The Seljuk Han of Anatolia
History of the Anatolian Seljuks
Although this website focuses on 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 to the 13th century.
As compared to the profusion of historical texts describing the Arab and Iranian spheres of the 13th century, there were very few chroniclers of the Anatolian Seljuk era. There are no biographical dictionaries, panegyric poetry collections, or epics relating the exploits of the era. Even the numismatic evidence is scarce. Anatolia features rarely in histories and geographies produced in Iraq, Syria or Egypt. This paucity of material has proven to be a challenge for those seeking information on the era. For a list of the major historical sources for the Anatolian Seljuks, please consult the Historians page.
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 land bridge due to its location, it possesses an abundance of natural resources, water, good soil, and a fairly suitable climate. It has always been attractive to settlers from many civilizations, such as the Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians and the Greeks.
The Seljuk tribe was one of the many Turkic peoples who had been migrating progressively westward from the Central Asian steppes for thousands of years. By the middle of the 11th century, the Seljuk tribe was the first group to 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 Isfahan, and the Anatolian Seljuks, who ruled from Konya.
The Seljuks adopted Persian culture along with the Islamic faith, although
they chose the Sunni Hanefite sect instead of the Persian 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
practice of the Seljuk sultans of adopting the names of the epic heroes of the Persian
culture (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,
written in 1258-1273. The Turkish language was used in everyday
speech, and later made its appearance in literature, notably with the folk poetry of Yunus Emre
(1240?-1321?). Furthermore, the Seljuks
were in contact with the traditions of the Byzantine and Christian populations living
in Anatolia at this time (Greeks, Latins and Armenians). The Seljuks
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 the
The world of the Seljuks was suddenly eclipsed in 1243 by the invasion of the Mongols. The Anatolian Seljuks became the vassals of the Mongols, with the empire finally collapsing in 1326. Another group of Turks was ready to assume power, primed to become one of the greatest empires in history, eventually ruling over three continents for six centuries: The Ottomans.
THE ORIGINS: 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. The Abbasid empire knew true grandeur only at its beginnings, after which it became so vast that it fell prey to division into fiefdoms ruled by local emirs. In addition to this decentralization of rule, another major disruptive element appeared at this time: the religious division of the Islamic faith into the Sunnite and Shiite sects. At the end of the 10th century, the sole Sunnite ruler was the Abbasid caliph, with Shiism triumphing everywhere else in the region. The Abbasid court even fell into the hands of the Shiite Buyid emirs in 945.
At the end of the 10th Century, the Near East was thus 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 Shiite Fatimids of Egypt were dealing with 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 its 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
the state, and these mercenary troops included Turks, Scandinavians and Normans.
THE GREAT SELJUKS OF IRAN
The Turkish tribe of the Seljuks takes its name from one of its chiefs, Seljuk. This family of the Oghuz Turks from Central Asia lived 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, Seljuk, always searching for greener pastures for their animals, had settled the family on the left bank of the lower Syr-Daria River. From here they moved into Transoxiana (the region around present-day Samarkand). It was at approximately at this time, that the Seljuk tribe converted from Shamanism to Sunnite Islam. They were contenders for this area, along with the dynasties of the Karahanids, Ghaznevids and the Samanids. This area "beyond the Oxus", fed by the waters of both the Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers, was a lush, green prize, and offered the only fertile lands in the area. 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 Khorasan and Iran, ceded the arid Khorasan 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 Nishapur in 1038 and Khwarezm in 1042. He entered Iran and seized Hamadan and Isfahan, and founded his capital at Isfahan in 1051. In 1055, the caliph of Baghdad, after several serious incidents and revolts, appealed to Tuğrul for help. Tuğrul entered the city, and took the city as his protectorate, and was awarded the title of Sultan by the Abassid caliph.
