Battle of Manzikart II Yarmouk
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The most important chapter in Sultan Alp Arsalan’s life is the Battle of Manjikart. This battle gave him a special feature in the military history of Islam. This war was an unequal fight against the Romans. There was no chance of victory. Yet the Sultan faced the Romans with infinite courage. Vijay took it away. As a result, this battle is known in history as the Second Yarmouk.
Before going into the details of the war, it is necessary to explain a little about the Romans.
Soon after the advent of Islam, the Roman Empire faced a formidable new challenge. Muslims conquered Syria and Egypt during the Sahaba’s era. From there the rule of the Byzantines ended. The Umayyads made two major attempts to conquer the empire, the first in 674–678 AD and the second in 717 AD by the siege of Constantinople. This campaign may have continued regularly. But the situation changed when the Umayyads fell to the Abbasids in 750 AD.
The Abbasids abandoned Rajajoy’s ambitious plans and instead of regular military campaigns, they conducted expeditions only when special situations arose. However, the Byzantines were always forced to look down on the Abbasids. When Emperor Nicephorus broke the treaty during Caliph Harunur’s Rashid, the Sultan responded harshly to him. After that, the Abbasids sometimes entered Byzantine Anatolia in their campaigns. For example, in the middle of the reign of Caliph Mu’tasim (833-842 AD) in 838 AD, Muslim forces raided Amorium in central western Anatolia and conquered the city.
However, the situation began to change around the ninth century. Meanwhile, the Abbasids began to lose their power. Others began to turn the rod of authority over their heads. The Abbasid economy was declining and the government was crippled by religious and political factions. The Byzantines took advantage of this division and weakness. They regain their lost courage. Over the centuries they recovered their lost provinces of Illyricum, Greece, Bulgaria, northern Syria, Cilicia, and Armenia through a series of campaigns. No effective action was taken against them by the Caliphate or other rulers.
To be honest, no one had the courage and strength to conduct such an operation at that time. The Byzantines were becoming increasingly greedy and dreamed of regaining their lost territories. But the emergence of a new force on the battlefield changed the situation. This new power was the Seljuk Turks, who saved the Abbasid Caliphate from collapse and were committed to providing security for the Ummah. The sudden rise of the Seljuks changed all the tables. The Buwaihis withdrew from the seat of power, the Fatimis also lost their authority over various cities.
The rise of the Seljuks was also a threat to the Byzantines. This threat first manifested itself during the reign of Constantine IX, when the Seljuk Turks attempted to seize the Armenian capital of Ani. It was during this campaign that the Seljuk-Byzantine conflict began. Circumstances forced Constantine to make a treaty with the Seljuks that lasted until 1064. They then captured Ani and in 1067 captured the rest of Armenia, including Caesarea. Romanos IV came to power in 1068 and after some rapid military reforms put Manuel Comnenus in charge of the campaign against the Seljuks. Manuel captured Manbij in Syria.
He then repulsed a Turkish attack on Konya, but was later defeated and captured by Sultan Alp Arsalan. Despite the success, Alp Arsalan made a peace treaty with the Byzantines in 1069. At that time, the Fatimids of Egypt became his main opponents. As a result, he was more busy in that direction. In February 1071 the Romanos sent envoys to Alp Arsalan to renew the treaty. The Sultan agreed to this. After raising the siege of Edessa, he marched towards the Fatimid-held Aleppo. Romanos marched a large army into Armenia to recapture the fortress, breaking the peace treaty.
But as a ruler, Romanos needed a major victory to secure not only Armenia, but also his throne. In the summer of 1071 AD (463 AH), Romanos decided to strike the final blow against the Seljuks. In February of that year, the Romanos sent emissaries to Sultan Alp Arsalan to extend the period of the treaty, and the sultan agreed, and the treaty was renewed.
Originally his plan was to confuse the Sultan under the guise of a treaty. Just when the sultan felt safe with the Byzantines about the peace treaty, the Romanos’ forces would attack. During the treaty, Romanos continued to prepare for war, although Sultan Alp Arsalan was unaware of his activities.
