Watch ALparslan Episode 51 English Subtitles under the post.
The History of Seljuk Empire
The Seljuk, also known as the Türkmen or Ghuzz, were a group of nomadic tribes that came from the Oghuz peoples which dominated the steppes between the north Black Sea and the Aral Sea (Lapidus, 2002; Peacock, 2015, 2016). This central Asian nomadic tribe from the Eurasian steppe was the homeland of the Turks’. Under the leadership of their chief Seljuk, from whom the empire takes its name, crossed the Oxus river in 1025 CE and settled in a place called Jand – a remote outpost of the Islamic world situated in the northwest of modern Kazakhstan (Lapidus, 2002, p. 119).
At Jand, Seljuk and his tribe converted to Islam when they came into contact with the Muslim world. After the conversion of the inner Asian people, the warriors at the frontiers of the settled states Ghaznavids gave up their defense, who had hitherto resisted Turkish incursion because they were protecting the Islamic world from barbarians. The nomads were eventually employed to maintain the defense of the region under the patronage of the ruling dynasty. However, as the settled lands below the Eurasian steppe were convulsed into political chaos with the fall of the Persian Samanids, the Ghaznavids and the Karakhanidsought for the lands in the region (Peacock, 2016).
It was at this juncture that the Seljuk Chief, Tughril Beg, the grandson of Seljuk, attacked Nishapur in 1037 CE laying the foundation for the Great Seljuk Empire and by 1040 (battle of Dandanqan) seized the vast surrounding province of Khurasan historically comprising most of modern eastern Iran, Turkmenistan and northern Afghanistan from the Ghaznavids (Peacock, 2016). The established political order of the central Islamic lands would be swept away for more than a century with the Seljuk takeover of Khurasan (Peacock, 2015).
Tughril, later, expanded his empire westward into Iran with Nishapur as his base. The height of Tughril’s rule and the Seljuk Empire’s wider recognition came when Tughril conquered Baghdad in 1055 ending the rule of the Shi’ite Buyyid dynasty and liberating the “protectorate” of the caliphate and brought it under the Sunni Seljuk sultan (Donner, 1999; Peacock, 2016). Tugril took over the title of ‘Sultan,’ which roughly translated to ‘holder of power’ (Hourani, 2013). Baghdad was the seat of the ‘Abbasid Caliphate, and keeping in line with the predecessors, Tughril recognized the religious leadership of the Caliph in Baghdad while maintaining the political and military power (Peacock, 2015).
Alparslan (1063-1072 CE), the nephew of Tughril, took over the throne after the death of his uncle. His reign was characterized by almost constant campaigning, that it was difficult to find a center of gravity in the empire during his rule. The most famous campaign during his rule was the great expedition that culminated in the defeat and capture of the Byzantine Emperor Romanus Diogenes at the Battle of Manzikert in eastern Anatolia in 1071 CE (Peacock, 2016).
The defeat sent the Byzantine Empire into a civil war, which allowed the Turkic tribes to move. into Anatolia. Most notable of them was the rebel Seljuk Prince Sulayman ibn Qutlumush, who tried to establish his rule in Anatolia in 1081CE in which eventually leading it to the formation of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (Peacock, 2016).