Battle of Manzikert

Battle of Manzikert

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The Battle of Manzikert (Classical Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

: Մամազկերտ – Manazkert(City of Manaz); Modern Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

:
Malazgirt (Meydan) Savaşı'), was fought between the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and Seljuq Turks
Great Seljuq Empire
The Great Seljuq Empire was a medieval Persianate, Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. The Seljuq Empire controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf...

 led by Alp Arslan
Alp Arslan
Alp Arslan was the third sultan of the Seljuq dynasty and great-grandson of Seljuk, the eponymous founder of the dynasty...

 on August 26, 1071 near Manzikert (modern Malazgirt
Malazgirt
Malazgirt is a town in Muş Province in eastern Turkey, with a population of 23,697 .-Founding:...

 in Muş Province
Mus Province
Muş Province is a province in eastern Turkey. It is 8,196 km² in area, and has a population of 406,886 . The population was 453,654 in 2000. The provincial capital is the city of Muş...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army
Byzantine army
The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct descendant of the Roman army, the Byzantine army maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization...

 and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and Armenia
Medieval Armenia
-Prelude:Western Armenia had been under Byzantine control since the partition of the Kingdom of Armenia in AD 387, while Eastern Armenia had been under the occupation of the Sassanid Empire starting 428. Regardless of religious disputes, many Armenians became successful in the Byzantine Empire and...

, and allowed for the gradual Turkification
Turkification
Turkification is a term used to describe a process of cultural or political change in which something or someone who is not a Turk becomes one, voluntarily or involuntarily...

 of Anatolia.

The brunt of the battle was borne by the professional soldiers from the eastern and western tagmata
Tagma (military)
The tagma is a term for a military unit of battalion or regiment size. The best-known and most technical use of the term however refers to the elite regiments formed by Byzantine emperor Constantine V and comprising the central army of the Byzantine Empire in the 8th–11th centuries.-History and...

, as large numbers of the mercenaries and Anatolian levies
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 fled early and survived the battle.
The fallout from Manzikert was almost disastrous for the empire, resulting in civil conflicts and an economic crisis that severely weakened the empire's ability to adequately defend its borders. This led to the mass movement of Turks into central Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

; by 1080 an area of 30000 square miles (77,699.6 km²) had been lost to the empire. It took a decade of internal strife before Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus , was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. The title 'Nobilissimus' was given to senior army commanders,...

 (1081 to 1118) restored stability to the empire. Historian Thomas Asbridge says: "In 1071, the Seljuqs crushed an imperial army at the Battle of Manzikert (in eastern Asia Minor), and though historians no longer consider this to have been an utterly cataclysmic reversal for the Greeks, it still was a stinging setback."

Background


Although the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 had remained a strong and powerful entity in the Middle Ages, the Empire began to decline under the reign of the militarily incompetent Constantine IX
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos, Latinized as Constantine IX Monomachus , c. 1000 – January 11, 1055, reigned as Byzantine emperor from June 11, 1042 to January 11, 1055. He had been chosen by the Empress Zoe as a husband and co-emperor in 1042, although he had been exiled for conspiring...

 and again under Constantine X
Constantine X
Constantine X Doukas was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 1059 to 1067.-Reign:Constantine Doukas was the son of Andronikos Doukas, a Paphlagonian nobleman who may have served as governor of the theme of Moesia...

—a brief two year rule of reform under Isaac I Komnenos
Isaac I Komnenos
Isaac I Komnenos was Byzantine Emperor from 1057 to 1059, and the first reigning member of the Komnenos dynasty...

 only delaying the decay of the Byzantine military. It was under Constantine IX's reign that the Byzantines first came into contact with the Seljuk
Great Seljuq Empire
The Great Seljuq Empire was a medieval Persianate, Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim empire, originating from the Qynyq branch of Oghuz Turks. The Seljuq Empire controlled a vast area stretching from the Hindu Kush to eastern Anatolia and from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf...

