous but forceful disposition. He was not merely able to succeed in the continuous Gambit Pileup
of desert politics, but could hold his own when he later had to deal with Great Powers. He was respected by Sir Winston Churchill
, among other notable people.
The information in this is from The Desert King
by David Howarth, an entertaining and informative book but perhaps with an overly favorable bias.
Ibn Saud fathered an unknown number of children well within the dozens, and his sons have in turn ruled over Saudi Arabia since his death in 1953. The current monarch, Abdullah, is the fifth of his children to reign.
- Arch-Enemy: The Ottoman Empire
- Asskicking Equals Authority: As demonstrated when he dealt with a moronic Prince who was recalled after he sexually harassed a woman while abroad, thus personally embarrassed the King.
- Boisterous Bruiser: He loved to have a good time, whether it was with war, conspiracy, hunting, feasting or with women.
- Born in the Wrong Century
- The Chess Master: Again, this man survived a series of bloodbaths in Arabia leading up to World War One that pretty much destroyed or fatally mauled every other serious contender for Arabian supremacy (namely the Rashidis, the Hashemites, and the Ikhwan later). Including the fact that to do so he had the manuever around the Great Power rivalries between the Turks and the Western Allies.
- Chivalrous Pervert: He is said to have had as many wives as Solomon, but only four at a time. To be fair, Ibn Saud seems to have usually treated them fairly well.
- Crowning Moment of Awesome: The conquest of Riyadh.
- One time after a battle, a rumor had gone round that Ibn Saud had been rendered incapable of producing an heir. As it happened, he had only three wives at the time. So he sent a messenger to a nearby village and he came back with the most beautiful young woman available. Whereupon he right away married her and then consummated in front of thousands of Bedouin warriors. No one asked what she felt about it, of course, though she did get to live in a palace at least.
- Diplomatic Impunity: One of his sons tried to pull this when he sexually harassed a woman in New York. He left the United States unscathed—but got beaten to a pulp by ibn Saud himself when he got back home.
- Egopolis: It became the Kingdom of SAUDI Arabia in 1932.
- Fair for His Day: He was fairly merciful as Arab rulers go.
- A Father to His Men
- Gambit Pileup: He lived in an environment that was little more than a constant STREAM of these. On one level, you had the competing major Arabian clans/polities (the Saudis, the Hashemites, and the Rashidis being the largest three), each representing their own complex regional interests. Then you had various "independent actors" like the Bedouin tribes and the Ikhwan. And THEN you had the fact that Arabia was a flashpoint of conflict for the Great Powers, with Turkish and (later) German influence spreading from the Northwest from Mesopotamia and Palestine and Western Allied (mainly British) influence coming in from the Southwest and West from the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa. And ALL of these factions had ever-more-convoluted relationships and interactions with every other faction. As this article indicates, This was the man that overcame all others to dominate Arabia.
- Genius Bruiser
- Good Is Not Soft
- Good Old Ways
- Henpecked Husband: Sometimes. Rather ironically for such a Badass. Not all that uncommon however in polygamous societies: the husband is after all outnumbered.
- Last Plan Standing: The British Empire, German Empire, and Ottoman Empire all went for Arabia in the Gambit Pileup that was World War One. None of them got it.
- Well, to be specific, the British officially "got" it, in that for a brief period of time, Arabia was recognized as being part of the Empire, and even after the "official" independence, it was still well within Britain's sphere of influence. Of course, the facts on the ground meant that they never really had control, and the "independence" was just yielding to the inevitable and obvious.
- Magnificent Bastard / Guile Hero: Depending on how you look at him.
- Magnetic Hero
- Mighty Whitey: Inverted. He was a local Bedouin who held his own amid the Great Power politics.
- Mosque Militant : Ibn Saud created a Knights Templar-like order called the Ikhwan that made him effectively the only Arab Warrior Prince in the Peninsula with a standing army. This proved useful to him but later the Ikhwan became "Overenthusiastic", troubled his neighbors, and became a dangerous threat to his throne until The British Empire effectively told him, "If you can't control your people, we'll control them for you". Thus persuaded Ibn Saud forcibly suppressed the Ikhwan,
- Noble Savage: Ibn Saud is almost an exact example of this trope.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Real Men Love Allah
- The Rustler: Camel rustling was once the national sport of bedouin. Until people like ibn Saud stole all the fun...
- Sheik Badass
- Slave Mooks : Like many Arab princes, he used slaves as police. The reasoning was that slaves would obey better, and would be less difficult about the rather distasteful duties that came with the local style of police work then a free man would.
- Storming the Castle: Riyadh
- Unobtanium : Oil was found late in his reign.
- Warrior Prince
- World War One: The event that more-or-less determined that he would win the grand scramble for control of Arabia. On one hand, one of his major rivals (the Rashidis) sided with the Turks only to be left out to dry when the main Turkish armies were engaged further to the West and East in Palestine and Mesopotamia against the Western Allies, leaving the road to Ha'il open to the Saudis. His other main rival camp (the Hashemites) also sided with the Western Allies and indeed played a more active role in the war than the Saudis did... and as a result were bled out fighting the Turks AND promptly alienated both the Western Allies and the local Arab powerbrokers from them by their grand pretensions to be rulers of all Arabs.