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The crusading army marches into a completely undefended Anatolia and right up to the walls of İznik, the capital of the Sultanate of Rum. Finally waking up to the danger, Kılıç Arslan makes a deal with the Danishmends and begins racing back West. Kılıç Arslan fights the Crusaders in front of the walls of İznik and the Turks resist. Meanwhile, as on…
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The People's Crusade invades Anatolia, and the chaotic army of undisciplined peasants is easily destroyed by the forces of the Sultanate of Rum under Ilhan Bey as Kılıç Arslan besieges Malatya. But the chaos and ineptitude of the People's Crusade proves to be a boon to both the Byzantine Emperor and even the now-assembling First Crusade. In Constan…
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As Turkish power is entrenched across Anatolia and Kılıç Arslan consolidates the power of the Sultanate of Rum, in Constantinople Emperor Alexios Komnenos calls for aid from the West. The Emperor envisions a relatively large, but still manageable, army of experienced Latin knights of the type that have fought for Byzantium in the past in order to r…
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As Kılıç Arslan sits in prison in Esfahan, Emperor Alexios Komnenos attempts to restore imperial authority on the coasts of Anatolia, even if the plateau itself remains lost to him. Constantinople tangles with the Black Sea beylik of Karategin and the Marmara beylik of İlhan. In İzmir, the rebel Turkish Roman General Çaka Bey creates the first Turk…
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After the death of Sulayman, his sons Kılıç Arslan and Daud are imprisoned in Esfahan by Melik Shah. In their absence, the Sultanate of Rum is ruled under a quasi-regency by the man Sulayman left in charge of İznik - Ebu'l Kasım. Ebu'l Kasım fights and negotiates with the Roman Emperor and the Great Seljuk Sultan, maintaining the independence of th…
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In 1081, Sulayman reigns in İznik as the Sultan of Rum. But his sultanate is aspirational - really, he is a mere border lord. A bey among beys. And so Sulayman begins to lay the foundations for the Sultanate of Rum, expanding his power across Western Anatolia. Burning with ambition and desire to reclaim the birthright of the line of Kutalmish, Sula…
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Following Manzikert, the civil war in Byzantium and the failure of the Roman Empire to retake Anatolia, the first Turkish beyliks emerge in Anatolia. In the anarchy caused by the collapse of the Roman military apparatus, bands of Turks begin making alliances with the settled elites of Anatolia, offering them protection for a price. Soon the Turks a…
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We resume the narrative, and begin by introducing the land that will come to be the homeland of the Turks. In the aftermath of the Battle of Manzikert, the Roman state falls into chaos. As a result of civil war, invasion and rebellion, Imperial authority collapses over much of Anatolia. And the Turks begin to enter Anatolia, and the seeds of the co…
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This is the fifth and last episode in a short series of non-narrative episodes. In this episode we cover the court culture of the Great Seljuk Empire and the greatest cultural achievements of the Empire. How the Sultan and his court lived, and the life and times of two of the most important cultural figures of the Great Seljuk Empire: Al-Ghazali an…
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This a standalone episode on the history of the Ismaili Nizaris and their Order of Assassins. The minority sect of Ismailism first arises as the Abbasid Caliphs keep the Shi'a Imams in confinement in Samarra - a hidden religion, secretive and rigidly hierarchical, and professing a unique system of beliefs drawing heavily from Greek philosophy and G…
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This is the fourth episode in a short series of non-narrative episodes. In this episode we cover religion in the Seljuk Empire. How reality differed from the picture of strident Sunnism presented by pro-Seljuk propaganda, and the relationship between the Seljuk and Abbasid dynasties, the treatment of the Shia, the conflict among the Sunni Madhhabs,…
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This is the first in a short series of non-narrative episodes on the nature of the Great Seljuk Empire. In this episode, we cover the structures of state in the empire - the various power centers, the role of the Seljuk Dynasty, the bureaucrats, the tribes, the Emirs and the ways in which all of these power centers interacted to govern the truly ma…
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Under the rule of Nizam ul-Mulk and Melik Shah, the Great Seljuk Empire reaches the zenith of its power. But as Al-Dawla Al-Nizamiyya unfolds, tensions roil under the surface. Tensions between the Seljuk and Abbasid dynasties, between the court and the tribes, between the court and the Emirs and between the state and its vassals. And when the partn…
