Post-classical history

Īlghāzī (d. 1122)

Najm al-Dīn īlghāzī ibn Artûq was founder of the Mardin- Mayyafarikin branch of the Turkish Artûqid dynasty. He contributed significantly to the check of the Frankish advance to the north and east of Outremer before the time of Zangī and Saladin, although personal vice (drunkenness) and self-interested aspirations (consolidation of his Mardin possessions) prevented him from effecting a decisive victory against the principality of Antioch.

īlghāzī was born around 1062, the son of Artûq, a Turcoman leader. He was initially in the service of the Great Saljûq Empire, but in 1108-1109 he seized the town of Mardin. He fell out with theSaljûqs because of his reluctance to join the Muslim coalition against the Franks in 1111-1115 and also because of his part in a Turcoman alliance against the Saljûq emir of Mosul; it was only after 1118 that he reestablished good relations with Sultan Muhammad I’s successor, Mahmûd I. In 1117-1118 īlghāzī seized power in Aleppo in response to its inhabitants’ plea to save the city from the power of Roger of Salerno, regent of Antioch, thus ending the short-lived rule of the Saljûq dynasty there.

Around 1118 īlghāzī became master of Diyar Bakr, and subsequently took possession of Martyropolis (Mayya- farikin), which had experienced successive Saljûq and Dānishmendid rule. In the summer of 1119 he mounted an invasion of the principality of Antioch, inflicting a major defeat on the forces of Prince Roger in a battle known as the Ager Sanguinis (Field of Blood), yet wasted this great victory (won without the support of the Saljûq sultan) by failing to capture the city of Antioch (mod. Antakya, Turkey).

In 1120 and 1122 īlghāzī launched further attacks against Frankish northern Syria, while in 1121 he participated in an abortive Saljûq campaign in Georgia. He died at Mayya- farikin in late 1122, and his inheritance was divided among his sons and nephews.

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