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8-08-2015, 00:13

The turks (1040–1304) 713 Manuel I Komnenos and the Turks: triumph, co-existence and tribulation

The long reign of John II’s successor Manuel I Komnenos (1143–80) saw the zenith of the recovery of Byzantine power in AsiaMinor after 1081. For the first time, imperial diplomacy managed to bring nearly all the Turkish potentates in Anatolia into the Byzantine fold. Circumstances helped the emperor. Muhammad Ghazi died in 1142 and his death triggered the fragmentation of the Danishmend emirate: Sebasteia went to one of his brothers, Yaghibasan (1142–64); Ablastayn and Melitene to another, Ayn al-Dawla (1142–52); and his son, Dhu al-Nun (1142–68) became master of Caesarea. The alliance between the Seljuq sultanate of Rum and the Danishmends was finished by 1143, as Sultan Masud and his successor Kilij Arslan II (1156–92) were almost always at odds with Yaghibasan, the most powerful of them. It was Sultan Masud who first tried to take advantage of John II’s death, seizing Ablastayn in 1143 and besieging Ayn al-Dawla’s capital, Melitene. Two years later, shortly after atabey Zengi (1127–46) of Aleppo had seized Edessa from the crusaders, the sultan captured the Cilician fortress of Prakana, whose ruler Tigran had acknowledged Byzantine overlordship. Masud then attacked Germanikeia, one of the remnants of the ever-shrinking county of Edessa. Some time after January 1146 Manuel I launched a full-scale campaign against the Seljuqs; by this stage Yaghibasan had become a subject ally (hypospondos and doulos) of the emperor, fearful that his emirate might be the next target for the mighty sultan’s armies.33 The Byzantines organised a counter-attack against Konya (Ikonion), which they besieged. A peace treaty concluded in the first half of 1147 restored the status quo on the border, although Ablastayn was to remain in Seljuq hands under the heir-apparent Kilij Arslan. Sultan and emperor joined forces against Thoros II, who was then threatening Byzantine Cilicia; between 1153 and 1155, at Manuel’s request and with the support of Yaghibasan, Masud tried to force Thoros to return the cities he had recently conquered in Cilicia to the Byzantines. There is no doubting that the Seljuqs were a formidable foe and the Second Crusade in 1147–8 only showed their strength. They inflicted a severe defeat on the German emperor Conrad III (1138–52) near Dorylaion in October 1147, forcing the rest of his army to join Louis VII (1137–80) of France; Louis had chosen a safer route to Antalya, passing through Byzantine territory and then on to Antioch by sea. The empire and the sultanate had widely different attitudes towards the crusaders; for Masud, they were mortal enemies, while for Manuel they were involuntary allies, whom he supported as long as it was in the empire’s interests.34 Byzantine diplomatic and military pressure steadily increased in Asia Minor, despiteManuel I’s preoccupation with western affairs between 1147 and 1159. By 1156 the Seljuqs had reconquered Ankara and Gangra from Yaghibasan, who had taken Ablastayn. However, Sultan Kilij Arslan II did not manage to establish effective control over Turkish-occupied Paphlagonia, which came into the hands of his younger brother Shahinshah. Thus after Kilij Arslan II’s accession in 1156 there were no fewer than five Turkish states in central Anatolia: the sultanate of Rum itself, the three Danishmend emirates of Sebasteia, Caesarea and Melitene, and the Paphlagonian appanage of Shahinshah. A peace treaty struck between Kilij Arslan II and Yaghibasan in 1156 was short-lived; although they colluded in raiding Byzantine lands thereafter, they were nevertheless rivals for control of the other three Turkish statelets. In 1158 Manuel forced the sultan to return the conquered Byzantine border fortresses of Pounoura and Sibylla, despite being heavily involved around this time with campaigning against both William I (1154–66) of Sicily and Reynald de Chˆatillon (1153–60), prince of Antioch. Manuel I’s campaign against Antioch in 1158–9 was a vivid demonstration of residual Byzantine power: he defeated both Kilij Arslan II and Thoros II en route to Cilicia – which reverted to being a Byzantine province – before forcing Reynald to become his vassal. But Kilij Arslan remained hostile, for his state was now surrounded by the territories of Byzantium and her allies, and while Manuel was on his way back from Cilicia he attacked the Byzantine rearguard near Kotyaeion. Most probably in order to contain Yaghibasan, Kilij Arslan also attempted to negotiate a marriage alliance with Izz al-Din Saltuq II (1132–68), the master of Theodosioupolis, only to be thwarted when Yaghibasan kidnapped Kilij’s bride, who was later married to Dhu al-Nun Danishmendid of Caesarea (see above, p. 642). The final round in this series of Byzantine initiatives took place in the winter of 1160–1.Manuel I formed a grand coalition with King Baldwin III (1143–63) of Jerusalem, Reynald de Chˆatillon, Thoros II, Yaghibasan and Kilij Arslan II’s brother, Shahinshah, claimant to the Seljuq throne. After he had been defeated in 1160 by the armies of both John Kontostephanos35 and Yaghibasan,36 Kilij Arslan swore to be the empire’s military ally (symmachos); the sultan also swore that he would becomeManuel’s friend (philos), retainer (oikeios) and son.37 