Upon the death of Tuğrul in 1063, his nephew Alp-Arslan ("Alp" = warrior hero, "arslan" = lion) assumed leadership. 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, and took control of Aleppo in 1070. In 1071 he took Jerusalem, which motivated Christian Europe to react, this setting the stage for the Crusades. In 1071, the Byzantine Emperor Romain Diogenes decided to reconquer Armenia, but he was soundly defeated by Alp Arslan at the battle of MANZIKERT, a strategic fortress about 25 miles north of Lake Van. This Seljuk victory firmly established Turkish rule in Anatolia. Alp-Arslan was murdered in his tent in 1072. With his death, the Great Seljuks of Persia lost their influence in the area and began to recede from the eastern Anatolian lands, leaving the area to the branch of the Seljuks.
Melik Shah, son and successor of Alp Arslan in 1072, and was one of the most powerful and brilliant rulers of the Great Seljuks. He seized Transoxiania and Kirman in 1079. During his reign, the Great Seljuk empire extended from Asia Minor to Turkestan. However, upon his death in 1092, the empire collapsed, with family members splitting up the territories, thereby weakening the centralized power. The empire included the local states run by the Syrian Seljuks, the Iraq and Khorasan 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 Crusaders, and other Turkish tribes migrating from Central Asia, the Great Seljuk Empire definitively ended with the death of Tuğrul III in 1194.
During the reign of Sultan Melik Shah, 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 Great Seljuk supremacy was one of the most glorious in all of Persian history, with an outstanding building program comprising some 50 monuments, such as the Masjid-I Jami of Isfahan. They were famous as builders of 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 art and architecture of the Great Seljuks is one of the most refined of the entire Islamic canon.
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 Artuqids in Central Anatolia, the Kharazem Shahs 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 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 minor break-away dynasties founded by the members of the Seljuk tribes (the Syrian, Khorasan, Iraq, Kirman Seljuk states), only one managed to organize a solid and lasting state: 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, the Anatolian Seljuks entered and occupied 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 the Seljuks who brought the Islamic faith to Turkey.
The Seljuk Turkish incursions into Anatolia prior to the Battle of Manzikert consisted of
a series of adventure-seeking destructive raids, aimed at plundering for booty. 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 for ransom. Acting on behalf of, or
independently of the sultan, they carried out these raids and returned east to
their northern Iranian bases, for they had no desire to remain in the country once
their plundering was accomplished. After the Battle of Manzikert, however, the situation changed, as
they could now settle there and establish themselves. As these nomadic tribes advanced to the north and
the west, they found a profitable livelihood in the region by becoming 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, alternately as adversaries and allies. These two groups operated amidst the complex political and ethnic makeup of Anatolia at that time: Latin strongholds, the Byzantines, the colonies of Venetian and Genoese merchants, the Knights 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 he found ample opportunity for seizing land by warring 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 against the concession of cities and provinces. When the Byzantine Alexius Comnena I 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, previously vassals to the Byzantines, took advantage of the situation to declare their independence to set up a separate state in Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia.
Suleyman bn Kutalmış was 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 back to Iraq as a of war by the Great Seljuk ruler Melik
Z Izzeddin Kılıç Arslan I (1092-1107?): the crushing defeat of the Seljuks by the Crusaders 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 by Melik Shah and returned to Anatolia. He took back Iznik, but was unable to make inroads against the Danishmendids, who continued to remain a perpetual rival thorn in the Seljuk side, 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 was not able to arrive back in time to impede the seizure of his capital of Iznik by the Crusaders, who were fighting for the Byzantine emperor, Alexius Comnena. Kılıç Arslan I persuaded the Danishmendids to join forces with him against the Crusaders. Despite this solidified army, a scant month later (June, 1097) the Seljuks suffered a resounding defeat at Dorylaeum (near Eskişehir). Routed from Iznik, the Turks retreated eastwards and established a new capital at Konya.
Nothing could now stop the advance of the Crusaders. 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 ignored by the Turks. However, they killed and
plundered, and disrupted the plans of the Seljuks for expansion, driving them back from the
coast into the central plains. The Crusaders also affected
the relationship of the Seljuks with their rivals the Danishmendids, who joined forces with the Seljuks
to combat the Crusaders, but turned antagonistic once they were gone.
