The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
History of the Anatolian Seljuks
Although the focusscope of this website concerns the Seljuks of Anatolia, or the Seljuks of Rum (Eastern Rome) as they were known by their contemporaries, it is necessary to first trace their origins back in time and farther east in place. The Anatolian Seljuks are an offshoot tribe of a larger group of Turks, the Great Seljuk Turks of Iran. The entire "Seljuk Age" spans three hundred years, from the 11th century up to the 13th century.
The Anatolian Seljuks were the founders of the first true Turkish state in Asia Minor. The Seljuks of Anatolia were responsible for one of the richest and most inventive periods in Turkish culture. They ruled over most of Turkey for almost two centuries, between the 11-13th centuries, from their capital in Konya. During that time, their refined, enlightened culture flourished throughout most of Turkey.
Anatolia, or Asia Minor as it was known in ancient times, has been inhabited for 30,000 years. A bridge land due to its location, it possesses an abundance of natural resources, water, good soil, a fairly suitable climate. It has always been attractive to settlers, such as the Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians and the Greeks.
The Seljuk tribe was one of the many Turkic peoples who had been migrating westward from the Central Asian steppes for thousands of years. By the middle of the 11th century the Seljuks were the first group to have become a significant political entity. Under their remarkable leader, Tuğrul Bey, who led them from one victory to another between 1038-1063, they vanquished the Caliphate in Baghdad, and eventually, under his successors, much of western Asia. By the early 12th century, the Seljuks were masters of the Middle East as far east as present-day Afghanistan, excluding Egypt. By then they had separated into two main branches: the Great Seljuks (Iran, Iraq, Syria), whose capital was located at Isphahan, and the Anatolian Seljuks, who ruled from Konya.
The Seljuks eventually adopted Persian culture along with Islam, although
they adopted the Sunni Hanefite instead of the Shiite sect. Their culture
was an amalgam of many languages and traditions. While Arabic retained its
supremacy in the spheres of law, theology and science, the culture of the court
and secular literature became largely Persianized. This can be seen in the
the adoption of the names of Persian epic heroes by the Seljuk sultans (such as
Giyaseddin, Kubad and Kay Khusraw) and in the literary production of the time.
Konya in the 13th century was the site of one of the creation of the crowning glories
of Persian classical literature: the Mathnawi by Jalal al-Din Rumi. It
can be assumed that the Turkish language remained the vehicle for everyday
speech, and is reflected in the folk poetry of Yunus Emre. Lastly, the Seljuks
were in contact with Byzantine and Christian populations and traditions living
in Anatolia at this time (Greek-speaking Christians and Armenians). They
signed trade agreements with the Genoese and the Venetians, several sultans
spent time during their youth at the Byzantine courts in Constantinople (notably Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev, together with his sons, Izzeddin Keykavüs and
Alaeddin Keykubad), and there were frequent inter-marriages with Byzantine
princesses. The Seljuks thus widened their world view by this contact with
the Christian West, in addition to the traditions inherited from the Arabs and
This ascendancy was suddenly eclipsed in 1243 by the invasion of the Mongols. The Anatolian Seljuks were reduced to being vassals to the Mongols, with their empire finally petering out in 1326. Yet another group of Turks was ready to assume power, primed to become one of the greatest empires in history, to rule over three continents for six centuries: The Ottomans.
THE ISLAMIC WORLD AT THE END OF THE 10TH C.
The Islamic world at the end of the 10th century was dominated by the Abbasid empire, ruling from Baghdad. Yet the Abbasid empire knew true grandeur only at its beginnings, after which it became too vast, decentralized and prey to division into fiefdoms of local rulers. There was also a major disruptive element at this time: the divisive religious problem of the rival Sunnite and Shiite sects of the Islamic faith. At the end of the 10th century, the sole Sunnite ruler was the Abbasid caliph, with Shiism triumphing everywhere else. The Abbasid court even fell into the hands of the Bouyid emirs in 945, who were themselves Shiites.
Thus, at the end of the 10th Century, the Near East was in political chaos, with small, scattered emirates reigning independently. Syria had no central government since the end of the Omeyyads in the 8th century, and the Fatimids of Egypt had trouble facing their own interior struggles.
