Post-classical history

Rum, Sultanate of

A sultanate in Anatolia (Asia Minor), with its capital first at Nicaea (mod. Iznik, Turkey) and then at Ikonion (mod. Konya), ruled by a branch of the Saljûq family from 1080/1081 to 1307/1308. The name Rûm, deriving from the Bilad al-Rûm of Muslim authors, relates to the formerly “Rhomaic” (i.e., Byzantine) territories of Anatolia.

The sultanate’s foundation and consolidation period is intertwined with the careers of the able Sulaymân I ibn Qutlumush, who perished fighting against a large Great Saljûq coalition in 1085 or 1086, and with Qilij Arslān I, who lost his capital of Nicaea to the Byzantines in 1097 during the First Crusade (1096-1099). The latter faced the Crusade of 1101 in coalition with theDānishmendids, winning two important victories at Mersivan and Herakleia, but met his death in Syria against the Saljûq ruler Ridwân of Aleppo in 1107. By the early twelfth century, the Saljûqs ofRûm had moved their capital to the Cappadocian town of Ikonion, from which comes the alternative appellation of their state as Sultanate of Konya.

For most of the twelfth century, the sultans of Rûm had to wage wars against their Anatolian rivals, the Turkophone Dānishmendids of Caesarea in Cappadocia (mod. Kayseri) and Sebasteia (mod. Sivas), as well as against the Byzantines. They also faced attacks by the armies of the Second Crusade (1147-1149) and the Third Crusade (1189-1192). Under the Komnenian emperors Alexios I and John II (c. 1112-1140), the Byzantines succeeded in wresting from the Saljûqs a significant section of their former western and northwestern Anatolian possessions. However, it was in the following period that Saljûq-Byzantine relations went through fluctuating phases, especially in the reigns of Qilij Arslān II of Rûm and Manuel I Komnenos of Byzantium. In 1161-1162 the sultan was magnificently received in Constantinople, but the treaty concluded was soon proven a dead letter, for in 1173/1174 Qilij Arslān II made a pact with Byzantium’s bitter enemy, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Shortly afterward the sultan thwarted Manuel I’s invasion of Rûm (1174-1175) by defeating him at the battle of Myriokephalon in September 1176.

Qilij Arslān II crowned his successes by annexing the two Dānishmendid emirates in 1174-1177/1178, though his final years were spent in agonizing strife, as his sons bickered over the succession. In the course of the Third Crusade, Qilij Arslān II lost his capital to the armies of Frederick I and soon afterward died a broken man, naming as his successor one of his younger sons, Kay-Khusraw I. It was during that period that Byzantium failed to exploit its contacts with the Zangids; a firm alliance with Nûr al-Din (d. 1174) might have prevented its defeat at Myriokephalon, while a more effective collaboration with Saladin (with whom the last Kom- nenos, Andronikos I, and the first Angelos, Isaac II, signed treaties between 1184/1185 and 1192) might have led to a gradual reconquest of Asia Minor, most of which had been lost to the Rûm Saljûqs by the late twelfth century.

The sultanate’s history from the late twelfth to the late thirteenth century is treated in detail by the Saljuq-nama of Ibn Bibi, a Persian court chronicler at Ikonion, whose work is complemented by Ibn al-Athir and the major Byzantine chroniclers of the period. From this period dates another important aspect of Byzantine-Saljûq relations: the frequently attested social, institutional, cultural, and artistic contact and interplay between Rûm Saljûqs and Anatolian Christians, mostly evidenced by the phenomenon of mixed marriages, prove that both were not only opponents in battlefields but also partakers of a common cultural heritage.

In his first reign Kay-Khusraw I attempted to expand his territories at the expense of Byzantium, but he was temporarily toppled by his brother Rukn al-Dīn Sulaymān Shah II, who continued his brother’s policy, and also attacked Cili- cian Armenia and Georgia, but died suddenly while preparing a major expedition in the Caucasus. Meanwhile the exiled Kay-Khusraw I, who had found refuge in Byzantium in 1197-1203/1204, was reinstated at Ikonion. Since his Byzantine benefactors, the Angeloi, had been toppled in 1204, he became hostile toward their successors at Nicaea, the Laskarids, as well as to the latter’s allies, the Cilician Armenians. He succeeded in capturing the important southern Anatolian port of Attaleia (mod. Antalya) in 1207, but in 1211 the Saljûqs were defeated at Antioch on the Maean- der by the Laskarids and their Italian mercenaries, and Kay- Khusraw I was killed in action.

The operations of Kay-Khusraw’s successors were directed mainly against the Grand Komnenoi of the empire of Trebizond, from whom Kay-Kawûs I (1211-1220) took Sinope in 1214, but the Saljûq army of Kay-Qubādh I (1220-1237) failed to capture Trebizond in 1222-1223 (a previous unsuccessful attempt having taken place in 1205-1206). Kay-Qubādh also faced attacks from John III Doukas Vatatzes of Nicaea between 1222/1225 and 1231, while he also led an expedition against Crimea (1227/1228) and participated in an eastern alliance that defeated the Khwārazm Shāh Jalāl al-Dīn Mangubirtī in1231. The brunt of the imminent Mongol invasion of Anatolia, however, was reserved for Kay-Qubādh’s successor, Kay-Khusraw II, shortly after an internal religious insurrection led by Baba Ishāq(1240/1241) had threatened the Rûm throne. On 26 June 1243 the Mongol Ilkhans under Baidju crushed the forces of the Rûm Saljûqs and their Latin and Trapezuntine allies at Satala (mod. Kose Dagh). It was now too late for the Nicaean-Saljûq alliance (August 1243) to be effective, and from then onward the Rûm sultanate declined to the status of a protectorate of the Mongol Ilkhanid empire, in which most of the sultans were mere puppets in the hands of Ilkhanid governors. The period from the mid-thirteenth century, with a long list of ineffectual Saljûq nominal sultans, witnessed a gradual spread of Turcoman emirates (beyliks) in Anatolia. The most powerful of these developed into the Ottoman empire.

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