1.7. The Seldchuks and the Rum-Seldchuks

The empire of the Seldchuks was founded in 990.

In the 11th century, the Seldchukian Oghuses invaded Iran and the Middle East from Middle Asia.

The Seldchuks acted like people of the plains, in family clans they conquered parts of Iraq, Aserbaidjan and Armenia.
At the same time, the Ghaznadians rules over what today is Afghanistan and the Panjab.

Tugril Beg moved into Bagdad in 1055 and let the local leaders award him the title of sultan. Under the leadership of Alp Arslan (1062-1072) and his son Malik Shah (1072-1092), the greatest political force in the Middle East comes into being, even the Byzantinians are forced back by the Seldchuks.

Sultan Sandschar (1141) is the last leader of a great Seldchuk Empire, after him it falls apart into smaller empires.
Sulaiman ibn Kutulmisch founds the sultanate of the “Rum-Seldchuks” at Manzikert in the Byzantian territory after a battle against the Byzantium, but the Seldchuks are not united again in the empire of the “Rum-Seldchuks” until the reign of Iznik and later Konya.

The term “Rum” derives from the fact that the Seldchuks wanted to build an empire in Asia after the model of the Romans or Rome. Due to the specific language, the “Rome” turned into “Rum”.

The Seldchuks introduced the art of carpet knotting in the region.

The population of the empire was highly differentiated: Nomadic as well as stateless people; Turkish tribes, Persians, Greeks, Armenians, and Roma joined the realm of the Rum-Seldchuks.


The sultans were intent on securing their realm, especially since the Mongolians ventured raiding into the region in the early 13th century.

The empire was very open towards the admission of new citizens. These had the duty, though, of defending the empire in case of war. Every family clan had to provide 10,000 soldiers.

As far as civil rights were concerned, these were only valid for Muslims, since all other people could still be legally held as slaves.

The Empire of the Rum-Seldchuks gains its greatest political power under the reign of Ala’ddin Kaikobad I. (1219-1237). Under his order fight mercenary troops made up of slaves, free citizens and Roma who had joined the Rum-Seldchuks after the collapse of the Ghaznadian Empire. Nevertheless, the Rum-Seldchuks are defeated by the Mongolians in battle in 1243 and thus lose their control over the Eastern territories.

From 1284-1302, more and more Turkish tribes gain influence in the Empire of the Rum-Seldchuks, until it is finally absorbed into the Ottoman Empire by Ottoman I.

Different religions were another problem within the region. The Roma were Hindus like everybody in their native country at the time of enslavement. Now the situation looked much different. The Roma had to decide. From the East, the Mongolians drew closer, who were Christians; the surrounding empires were Islamic, including the Rum-Seldchuks. Joining the Rum-Seldchuks, basically the only choice, either meant becoming Muslims or fall back into slavery, which still was an inherent part of society.



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