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Near East Kingdoms



Seljuq Sultanate of Rum (Konya / Iconium) (Turks)
AD 1080 - 1308

The sultanate of Rum was established after 1071 in territory in southern-central Anatolia (Asia Minor), formerly a Near East possession of the Eastern Roman empire. Alternatively known as Iconium (the Latin version of the Luwian original, 'Ikkuwaniya') or Konya (the Turkic pronunciation of Iconium), it was one of a number of minor states to be created by the first mass migration of Turks into the region from east of the Caspian Sea.

FeatureDuring the tenth century migrations of the Turkish peoples (covered in part by the accompanying feature - see link, right), one group which was led by a chief named Seljuq settled in the lower reaches of the Syr Darya (the River Jaxartes) and later converted to the Sunni form of Islam. They supplied frontier defence forces for the Samanids and later for Mahmud of Ghazna.

Seljuq's two grandsons, Chaghri Beg and Toghrïl Beg, enlisted Persian support to win realms of their own. Chaghri soon controlled the greater part of Khorasan while Toghrïl, by the time of his death in 1063, headed a Seljuq empire which included western Iran and Mesopotamia.

After the main Seljuq force had conquered Persia and had taken Baghdad, a splinter group defeated the Byzantines in Anatolia and founded the sultanate of Rum (literally meaning 'Rome' because the territory they captured had been part of the eastern continuation of the Roman empire). Initially this was under Seljuq suzerainty, but Rum's sultans constantly strained against the leash. Even before they declared independence, Rum had become one of the most powerful Turkic Anatolian states.

To its south, in the ancient region of Cilicia, the kingdom of Lesser Armenia was also founded in 1080, while the Crusader state of Edessa was founded to the south-east in 1098. The First Crusade which started in that year found a divided Islamic empire which was still governed by the Seljuqs (at least nominally) but which was already at war with itself.

The Crusaders quickly and forcefully carved a large swathe of territory out of Seljuq holdings, and the rulers of Rum were forced into the interior around Konya, where they solidified their governance. This small state contained people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds but it came to be known in contemporary circles as the state of the 'Turkie', the state of the Turks in Anatolia. Eventually that name came to be applied to much of Anatolia itself, thanks to the later Ottomans.

Olympus in Phrygia

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information from Al-Hind: The Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Vol 2, André Wink (Brill, 2002), from The Mongols: A Very Short Introduction, Morris Rossabi (Oxford University Press, 2012), from The Origin of the Turks and the Turkish Khanate, Gao Yang (Tenth Türk Tarih Kongresi, Ankara 1986), from Türkiye halkının kültür kökenleri: Giriş, beslenme teknikleri, Burhan Oğuz (1976), from The Turks in World History, Carter Vaughn Findley (Oxford University Press 2005), from The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, Susan Wise Bauer (2010), from An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples, Peter B Golden (1992), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Encyclopaedia Iranica, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation.)

1060 - 1078

Qutalmïsh / Kutulmush

Vied with Alp Arslan for the rule of Seljuq Baghdad in 1063.


A unit of six hundred Alani fights under the command of the Eastern Romans against the Seljuq Turks. The Seljuq leader, Alp Arslan, has already defeated Qutalmïsh for the right to rule and then had extended his new empire into western Iran and Mesopotamia

Now he defeats an immense Byzantine army and captures Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes. This victory opens the gates to a large-scale Turkic influx into western Anatolia.

Seljuq cavalry
A stone relief of Seljuq cavalry, which swept through Persia, northern Mesopotamia, Syria, and Anatolia in the eleventh century

In eastern and central Anatolia, settlements and small domains are set up by the Mangūjakids around Divriği (Tephrike), Erzincan (Keltzine), and Kemah (Camcha) until 1252. The Saltuqids rule Erzurum (Theodosiopolis) until 1201/02. The Dānishmendids control Sivas, Kayseri (Caesarea Cappadociae), and Amasya (Amaseia) until 1177/78.

Western Anatolia is the focus of Qutalmïsh and his son, Sulaymān, a distant cousin of soon-to-be 'Great Seljuq', Sultan Malik-Shāh (from 1072). His territory becomes the splinter sultanate of Rum. Initially this remains subservient to the Great Seljuqs but is always straining against the leash under its leader.