The Byzantine Empire, on the other hand, was strong and centralized, with the Macedonian dynasty in power since 867. The Byzantine Empire enjoyed commercial prosperity, an intellectual renaissance and a government led by strong emperors. Constantinople was the capital city, with important satellite centers in Venice, southern Italy and the Slavic countries. However, the Turks were already making inroads into the Byzantine Empire, which employed them as mercenary troops. For the most part, the army of the Byzantine empire consisted of private troops enrolled by the state, and included Turks, Scandinavians and Normans.
THE SELJUKS OF IRAN
The Turkish tribe of the Seljuks takes its name from one of its chiefs, Seljuk. They were a family of Oghuz Turks from Central Asia, living in the area east of the Caspian Sea near the Aral Sea. These Turkish nomads became known in Islamic terminology as the "Turkmens" or "Turkomans". As tent dwellers, they lived a pastoral life based on transhumance. By the end of the 10th century, the clan chieftain, Seluk, ever searching for greener pastures for their animals, had settled the family on the left bank of the lower Syr-Daria region, from whence they moved into Transoxiana (the region around present-day Samarkand). At about this time, they converted from Shamanism to Sunnite Islam. They found themselves as contenders for this area, along with the Karahanids, Ghaznevids and Samanids. This area "beyond the Oxus", fed by both the rivers of the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya, was a lush, green prize, as it was the only area with fertile soil in the area. The Seljuks differed from the Bouyids and the Fatimids, both Shiites. The Seljuks managed to create a vast empire, stretching from the Marmara Sea to Central Asia and from the Caucasus to India and Yemen. Its borders were so vast that it was called the Great Seljuk state. It is reported that the great warrior Seljuk was over 100 years old when he died in 1007.
After several defeats at the hands of the Seljuks, the Ghaznevids, another powerful Turkish dynasty located in northern India, the Khorassan and Iran, ceded the arid Khorassan region (northwestern Iran) in 1035 to the Seljuk prince Chağribey, son of Seljuk. His brother, Tuğrul Beg, is the true creator of the Seljuk power, founding the important cities of Nichapur in 1038 and Khwarezm in 1042. He entered Iran and seized Hamadan and Isphahan, establishing it as his capital in 1051. In 1055, the caliph of Baghdad, after several serious incidents and revolts, appealed to Tuğrul for help. Tuğrul entered the city, assumed protectorate of the enfeebled Abbassid caliphate and was awarded the title of Sultan.
Upon the death of Tuğrul in 1063, his nephew Alp-Arslan ("Alp" = warrior hero, "arslan" = lion) assumed control. He led expeditions against the Byzantines, occupying territory as he advanced westwards. Eastern Anatolia was fairly unpopulated at this time, as the Byzantine emperor Basil II (965-1025) had displaced some 40,000 Armenians living there to Sivas and Kayseri. Alp-Arslan invaded Armenia in 1064, entered Anatolia, took control of Aleppo in 1070, and in 1071 took Jerusalem, the setting of the stage of the Crusades. In 1071, the Byzantine Emperor Romain Diogenes decided to reconquer Armenia, but was soundly defeated by Alp Arslan at the battle of MANZIKERT, a strategic fortress about 25 miles north of Lake Van. This victory firmly established Turkish rule in Anatolia. Alp-Arslan was murdered in his tent in 1072. With his death, the Great Seljuks of Persia effectively ceased to be an important force in the area and started to recede from the scene to leave the stage to the branch of the Seljuks of Anatolia.
Melik Şah, son and successor of Alp Arslan in 1072, and was one of the
most powerful and brilliant rulers of the Seljuks. He seized Transoxiania and
Kirman in 1079. During his reign, the empire extended from Asia Minor to
Turkestan, but at his death in 1092 the empire collapsed, with family members
splitting up the territories, thereby weakening the centralized power. These
small states included the Syrian Seljuks, the Iraq and Khorassan Seljuks, the
Kirman Seljuks and the Anatolian Seljuks. The Great Seljuks were able to maintain their power
for another 100 years or so, but due to the conflicts with the Ismalian Shiites
(Turkish tribes coming from Central Asia), the Crusades, and other Turkish
tribes coming from Central Asia, the Great Seljuk empire definitively ended with
the death of Tuğrul III in 1194.
