The Battle of Manzikert

On August 26th, 1071, Byzantine army was defeated by the Seljuk Turks, and Anatolia was forever lost to Christendom.

In this 15th-century French miniature depicting the Battle of Manzikert, the combatants are clad in contemporary Western European armour.
In this 15th-century French miniature depicting the Battle of Manzikert, the combatants are clad in contemporary Western European armour.

Manzikert was fought on August 26th, 1071 – a Friday. The action began in the afternoon; and it was dark in the Anatolian highlands when the Byzantine Emperor, Romanus IV Diogenes, was led captive before Alp Arslan, Sultan of the Seljuks. In half a day, Anatolia, heartland of Byzantium, recruiting ground of more than half of its themes, source of its grain and land route between Constantinople, Cathay and the Indes, upon which the commerce of the Imperial City depended, was lost forever to Christendom.

On that Friday Alp Arslan, the mountain Lion, unwittingly founded the Seljuk Empire of Rum which would flourish for two centuries, make possible the Ottoman Empire and bring the Turks into the orbit of European history. Thus started the ‘Eastern Question’ of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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