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After Melik Shah's ascension to the throne, Nizam ul-Mulk seizes control of the state, inaugurating a period of history termed "Al-Dawla Al-Nizamiyya" or "the State of the Nizam." The vizierate is now above the sultanate. Melik Shah finishes his father's work in conquering Transoxiana from the Karakhanids, and then retires to the palaces of Esfahan…
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The Heroic Lion rides East after his great victory at Manzikert. But his sojourn in his capital again proves short-lived as he is drawn into war with the Karakhanid Khanate. Alp Arslan leads a massive army to cross the Amu Darya and into Central Asia, but the end soon comes for him, tragically soon. Alp Arslan's chosen heir Melik Shah must ally wit…
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As Alp Arslan returns from the campaign in Syria, news reaches him that the Emperor of the Romans, Romanos Diogenes, is on the warpath. A large Byzantine army marches East to retake Manzikert, as the Heroic Lion races West from Azerbaijan with whatever forces he can get his hands on. The two armies meet on the plains of Manzikert in August 1071, wh…
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After Alp Arslan's ascension to the throne, the Heroic Lion is forced to ride East to put down a nascent revolt in Khorasan and to defeat his brother Kavurt (twice). Alp Arslan also bounces back to the Caucasuses to re-invade Georgia. At the same time, tensions rise between the increasingly "cooking" court and the tribes, and a new tribal confedera…
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After the death of Tughrul, the founder of the Great Seljuk Empire, the inevitable succession crisis breaks out. A son of Chaghri named Alp Arslan manages to quickly win the 4-way civil war and succeeds his uncle Tughrul as the Sultan of what is by now the most powerful state in the world. To secure the loyalty of his wild Turkmen followers, Alp Ar…
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After conquering Baghdad without a shot being fired, Tughrul sets forth to fulfill the promises made in Baghdad. He aims to conquer all of Iraq, Syria, the Levant and even Egypt. To overthrow the Fatimid Caliph in Cairo and truly re-unite the Muslim World. But though his initial campaigns in Iraq are successful, the Oghuz tribes find the climate of…
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Tughrul continues his conquest of Iran and begins truly building the Seljuk state, which is now fast on its way to becoming the Great Seljuk Empire. He achieves pre-eminence over his brother Chaghri to become the paramount leader of the House of Seljuk and invades Anatolia, attacking a certain well-fortified city that happens to be named Manzikert.…
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In the aftermath of the Battle of Dandankan, Tughrul expands west into Iran. But instead of being a traditional barbarian warlord on horseback, Tughrul is committed to ruling in the existing Perso-Islamic tradition. To become a Khan-Sultan. And tension quickly arises between his role as Khan and his role as Sultan. As Tughrul presents himself as th…
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As the steppe world falls into chaos, the Oghuz Yabgu State begins to fall apart and a leader of the Kınık tribe of the Oghuz named Seljuk emerges. Fleeing the chaos of the steppe world, Seljuk leads a small band of his followers south and establishes his people in the lands of Islam. As more Oghuz flee south, they join with Seljuk and a new tribal…
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The mass conversion of the Turks to Islam begins as the rise of the Samanid Emirate and its great Jihad transforms Central Asia. On the steppe, the sophisticated Karakhanid Khanate emerges - the first Muslim Turkish state in history, with a state based on Islamic, Turkish and Chinese models of government. Meanwhile, the Samanid Emirate starts falli…
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As the Caliphate splinters into a patchwork of emirates, a new emirate arises in the far north east of the lands of Islam, in the old Silk Road cities of Transoxiana. Descended from an obscure Persian noble family with roots stretching back to the Sassanid Empire, the Samanid Emirate quickly becomes the most powerful Emirate in the Caliphate. A gol…
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The Anarchy continues to drag on after the Siege of Baghdad. In the provinces, more and more power has fallen into the hands of the Emirs as the center has weakened. Al-Mutazz briefly manages to restore the power of the Caliph for about a year, before he too is done in by the Turkish slave army. A succession of puppet Caliphs follows him. Out of th…
