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15 Pages

Introduction: The early Seljūqs in mediaeval and modern historiography

The subject of this book is the rise of a group of Turks from their origins as an obscure tribe living in the west Eurasian steppes to rulers of an empire that dominated the Middle East and Central Asia. Led by the descendants of the chief Selju¯q b. Duqa¯q, in the first half of the eleventh century the Turks captured the established centres of civilisation of the Islamic world – the great cities of Transoxiana, Iran and Iraq – and reached far into Anatolia and the Caucasus. The Ghaznavid, Bu¯yid and Byzantine Empires that dominated Central Asia, Iran and Iraq, and Anatolia all met defeat at the hands of the armies of Turkish nomads.1

This book examines how this sudden transformation from tribe to empire came about, concentrating on the little-known but formative period up to the death of the second sultan, Alp Arsla¯n, in 465/1072.