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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: February 2013

Chapter 31 - The Turkish Migrations and the Ottoman Empire


Turkish-Islamic States in Anatolia (1071–1243)

The Turkish migrations that gave rise to the Saljuq, Mongol, and Timurid empires in Iran also gave birth to a succession of Western Muslim empires. Oghuz peoples pushed their way into Georgia, Armenia, and Byzantine Anatolia, bringing Islam into territories not hitherto reached by the Arab conquests or Muslim expansion. At the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Turks captured the Byzantine emperor, Romanos I. In the next century, they spread across Asia Minor.

The migrating peoples were organized into small bands of warriors (ghazis) under the leadership of chieftains (beys) or Sufi holy men (babas). Veneration of the chiefs and the desire to find rich pasturage, gather booty, and win victories against the infidels in the name of Islam held them together. The migrants did extensive damage to the countryside and cut off cities from their hinterlands and trading connections, but Turkish expansion was soon counterbalanced by the formation of states that attempted to stabilize and reconstruct the region.

Anatolia came under the Saljuq sultanate of Rum (c. 1077–c. 1308), whose rulers were remote relatives of the Saljuqs of Baghdad, with its capital at Konya. The Saljuqs of Rum, like earlier Middle Eastern Muslim states, employed Turkish nomadic forces but built up a large standing army of Turkish and Christian slaves and mercenaries. The administration was composed of Iranian scribes. In the early thirteenth century, a fiscal survey was taken, and tax revenue grants (iqta ‘) were distributed in return for military service. The Saljuqs appointed provincial governors. Energetic efforts were made to sedentarize and extract taxes from the pastoral population. The Saljuqs built caravansaries and encouraged maritime commerce on the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Mediterranean. Still, there were many regions in tribal hands and a number of minor principalities outside of Saljuq control.