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1040-1075 - Great Seljuk Empire

Among the various tribes of Turks the Seljuks were most successful in making their power permanent. In the eleventh century they invaded Asia Minor and established their capital at Nice. The Eastern emperor, however, succeeded in driving them back so that the Seljuk capital was changed to Iconion, the ancient Iconium. In 1040 the Seljuk Turks crossed the Oxus from the north, and having defeated Masud, sultan of Ghazni, raised Toghrul Beg, grandson of Seljuk, to the throne of Persia, founding the Seljukian dynasty, with its capital at Nishapur. A younger brother of Toghrul, Daud, took possession of Mcrv and Herat. Toghrul was succeeded by his nephew Alp Arslan (the Great Lion), who was buried at Merv. It was about this time that Merv reached the zenith of her glory. During the reign of Sultan Sanjar or Sinjar of the same house, in the middle of the 11th century, Merv was overrun by the Turkish tribes of the Ghuzz from beyond the Oxus. It eventually passed under the sway of the rulers of Khwarizm (Khiva).

The ruins of Old Merv cover an area of over 15 sq.mi. They consist of a square citadel (Bairam Ali Khan kalah), m. in circuit, built by a son of Tamerlane and destroyed by the Bokharians, and another kalah or walled inclosure known as Abdullah Khan. North from these lies the old capital of the Seljuks, known as Sultan Kalah, and destroyed by the Mongols in 1219. Its most conspicuous feature is the burial mosque of Sultan Sanjar, reputedly dating from the 12th century. East of the old Seljuk capital is Giaur Kalah, the Merv of the Nestorian era and the capital of the Arab princes. North of the old Seljuk capital are the ruins of Iskender Kalah, probably to be identified with the ancient Merv of the Seleucid dynasty.

Tugrul Bey 1040 1063
Sultan Alp Arslan 1063 1072
Sultan Melik Shah I 1072 1092
Sultan Mahmud 1092 1093
Sultan Rukneddin Beryaruk 1093 1104
Sultan Melik Shah II 1104 1105
Sultan Mehmed Tapar 1105 1118
Sultan Mu'izzeddin Sancar 1118 1157
Alp Arslan succeeded his uncle, Togrul Beg (he having no children), in AD 1064. He was born in Turkestan, AD 1029. He ascended the throne of his father David 1053. He therefore filled the thrones of his father and uncle. His first act was to unite his extended dominions into one vast monarchy. After the union of his dominion was secured he embraced Islamism, when he took the surname of Alp-Arslan (the lion heart), that not being his real name. He received from the Caliph the title of the defender of the faith (Adhad-eddin), with this extreme honor, namely, that prayers should be said in his name. He moved his armies towards the Greek empire. He carried with him the Scythian valor with the fanaticism of new proselytes and the art and riches of a powerful monarch. His conquests rolled away from the open country without inflicting damage on the Greek empire. He crossed the Euphrates, entered Caisarea, carrying off the gates of the church of St. Basil, encrusted with gold and pearls. He conquered Armenia and Georgia in 1069, they being at that time Christian kingdoms. This extended frontier was taken from the Greek empire.

Finding his army twice driven over the Euphrates by the forces of the Greek empire, Alp Arslan marched in person against the emperor Romanus IV. In August, 1071, a bloody battle was fought near the fortress of Malasker, between the towns of Van and Erzeroum. The Greek emperor was defeated and taken prisoner, and only obtained his liberty by a ransom of 1,000,000, and an annual tribute of 100,000. About one year after this battle he was slain by an assassin at Berzem in his own native country, Turkestan, which he had invaded during his reign. His empire made considerable progress in extent and civilization. The fairest part of Asia was subject to his laws.

Malek Shah succeeded his father, Alp Arslan, to the throne of the empire of Seljukian Turks. He developed extraordinary resources, both as to physical endurance and mental activity. He exhibited a vigorous mixture of the fixed (civilized) and nomadic elements of social"and political existence. He attained to and occupied the summit of his nation's greatness. Under his administration the empire, a unit in every particular, reached its most ample boundaries, sweeping its ample curve beyond the hordes of eastern Turkestan, along the western borders of the Celestial empire, to the south as far as the spicy groves of Arabia Felix ; including Jerusalem (which they held twenty years, to the first crusade), and westward to the vicinity of Constantinople; through Georgia and along the southern line of Siberia. The luxury of his harem was freely exchanged, by this royal shepherd, for the activity of the camp and the battlefield. Twelve times was each province of his vast dominions visited by its restless sultan, and at each repetition of this extended circuit, innumerable favors were bestowed upon the people. He was a zealous Mohaaamedan, and was the first to be called the " Commander of the faithful." His pilgrimage to Mecca was one of great splendor, and abounded in liberal almsgiving. His encampments and places of refreshment through Arabia, made its deserts blossom like the rose.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:45:41 ZULU