During the reign of Sultan Melik Şah, the Great Seljuk State experienced its most successful period in the fields of military, science, politics and literature. One of the keys to the success of this empire was a strong centralized government, the result of the administrative genius of the grand vizier Nizam al-Mulk, the right-hand man of Melik Şah. He wrote his theories of government in a treatise called the Siyaset-Name, which defined the roles of the army, taxation, education, justice, finances, civil servants and the power structure. In addition, the age of Seljuk supremacy was one of the most glorious in all of Persia, with an outstanding building program of some 50 monuments (Masjid-I Jami of Ispahan), notably medreses (institutions of higher learning, such as the Nizamiye Medrese). Their ceramic art was prolific (Amol, Gabri, Lakabi, Kashan blue and black wares and the Rayy minai lusterwares) and they were master metalworkers.
THE TURKS IN ANATOLIA and the NEAR EAST
At the same time the Great Seljuks were gaining power, other tribes of Turkomen were carving out small principalities in the Near East: these included the Saltukids in Erzurum, the Danishmendids in northwest Anatolia (Tokat, Amasya and Sivas), the Mengujukids on the Upper Euphrates (Erzincan and Divriği), the Artuquids in Central Anatolia, the Kharazem Şahs of the lower Oxus, and the Zangids and Kurdish Ayyubids in Syria. These dynasties were more or less ephemeral, never lasting more than 75 years or so, to be absorbed by the Anatolian Seljuks or later, by the Mongols. By far the most brilliant leader of this group of small principalities was the Salah ad-Din, known to the West as Saladin of the Crusades, who founded the dynasty of the Ayyubids, at one point master of all Syria and Egypt (end 12th century).
Of all the dynasties founded by the members of the Seljuk tribes (the Syrian, Khorassan, Iraq, Kirman Seljuq states), the one that had the greatest success and the longest reign, and which managed to constitute a solid and organized state, were the Anatolian Seljuks of Asia Minor, otherwise known as the SELJUKS OF RUM (of the Roman empire, the country of Rum, as the West was called by the eastern Iranian Turks).
SELJUKS OF RUM: 1077-1307
After the Battle of Manzikert of 1071 and the subsequent arrival of the Anatolian Seljuks came the definitive occupation of the central part of Anatolia, later to become what is now known as the country of Turkey. A scant 30 years, or two generations, separated the first Seljuk state of Tuğrul Bey with that of the Seljuks of Rum in 1071. It was indeed an amazing wildfire invasion. The Seljuks brought Islam to Turkey.
The Seljuk Turkish incursions into Anatolia prior to Manzikert consisted of
a series of adventure-seeking destructive raids, aimed at collecting plunder.
These raids used the previously unseen warfare style of mounted archers. The Turks
sought to seize livestock, to secure space to graze their
herds, and to take captives to hold for ransom. Acting on behalf of, or
independently of the sultan, they carried out these razzias and returned east to
their northern Iranian bases, for they had no desire to remain in the country once
their plundering accomplished. Yet, after Manzikert, the situation changed, as
there was no need to return as they could remain and settle with no danger, and
even with substantial profit. As these nomadic tribes advanced to the north and
the west, they found livelihood in the region and became sedentary farmers and livestock
After Manzikert, there were two notable Turkish powers in the region: the Seljuks in the southern areas and the Danishmendid tribe (the learned men) to the north. They would interact for many years to come, as both adversaries and allies. These two groups operated amidst the complex existing political and ethnic makeup in Anatolia: Latin strongholds, the Byzantines, the colonies of Venetian and Genoese merchants, the Knight of St. John in the Mediterranean, the Greeks in the west, and the Armenians and Georgians to the east.
ZSüleyman ibn Kutalmış (1077-1086): The founder of the Seljuk power in Anatolia; capital at Iznik
After an unsuccessful rebellion against the Great Seljuk leader Alp Arslan in 1064, the Seljuk chief Süleyman ibn Kutalmış was deflected from the settled lands of Persia into Anatolia, where there was ample opportunity for land and warfare against the Byzantines. He and his sons were soon recognized at the leaders of the Turkish tribes in Eastern Anatolia. Pushing westwards, they conquered Antioch and Konya. They also placed themselves at the service of the different candidates for the throne of the Byzantine empire. They went from one candidate to another, pledging military support and aid against the cession of cities or provinces. When the Byzantine Alexis Comnena finally gained power in 1081, he signed a treaty with Suleyman, stating that he could establish his capital at Iznik, not far from the Byzantine capital of Constantinople. At the same time, the Danishmendids firmly established themselves in the region of Sivas and Amasya, and the Armenians, previous vassals to the Byzantines, took advantage of the situation to declare their independence to set up a separate state in southeast Anatolia.
