On 26 August 1071 a large Byzantine army under Emperor Romanus IV met the Saljuq Turk forces of Sultan Alp Arslan near the town of Manzikert. The battle ended in a decisive defeat for the Byzantine forces, with the Byzantine emperor captured and much of his fabled Varangian guard killed. This battle is seen as the primary trigger of the Crusades, and as the moment when the power of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire was irreparably broken. The Saljuq victory opened up Anatolia to Turkish-Islamic conquest, which was eventually followed by the establishment of the Ottoman state. Nevertheless the battle itself was the culmination of a Christian Byzantine offensive, intended to strengthen the eastern frontiers of the empire and re-establish Byzantine domination over Armenia and northern Mesopotamia. Turkish Saljuq victory was in no sense inevitable and might, in fact, have come as something of a surprise to those who achieved it. It was not only the battle of Manzikert that had such profound and far-reaching consequences, many of these stemmed from the debilitating Byzantine civil war which followed and was a direct consequence of the defeat.
OSP Publishing inc
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01 September 2013
Origins of the campaign /Chronology /Opposing commanders /Opposing armies /Orders of battle /Opposing plans /The campaign /Aftermath /The battlefields today /Further reading /Index
David Nicolle, born in 1944, worked in the BBC's Arabic service for a number of years before gaining an MA from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a doctorate from Edinburgh University. He has written numerous books and articles on medieval and Islamic warfare, and has been a prolific author of Osprey titles for many years. Christa Hook began her illustrating career in 1986, after studying under her father Richard Hook. Her work has featured extensively in the worlds of publishing and television and, having illustrated over 30 Osprey titles, she has established herself as one of their most popular artists. Her illustrations combine the historian's attention to detail with the artist's sense of drama and atmosphere, and they are sought after by collectors worldwide. Christa lives and works in East Sussex, England.