At the beginning of August 1071 AD, the Romanos marched toward Islamic territory with a vast army of two hundred thousand soldiers. His army consisted of Greeks, French, Russians, Georgians, Armenians, and many other nationalities. According to the historian Gibbon it was the largest army ever maintained by the Roman Empire, East or West. These forces were equipped with modern weaponry and came to invade Islamic lands to establish their authority not to
The size and strength of this army can be estimated from some statements by historians. Imam Zahabi wrote about this battle, this battle had the largest number of soldiers. Historian Yafe’i called this battle, al-Malhamat al-Kubra—the great battle. Ibnu Taghri Bardi called this battle the greatest battle fought between Muslims and Romans. In August this force reached Manzikart. They had the dream of winning the state.
Historian Imamuddin Isfahani wrote, they were dreaming of world conquest. They wanted to terrify all the rulers. Romanos’ forces were so confident of their victory that they divided the rule of the various cities among themselves before the battle. Romanos gave one of his generals the post of Baghdad and ordered him to treat the Caliph well.
While the Byzantines were sitting on the grounds of Manzikart dividing the Muslim world, Sultan Alp Arslan was busy besieging Azerbaijan. He was stationed in Kuwait city with his family and his army. There he received news that Romanos had arrived at Manzikart with two hundred thousand troops. This was very disappointing news for the Sultan. Because he had only fifteen thousand soldiers with him at that time. Other forces of the Seljuk army were stationed in different cities, which could not be mobilized in a short time. But he has to face Romanos soon. Two paths were open before the Sultan. Maybe fight, or run away. Sultan chose the first.
He quickly advanced toward Manjikart with his forces. It was an unparalleled example of his courage. His forces were nowhere near that of Romanos in terms of strength. On the way the Sultan’s army encountered the advance party of the Roman army. The strength of this army was 10 thousand. After a short battle this force was defeated. Their commander was arrested. Sultan Alp Arsalan with his forces approached the Romanos forces. He then sent envoys to offer the Romans a truce. Romanos rejected this offer.
He replied, I have spent a lot of resources and prepared a huge army for this situation today. So I will not go in the way of any treaty or agreement. I will do to the Muslim lands what was done to the Roman lands.
Romanos sent a brief message through another emissary, revealing his arrogance and confidence. In that message he said, ‘I have brought forces that you cannot resist. So willingly accept my allegiance’.
His message angered Sultan Alp Arsalan. He said in a firm voice, ‘Tell your master, My Lord has brought me here, so that I may praise Him. My Lord has brought you here to cook the food of the Muslims.” (32)
After this heated conversation, it became clear that the war was only a matter of time. The soldiers started getting ready with their weapons. The Sultan himself made mental preparations for the final battle. He knew that he was going to face an army ten times bigger than his own. Outwardly there is no chance of victory. But there is a big difference in the belief of Muslims with other religions, they believe that victory and defeat come from Allah. He brings down the strong through the weak. He responded to the call of the oppressed. He won them against the oppressors. He helps the servant when there is no helper by his side.
Sultan Alp Arslan was advised by Abu Nasr Muhammad Ibn Abdul Malik Bukhari, the imam and teacher of his army, saying, ‘You are fighting for the religion of Allah. He promised to make the religion victorious over all the religions of the world
did I hope Allah has decreed this victory for you. You choose Friday afternoon for the battle. The Khatibs will then be on the pulpit, and they will pray for the Mujahideen.
This admonition of Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Abdil Malik Bukhari soothed the Sultan’s mind. Basically, this is the duty of a true scholar. When a true scholar develops good relations with a ruler, his aim is to awaken religious consciousness in the ruler and help him in religious matters. He gave priority to religious matters rather than attaining worldly interests by flattering the ruler.
As a result, it is important for the rulers to get close to the scholars. At the battle of Manjikart, Sultan Alp Arsalan achieved a sort of calm before the battle began, and this was made possible by the presence of the scholars. Four hundred years after this event, we see another such event in history. When the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih laid siege to Constantinople, he became frustrated at one point when he was unable to conquer the city. Then his teacher Shaikh Ak Shamsuddin gave him encouragement and motivation. Constantinople was conquered shortly thereafter.
The rest of the article will be published in Alparslan Episode 31 English Subtitles. Thank you.