Suleyman was truly responsible for the installation of the Seljuks in Anatolia, as he declared himself independent from the Great Seljuks. He captured Antioch in 1086, and struggled to capture Aleppo, dying during one of the attempts. His son Kılıç Arslan was taken as prisoner of war back to Iraq by the Great Seljuk ruler Melik Şah.
Z Izzeddin Kılıç Arslan I (1092-1107?): the crushing defeat of the Seljuks at Dorylaeum; the arrival of the armies of the First Crusade in Anatolia; a brilliant commander against the Crusaders; a new capital at Konya
In 1092 the young Kılıç Arslan I was freed and returned to Anatolia. He reconquered Iznik, but was unable to make inroads against the Danishmendids, who continued to remain a perpetual thorn in the Seljuk side for years to come, except when they joined forces against the Crusaders.
In 1096, the First Crusade arrived to western Anatolia on their march to Jerusalem. Kılıç was away, battling in the eastern province of Malatya, and could not arrive in time to impede the seizure of his capital of Iznik by the Crusaders fighting for the Byzantine emperor Alexis Comnena. He persuaded the Danishmendids to join forces with him against the Crusaders. Despite this solidified army, a scant month later the Seljuks suffered a resounding defeat at Dorylaeum (June 1097, near Eskişehir). This defeat seemingly put an end to almost 200 years of Turkish advances into Anatolia. Routed from Iznik, the Turks retreated eastwards and established a new capital at Konya.
Nothing could now seemingly stop the advance of the Crusaders, as they captured Konya
in 1097, then Ereğli and Kayseri, as well as all of the Aegean lands. One-third
of Anatolia returned to Byzantine power. Intent on reaching Jerusalem, the Crusaders crossed Anatolia but did
remain there, and were largely ignired by the Turks. However, they caused confusion, killed and
plundered, and disrupted the plans of the Seljuks for expansion, driving them back from the
coast and into the central plains region. The Crusades also affected
relationships with the rival Danishmendids, who joined forces with the Seljuks
to combat them, but turned antagonistic once they were gone.
Yet all was not bleak for the Seljuks, as they soon rallied their strength. Retrenched in their central Anatolian plateau, they garnered force to do battle against the Lombards at Amasya (1101), where the hot August sun and lack of water proved disastrous to the Crusaders. Another major success against the Crusaders was met at Ereğli. Other victories in less than one month put them back in control of their Central Anatolian lands. At the same time, the Danishmendid threat abated somewhat, leaving them an opening to expand to the east towards Malatya (1106) and then onto the Great Seljuk city of Mosul in Iraq (1107). However, this tentative proved futile and Kılıç Arslan drowned upon his retreat, effectively ending any aspiration of the Seljuks of Rum to conquer the East. Rather, they understood that they must centralize their power in the middle of the great Anatolian plateau, with Konya as their capital. This would be the role of all the successive sultans to come.
ZMelik Şah I (1107?-1116) and Mesud I (1116-1156): Victory over the Second Crusade; the kingdom is strengthened
Melik Şah I, the successor of Kılıç Arslan, tried in vain to battle against the Byzantines, but was chased from the throne in 1116 by his brother Mesud I, who had aligned himself with the Danishmendids (even taking a Danishmendid princess for a bride). At the death of the Danishmendid ruler in 1134, Mesud took advantage of the situation to reconquer cities and to struggle with the armies of the Second Crusade at Eskişehir, Denizli, and Antalya (1147-1148). The Second Crusade failed largely for the Europeans because of the Seljuks. He left a secure and prosperous kingdom, enlarged by fiefs falling away from the crumbling Great Seljuks and Danishmendids. His reign saw the construction of the Alaeddin Mosque at Konya (1153), one of the most powerful monuments of Seljuk architecture (contemporary with the Cathedral of Chartres).
