Battle of Manzikert (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: The Battle of Manzikert undermines Byzantine control of Asia Minor through a catastrophic military loss to the Turks.
Summary of Event
Soon after the Arabs emerged from the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century to extend their conquests eastward and westward, they attempted to conquer the Byzantine Empire by capturing Constantinople. Their repeated failures, however, kept Asia Minor and eastern Europe closed to them. In the middle of the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks, who were later converts to Islam, arose to restore the power and prestige of the debilitated Muslim caliphate. In turn, they inherited Arab ambitions against Byzantium.
The Seljuks took their name from the chieftain of a tribe of Turkish nomads who wandered from the Kirghiz steppes of Turkestan into the Transoxiana region, settling there about the middle of the tenth century. The true founder of the dynasty was Seljuk’s grandson, Toghrïl, who fought his way slowly westward until he came to the gates of Baghdad in 1055. His nephew, Alp Arslan, followed him as sultan and succeeded in further extending his empire until it reached from modern-day Turkmenistan to the Mediterranean.
Expansion into Armenia caused the decisive Battle of Manzikert in 1071, when Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was taken prisoner and Asia Minor was laid open to complete occupation by the Turks. The outcome of the battle had...
(The entire section is 990 words.)
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Battle of Manzikert (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Type of action: Ground battle in the Byzantine-Seljuk Wars. Result: Romanus’s Byzantine army was defeated, leaving most of Anatolia open to Turkish occupation.
In the spring of 1071, the Byzantine emperor Romanus IV Diogenes mounted a major campaign to drive the Seljuk Turks out of the eastern part of his domains. While moving toward Akhlat with the main Byzantine field army in mid-August, he unexpectedly encountered Alp Arslan’s force of about 50,000 men.
Normally, Byzantium’s disciplined heavy cavalry (cataphracts), which effectively combined missile-fire and shock tactics, outmatched the Seljuk light cavalry. However, Romanus’s efforts at Manzikert were consistently undermined by treason. Alp Arslan’s unforeseen appearance at Akhlat occurred because Romanus’s advance formation withdrew without notifying him of the Turkish army’s presence. When Romanus retreated toward Manzikert in order to consolidate his position, his mercenary light cavalry deserted. At a crucial point during the Battle of Manzikert, while he was leading a counterattack, his second in command, Andronicus Ducas, failed to come to his aid. When Andronicus withdrew roughly half of the Byzantine force from the battlefield, the emperor’s unsupported troops became disorganized and were enveloped and massacred.
The defeat at Manzikert sparked a decade-long series of rebellions and...
(The entire section is 264 words.)