Sulaymān captures Nicæa (İznik) and Nicomedia (İzmit), threatening Constantinople itself around 1075. This prompts the new Eastern Roman emperor, Michael VII Ducas, to appeal to Pope Gregory VII for aid against the invaders. Sulaymān's activities also attracted the concern of Great Seljuq Malik-Shāh, who attempts unsuccessfully to dislodge his kinsman on several occasions.

College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals (seen here in 1922) was formed in 1061 to elect the pope, one of the highly important reforms which were enacted by Pope Nicholas II, predecessor-but-one to Gregory VII

1078 - 1086

Süleyman / Sulaymān I

Son. First sultan of Rum (1080). Murdered.


Having made Nicæa his capital and renaming it İznik, Sulaymān now assumes the title 'sultan' in defiance of Great Seljuq Malik-Shāh, an event which is generally accepted as marking the beginning of independent Seljuq rule in Anatolia. He spends the next few years expanding his holdings to the east and south.

1085 - 1086

Antioch (now Antakya) is taken from the Eastern Romans and held for just thirteen years before it is lost to the Crusader principality of Antioch. Sulaymān is killed here in 1086 by his relative, Tutush of the Syrian branch of the Seljuqs in Damascus and Aleppo, who is loyal to Malik-Shāh.

1092 - 1094

Now aged six, the infant Mahmud's claim as Seljuq 'Great Sultan' has been pushed forwards by his mother, Terken Khatun. His claim on the title had been proclaimed in Baghdad, but the claim by his elder brother, Barkiyaruq, had been proclaimed at the same time. Now the forces of the two claimants meet in battle and those of Barkiyaruq are victorious.

The siege of Antioch in 1098
Antioch may have been held by the sultanate of Rum for the thirteen years between 1085-1098, but the siege of Antioch depicted here saw it captured by Crusader forces, following which a semi-independent Crusader principality was formed around it

Mahmud and his mother are soon assassinated by the vizier at Estfahan, but the empire of Malik-Shāh has already begun to break up. Kilij Arslan I has taken control of Rum, while Tutush reclaims a now-independent Aleppo and maintains a son in command of Damascus.

1092 - 1107

Qïlïch / Kilij Arslan I

Son. Drowned.


Before the forces of the First Crusade are ready to depart, Peter the Hermit leads, against all good advice, a motley band of civilians and soldiers into Anatolia. They are almost wiped out in a running battle with Seljuq Turks at Civetot. By the middle of the year, the main force is ready to leave the Eastern Roman capital of Constantinople, and the Crusades begin in earnest. Nicaea is the first town to fall.

1098 - 1099

The First Crusade finds a divided Islamic empire governed by the Seljuq Turks, and quickly and forcefully carves a large swathe of territory out of it, with loses including Edessa (on the Euphrates), and Jerusalem.

Rather than unite, the various local rulers all end their internecine squabbles and return home to defend their own domains. The Seljuqs in Anatolia are forced into the interior around Iconium (Konya), where they solidify their governance of Rum.

The small state contains people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds but it comes to be known in contemporary circles as the state of the 'Turkie', the state of the Turks in Anatolia.

The coming of the Crusaders occurred at a time when the Islamic world was deeply involved in factional in-fighting, and at first they were dismissed as being a mere Byzantine raid


After taking Mosul in 1107, Qïlïch Arslan I engages the forces of Great Seljuq Muḥammad Tapar but is drowned in the River Khābūr. This clash, the last encounter between the Iran-based Great Seljuqs and the descendants of Qutalmïsh in Anatolia, limits the ambitions and the sphere of influence of the latter to Anatolia itself.

1107 - 1116

Malik Shah / Şahinşah

Son. Imprisoned until 1110. Defeated, deposed & blinded.


Having only claimed his throne in 1110 after having been imprisoned in Esfahan by the 'Great Seljuq', Malik Shah now has to face a Eastern Roman empire which has been buoyed by Crusader successes in Anatolia. Emperor Alexius I Comnenus defeats him in a series of engagements over several days which forms the Battle of Philomelion.

Shortly afterwards he is deposed and blinded - and is soon to be murdered - by his brother, Mesut, who succeeds him with the help of the Dānishmendids.

1116 - 1156

Rukn al-Dīn Masud / Mesut I

Brother. Captured the throne by force.