 Turks, the latter attempting to annex Ani
Ani
Ani is a ruined and uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site situated in the Turkish province of Kars, near the border with Armenia. It was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey...

 in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. Yet, Constantine IX secured a truce between Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and the Seljuks. The truce lasted until the year 1064 when Seljuks conquered the Armenian capital at Ani. Constantine X (successor to Isaac Komnenos) did much discredit to his predecessor—in 1067 Armenia was taken by the Seljuks, followed by Caesarea
Kayseri
Kayseri is a large and industrialized city in Central Anatolia, Turkey. It is the seat of Kayseri Province. The city of Kayseri, as defined by the boundaries of Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality, is structurally composed of five metropolitan districts, the two core districts of Kocasinan and...

.

In 1068, Romanos IV took power and after a few speedy military reforms he entrusted to Manuel Comnenus to lead an expedition against the Seljuks, allowing him to capture the city of Hierapolis Bambyce in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. A Turkish attack against Iconium was thwarted when a Byzantine counter-attack from Syria ended in victory. Yet, the campaign ended in a debacle when Manuel was defeated and captured by Seljuks. Despite the failure of the Byzantium campaign, Alp Arslan had been quick to seek a peace treaty with the Byzantines; he regarded the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt as his main enemy and had no desire to engage with the Byzantines in unnecessary hostilities. Hence, a peace treaty is signed between the Byzantines and the Seljuks in 1069.

In February 1071, Romanus sent an embassy to Alp Arslan to renew the treaty of 1069. Romanus’ envoys reached the Sultan outside Edessa, which he was besieging. Keen to secure his northern flank against Byzantine attack, Alp Arslan happily agreed to the terms. Abandoning the siege, he immediately led his army to the city of Aleppo to attack the Fatimid Caliphate of Egypt. However, that offer to renew the peace treaty was in fact a key element of Romanus' plan, aiming to distract the Sultan long enough to allow Romanus to lead a large army into Armenia and recover the lost fortresses before the Seljuks had time to respond.

Preparations


Accompanying Romanos was Andronikos Doukas, the co-regent and a direct rival. The army consisted of about professional Roman troops from the western provinces and probably about the same number from the eastern provinces; 500 Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 and Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 mercenaries under Roussel de Bailleul
Roussel de Bailleul
Roussel de Bailleul , also known as Phrangopoulos , was a Norman adventurer who travelled to Byzantium and there received employ as a soldier and leader of men from the Emperor Romanus IV Roussel de Bailleul (also Ursellus de Ballione in Latin or Roscelin or Roskelin de Baieul, called Urselius by...

; some Turkic (Uz
Oghuz Turks
The Turkomen also known as Oghuz Turks were a historical Turkic tribal confederation in Central Asia during the early medieval Turkic expansion....

 and Pecheneg) and Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n mercenaries; infantry under the duke
Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...

 of Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

; a contingent of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

n and Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n troops; and some (but not all) of the Varangian Guard
Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army in 10th to the 14th centuries, whose members served as personal bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors....

, to total around 40,000 men to 70,000 men. The quantity of the Roman Thematic (provincial) troops had declined in the years prior to the succession of Romanos as the central government diverted resources to the recruitment of mercenaries who were considered less likely to become involved in coups or factional fighting within the Empire. Even when mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

 were used, they were disbanded after to save money.

The march across Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 was long and difficult, and Romanos did not endear himself to his troops by bringing a luxurious baggage train along with him; the Roman population also suffered some plundering by Romanos' Frankish mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

, whom he was forced to dismiss. The expedition first rested at Sebasteia on the Halys
Halys River
The Kızılırmak , also known as the Halys River , is the longest river in Turkey. It is a source of hydroelectric power and is not used for navigation.- Geography :...

. Then the expedition reached Theodosiopolis
Erzurum
Erzurum is a city in Turkey. It is the largest city, the capital of Erzurum Province. The city is situated 1757 meters above sea level. Erzurum had a population of 361,235 in the 2000 census. .Erzurum, known as "The Rock" in NATO code, served as NATO's southeastern-most air force post during the...

 in June 1071. There, some of his generals suggested continuing the march into Seljuk territory and catching Arslan before he was ready. Some of the other generals, including Nikephoros Bryennios, suggested they wait there and fortify their position. Eventually it was decided to continue the march.