ZIzzeddin Kılıç Arslan II (1156-1192): A prince of exceptional ability and father of 10 sons; prepares the glorious period to come; Victory of Myriocephalum; Konya lost to the Third Crusade
Melik Şah's successor, Kılıç Arslan II, ruling from Konya, continued to battle against the Crusaders, the Byzantines of Manuel Comnena and the Danishmendids and even against his own brother Şahin Şah, who aligned himself with the Danishmendids and their leader Yaği Basan. Kılıç set out to defeat both of them, and managed to do so at the battle of Myriocephalum in November of 1176 in the pass above Eğridir near Sultan Dağ, where his two rivals had joined forces in a last-ditch effort. The Danishmendids came under Seljuk rule, ceding their cities to them and effectively ceasing to exist. The booty of the battle was used to embellish the capital of Konya. This battle, a replay of Manzikert almost 100 years earlier, signified the end of the Byzantine hold on Anatolia. Europe now began to refer to Anatolia as "Turkey", and the Seljuks were now considered a state to be reckoned with. Due to this new political unity, a period of economic and social development occurred: thereafter trade flourished and construction activities accelerated. Hans were built along the trade roads that now criss-crossed the Empire, shipyards were constructed, medreses (learning centers for theology and science) were opened and important developments were made in science.
The end of his reign was not so fortunate, as the soldiers of the Third Crusade captured Konya in 1190. Now over 70 years old and tired, Kılıç Arslan abdicated in favor of his 10 sons. Each was given the command of a region, with Kılıç Arslan remaining in charge at Konya. Jealous of each other, the sons now started to act as independent princes, even to the point of striking their own coinage. After Kılıç Arslans death at the age of 77 in 1192, there followed a 12-year period of fraternal battles. This dynastic struggle and political intrigue of the 10 sons of Kılıç proved most unfortunate for the unity of the kingdom.
The Crusading German Emperor Frederic Barbarossa and his army asked for free passage to cross Anatolia to reach the Holy Land, which was given to him by Kılıç Arslan. However, by the time he crossed southern Turkey, Kılıç II had abdicated, and his sons made Frederics passage difficult. Frederic tragically drown in the Gök River near Silifke in June, 1190, a severe moral blow to his troops and to the Third Crusade.
Kılıç Arslan II was responsible for building the first hans in Anatolia, notably the Alay Han in 1192. He is buried in a turbe situated next to the Alaeddin Mosque in Konya.
ZRükneddin II Suleyman Şah (1196-1204) and Izzeddin Kılıç Arslan III (1203-1204): Short-lived sultanates; sac of Constantinople by the 4th Crusade
The first succession to the throne after the death of Kılıç and the ensuing fraternal struggles was by his son Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev I. However, he was replaced shortly by his brother Rükneddin II. Rükneddin II banished Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev, together with his sons, Izzeddin Keykavüs and Alaeddin Keykubad, to a Byzantine palace in Constantinople. He assured the conquest of Malatya and the Artukids of Harput. He also brought the Saltukid principality of Erzurum under Seljuk rule. Ironically after struggling so hard to gain the throne, Rükneddin II died a mere 4 days later in 1204 without managing to reconstitute the unity of the state.
At his death in 1204, he was replaced by his infant son Izzeddin Kılıç Arslan III, (1204), three years old at the time, but he was soon disposed by his uncle Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev I.
Historically significant events occurred at this time that disrupted the stability created by the Seljuks: the terrible sac of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the beginning of the conquests of the Mongol Genghis Khan in 1203.
ZGıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I (1204-1211): Solidly sets the empire; conquest of Antalya; establishment of the maritime and land trade routes; commercial development
Returning from exile, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I ascended the throne for the second time. The Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 gave the opportunity to the Seljuks to reestablish their power. Now that the Seljuk state was becoming more powerful and better organized, it became important to find outlets to the two seas that bordered it, and Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I set this as an important strategy. The important Mediterranean port city of Antalya was brilliantly captured in 1207. This conquest of Antalya from the Aldobrandini Venetians was an important stimulus to an economic boom for the Seljuks, who now drew much trade interest from the West. After this defeat a treaty was signed, establishing the first commercial relationship between the Venetians and the Seljuks.
Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I died fighting in a battle to capture Alaşehir from Theodore Lascaris I, the Byzantine Emperor of Nicaea, in 1211. He left the power to his son Izzeddin Keykavüs I. His other son, Alaeddin Keykubad, contested the right of his brother Keykavüs to the throne, but was defeated and put into prison.
It is to this period that belong many architectural and artistic glories of the Seljuk period. Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I's sister (and beloved daughter of Kılıç II), Gevher Nesibi Hatun, built the impressive hospital complex, the Çifte Medrese, in Kayseri in 1206. Giyaseddin was also responsible for the construction of numerous hans to respond to the economic boom: Kuruçeşme, Dokuz Derbent and Kizilören.