However, all was not bleak for the Seljuks, as they soon rallied. Retrenched in their central Anatolian plateau, they garnered forces to do battle against the Lombards at Amasya (1101), where the hot August sun and the lack of water proved disastrous to the Crusaders. Another major success against the Crusaders was won 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, providing the Seljuks an opening to expand to the east towards Malatya (1106) and then onto the Great Seljuk city of Mosul in Iraq (1107). However, this expansion effort 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 needed to centralize their political power in the middle of the great Anatolian plateau, with Konya as their capital.
ZMelik Shah I (1107?-1116) and Mesud I (1116-1156): Victory over the Second Crusade; the Seljuk Empire is strengthened
Melik Shah 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 battle the armies of the Second Crusade at Eskişehir, Denizli, and Antalya (1147-1148). The Second Crusade failed largely for the Europeans because of the Seljuk war effort. Mesud left a secure and prosperous kingdom, enlarged by fiefs falling away from the crumbling Great Seljuk Empire of Iran and the 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 9 sons; preparation of 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 ruled by Emperor Manuel Comnena and the Danishmendids and even against his own brother Shahin Shah, 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, 1176, in the pass above Eğidir near Mount Sultan Dağ, where his two rivals had joined forces in a last-ditch effort against him. As a result, the Danishmendids came under Seljuk rule, ceding their cities to them and effectively ceasing as a political force. The booty of the battle was used to embellish the capital of Konya. The Battle of Myriocephalum, a replay of Manzikert almost 100 years earlier, signified the end of the Byzantine hold on Anatolia. Europe began to refer to Anatolia as "Turkey", and the Seljuks were now considered a state of importance. A period of economic and social development resulted from this new political unity. Trade flourished and construction activities accelerated. Hans were built along the trade roads that crossed the Empire, shipyards were constructed, medreses (learning centers for theology and science) were opened and important scientific developments were achieved.
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 9 sons, a brother and a nephew. Each was given the command of a region, with Kılıç Arslan remaining in charge at Konya. Infighting among themselves, the sons of Kılıç Arslan II began 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, a 12-year period of fraternal battles followed. This dynastic struggle of the heirs of Kılıç Arslan proved unfortunate for the unity of the kingdom.
The German Emperor Frederic Barbarossa and his army asked Kılıç Arslan for free passage to cross Anatolia to reach the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. This permission was granted to him by Kılıç Arslan, but by the time the German crossed southern Turkey, Kılıç II had abdicated, and his sons made Frederics passage difficult. Frederic tragically drowned in the Gök River near Silifke in June, 1190, which dealt 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 the Tomb of the Seljuk Sultans situated next to the Alaeddin Mosque in
ZRükneddin II Suleyman Shah (1196-1204) and Izzeddin Kılıç Arslan III (1203-1204): Short-lived sultanates; sac of Constantinople by the 4th Crusade
The first successor to the throne after the death of Kılıç and the ensuing fraternal struggles was his son Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev I. However, his brother Rükneddin II soon displaced him and seized the throne. Rükneddin II banished Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev, together with his sons Izzeddin Keykavüs and Alaeddin Keykubad, to a Byzantine palace in Constantinople. Rükneddin II then conquered Malatya and the Artuqids 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, three years old at the time, but he was soon disposed by his uncle Gıyaseddin Keyhusrev I, who took back the throne once again.
Two significant events occurred at this time which disrupted the stability created by the
Seljuks: the terrible sac of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the
first raids of the Mongol Genghis Khan in 1203.
ZGıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I (1204-1211): Solidly sets the Seljuk Empire; conquest of Antalya; establishment of the maritime and land trade routes; commercial development
Returning from exile, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I ascended to the throne for a second time. The Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 gave the opportunity for the Seljuks to reestablish their power in the central region of Anatolia. Now that the Seljuk state was becoming more powerful and better organized, it became imperative 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. The conquest of Antalya from the Aldobrandini Venetians was an important stimulus for an economic boom, and the Seljuks now drew much trade interest from the West. After the conquest of Antalya, a treaty was signed which established the first commercial relationship between the Venetians and the Seljuks.
Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I died in 1211 during a battle
fought to capture Alaşehir from
Theodore Lascaris I, the Byzantine Emperor of Nicaea (Iznik). 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 by him and emprisoned.