Thinking that Alp Arslan was either further away or not coming at all, Romanos marched towards Lake Van
Lake Van
Lake Van is the largest lake in Turkey, located in the far east of the country in Van district. It is a saline and soda lake, receiving water from numerous small streams that descend from the surrounding mountains. Lake Van is one of the world's largest endorheic lakes . The original outlet from...

 expecting to retake Manzikert rather quickly, as well as the nearby fortress of Khliat
Ahlat
Ahlat is a historic town and a district in Turkey's Bitlis Province in Eastern Anatolia Region. The center town of Ahlat is situated on the northwestern coast of the Lake Van. She was the district in Van Province between 1929-1936...

 if possible. However, Alp Arslan was actually in the area with allies and cavalry from Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

. Alp Arslan's spies knew exactly where Romanos was, while Romanos was completely unaware of his opponent's movements.

Romanos ordered his general Joseph Tarchaneiotes
Joseph Tarchaneiotes
Joseph Tarchaneiotes was a Byzantine general, primarily known for his lack of participation in the decisive Battle of Manzikert .An experienced general, Joseph was second in command of the Byzantine operation against Manzikert, with some 30-40,000 soldiers under his command. Tarchaneiotes'...

 to take some of the Roman troops and Varangians and accompany the Pechenegs and Franks to Khliat, while Romanos and the rest of the army marched to Manzikert. This split the forces in half, each taking about men. It is unknown what happened to the army sent off with Joseph Tarchaneiotes
Joseph Tarchaneiotes
Joseph Tarchaneiotes was a Byzantine general, primarily known for his lack of participation in the decisive Battle of Manzikert .An experienced general, Joseph was second in command of the Byzantine operation against Manzikert, with some 30-40,000 soldiers under his command. Tarchaneiotes'...

—according to Islamic sources, Alp Arslan smashed this army; however Roman sources remain quiet of any such encounter, whilst Attaleiates suggests that Tarchaneiotes fled at the sight of the Seljuk Sultan—an unlikely event considering the reputation of the Roman general. Either way, Romanos' army was reduced to less than half his planned 40,000 to 70,000 men.

The battle


Romanos was unaware of the loss of Tarchaneiotes and continued to Manzikert, which he easily captured on August 23; the Seljuks responded with heavy incursions by bowmen. The next day some foraging parties under Bryennios
Bryennios
Bryennios or Bryennius , feminine form Bryennissa , was the name of a noble Byzantine family which rose to prominence in the 11th and 12th centuries, mostly as military commanders. The etymology of the name is uncertain. The first members of the family appear in the 9th century...

 discovered the Seljuk army and were forced to retreat back to Manzikert. The Armenian general Basilakes was sent out with some cavalry, as Romanos did not believe this was Arslan's full army; the cavalry was destroyed and Basilakes taken prisoner. Romanos drew up his troops into formation and sent the left wing out under Bryennios, who was almost surrounded by the quickly approaching Turks and was forced to retreat once more. The Seljuk forces hid among the nearby hills for the night, making it nearly impossible for Romanos to send a counterattack.

On August 25, some of Romanos' Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 mercenaries came into contact with their Seljuk relatives and deserted. Romanos then rejected a Seljuk peace embassy as he wanted to settle the eastern question and the Turkic persistent incursions and settlements with a decisive military victory and understood that raising another army would be both difficult and expensive. The Emperor attempted to recall Tarchaneiotes, who was no longer in the area. There were no engagements that day, but on August 26 the Byzantine army gathered itself into a proper battle formation and began to march on the Turkish positions, with the left wing under Bryennios, the right wing under Theodore Alyates
Theodore Alyates
Theodore Alyates was a Byzantine general who commanded the right wing of Emperor Romanos IV's troops at the Battle of Manzikert.Alyates' troops initially withstood the assault of the Seljuk Turks arrows, but when Andronikos Doukas betrayed Romanus, the Turks took advantage of the opportunity and...

