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see TurksTurks,
term applied in its wider meaning to the Turkic-speaking peoples of Turkey, Russia, Central Asia, Xinjiang in China (Chinese Turkistan), Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, Iran, and Afghanistan.
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a branch of the Oghuz Turks (Turkmen originally from the area of the Syr Darya). The name “Seljuk” comes from Seljuk, a tribal leader of the Oghuz Turks in the tenth and early 11th centuries; it is also a name for the Muslim dynasty—the Seljukids—created by the Seljuks.

In the 1030’s the Seljuks received lands in Khorasan as vassals of the Ghaznavid state; they subsequently rebelled against the Ghaznavids, defeating them at Dendenkan in 1040. Under Togrul (Tughrul) Beg, who adopted the title of sultan during his reign (1038–63), the Seljuks overran Kwarazm and nearly all of Iran in the 1040’s and Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Iraq in the 1050’s. In 1055 they took Baghdad. Under Alp Arslan (1063–72), the Seljuks conquered Armenia in 1064 and defeated the Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071. Between 1071 and 1081 they conquered Asia Minor and other lands. Under Sultan Malik Shah (1072–92), the Seljuk state reached its zenith, subjugating Georgia and the Middle Asian Karakhanid state as well.

The military-nomadic elite of the Oghuz and other Turkic tribes evolved into a feudal elite, holding vast areas as military fiefs, or iqtas, and betraying aspirations toward political decentralization. The sultans came to draw their support primarily from the Iranian civil bureaucracy, which had a vested interest in a strong central authority, an interest expressed, among others, by Nizam al-Mulk.

However, feudal fragmentation continued to gather momentum in the Seljuk state. During the reign of Malik Shah, several sultanates emerged, ruled by lateral branches of the Seljukid dynasty but only nominally dependent on the central authority, the Great Seljuk—namely, the sultanates of Kerman (1041–1187), Rum (in Asia Minor, 1077–1307), and Syria (1094–1117). After the First Crusade (1096–99) the Seljuks first lost Palestine and then Syria, the coastal regions of Asia Minor, and Georgia. After the death of Malik Shah, the Ismailian movement only compounded the internecine strife among the feudal rulers.

In 1118 the Seljuk state was partitioned among the sons of Malik Shah. Sanjar received the eastern regions, with the capital at Merv; Muhammad received western Iran and Iraq, an area known as the Seljuk Sultanate of Iraq (1118–94). Sanjar (also Sinjar; ruled 1118–57) waged a struggle against the powerful and virtually independent feudal lords of the outlying areas. Defeated by the Karakatai, he lost his supremacy over Middle Asia in 1141. In 1153 the Balkh Oghuz defeated him, and the Oghuz plundered Merv, Nishapur, Tus, and other cities in Khorasan.

After Sanjar died in 1157, the power of the Great Seljukids came to an end in Khorasan. After 30 years of internecine feudal strife, the shahs of Khwarazm won supremacy over Khorasan, Kerman, and western Iran. The Seljuks retained only the Sultanate of Konya.


Bartol’d, V. V. Mesto Prikaspiiskikh oblastei v istorii musul’manskogo mira. [Baku, 1925.]
Guseinov, R. A. “Sel’dzhukskaia voennaia organizatsiia.” In Palestinskii sbornik, no. 17 (80). Leningrad, 1967.
Guseinov, R. A. “Iz istorii otnoshenii Vizantii s sel’dzhukami.” In Palestinskii sbornik, no. 23 (86). Leningrad, 1971.
Zakhoder, B. N. “Khorasan i obrazovanie gosudarstva sel’dzhukov.” Voprosy istorii, 1945, nos. 5–6.
Istoriia Irana s drevneishikh vremen do kontsa XVIII v. Leningrad, 1958. Chapter 4.
Materialy po istorii turkmen i Turkmenii, vol. 1, part 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Sanaullah, M. F. The Decline of the Saldjuqid Empire. Calcutta, 1938.


References in periodicals archive ?
A bird with human head from the second half of the fifth century AD was also represented in Islamic art Ghaznavian and Seljuk for 2 centuries of art objects and metal containers used (in pictures 1 and 4, we can see these motifs).
Uneasy co-existence is perhaps best illustrated by the Sivas notable Fakhr al-Din 'Ali's appropriation of monumental Seljuk facades in the madrasas and lodges that he commissioned in Sivas and Kayseri.
Rahat al sodor va ayat al soror in Seljuks history", by Mohammad Eqbal & Mojtaba Minavi, Tehran, Amirkabir.
He was also taciturn about the general lack of information about earlier Turkic dynasties, in particular the Seljuks, in which he found ancestors of Ottoman institutions.
The BBP presents a civilization project; what we have in our minds is the Ottoman World State, the Seljuk tradition and Turkish-Islamic civilization .
Richard, Iran history - From the collapse of the Sassanid to the early Seljuks, 4th edition, translated by Hasan, Tehran: Amir Kabir press.
Itzkowitz explains how the Seljuks, a Turkish Sunni Muslim dynasty, "started as military bands hired by Muslim princes and soon emerged as governors of provinces, and eventually became autonomous rulers of vast areas.
The spread of Islam continued with the Islamization of Turkic dynasties, such as the Qarakhanids, Ghaznavids and Seljuks, and Islam reached China through Muslim armies (when their soldiers settled in China and had their own families there) and were hired by the Tang emperor.
Their experience fighting the Seljuks and subsequently the Fatimids honed their discipline and augmented their ability to deliver coordinate d charges.
Turkic Seljuks blazed into the interior in the 11th century AD, followed by European crusaders and the Mongol warriors who founded the Ottoman Empire.