ZIzzeddin Keykavüs I (1211-1219): A decade towards the solidification of the kingdom; Sinop secured
The son continued in the same direction as the father: expansion of territory and the development of commercial trade. The first 40 years of the century were the apogee of the Seljuk state, largely due to this sultan and his brother Alaeddin Keykubad.
The important Black Sea port city of Sinop was permanently secured in 1214, which allowed the Seljuks to develop maritime trade with China, India and Persia as well as the Crimean region and the West. Antalya, which had fallen back into the hands of the Crusaders, was retaken by the Sultan. The Seljuks now controlled the coasts of both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, and were able to develop an important bicoastal transit trade.
Although his reign lasted only a decade, Keykavüs left his state in an enviable shape: Konya was architecturally glorified, his army was built up and well-disciplined, his administration ran efficiently, trade flourished and architecture became highly developed.
As a poet himself, Keykavüs was an important patron of the arts, and encouraged the development of literature (in Persian) and was interested in soufism. He apparently died of tuberculosis, and is buried in the hospital complex he built in Sivas. Seljuk architecture began to assume its monumental form at this time. He was responsible for the construction of the Hekim and Evdir hans.
ZAlaeddin Keykubad I (1219-1237): the shining glory period of the Seljuks of Rum; capture of Alanya; era of architectural monuments
Fearing an usurpment of his power, Izzeddin Keykavüs I kept his restive brother Alaeddin Keykubad I imprisoned in Ankara during his reign. Upon Izzeddin's death, Alaeddin Keykubad was freed from prison and succeeded his brother as sultan in 1219. His reign was the most brilliant of the entire Seljuk dynasty: it witnessed the greatest territorial expansion, commercial activity and building program. In a mere 20 years he forged a period of unsurpassed glory.
This self-assured and versatile man was an excellent calligrapher, athlete, draughtsman and carpenter, as well as being a wise administrator and a strong military leader. His armies knew nothing but success for over 15 years, with incorporation of all Anatolia (with the exception of the region of Diyarbakır), into Seljuk hands.
He encouraged agriculture and built sugar refineries, and developed Sivas into one of the most important trading centers of the entire Levant.
His first major victory was the capture of the Mediterranean port of Kalonoros (Alanya) from the rulers of the Cilician Kingdom of Lesser Armenia. He renamed it Alaiye and turned it into a naval base as well as his winter residence. Later, he mounted campaigns to take the fortresses of Kahta (1222), Erzincan (1230), Erzurum (1230) and Çemişkezek, as well as Harput and Ahlat.
He also advanced his position by a series of clever marriages to improve relations with rival groups: Alaeddin Keykubad I married the Armenian princess Mahperi Huand in 1221 and the Ayyubid queen Melike Hatun in 1227.
But it is probably his building program that is his lasting testament. He consolidated the city walls of Kayseri and Sivas. He developed the city of Konya by constructing the city walls, thermal baths, and the Palace on the Citadel Hill. His Red Tower and Arsenal at Alanya, built in 1221, are outstanding examples of military architecture. He also mandated his emirs to participate in his ambitious building projects, such as the Alaeddin Mosque at Niğde. Alaeddin ordered the construction of Sultan Han between Konya and Aksaray in 1229, the Karatay Han, the Sultan Han on the Sivas-Kayseri road in 1232, the Alara Han near Antalya, the Zazadin Han, the Çardak Han, the Kadin Han, the Ertokuş Han, the Eğridir Han, the Eshab-i Keyf Han and the Ağzikara Han (covered section). He also built numerous bridges, still standing today, as well as the Palaces of Keykubadiyye near Kayseri and the luxurious Kubadabad on Lake Beyşehir, although he died before this latter was completed.
His death at age 45 came very probably by intentional poisoning on the third day of Ramadan (30 May) 1237 at a feast held for envoys of the Great Mongol Khan. He died at the height of glory, and did not have to witness the destruction of his kingdom by the raiders already gathering storm, the Mongols.
ZGıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1237-1246): The decline of the kingdom starts with the revolt of the dervish Baba Işak and the arrival of the Mongols; battle of Köşe Dağ
Despite the turbulent series of assassinations that assured him the throne (his father and brothers), the reign of Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II installed a short period of peace. He inherited from his father practically all of Asia Minor except some areas of Lesser Armenia and the Comnena Kingdom of Trabzon. He began his reign by capturing the region around Diyarbakir, but soon all went downhill.