, and the centre under the emperor. At that moment, when a Turkish soldier said to Alp Arslan "My Sultan, the enemy army is approaching", Alp Arslan is told to have said "Then we are also approaching them". Andronikos Doukas led the reserve forces in the rear—a foolish mistake, considering the loyalties of the Doukids. The Seljuks were organized into a crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 formation about four kilometres away. Seljuk archers
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 attacked the Byzantines as they drew closer; the centre of their crescent continually moved backwards while the wings moved to surround the Byzantine troops.

The Byzantines held off the arrow attacks and captured Arslan's camp by the end of the afternoon. However, the right and left wings, where the arrows did most of their damage, almost broke up when individual units tried to force the Seljuks into a pitched battle; the Seljuk cavalry simply fled when challenged, the classic hit and run tactics
Hit-and-run tactics
Hit-and-run tactics is a tactical doctrine where the purpose of the combat involved is not to seize control of territory, but to inflict damage on a target and immediately exit the area to avoid the enemy's defense and/or retaliation.-History:...

 of steppe warriors. With the Seljuks avoiding battle, Romanos was forced to order a withdrawal by the time night fell. However, the right wing misunderstood the order, and Doukas, as an enemy of Romanos, deliberately ignored the emperor and marched back to the camp outside Manzikert, rather than covering the emperor's retreat. With the Byzantines thoroughly confused, the Seljuks seized their opportunity and attacked. The Byzantine right wing was almost immediately rout
Rout
A rout is commonly defined as a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield, resulting in the victory of the opposing party, or following defeat, a collapse of discipline, or poor morale. A routed army often degenerates into a sense of "every man for himself" as the...

ed, thinking they were betrayed either by the Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 or the army's Turkish auxiliaries. In fact the Armenians were the first to flee and they all managed to get away, while by contrast the Turkish auxiliaries remained loyal to the end. The left wing under Bryennios held out a little longer, but was also soon routed. The remnants of the Byzantine centre, including the Emperor and the Varangian Guard
Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard was an elite unit of the Byzantine Army in 10th to the 14th centuries, whose members served as personal bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors....

, were encircled by the Seljuks. Romanos was injured, and taken prisoner by the Seljuks. The survivors were the many who fled the field and were pursued throughout the night, but not beyond that; by dawn, the professional core of the Byzantine army had been destroyed whilst many of the peasant troops and levies who had been under the command of Andronikus had fled.

Captivity of Romanos Diogenes


When the Emperor Romanos IV was conducted into the presence of Alp Arslan, he refused to believe that the bloodied and tattered man covered in dirt was the mighty Emperor of the Romans. After discovering the identity of the Emperor, he placed his boot on the Emperor's neck and forced him to kiss the ground. A famous conversation is also reported to have taken place:
Alp Arslan: "What would you do if I were brought before you as a prisoner?"
Romanos: "Perhaps I'd kill you, or exhibit you in the streets of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

."
Alp Arslan: "My punishment is far heavier. I forgive you, and set you free."

Alp Arslan treated Romanos with considerable kindness and again offered the terms of peace which he had offered previous to the battle.

Romanos remained a captive of the Sultan for a week. During this time, the Sultan allowed Romanos to eat at his table whilst concessions were agreed; Antioch, Edessa, Hierapolis and Manzikert were to be surrendered. This would have left the vital core of Anatolia untouched. A payment of 10 million gold pieces demanded by the Sultan as a ransom for Romanos was deemed as too high by the latter so the Sultan reduced its short-term expense by instead asking for 1.5 million gold pieces as an initial payment followed by an annual sum of gold pieces. Plus, a marriage alliance was prepared between Arslan’s son and Romanos’ daughter. The Sultan then gave Romanos many presents and an escort of two emirs and one hundred Mamelukes on his route to Constantinople.

Shortly after his return to his subjects, Romanos found his rule in serious trouble. Despite attempts to raise loyal troops, he was defeated three times in battle against the Doukas family and was deposed, blinded and exiled to the island of Proti
Proti (island)
Proti Island of Messenia is an island in the Ionian Sea, on the west coast of the Peloponnese; it is counted as one of the Ionian Islands, though administratively, it is part of the municipality of Gargalianoi, in the prefecture of Messenia. The 2001 census reported a population of four...

