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Seljuk -  The Seljuq (Turkish Selcuklular;  Arabic سلجوق Saljūq, or السلاجقة al-Salahjiqa) (also Seldjuk, Seluk Turks) Turks ruled a huge Persianized empire in the eleventh century, which was a practical successor to the northern part of the Arab empire, as it included Baghdad and all of Persia. At its largest extent, which lasted for only a brief time, it also included all of Palestine and Anatolia in the West, and a large part of Afghanistan in the East, and reached as far north as the Aral sea and Armenia. 



The Seljuqs were originally a clan or clans of the Oguz or Oghuz Turkmen tribes that invaded the Central Asian Steppes about 1000 CE.  They converted to Islam, and, on conquering Persia, became Persianized in language and culture. The rapid Seljuk expansion alarmed Christian Europe, which became concerned for the fate of the Eastern Roman Empire ("Byzantium" with its capital at Constantinople).  It also attracted the attentions of all the rival Muslim emirates and dynasties on their borders, and particularly the Shi'a, whose faithful were a majority in the area of Iran.


The Seljuqs made their capital in Isfahan. They came to speak Persian and spread Persian culture throughout the Middle East.  and they used Farsi as their official language. As with many of the Muslim empires, divisions were fostered by unclear rules of succession and by splitting up the emirates among the sons of rulers. Nominally, all the associated realms were ruled by a Grand Sultan, but the connections were weak and the they were slow to aid each other in case of attack. The Seljuq empire contracted until it was left only with Eastern Anatolia, called the "The Seljuqs of Rum." Rum is the Arab word for "Rome," meaning the Byzantine empire. This area was populated by Byzantine Christians, Armenians and Sunni and Shia Muslims. The Seljuks succeeded in providing a relatively stable and tolerant state.  The Seljuk empire was subjugated by the Mongols and eventually eliminated.


About 1040 Togrul 1, chief of the Seljuqs and grandson of Seljuq, began to conquer large parts of the lands that comprises modern Iran and Iraq. By 1055, he had  conquered Baghdad from the Shia Buyids, and made himself protector of the caliph in Baghdad. Nominally, the Caliph was his superior, and bestowed the title of Sultan on him.


A crucial stage in Seljuk history and in the history of Muslim-Christian relations was marked by the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The Battle of Manzikert  was fought between the Byzantine Empire lead by Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes  and Seljuq forces led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert (Malazgirt). The power of the Byzantine empire had been waning. This battle demonstrated its weakness. The Emperor was captured and humiliated, but set free. The following year, Arslan died and the Turks proceeded to settle Anatolia, capturing Iconium (Konya) and making it the seat of their Rum sultanate. News of the Battle of Manzikert ignited the first Crusade.


Toward the end of the Eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, the Seljuq state in Persia began disintegrating  into smaller states, ruled by relatives and descendants of the previous sultans. Western Persia (Hamadan) came to be ruled by a different line than southern Persia, Kerman, though for a time the Sultanate of Rum remained nominally under their sway. 


In 1097, the Seljuqs were defeated by the Crusaders in Anatolia, losing Western Anatolia  to Christian rulers. In 1194, Togrul 3, the last Iranian Seljuq sultan, fell  on the battlefield fighting Khwarazmshah, who annexed Western Persia.


Around 1230 the Seljuqs of Rum fought the Khorezmians and defeated them. However, they were invaded and subjugated by the Mongols in 1243. Seljuq rulers continued to rule as tributaries of the Mongols. Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II, the last Seljuk Sultan, was removed and reinstated in office several times by his Mongol overlords. He died or was removed from office for the last time about 1306 or 1307, ending the Seljuk line.


In addition to the main lines shown below, other Seljuq dynasties ruled in Southern and Western Persia and in Syria.


Great Seljuq Dynasty


The "Great Seljuqs" ruled in Persia. They were heads of the family. Theoretically, they got their power from the Caliph and their authority extended over all the other Seljuq lines, although in practice this often was not the case. The ruler was either the head of the family, as dictated by Turkish custom, or the ruler of Western Iran.

* Tugrul I (Tugrul Beg) 1055(?)–1063
* Alp Arslan bin Chaghri 1063–1072
* Jalal ad-Dawlah Malik Shah I 1072–1092
* Nasir ad-Din Mahmud I 1092–1093
* Rukn ad-Din Barkiyaruq 1093–1104
* Mu'izz ad-Din Malik Shah II 1105
* Ghiyath ad-Din Mehmed I Tapar 1105–1118
* Mu'izz ad-Din Ahmed Sanjar 1118–1157

Seljuq sultans of Rum (Anatolia)



* Kutalmish 1060–1077
* Suleyman Ibn Kutalmish (Suleiman) 1077–1086
* Dawud Kilij Arslan I 1092–1107
* Malik Shah 1107–1116
* Rukn ad-Din Mas'ud 1116–1156
* Izz ad-Din Kilij Arslan II 1156–1192
* Ghiyath ad-Din Kaykhusraw I 1192–1196
* Suleyman II (Suleiman) 1196–1204
* Kilij Arslan III 1204–1205
* Ghiyath ad-Din Kaykhusraw I (second time) 1205–1211
* Izz ad-Din Kaykaus I 1211–1220
* Ala ad-Din Kay Qubadh I 1220–1237
* Ghiyath ad-Din Kaykhusraw II 1237–1246
* Izz ad-Din Kaykaus II 1246–1260
* Rukn ad-Din Kilij Arslan IV 1248–1265
* Ala ad-Din Kayqubad II 1249–1257
* Ghiyath ad-Din Kaykhusraw III 1265–1282
* Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II 1282–1284
* Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III 1284
* Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II (2nd time) 1284–1293
* Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III (2nd time) 1293–1294
* Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II (3rd time) 1294–1301
* Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III (3rd time) 1301–1303
* Ghiyath ad-Din Mesud II (4th time) 1303–1306(?)

Ami Isseroff


November 18, 2008



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