In 1241 a Turkmen revolt led by the Dervish Baba Ishak, a popular Turkoman preacher, lead to internal chaos throughout the land. It became a social, political, religious and anti-establishment movement that was finally put to an end with the hanging of Baba Ishak. This dervish rebellion was a sign of serious internal discontent.
But a far greater menace appeared from the outside: the Mongol invasion of Anatolia. The Mongols, led by Baiju, seized Erzurum in 1241. Keyhusrev organized a joint army combining Byzantine, Armenian and Frankish mercenaries to do battle against them, but they unfortunately met with a resounding defeat at the battle of Kösedağ (26 June 1243, near a mountain on the Sivas-Erzincan Road). Afterwards, the cities of Sivas and Kayseri were seized, and there was widespread anarchy, destruction and burning of Anatolian cities. The sultanate retained its independence, but had to pay a substantial tribute to the Mongols. The Seljuks were now in essence vassals of the Mongols. This era of Mongol rule in Turkey is known as the Ilkhanid period.
Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II died at Alaiye shortly after in 1246. Despite the turmoil seen during his reign, he was an important patron for the arts, building numerous hans: Ağzikara (courtyard), Incir, Kirkgöz, Pazar, Cimcimli Sultan Han, Çekereksu, Ibipsa, Incir, Çiftlik, Kargı, Susuz, Çakallı, Ezinepazar and Şarafsa.
ZThe triumvirate of Izzeddin Keykavüs II, Kılıç Arslan IV and Alaeddin Keykubad II (1246-1265): The Seljuk state comes under Mongol rule; the intrigues of the vizier Pervane
Upon his death, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II left three young sons by different mothers and no solid governmental structure to take over the Seljuk empire. After Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II, the Seljuk state gradually came under Ilkhanid Mongol rule. To add further weakening to the Seljuk position, squabbles among the 3 young sons of Keyhusrev II led to a division of the kingdom into a triumverate. It was the ever-wise Vizier Celaddin Karatay who brokered an agreement between them and the Mongols in 1249 to share the administrative duties of the empire. Henceforth, the sultans ruled jointly by a decree of the Mongol Khans who established independent sultanates for each son of Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II: Konya and the lands west of the Kizilirmak river for eldest son Izzeddin Keykavüs II, and for the other two, the lands east of the river now under Mongol administration (Rükneddin Kılıç Arslan IV at Sivas and Alaeddin Keykubad II in Malatya). Each of the brothers had a different approach to the Mongol question, either favoring submission or defiance.
This triumvirate lasted until 1257 and was led by a common vizier, Chems ad-din Isfahani, the former vizier of their father. He was the true master of the government, but his excesses led to his arrest and assassination in 1249, as well as the disposal of Alaeddin Keykubad II, who was assassinated in Erzurum by his emirs in 1257 when he was getting ready to surrender to the Mongol Khan Monke. This left the empire in the hands of the remaining 2 brothers, Izzeddin Keykavüs II and Rukneddin Kılıç Arslan IV. They took opposite stances on the Mongol question: Izzeddin's mother was Greek, and he turned to the Byzantines for help against the Mongols, where as his stepbrother Rukneddin accepted the over-lordship of the Mongols. This ambiguous situation was not aided by the death of the Vizier Karatay in 1254. With his death, all hopes for a strong Seljuk Empire were lost. The Mongols split the empire in two between western Anatolia for Kılıç Arslan IV at Sivas, with the capital of Konya going to Keykavüs II.
However, an important figure now entered upon the scene: Kılıç Arslan IV's wily and ambitious Prime Minister, the vizier Mouinaddin Suleyman, who became known later by the title held by Seljuk ministers as Pervane (the Butterfly). He was an ambitious and manipulative self-promoter of the first order.
The Mongols soon after ordered both princes to assist them with their Syrian campaign, which culminated in the capture of Bagdad and the end of the Abbassid caliphate in 1258.
Another turn for the worse occurred soon after as Michael Palaeologos became the Byzantine emperor in July 1261 after the recapture of Constantinople. Abetted by the intrigues of the Pervane who played the ever-hopeful Byzantine card, Izzeddin II fled to the Crimea to seek the aid of Palaeologos against the Mongols. His plan backfired and he was imprisoned and exiled, eventually dying there in exile in 1278. As a result, Rukneddin Kılıç Arslan IV became the sole ruler and his Vizier Muhineddin Suleyman was promoted to the position of "Pervane", the Sultans official spokesperson. Izzeddin IIs vizier, Sahip Ata, retained his position, but was completely subservient to the Pervane.