This period saw the construction of some of the most notable architectural glories of the Seljuk period. Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I built the impressive hospital complex, the Çifte Medrese, in Kayseri, in memory of his sister Gevher Nesibi Hatun, in 1206. Giyaseddin was also responsible for the construction of numerous hans in response to the burgeoning economic boom, notably the Kuruçeşme, Dokuz Derbent and Kuruçeşme hans.
ZIzzeddin Keykavüs I (1211-1219): A decade towards the solidification of the Empire; Sinop secured
The son continued in the same political direction as his father Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev I: 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 the Sultans Izzedin Keykavüs and his brother Alaeddin Keykubad.
Izzedin Keykavüs permanently secured the important Black Sea port city of Sinop in 1214, which
allowed the Seljuks to develop maritime trade with China, India and Persia, as well as
with 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, Izzedin Keykavüs left his state solidly positioned for success: Konya was architecturally glorified, his army was built up and well-disciplined, his administration ran efficiently, trade flourished and architecture became highly developed.
A poet himself, Keykavüs was an important patron of the arts, and encouraged the development of literature (in Persian) and was interested in sufism. It is believed that he died of tuberculosis, and was buried in a tomb inside the magnificent hospital complex he had built in Sivas before his death. 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 locked up in the Ankara fortress during his reign. Upon Izzeddin's death, Alaeddin Keykubad was freed from prison, and, abetted by powerful emirs, he 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 enterprise and building activity. In a mere 20 years he forged a period of unsurpassed glory.
This self-assured and versatile leader was an excellent calligrapher, athlete,
draughtsman and carpenter, as well as a wise administrator and a strong military
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 diplomatic 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.
Yet, his building program remains his most 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 charged his emirs with the task of participating in his ambitious building projects, resulting in such monuments as the Alaeddin Mosque at Niğde. Alaeddin ordered the construction of the 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.
He died at the age of 45, most certainly by intentional poisoning on the third day of the holiday following the end of Ramadan, on May 30 1237, at a feast held for the envoys of the Great Mongol Khan. He died at the height of glory, and was spared witnessing the destruction of his kingdom by the Mongol raiders from the east already gathering storm.
ZGıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II (1237-1246): The decline of the Seljuk Empire starts with the revolt of the dervish Baba Işak and the arrival of the Mongols; the dreadful battle of Kösedağ
Despite the turbulent series of assassinations that assured him the throne (his father and brothers), Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II installed a short period of peace. He inherited from his father control of most all of the lands of Asia Minor, except for some areas of Lesser Armenia and the Comnena Kingdom of Trabzon. He began his reign by capturing the region around Diyarbakir, but soon all spiraled downwards towards disaster.
In 1241, a Turkmen revolt led by Baba Ishak, a popular
Turkmen 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.
Yet a far greater menace appeared from outside the Seljuk borders: the Mongols were primed to invade Anatolia. The Mongols, led by their fearless commander Baiju, seized Erzurum in 1241. Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II organized a joint army combining Byzantine, Armenian and Frankish mercenaries to do battle against them, but the Seljuk forces met with a resounding defeat on June 26, 1243, at the battle of Kösedağ near a mountain on the Sivas-Erzincan Road. Afterwards, the cities of Sivas and Kayseri were seized and plundered by the Mongols, and there was widespread anarchy, and further destruction of Anatolian cities. The Seljuk Sultanate managed to negotiate with the Mongols to retain their independence, but had to pay a substantial tribute to them. The Seljuks now became vassals of the Mongols, and this era of Mongol rule over the Seljuks is known as the Ilkhanid period.
Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II died at Alaiye after this defeat in 1246. Despite the turmoil seen during his reign, he was an important patron for the arts, responsible for building numerous hans. The Ağzikara (courtyard), Incir, Kirkgöz, Pazar, Cimcimli Sultan Han, Çekereksu, Ibipsa, Incir, Çiftlik, Kargı, Susuz, Çakallı, Ezinepazar and Şarafsa hans all rose during his reign.