With the death of Mehmed of the rival Dānishmendids in Anatolia the state is divided between his two brothers and is greatly weakened as a result. The Seljuqs of Rum return to prominence and once again begin to dominate the region, even attacking one of the brothers in 1155.

Ahmad Sanjar
The Seljuq ruler, Ahmad Sanjar, held territory in the wider region of Khorasan while his brother commanded as the 'Great Sultan' in Persia, but Ahmad's dominance of the east increased beyond that of a subsidiary ruler so that, in 1119, he was able to challenge for command of central Persia itself and control of the title of 'Great Sultan'

1156 - 1192

Kilij Arlsan II

Son. Generally at peace with Constantinople.


The Eastern Romans are defeated by Kilij Arlsan at the Battle of Myriocephalon (generally held to be near to Çivril in Denizli province, western Anatolia). The empire enters a period of uncertainty and gradual decline which also affects its allies.


The rival Dānishmendid state in central Anatolia, which had been the dominant Seljuq state between around 1100-1142, is now captured by Kilij Arlsan, ending that particular threat and increasing Rum's own territory. This had been one of Rum's main local rivals, having been formed after the Eastern Roman defeat of 1071.


Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa enters Anatolia via the Dardanelles as part of the Third Crusade. His impressive and large force swiftly hands out defeats at the battles of Philomelium and Iconium, both against the various belligerent sons of Kilij Arlsan II rather than against the sultanate itself (and especially by the eldest, Qutb al-Din). Even so, the sultanate's capital is occupied and Rum hits one of its lowest points.

On his way towards a besieged Acre, the aging but still capable Barbarossa subsequently drowns in the River Saleph, seemingly while bathing but possibly having been exhausted by the Anatolian summer heat. The death causes hundreds of German Crusaders to return home.

Hohenstaufen coat of arms
The Hohenstaufen family of Swabia gained a strong foothold on power in the late eleventh century and went on to supply an entire dynasty of German emperors which included Frederick Barbarossa


Qutb al-Din

Son. Seized Konya. Driven out by Kilij Arlsan.

1192 - 1196

Kaikhosru / Keyhüsrev I

Brother. Chosen successor. Defeated in civil war.


The Khwarazm emirate gains independence from the eastern Seljuqs by overthrowing them and occupying much of the rest of greater Khorasan, including Seistan and the heartland of Persia itself.

The Seljuqs in Iraq are now thoroughly dominated by their Azerbaijani relatives. Those in Rum retain their independence, but although ruling as his father's chosen successor, Kaikhosru is spending much of his reign fighting against his brothers. Eventually he is defeated and deposed by one of them - Süleyman.

1196 - 1204

Süleyman II

Brother. Seized throne from Kaikhosru.


With Kaikhosru in exile in Constantinople, Süleyman is able to annexe the Saltuqid realm which is centred on Erzurum (Theodosiopolis), and which includes surrounding territory in eastern Anatolia. This had been another of several rival Seljuq states to have been formed after the Eastern Roman defeat in Anatolia of 1071.

Fall of Constantinople
The fall of Constantinople two and-a-half centuries later not only ended the last vestiges of the Roman empire but also opened up south-eastern Europe to the Ottoman Turks


Kilij Arlsan III

Son. Deposed by a resurgent Kaikhosru.


The capture of Constantinople is the Fourth Crusade's 'success', and Latin emperors are established in the city. The Byzantines withdraw to Nicæa in Anatolia, but rival claimants also established holdings in Trebizond and Epirus so that, at one point, there are four claimants to the Byzantine throne, as well as the Bulgar and Serb states which also claim dominance over it.

Close allies of Constantinople through intermarriage and trade, including Alania and the Rus, are badly affected by this disaster, but it does no harm to Turkic efforts to advance through conquest into Roman territory.

1204 - 1211

Kaikhosru / Keyhüsrev I

Restored. Killed in battle.


The Battle of Antioch on the Meander (also known as the Battle of Alaşehir) is fought between the forces of Theodorus I Lascaris of Nicæa and Kaikhosru of Rum. The sultanate's defeat and the sultan's death on the battlefield confirms Nicæan dominance of Anatolia's Aegean coast.

The army of Lascaris is virtually destroyed itself, but the victory ends the Seljuq threat. Kaikhosru's successor (and son) concludes a truce with Nicæa on 14 June 1211 which solidifies the border between the two for the next half a century.