; soon after, he died as a result of an infection caused by an injury during his brutal blinding. Romanos' last time in the Anatolian heartland, that he worked so hard to defend, was a public humiliation on a donkey with a rotten face.

Aftermath



Despite being a long-term strategic catastrophe for Byzantium, Manzikert was by no means the massacre that earlier historians presumed. Modern scholars estimate that Byzantine losses were relatively low, considering that many units survived the battle intact and were fighting elsewhere within a few months. Most of Byzantian prisoners of war were later released. Certainly, all the commanders in the Byzantine side (Doukas, Tarchaneiotes, Bryennios, de Bailleul, and, above all, the Emperor) survived and took part in later events. The battle did not directly change the balance of power between Byzantians and Seljuks, however the ensuing civil war within the Byzantian Empire did so to the advantage of Seljuks.

Doukas had escaped with no casualties, and quickly marched back to Constantinople where he led the coup against Romanos and proclaimed Michael VII
Michael VII
Michael VII Doukas or Ducas , nicknamed Parapinakēs , was Byzantine emperor from 1071 to 1078.- Life :...

 as basileus. Bryennios also lost a few men in the rout of his wing. The Seljuks did not pursue the fleeing Byzantines, nor did they recapture Manzikert itself at this point. The Byzantine army regrouped and marched to Dokeia, where they were joined by Romanos when he was released a week later. The most serious loss materially seems to have been the emperor's extravagant baggage train.

The result of this disastrous defeat was, in simplest terms, the loss of the Eastern Roman Empire's Anatolian heartland. John Julius Norwich
John Julius Norwich
John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO — known as John Julius Norwich — is an English historian, travel writer and television personality.-Early life:...

 says in his trilogy on the Byzantine Empire that the defeat was "its death blow, though centuries remained before the remnant fell. The themes in Anatolia were literally the heart of the empire, and within decades after Manzikert, they were gone." In his smaller book, "A Short History of Byzantium", Norwich describes the battle as "the greatest disaster suffered by the Empire in its seven and a half centuries of existence". Sir Steven Runciman in Chapter 5 of Volume One of his "History of the Crusades" noted that "The Battle of Manzikert was the most decisive disaster in Byzantine history. The Byzantines themselves had no illusions about it. Again and again their historians refer to that dreadful day"

Anna Komnene
Anna Komnene
Anna Komnene, Latinized as Comnena was a Greek princess and scholar and the daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium and Irene Doukaina...

, writing a few decades after the actual battle, wrote:
Years and decades later, Manzikert came to be seen as a disaster for the Empire; later sources therefore greatly exaggerate the numbers of troops and the number of casualties. Byzantine historians would often look back and lament the "disaster" of that day, pinpointing it as the moment the decline of the Empire began. It was not an immediate disaster, but the defeat showed the Seljuks that the Byzantines were not invincible—they were not the unconquerable, millennium-old Roman Empire (as both the Byzantines and Seljuks still called it). The usurpation of Andronikos Doukas also politically destabilized the empire and it was difficult to organize resistance to the Turkish migrations that followed the battle. Within a decade almost all of Asia Minor was overrun. That process was in part facilitated by the "central plains of Anatolia (having been) emptied and turned into sheep farms by the Byzantine magnates themselves" (Runciman). Finally, while intrigue and deposing of Emperors had taken place before, the fate of Romanos was particularly horrific, and the destabilization caused by it also rippled through the centuries.

What followed the battle was a chain of events—of which the battle was the first link—that undermined the Empire in the years to come. They included intrigues for the throne, the horrific fate of Romanos and Roussel de Bailleul
Roussel de Bailleul
Roussel de Bailleul , also known as Phrangopoulos , was a Norman adventurer who travelled to Byzantium and there received employ as a soldier and leader of men from the Emperor Romanus IV Roussel de Bailleul (also Ursellus de Ballione in Latin or Roscelin or Roskelin de Baieul, called Urselius by...

 attempting to carve himself an independent kingdom in Galatia
Galatia
Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace , who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the "Gallia" of...

 with his Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

, Norman
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 and German mercenaries. He defeated the Emperor's uncle John Doukas
John Doukas, Caesar
John Doukas was the son of Andronikos Doukas, a Paphlagonian nobleman who may have served as governor of the theme of Moesia and younger brother of Emperor Constantine X Doukas...

 who had come to suppress him, advancing toward the capital to destroy Chrysopolis (Üsküdar
Üsküdar
Üsküdar is a large and densely populated municipality of Istanbul, Turkey, on the Anatolian shore of the Bosphorus. It is bordered on the north by Beykoz, on the east by Ümraniye, on the southeast by Ataşehir, on the south by Kadıköy, and on the west by the Bosphorus, with the areas of Beşiktaş,...