ZThe triumvirate of the 3 sons: Izzeddin Keykavüs II, Kılıç Arslan IV and Alaeddin Keykubad II (1246-1265): The Seljuk state comes under Mongol rule; the intrigues of the vizier Muineddin Suleyman Pervane
Upon his death, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II left three young sons by different mothers and no solid governmental structure to assume control over the Seljuk Empire. After the death of Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II, the Seljuk state gradually came under Ilkhanid Mongol rule. The squabbles among the 3 young sons of Keyhusrev II further weakened the Seljuks. The 3 sons divided the kingdom among themselves and ruled as a triumverate. In 1249, the wise Vizier Celaddin Karatay managed to broker an agreement between the brothers and the Mongols to share the administrative duties of the Seljuk Empire. From this point on, the three brother sultans ruled jointly by a decree of the Mongol Khans, who established independent sultanates for each son now ruling under Mongol control: Konya and the lands west of the Kizilirmak River went to the eldest son Izzeddin Keykavüs II, Rükneddin Kılıç Arslan IV ruled at Sivas over the lands east of the Kizilirmak, and Alaeddin Keykubad II ruled the area near Malatya. Each brother had a different approach to the Mongol question, either favoring submission or defiance.
This triumvirate lasted until 1257 and was supervised by a common vizier, Chems ad-din Isfahani, the former vizier of their father, Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev II. He was the true master of the government, but his excesses soon 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 preparing to surrender control of his land to the Mongol Khan Monke. This assassination 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 to stand against the Mongols, whereas his stepbrother Rukneddin chose to submit entirely to the Mongols. This ambiguous situation was further complicated 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 ruling from Sivas, with the capital of Konya going to Keykavüs II.
However, an influential figure now entered upon the political scene: Kılıç Arslan IV's wily Prime Minister, the vizier Muineddin Suleyman, an ambitious and manipulative self-promoter who sought all political power for himself.
The Mongols soon after ordered both princes to assist them with their Syrian campaign, which culminated in the capture of Baghdad and the end of the Abbasid caliphate in 1258.
Another unfortunate incident for the worse occurred soon after, in July, 1261, when Michael Palaeologos became the Byzantine emperor after the recapture of Constantinople. Encouraged by the intrigues of Muineddin Suleyman, Izzeddin II fled to the Crimea to seek the aid of the Byzantine Paleologos Dynasty against the Mongols. His plan backfired and he was imprisoned, eventually dying there in exile in 1278. As a result, Rukneddin Kılıç Arslan IV became the sole ruler of the Seljuk Empire and his Vizier Muineddin Suleyman was promoted to the position of "Pervane", the Sultans official spokesperson and head vizier. Izzeddin IIs vizier, Sahip Ata, managed to retain 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 the power-hungry Pervane Muineddin Suleyman. 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 on the throne 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 political 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 Mongols hands; regency of the Pervane; arrival of the Mameluk Baibars from Egypt
Kılıç Arslan IV's son and successor, Giyaseddin 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 Muineddin Suleyman. 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 the powerful Mongols. However, in 1276, he boldly entered into a plot with Baibars, the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt, to evict the Mongols from Asia Minor and to make himself Sultan. Baibars arrived and defeated the Mongols at Elbistan in 1277 and then captured the city of Kayseri. For some unknown reason, Baibars then lost his nerve. He gave up the fight and returned to Egypt, leaving Pervane stranded alone in Tokat. The Mongols reacted and tried Pervane for suspected treason, putting him to death in 1277, along with the great art patron and builder, the vizier Sahip Ata.
After the Pervanes death, there were unending dynastic struggles, intrigues and continual decadence. Giyaseddin Keyhüsrev III was 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 undertook construction activities as well, building the Çifte Minare Medrese and the Muzzafer Barucirdi Medrese in Sivas, the Amasya Gök Medrese and the Torumtay Tomb 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 weakened 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.
By this time, however, the stronghold of
Mongol authority began to fade away. Anatolia was in the hands of both the
weakening Mongols who struggled to hold it, and the local emirs (beys) who had
appeared over the last several years, breaking away from the centralized
government to form their own local fiefdoms.
These Turkoman groups, who had settled in Anatolia 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. During this period, known as the Beylik Period, all
Anatolia came under Turkish rule and a new period of
welfare began in these lands which had suffered much destruction by
the Mongols. 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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