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The Anarchy at Samarra begins. Following the assassination of Al-Mutawakkil by a desperate group of Turkish slave soldiers, a son of the late Caliph is put on the throne by the slave army. But his reign proves short, and quickly divisions emerge between rival Turkish slave generals. Eventually, following an outbreak of horrific violence, rival Turk…
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An era of unprecedented intellectual and cultural flowering, the Golden Age of Islam, unfolds in the Abbasid Caliphate. But fearful of an emerging dynasty of powerful Eastern governors, the Tahirid dynasty, the Abbasid Caliphs build a great Turkish slave army. In order to house the Turkish slave army, a new capital city is constructed at Samarra. I…
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The Oghuz Turks emerge in the new steppe world created by the Battle of Talas and the An Lushan Rebellion. As refugees fleeing the East, the Oghuz arrive in the lands around the Syr Darya River - and promptly ally with the Khazar Khanate to drive the local Pechenegs out. Now secure in their new homeland, the Oghuz build their first state - the Oghu…
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The internal political instability within the Tang Empire comes to an end in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. Now back on their feet, the Tang can look across their frontiers and begin to project Chinese power across Eurasia once again. The Tang hobble the Türgesh Khanate, which has fallen into civil war after the death of Suluk Khan, break the Secon…
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On the eastern frontier of the Umayyad Caliphate, the state has become increasingly hated by the local Khorasani Arab settlers and the Mawali converts. Al-Harith's message that there is no difference between Arab and non-Arab Muslims reverberates throughout the frontier region. After the fall of Suluk Khan, the new governor of Khorasan, Nasr ibn Sa…
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Following the Battle of the Defile, Suluk Khan reigns supreme in Transoxiana. With his rule in Central Asia secure, Suluk turns east and spars with the Tang Dynasty. Meanwhile, Umayyad attempts to deal with this mighty Türgesh Khan increasingly destabilize the eastern frontier of the Caliphate, sparking a revolution. Suluk Khan returns to grapple w…
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In the aftermath of the Day of Thirst, Suluk Khan acquires a new nickname from his Arab opponents - Abu Muzahim, meaning the Father of the Fight. Suluk leads the Türgesh into war against the Umayyads, fighting a series of Arab governors of Khorasan in the field, besieging Umayyad garrisons and facing off against a great Umayyad invasion across the …
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After decades of fitna, the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate again begin marching forward. Under the great general Qutayba and his successors, the Arabs invade Central Asia conquering all before them. Meanwhile, in the heartland of the old Western Göktürk Khanate, the great Suluk rises from obscure origins to become the leader of the young Türgesh K…
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The shocking conquests of the early Muslims ultimately lead to the outbreak of civil war in the victorious camp of Islam. The Messenger's son-in-law Ali is opposed by Aisha, the Mother of the Faithful, and by the cunning Muawiya. A new civilization, based on a new faith and the heritage of Greek, Roman and Persian cultures begins to come into exist…
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Far from Central Asia, a new religion arises in the deserts of Arabia. The Prophet Muhammad's new faith unites the Arabs, and the conquests of the Armies of Islam shock the world. Byzantium and Iran, horribly weakened by war, famine and disease are powerless in the face of these conquerors. Iran falls, and the new religion of the Messenger is broug…
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Fueled by a burning resentment against the Tang, the Second Khanate is born in the East. Aiming to restore the glory of the First Göktürk Khanate, the Second Khanate launches a restorationist project to reconquer the whole steppe - before running up against the armies of conquest of a brand new religion. But before its fall, the Second Khanate unde…
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The Tang armies march west to take on the Western Khanate after defeating the Eastern Khanate, just after the assassination of Tong Yabgu Khan. The Western Khanate faces this mighty new dynasty and is wracked by internal chaos and division. And we finally close out the story of the Göktürk Khanate - the first Turkish state in history.…
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In the East, the Sui Dynasty collapses and the Eastern Göktürk Khanate regains the top spot as the premier power in East Asia. But out of the ashes of the Sui, a new dynasty arises - a powerful dynasty founded by Sinicized Turks. And a dynamic Emperor of this new dynasty comes into conflict with a reforming Khan on the steppe to determine who will …
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