In turn, Kılıç Arslan IV was assassinated in 1265 while attending a banquet in Aksaray, most probably with the connivance of Pervane. The throne then passed to the young son of Kılıç Arslan IV, with Pervane serving as regent. Pervane by this time had conquered Sinop and had founded his own small dynasty there, and was even seeking to place his own 3 year-old son as Sultan. In order to advance his career and to better control the sultanate, Pervane married Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II's widow, who had been acting as regent for her small son Alaeddin Keykubad II.
It is hard to imagine that during this period of upheaval some of the most impressive
monuments of the Seljuk era were built at Konya, Kayseri and Antalya, notably by
the famous ministers Karatay (the bridge at Tokat) and Sahip Ata of Konya (1258). The construction of hans
continued as well, including the Ak, Obruk, Horozlu, Sarı,
Sahip Ata, and Işakli Hans.
ZGıyaseddın Keyhüsrev III (1264-1283): Puppets in the Mongols hands; regency of Pervane; arrival of the Mameluke Baibars
Kılıç Arslan IV's son and successor, Keyhüsrev III, was 6 years old upon his succession, making it all the easier for the true power to remain in the hands of the regent Pervane. Keyhüsrev III could claim direct sovereignty only over the lands around Konya.
For the next decade the Pervane managed to maintain a degree of independence under to powerful Mongols. Yet in 1276, he boldly entered into a plot with Baybars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, to evict the Mongols from Asia Minor and to make himself Sultan. Baybars arrived and defeated the Mongols at Elbistan and advanced on to Kayseri. For some reason Baybars lost his nerve, gave up and returned to Egypt, leaving Pervane stranded alone in Tokat. The Mongols reacted and tried Pervane for suspected treason, and put him to death in 1277, along with the great art patron and builder, the vizier Sahip Ata.
After Pervanes death, there were unending dynastic struggles, intrigues and continual decadence. Keyhüsrev III was himself put to death by the Mongols in 1283.
Astonishing as it may seem in this period of political instability, court decentralization, famine, wars and rebellions, a flourishing building program continued. It included the Kesikköprü Han and bridge (1268), and the hans of Durak, Öresin, Eğret and Çay; the Sahibiye Medrese in Kayseri (1268), the magnificent Gök Medrese in Sivas (1271), and the Afyon Ulu Cami (1273). The Mongols themselves built the Çifte Minare Medrese and the Muzzafer Barucirdi Medrese in Sivas, the Amasya Gök Medrese and the Torumtay Turbe in Afyon.
ZMesud II and Alaeddin Keykubad III: struggles, decadence; the end of the Seljuks of Rum
These two sultans continually struggled against each other for control of the throne at Konya, which dealt a further blow to the dynasty. Years of decline under Mongol hegemony continued, with unending dynastic and administrative squabbles. Mesud II established himself as sultan in Kayseri in 1303, but was murdered in 1308 along with his son Mesud III. His death marked the end of the Anatolian Seljuk State.
However, the stronghold of the
Mongol authority began to fade away. Anatolia was in both the hands of the
weakening Mongols who struggled to hold it, and the local emirs (beys) who had
appeared over the last several years, breaking away to form their own local authority.
These Turkoman groups, who had settled at the frontiers during the Seljuk
period, founded many regional mini-states ("beyliks") of varying size, including the Karaman, Germiyan, Eşref, Hamid, Menteşe, Çandar, Pervane, Sahip Ata, Karesi,
Saruhan, Aydin, and Osmanoğullari states. In this period, known as the Beylik Period, all of Anatolia came under Turkish rule and a new period of
welfare began in the country which had been previously exposed to a great extent
to Mongolian destruction. One of these beyliks, the powerful Karamans of
Southern Turkey, became important for a non-military reason: their leader Mehmed
Bey prohibited the use of any language other than Turkish at meetings of the
court. The Beyliks continued the active building program of the Seljuks, with a varied
and highly original aspect. One of the beyliks, established in the region
of Bithynia (northwest Anatolia), the Osmanoğullari ("sons of
Osman"), emerged to become an unimagined and unforeseen force in the world: the
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