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Seljuk Turks: The Great Seljuk Empire 1037–1194


1080 3,900,000 km2

Common languages
Persian (official and court; literature and lingua franca)
Oghuz Turkic (dynastic and military)
Arabic (theology, law and science)
Religion Sunni Islam (Hanafi)
Government De facto: Independent Sultanate
De jure: Under Caliphate

• 1031–1075 Al-Qa'im
• 1180-1225 Al-Nasir

• 1037–1063 Toghrul I (first)
• 1174–1194 Toghrul III (last)

• Tughril formed the state system 1037
• Battle of Dandanaqan 1040
• Battle of Manzikert 1071
• First Crusade 1095–1099
• Battle of Qatwan 1141
• Replaced by the Khwarezmian Empire 1194

Preceded by
• Oghuz Yabgu State
• Ghaznavids
• Buyid dynasty
• Byzantine Empire
• Kakuyids
• Fatimid Caliphate
• Kara-Khanid Khanate
• Marwanids
• Rawadids

Succeeded by

• Sultanate of Rϋm
• Anatolian beyliks
• Ghurid Dynasty
• Khwarezmian Empire
• Atabegs of Azerbaijan
• Salghurids
• Bavandids
• Ayyubid dynasty
• Burid dynasty
• Zengid dynasty
• Danishmends
• Artuqid dynasty
• Shah-Armens
• Shaddadids

The Seljuk Empire or the Great Seljuq Empire was a high medieval Turkish Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qiniq branch of Oghuz Turks. At its greatest extent, the Seljuk Empire controlled a vast area stretching from western Anatolia and the Levant to the Hindu Kush in the east, and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf in the south.

The Seljuk empire was founded by Tughril Beg (990–1063) and his brother Chaghri Beg (989–1060) in 1037. From their homelands near the Aral Sea, the Seljuks advanced first into Khorasan and then into mainland Persia, before eventually capturing Baghdad and conquering eastern Anatolia. Here the Seljuks won the battle of Manzikert in 1071 and conquered most of Anatolia from the Byzantine Empire, which became one of the reasons for the first crusade (1095-1099). Starting from 1140s, the Seljuk empire declined, and was eventually replaced by the Khwarazmian Empire in 1194.

Seljuk gave his name to both the empire and the Seljuk dynasty. The Seljuks united the fractured political landscape of the eastern Islamic world and played a key role in the first and second crusades. Highly Persianized in culture and language, the Seljuks also played an important role in the development of the Turko-Persian tradition, even exporting Persian culture to Anatolia. The settlement of Turkic tribes in the northwestern peripheral parts of the empire, for the strategic military purpose of fending off invasions from neighboring states, led to the progressive Turkicization of those areas.

Map: Seljuq Empire at its greatest extent in 1092, upon the death of Malik Shah I; showing the Great Seljuk Empire at its height, upon the death of Malik Shah I in 1092. The capital of the Great Seljuk Empire is shown at Ishfahan (Persia/Iran). The borders of present-day countries are shown in gray. The lighter colour in the top right represents Karakhanids. "In 1089, Malik Shah returned to the charge, occupied Bukhara, captured Sarakand, and imprisoned the Karakhanid Ahmed . . . whom he later reinstated as client-ruler. From that time forward, the Karakhanids who reigned in Bukhara and Samarkand did so as lieutenants of the Seljuk sultans. Transoxiana was now no more than a dependency of the Seljuk Empire." (Grousset p. 147.) Other areas such as the Danishmends are not shown separately. The locations of the Battle of Manzikert (1071) and the Battle of Dandanaqan (1040) are also shown.


First Crusade (1095-1099)

During the First Crusade, the fractured states of the Seljuqs were generally more concerned with consolidating their own territories and gaining control of their neighbours than with cooperating against the crusaders. The Seljuqs easily defeated the People's Crusade arriving in 1096, but they could not stop the progress of the army of the subsequent Princes' Crusade, which took important cities such as Nicaea (İznik), Iconium (Konya), Caesarea Mazaca (Kayseri), and Antioch (Antakya) on its march to Jerusalem (Al-Quds). In 1099 the crusaders finally captured the Holy Land and set up the first Crusader states. The Seljuqs had already lost Palestine to the Fatimids, who had recaptured it just before its capture by the crusaders.

After pillaging the County of Edessa, Seljuqid commander Ilghazi made peace with the Crusaders. In 1121 he went north towards Georgia and with supposedly up to 250 000 - 350 000 troops, including men led by his son-in-law Sadaqah and Sultan Malik of Ganja, he invaded the Kingdom of Georgia. David IV of Georgia gathered 40,000 Georgian warriors, including 5,000 monaspa guards, 15,000 Kipchaks, 300 Alans and 100 French Crusaders to fight against Ilghazi's vast army. The Battle of Didgori was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Georgia and the Seljuk Empire, on August 12, 1121. As a result, the Seljuks were routed and fled from the battlefield, being run down by pursuing Georgian cavalry for several days. The Didgori battle helped the Crusader states, which had been under the pressure of Ilghazi's armies. The weakening of the main enemy of the Latin principalities was beneficial for the Kingdom of Jerusalem under King Baldwin II.


Second Crusade (1147-1149)

During this time conflict with the Crusader states was also intermittent, and after the First Crusade increasingly independent atabegs would frequently ally with the Crusader states against other atabegs as they vied with each other for territory. At Mosul, Zengi succeeded Kerbogha as atabeg and successfully began the process of consolidating the atabegs of Syria. In 1144 Zengi captured Edessa, as the County of Edessa had allied itself with the Artuqids against him. This event triggered the launch of the Second Crusade. Nur ad-Din, one of Zengi's sons who succeeded him as atabeg of Aleppo, created an alliance in the region to oppose the Second Crusade, which landed in 1147.



Seljuks- Mongols-Timur-Ottomans-Moguls-Safavids-Fall of East Roman Empire

Two royal figures (Saljuq Period)

The Turks Enter Anatolia (1016-1071) - History Time

The Rise and Fall of the Seljuk Empire (1:15m) - EmperorTigerstar

Tutush, Kerbogha & the Fall of the Great Seljuk Empire - History Time

Rise of the Seljuk Empire - Nomadic Civilizations DOCUMENTARY - Kings & Generals


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