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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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
of North Carolina Press, 2006), 35-42; and Peacock, Great Seljuk Empire, chap.
The Great Seljuks which was founded in Horasan in the early 10th century by Selcuk Bey who is from Oguz clans and whose grandsons have also used the brick in architecture.
The Bagratid royal family had just come to an end a half-century earlier, and the capital of Ani had been destroyed by the Seljuks in 1064, forcing the Armenian Church to move their center from there, eventually to the mountain fortress of Hromkla on the banks of the Euphrates River by the year 1149, where it remained until 1292.
In 1176 Manuel had decided to solve the Turkish problem once and for all, by liberating Anatolia (Asia Minor) from the Seljuks. First he sent an army under his cousin Andronicus to regain control of Paphlagonia (in what is now northern Turkey, on the Black Sea), while he raised an enormous imperial force, swelled by mercenary troops from Europe and Asia, and weighed down by a vast array of siege engines.
Hassan Sabbah's goal was to topple the Seljuks dynasty, a Sunni sect of Islam, and he declared underground confrontation against it.
The examples range from the pre-Islamic era to the time of the Seljuks, Armenians, Mongols and other dynasties both large and small of the 9th-13th centuries.
The Seljuks, as did other Islamic rulers, gave their attention to the science of reading the Holy Quran and established schools for this purpose and called them darulhuffaz (Kucukdag 2004).
Historical Armenia had been invaded and often laid to waste by the Arabs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries, the Byzantines in the eleventh, and the Mongols and Seljuks from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries.
Gonzalez argues that since the tenth century the competition for regional power between the Fatamids and the Seljuks is equivalent to today's continuing competition between the Arab states and Persian Iran, with the religious narrative changed little.
and Byzantine civilizations, as well as the Seljuks and finally the Ottomans.
1122), employed by the Seljuks for a solar-calendar reform, managed to discover the binomial expansion, discovering also the modern generalized solution of cubic equations by applying higher geometry to algebra--'algebra', the term deriving from the Arabic al-jabr, having been conceptually differentiated already in the ninth century by al-Khwarizmi (the name enduring as our common noun 'algorism'/ 'algorithm') as an independent, self-sustaining new discipline of mathematical operations.