The Turks in the Islamic World before 1300

830-850, Turkish mercenaries from Central Asia found in service of Abbasid caliphs

850-905, Tulunids (Turkish generals) rule Egypt virtually independently of the Abbasids

900, Samanids rule in eastern Persia and borderlands of Turkistan; Turks are exposed to Persianate Islamic culture; preparation far incorporation of Turks into main body of Middle Eastern Islamic civilization

10thc. , term ”sultan” (Arabic abstract noun meaning ”sovereign authority”) begins to be used to designate rulers

c.1000 , Ghaznavids establish rule in Afghanistan, break Samanid power, and expand into Persia below Oxus River; champions of Sunni Islam within a predominantly Persian cultural context

1040, Seljuks take Khorasan from Ghaznavids; soon control most of Persia with center at Isfahan; from there advance to defeat Buwayhids (Shi’i Persians) who had dominated Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad for a century

1055, Seljuk sultans become de facto rulers in Abbasid Baghdad; two centuries of turmoil is ended and unity restored in eastern Islamic region; Persia and Mesopotamia are reunited and northern Syria added to the ”Great Seljuk” state

1071 , Battle of Manzikert ( Malazgirt ) a decisive victory for Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan over Byzantines; break Byzantine line of defense in Eastern Anatolia; Turkish-speaking Muslims raid and settle in area now known as ”Turkey”; much of the Greek/ Christian veneer of indigenous Anatolian population gradually replaced by a Turkish/Muslim veneer

1092 , death of Seljuk Sultan Malik Shah and his great vizier, Nizam al-Mulk; dynastic strife ensues

1118, Seljuk Empire splits into principalities ruled by princes of the family, often over- shadowed by their ”atabeys” ( tutor guardians )

12th c. , Seljuks of Rum ( Konya, Anatolia ) rule centra1 Anatolian plateau with center at Konya (Iconium) .

1204 , Byzantium fatally weakened by 4th. Crusade and Latin occupation

c.1200 , high point of Seljuks of Rum; by absorption of smaller Turkish principalities (beyliks), Seljuks extend their jurisdiction to south coast of Anatolia; Turkish nomads (”gazis”) active in western border/march region adjacent to Byzantium

1243, Mongols under Hulagu Khan move west, defeat Selcuk Sultan Kaykhusrav II, and establish overlordship in Seljuk Anatolia

1258, Mongols conquer Baghdad and bring Abbasid Caliphate to an end

Later 13th c., Turkish Anatolia fragmented as Mongol control weakens and is withdrawn; many small principalities ( beyliks ) emerge, one of them led by Osman (Turkish form of the Arabic/Muslim name, Uthmm; European corruption of Osman is Ottoman) in northwest Anatolia (around Iznik and Bursa) adjacent to Byzantine territories.

1071-1300, Anatolia witnesses swift military penetration, ragged political conquest, partial and superficial cultural/linguistic conquest by Muslim Turks who, in their upper ranks were carriers of Persianate Muslim culture. That group was small in number but powerful . Below them, Turkish-speaking Muslims mix with indigenous population. Folk culture and folk religion often at odds with high culture and Islamic orthodoxy represented by the religious and political elite in the society.

Assembled by Richard L. Chambers,
The University of Chicago 



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