The Seljuqs and Byzantium

Dhu'l Qa'da 463/ August 1071 The Battle of Malazkirt (Manzikert)

The Seljuqs advanced westward from Khorasan, gradually gaining control of the Caspian littoral and northern Iran, and driving the ever retreating Buyids (or Buwayhids), before them, until in 1055 they captured the caliphal capital, Baghdad. The caliph al-Qa'im initially welcomed them as deliverers and both gave Tughrul Beg the title Sultan, and made him military commander of the city. The Seljuq impulse towards the west did not subside, and the nomadic groups of Turkomen who were the core of the Seljuq military started moving into Syria and Anatolia. Anatolia was then held by the weakening Byzantine Empire. In August 1071 this push culminated in the Battle of Malazkirt (Armenian Manzikert , originally Manavazakert), near the shores of lake Van. The Seljuq army was lead by Sultan Alp Arslan who had succeeded his uncle Tughrul Beg as the Sultan in 1063. At the head of the Byzantine forces was Emperor Romanus Diogenes I. The Byzantines was more numerous, yet less homogenous than the Seljuk Army, as mercenaries of many nations were enlisted under Emperor Diogenes' command. This disunited army gave way to the quick and mobile Seljuq cavalry. Romanus I was taken prisoner, but was later released in return for a ransom. This battle was a turning point in both Byzantine and Seljuk history as it diminished the Byzantine military might, and opened up Asia minor to the Seljuq conquest.

cf. Brittanica Online "Manzikert, Battle of"and embedded articles.