The Battle of Antioch on the Meander in 1211
The Battle of Antioch on the Meander in 1211 ended the threat to Eastern Romans which had been posed by the sultanate of Rum, with peace being agreed afterwards and good relations being maintained for over a generation

1211 - 1220

Kaikawus / Keykavus I


1219 - 1231

Following two attacks by the Mongols in 1219 and 1221 which secures eastern Persia for them, the Khwarazm shahs are finally conquered in 1231 and Persia is controlled directly by the Golden Horde until 1256. The conquests force a flood of refugees upon the west, notably in Anatolia where the sultanate of Rum has to take them in.

1220 - 1237

Kaikubad I / Kayqubad I

Son. Died unexpectedly of natural causes.


Al Ashraf of Damascus has been growing more and more discontented with the overlordship of his brother, al Kamil I of Egypt. He forms an alliance with Sultan Kaikubad I and minor Ayyubid rulers with the intention of breaking al Kamil's hold on the region. However, both Kaikubad and al Ashraf die of natural causes in the same year, ending the alliance.

1237 - 1246

Kaikhosru / Keyhüsrev II

Son. Mongol vassal (1243).


The sultanate is struck heavily by the all-conquering Mongols when Kaikhosru II is defeated at the Battle of Kösedağ, (or Köse Dağ) in eastern Anatolia. Rum is forced to accept the status of a Mongol vassal and the remaining Seljuqs begin to disintegrate, despite attempts to retain the sultanate's cohesiveness. It is the Il-Khans of Persia who inherent Rum's vassal status.

Mongol warriors
Within just thirty years, Mongol warriors had travelled as far afield as central China and Eastern Europe, and south-west into Persia, turning the Mongol empire into the largest single controlling force in history

1246 - 1262

Kaikawus / Keykavus II

Son. Il-Khan vassal. Detained at Nicæa (1256-65). Died 1280.

1248 - 1265

Kilij Arslan IV

Brother. Il-Khan vassal who shared the throne. Executed.

1249 - 1257

Kaikubad II / Kayqubad II

Brother. Il-Khan vassal who shared the throne.


The Nicæan-Latin Wars are not concluded when Michael VIII Palæologus recaptures Constantinople, as Achaia and Athens are still occupied by Latin Crusader rulers. The city falls during a surprise attack when much of the garrison is raiding Nicæan territory.

The Latins are helped in their largely successful evacuation by the Venetian fleet, but Michael VIII is able to claim Constantinople as his seat and the capital of the Palæologus.

Byzantine icon
An icon showing four episodes from the life of Christ probably painted in Thessalonica, which was the most important artistic centre in the crumbling empire after Constantinople

1265 - 1282

Kaikhosru / Keyhüsrev III

Son of Kilij Arslan IV. Il-Khan vassal. Infant at accession.

1282 - 1304

Masud II

Son of Kaikawus II. Il-Khan vassal. Deposed and imprisoned.

1286 - 1304

The new Il-Khan ruler, Arghun, divides the Seljuq lands of Rum, giving Konya and the west to the two infant sons of the recently-deposed Kaikhosru III. Masud, already in the sultanate as a pretender to the throne and ruler of some of the eastern territories, quickly proceeds to Konya to execute the boys and claim the entire sultanate for himself in 1286.

However, the fraught politics of the period see him falsely implicated in a plot and imprisoned for a time from 1304.

1284 - 1307

Kaikubad III / Kayqubad III

Nephew of Kaikawus II. Il-Khan vassal. Unpopular.

1307 - 1308

Masud II

Restored. Il-Khan vassal. Assassinated.


With the murder of Masud, the sultanate disappears. Various small Turkic principalities emerge to control the region, still under Il-Khan vassalage. One of these is the small Ottoman state which soon begins to make inroads to the west.

Il-Khan Musa coin
Shown here are two sides of a rare coin which was issued during the brief early fourteenth century 'reign' of Musa, a direct descendant of the powerful Il-Khan ruler, Hulegu, but himself a puppet

The Mongol sultanate of the Jalayirids establishes control over the region in 1336, but the Ottoman attacks continue against the Byzantines. These force various sections of it to splinter and create rival states (although some had also been created by the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204), such as Achaia, Athens, Epirus, Morea, and Trebizond.

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