Battle of Manzikert

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The Battle of Manzikert, or Malazgirt, was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq forces led by Alp Arslan on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert (modern Malazgirt in Muş Province, Turkey). The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes[5] played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia.[6]

The brunt of the battle was borne by the professional soldiers from the eastern and western tagmata, as large numbers of the mercenaries and Anatolian levies fled early and survived the battle.[7] The fallout from Manzikert was nearly disastrous for the empire, with numerous subsequent civil conflicts and an economic crisis severely weakening the empire's ability to adequately defend its borders.[8] This led to the mass movement of Turks into central Anatolia and by 1080, an area of 30,000 square miles (78,000 km2) had been lost to the empire. It took a decade of internal strife before Alexios I Komnenos (1081 to 1118) brought stability back to the empire.

Contents

Background

Although the Byzantine Empire had remained a strong and powerful entity in the Middle Ages,[9] the Empire began to decline under the reign of the militarily incompetent Constantine IX and again under Constantine X—a brief two year rule of reform under Isaac I Komnenos only delaying the decay of the Byzantine military.[10] It was under Constantine IX's reign that the Byzantines first came into contact with the Seljuk Turks, the latter attempting to annex Ani in Armenia. Rather than deal with the problem by force of arms, Constantine IX signed a truce. The truce did not last; in 1063 the Great Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan came to power and thus the invasion of Armenia, halted in 1045, began again.

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