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The history of Manzikert and national Victory Day

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Battle of Manzikert 1071 - Byzantine - Seljuq Wars Documentary

Body Wash. Pain Relievers. Oral Pain Relief. Allergy Medicine. Ear Drops. The Seljuk forces hid among the nearby hills for the night, making it nearly impossible for Romanos to counterattack. On 25 August, some of Romanos' Turkic mercenaries came into contact with their Seljuk kin and deserted. Romanos then rejected a Seljuk peace embassy. He wanted to settle the eastern question and the persistent Turkic incursions and settlements with a decisive military victory, and he understood that raising another army would be both difficult and expensive.

The Emperor attempted to recall Tarchaneiotes, who was no longer in the area. There were no engagements that day, but on 26 August the Byzantine army gathered itself into a proper battle formation and began to march on the Turkish positions, with the left wing under Bryennios, the right wing under Theodore Alyates , and the centre under the emperor. At that moment, a Turkish soldier said to Alp Arslan, "My Sultan, the enemy army is approaching", and Alp Arslan is said to have replied, "Then we are also approaching them".

Andronikos Doukas led the reserve forces in the rear—a foolish mistake, considering the loyalties of the Doukids. The Seljuks were organized into a crescent formation about four kilometres away. The Byzantines held off the arrow attacks and captured Alp Arslan's camp by the end of the afternoon. However, the right and left wings, where the arrows did most of their damage, almost broke up when individual units tried to force the Seljuks into a pitched battle; the Seljuk cavalry simply disengaged when challenged, the classic hit and run tactics of steppe warriors.

With the Seljuks avoiding battle, Romanos was forced to order a withdrawal by the time night fell. However, the right wing misunderstood the order, and Doukas, as a rival of Romanos, deliberately ignored the emperor and marched back to the camp outside Manzikert, rather than covering the emperor's retreat. With the Byzantines thoroughly confused, the Seljuks seized the opportunity and attacked. Some authors suppose that Armenians were the first to flee and they all managed to get away, while by contrast the Turkish auxiliaries remained loyal to the end.

When Romanos saw the boldness of the Armenian foot soldiers, he displayed great affection for them and promised them unheard of rewards. In the end, the emperor's personal troops and these Armenian foot soldiers suffered the heaviest casualties in the Byzantine army. Romanos was injured and taken prisoner by the Seljuks. The survivors were the many who fled the field and were pursued throughout the night, but not beyond that; by dawn, the professional core of the Byzantine army had been destroyed whilst many of the peasant troops and levies who had been under the command of Andronikus had fled.

Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol. The Battle of Manzikert

When Emperor Romanos IV was conducted into the presence of Alp Arslan, the Sultan refused to believe that the bloodied and tattered man covered in dirt was the mighty Emperor of the Romans. After discovering his identity, Alp Arslan placed his boot on the Emperor's neck and forced him to kiss the ground. Alp Arslan treated Romanos with considerable kindness and again offered the terms of peace that he had offered prior to the battle.

According to Ibn al-Adim , in the presence of Arslan, Romanos blamed the raids of Rashid al-Dawla Mahmud into Byzantine territory for his interventions in Muslim territories which eventually led to the Battle of Manzikert. During this time, the Sultan allowed Romanos to eat at his table whilst concessions were agreed upon: Antioch, Edessa, Hierapolis, and Manzikert were to be surrendered. A payment of 10 million gold pieces demanded by the Sultan as a ransom for Romanos was deemed as too high by the latter, so the Sultan reduced its short-term expense by asking for 1.


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Shortly after his return to his subjects, Romanos found his rule in serious trouble. Despite attempts to raise loyal troops, he was defeated three times in battle against the Doukas family and was deposed, blinded, and exiled to the island of Proti. He died soon after as a result of an infection caused by an injury during his brutal blinding.

Romanos' final foray into the Anatolian heartland, which he had worked so hard to defend, was a public humiliation. While Manzikert was a long-term strategic catastrophe for Byzantium, it was by no means the massacre that historians earlier presumed. Modern scholars estimate that Byzantine losses were relatively low, [28] [29] considering that many units survived the battle intact and were fighting elsewhere within a few months, and most Byzantine prisoners of war were later released.

Doukas had escaped with no casualties and quickly marched back to Constantinople, where he led a coup against Romanos and proclaimed Michael VII as basileus. The Seljuks did not pursue the fleeing Byzantines, nor did they recapture Manzikert itself at this point. The Byzantine army regrouped and marched to Dokeia , where they were joined by Romanos when he was released a week later. The most serious loss materially seems to have been the emperor's extravagant baggage train. The result of this disastrous defeat was, in simplest terms, the loss of the Eastern Roman Empire's Anatolian heartland.

John Julius Norwich says in his trilogy on the Byzantine Empire that the defeat was "its death blow, though centuries remained before the remnant fell. The themes in Anatolia were literally the heart of the empire, and within decades after Manzikert, they were gone. The Byzantines themselves had no illusions about it.

Again and again their historians refer to that dreadful day. Anna Komnene , writing a few decades after the actual battle, wrote:. For the armies of the East were dispersed in all directions, because the Turks had over-spread, and gained command of, countries between the Euxine Sea [ Black Sea ] and the Hellespont , and the Aegean Sea and Syrian Seas [ Mediterranean Sea ], and the various bays, especially those which wash Pamphylia , Cilicia , and empty themselves into the Egyptian Sea [Mediterranean Sea].

Years and decades later, Manzikert came to be seen as a disaster for the Empire; later sources therefore greatly exaggerate the numbers of troops and the number of casualties. Byzantine historians would often look back and lament the "disaster" of that day, pinpointing it as the moment the decline of the Empire began.

It was not an immediate disaster, but the defeat showed the Seljuks that the Byzantines were not invincible—they were not the unconquerable, millennium-old Roman Empire as both the Byzantines and Seljuks still called it. The usurpation of Andronikos Doukas also politically destabilized the empire and it was difficult to organize resistance to the Turkish migrations that followed the battle. Finally, while intrigue and the deposition of Emperors had taken place before, the fate of Romanos was particularly horrific, and the destabilization caused by it also rippled through the empire for centuries.

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