Battle of Manzikert

Learn about the Battle of Manzikert

Learn about the Battle of Manzikert

Introduction : There have been many wars worldwide for different reasons at different times. Sometimes with religion, sometimes with racism, sometimes with nationalism, sometimes to fix the empire, sometimes to get power, sometimes to fix it. Sometimes civil war, country war, sometimes ethnic war, the bell of war has sounded in the whole empire.

The Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Empire are among them. There have been many small and big skirmishes, wars and conflicts between them. Because of that, many people have suffered a lot of damage. Penetration into Anatolia becomes easier. The Seljuk Empire emerges as powerful. Which is known as the Battle of Malajgird. Let us know about the Malajgird battle,

★ Background : Romanos IV came to power in 1068, and after rapid military reforms, he put Manuel Comnenus in charge of the campaign against the Seljuks. Manuel captured Manbij in Syria. He repulsed a Turkish attack on Konya but was defeated and captured by Sultan Alp Arsalan. Despite the success, Alp Arsalan made a peace treaty with the Byzantines in 1069. At that time, the Fatimids of Egypt became his main opponents.

In February 1071, Romanos sent envoys to Alp Arsalan to renew the treaty. The Sultan agreed to this. After raising the siege of Edessa, he marched towards the Fatimid-held Aleppo. Romanos marched a large force into Armenia to recapture the lost fortress, breaking the peace treaty.

★ Undo War Preparation: Romanos’ opponent, Andronicus Doukas, was also with him. This force consisted of about 5,000 regular Byzantine soldiers from the western provinces and an equal number from the eastern provinces. There were 5,000 Franks and Normans under Rossel de Baileul. There were also some Aghuz Turks, Pecheng and Bulgarian warriors. The infantry was under the Duke of Antioch. There was also a contingent of Georgian and Armenian troops. As well as some soldiers of the Varangian Guards. In all, the strength of the force was 40,000 to 70,000.

Alp Arsalan led the Seljuk Turks. The journey through Asia Minor was long and arduous. Romanos’ popularity among the troops decreased due to bringing his luxury luggage. Also, the local population was suffering due to the depredations of his Frankish warriors, and he did not depose them.

They reached Theodosiopolis in June 1071. Some of the Emperor’s generals advised them to enter the Seljuk territory, launch an expedition and defeat Alp Arsalan before he was ready. Others, including Nicephorus Bryennius, proposed to wait and strengthen their position. But in the end, it was decided to go ahead.

Assuming that Alp Arsalan was far away or not approaching, Romanos advanced towards the lake. He thought he could quickly take over Malajgird. Alp Arsalan was already in the area. He was accompanied by his allies and 30,000 cavalry from Aleppo and Mosul. Although Romanos was unaware of Alp Arsalan’s move, Alp Arsalan’s spies deduced Romanos’ exact location. After Alp Arsalan received word of the Byzantine advance, he marched north to confront the Byzantines.

Romanos ordered his general, Josephus Tarkeniotes, to march towards Khaliat with some regulars, Varangians, and Pecheng and Frankish warriors, and he strode towards Malazgird with the rest of the force. As a result, the force’s capacity is halved. According to Muslim sources, Alp Arsalan defeated the forces of Joseph Tarkeniotesk.

★ Malajargid Battlefield: On August 26, the Byzantine army marched towards the Turkish positions. The Emperor led the military in the centre, Briennenis on the left, and Theodore Eliates on the right. At this time, a Turkish soldier said to Alp Arsalan, “My Sultan, the enemy troops are advancing”, and Alp Arsalan replied, “Then we are also advancing towards them”.

Andronicus Ducas was leading the reserve force in the rear. Four kilometres away, the Seljuks lined up in a half-moon formation. Seljuk archers attacked the Byzantines as they approached. The centre of the crescent formation of the Seljuk forces continued to fall back, and the two flanks surrounded the Byzantines.