) on the Asian coast of the Bosphorus. The Empire finally turned to the spreading Seljuks to crush de Bailleul (which they did). However the Turks ransomed him back to his wife, and it was not before the young general Alexios Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos
Alexios I Komnenos, Latinized as Alexius I Comnenus , was Byzantine emperor from 1081 to 1118, and although he was not the founder of the Komnenian dynasty, it was during his reign that the Komnenos family came to full power. The title 'Nobilissimus' was given to senior army commanders,...

 pursued him that he was captured. These events all interacted to create a vacuum that the Turks filled. Their choice in establishing their capital in Nikaea (Iznik
Iznik
İznik is a city in Turkey which is primarily known as the site of the First and Second Councils of Nicaea, the first and seventh Ecumenical councils in the early history of the Church, the Nicene Creed, and as the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea...

) in 1077 could possibly be explained by a desire to see if the Empire's struggles could present new opportunities.

In hindsight, both Byzantine and contemporary historians are unanimous in dating the decline of Byzantine fortunes to this battle. As Paul K. Davis
Paul K. Davis
Paul K. Davis is a historian specializing in military history. Born in Texas, he was educated at Southwest Texas State University before earning his PhD from King's College London with a thesis on the Mesopotamian campaign of the First World War. He has been consulted as an expert military...

 writes, "Byzantine defeat severely limited the power of the Byzantines by denying them control over Anatolia, the major recruiting ground for soldiers. Henceforth, the Muslims controlled the region. The Byzantine Empire was limited to the area immediately around Constantinople, and the Byzantines were never again a serious military force." It is also interpreted as one of the root causes for the later Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, in that the First Crusade
First Crusade
The First Crusade was a military expedition by Western Christianity to regain the Holy Lands taken in the Muslim conquest of the Levant, ultimately resulting in the recapture of Jerusalem...

 of 1095 was originally a western response to the Byzantine emperor's call for military assistance after the loss of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

. From another perspective, the West saw Manzikert as a signal that Byzantium was no longer capable of being the protector of Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 or Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

Delbruck
Delbrück
Delbrück is a town in the east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, located in the district Paderborn. As of 2002 it has a population of 29,846.-History:...

 considers that the importance of the battle has been exaggerated; but it is clear from the evidence that as a result of it, the Empire was unable to put an effective army into the field for many years to come.

The Battle of Myriokephalon
Battle of Myriokephalon
The Battle of Myriokephalon, also known as the ', or in Turkish, was a battle between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Turks in Phrygia on September 17, 1176. The battle was a strategic reverse for the Byzantine forces, who were ambushed when moving through a mountain pass...

, also known as the Myriocephalum, has been compared to the Battle of Manzikert as a pivotal point in the decline of the Byzantine Empire. In both battles, separated by over a hundred years, an expensive Byzantine army finds itself ambushed by a more elusive
Elusive
"Elusive" became the first single for British singer/songwriter Scott Matthews and was released on 18 September 2006. The single received much airplay from BBC Radio DJs Jo Whiley, Dermot O'Leary, and Zane Lowe between August 7–10; Lowe played "Elusive" once each night as his chosen Single of the...

 Seljuk opponent. However, Myriocephalum's implications were initially limited, thanks to Manuel I Komnenos
Manuel I Komnenos
Manuel I Komnenos was a Byzantine Emperor of the 12th century who reigned over a crucial turning point in the history of Byzantium and the Mediterranean....

' holding on to power. The same could not be said of Romanos, whose enemies "martyred a courageous and upright man", and as a result "the Empire ... would never recover".

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