The Byzantines advanced and reached the camp of Alp Arsalan before the end of the afternoon. However, the right and left parts of the army, which suffered the most from the arrows, collapsed during the fight with the Seljuks. The Seljuk cavalry were able to defeat them easily. The Romanos avoided battle and were forced to retreat during the night.

However, the right wing of the army misunderstood the order, and Dukas disobeyed the Emperor’s orders and fled outside Malajgird without protecting the Emperor as he retreated. The Seljuks took advantage of this misunderstanding by the Byzantines and attacked. The right-wing of the Byzantine army was almost destroyed, believing that the Armenians or supporting Turks had defected.

But mainly, the Armenians defected first, and the supporting Turks remained loyal. The army’s left wing under Bryennios held out for a while, but they were finally crushed. The remnants of the Byzantines, including the Emperor and the Varangian Guard, were besieged by the Seljuks. Romanos was captured and wounded. Besides, the professional core of the Byzantine army was destroyed by dawn.

★The Captivity of RomanosEdit: Emperor Romanos IV was captured in front of Alp Arsalan. A 15th-century painting. Emperor Romanos is brought before Alp Arsalan after his capture. However, the Sultan did not initially want to believe that the captive was Emperor Romanos. A famous conversation is said to have taken place at this time.
Alp Arsalan: “What would you do if I were brought before you as a prisoner?”
Romanos: “Perhaps I would have killed you or paraded you in the streets of Constantinople.

“Alp Arsalan: “My punishment is more severe than this; I forgive you and set you free.”

Alp Arsalan treated him well and restored the pre-war truce.
Alp Arsalan freed him, and Romanos’ rule was troubled after his release. He fought against the Ducas family three times and was defeated. After being overthrown, he was blinded and exiled to the island of “Peri”. He died soon after due to an infection from the wound during the blinding.

Betrayal: During the war, the Franks and Norman warriors did not take part in the fighting on the Byzantine side, and the Pecheng and Cumans sided with the Seljuks during the war. This demoralized them, and the Seljuks became stronger.

★ Battle Tactics: The forces of Romanos, who are many times more in number. On the contrary, Sultan Alp Arsalan stood at the head of 15 thousand soldiers. The joy of victory in the eyes of the Roman soldiers. Arsalan is a bit serious but not at all depressed. He entered the battlefield knowing certain death. So, there is no fear of death or defeat. Sultan knows – his soldiers do not care about life like him. Yet, addressing the soldiers for the last time, he said,

Before us are the Roman forces, who are many. We are engaged in such a war – achieve the desired goal if we win or be martyred. Today, I am not giving orders as a sultan. Today, I am one like you. You may follow me or leave this battlefield and return safely home.

The soldiers said, Sultan! We will follow your decision. I will sacrifice my life as your comrade-in-arms or win the victory. Sultan Alp Arsalan was delighted to see the morale of the troops, as he was a brave warrior on the battlefield and an excellent strategist. He knew well how to fight with a smaller army than the enemy.

The Byzantine troops took up positions in traditional formations but adopted Arsalan tactics. He arranged the entire army in a crescent formation. In the eyes of the enemy, the Seljuk’s army was larger. When the final attack began, the Sultan’s strategy backfired.

Romanos’s army marched forward in line to attack. Their main target was the middle of the Seljuks. Sagekus, on the other hand, advances in a crescent stance and suddenly attacks the opponent’s right and left sides. While the large army of Romanos is busy handling the right and left arms, their centre becomes empty. The soldiers of Alp Arsalan seized the opportunity. A counter-attack crushed the centre of Romanos’s force. The vast army needs to be more organized. Unable to withstand the attack, part of the army retreated.

His soldiers followed the word given to the Sultan to the letter. They continued to attack one after another with their last strength, pouring fresh blood on the battlefield of Malajgird and writing an extraordinary heroic history of the Turks.

:Lessons from War: Many smaller groups have triumphed over larger groups in history. For victory, numbers are not important, the main thing is trust in Allah and strong morale and martyrdom. May Allah enliven us with martyrdom. Amen. Read more

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