MeanwhileManuel’s ally George III (1156–84) of Georgia had defeated the joint forces of Kilij Arslan’s supporters Saltuq II of Theodosioupolis, and his son-in-law the Nasir al-Din (Miran) Sukman II, lord of Akhlat. At the end of 1161 both Sukman and Kilij Arslan travelled to Constantinople, where the sultan signed a peace treaty.38 This was a triumph forManuel’s policy in AsiaMinor, ensuring the safety of Byzantium’s borders and allowingManuel to concentrate on Hungarian affairs.39 Yet this stability in Anatolia lasted for only fifteen years, as one of its essential elements – the emirate of the Danishmends – suffered a sharp decline after Yaghibasan’s death in 1164. Both Manuel and Kilij Arslan had foreseen this: in 1162–3 they negotiated an agreement on how the emirate should be conquered and its lands divided; Sebasteia was to become Byzantine again. When Yaghibasan died his widow, Kilij Arslan II’s sister, became ruler of Sebasteia and married Isma‘il ibn Ibrahim, Yaghibasan’s nephew; oddly enough, Yaghibasan’s three legitimate sons did not inherit the city. In autumn 1164 Kilij Arslan attacked the emirate with Byzantine help, but Isma‘il survived. Some five years later in 1169, during Manuel’s great naval expedition to Egypt (see above, p. 642) and when the empire had no forces to spare, Kilij Arslan launched a surprise attack on theDanishmends in Caesarea and Tzamandos. Their ruler, Dhu al-Nun, was forced to flee to the powerful atabey Nur al-Din (1146–74) of Damascus, and Caesarea became a Seljuq possession. In the same year Kilij Arslan forced Shahinshah to accept his sovereignty. Manuel did not respond to the sultan’s actions. The rationale behind his policy in AsiaMinor was in tension with the other goals of his foreign policy, seeing that the Danishmend emirates were under Nur al-Din’s protection, and so any Byzantine support for the Danishmends would require the cooperation of Damascus. But Nur al-Din was also the mortal enemy of the crusader states, as whose protector Manuel sought to present himself. In 1164 at the battle of Harim, Nur al-Din had defeated the combined forces of Constantine Coloman, Byzantine governor in Cilicia, Bohemond III (1163–1201) of Antioch and Raymond III (1152–87) of Tripoli.40 Under these circumstances, Manuel allowed his ally Kilij Arslan to enlarge the sultanate at the Danishmends’ expense. Indeed the primary objective of both rulers – Sebasteia – remained unconquered. In 1172 Isma‘il and his wife were killed in a coup d’´etat and Kilij Arslan II immediately invaded the emirate; but Nur al-Din ordered him to stop and his prot´eg´e Dhu al-Nun entered the city. However, in the following year Nur al-Din formed a grand coalition against Byzantium; his allies were Kilij Arslan, Shahinshah of Ankara and the Rupenid prince Mleh, who conquered Adana and Tarsus. Although the sultan did not quite dare proclaim open war against Byzantium, the Byzantine–Seljuq alliance was almost dead. Nur al-Din himself died on 15 May 1174, removing the final obstacle to Kilij Arslan II’s conquest of the emirate. He occupied Sebasteia and other Danishmend centres, while driving Shahinshah out of Ankara, and both Dhu al-Nun and Shahinshah fled to Byzantium. Only then did Manuel realise the scale of the danger. Instead of being able to exploit the divisions among the Turkish states, he now faced a sultanate that had united almost all the Turks in Asia Minor beneath its banner. The emperor acted quickly. In 1175 he sent out two expeditions: one to Amaseia, led by the sebastosMichael Gabras, and the other to Seljuqcontrolled Paphlagonia, headed by Shahinshah. Both ended in defeat: the Amaseians refused to let Gabras into their city, while the Seljuqs destroyed Shahinshah’s army. A further military mission toNeocaesarea, this time led by Andronikos Vatatzes and Dhu al-Nun, also ended in humiliation, for the citizens of Neocaesarea refused to cooperate. Manuel’s diplomacy had failed, in that the empire had no allies in Asia Minor, and court orators’ lauding of his refortification of Dorylaion could not redeem this.41 Manuel’s last hope lay in his own army; in the past, the Seljuqs had been no match for it. In spring 1176 the emperor marched to Dorylaion, intending to attack Konya, and he rejected Kilij Arslan’s plea for peace. But the situation had changed: the sultan now possessed far greater military resources and he summoned all his troops, including those from the newly conquered lands. On 17 September 1176 the Seljuqs trapped the Byzantine army en route to Konya, in a defile near Myriokephalon, and the imperial army was defeated after a hard-fought battle, with heavy casualties on both sides. It is easy to list the mistakes of Manuel I that led to the diplomatic and military debacle of 1176: his preoccupation with relations with the crusader states; his long-lasting conflict withNur al-Din; his Balkan campaigns; and his general absorption in western affairs at the expense of the east after 1161. But the main factor boosting the sultan’s chances was the dissolution of the Danishmend emirate, and here Manuel could do very little. John II’s expeditions some fifty years before show how difficult it was to reconquer territory from the Turks (see above, p. 711), and several generations after 1081 the central Anatolian lands were going their own way: one in which the Greek inhabitants cooperated with the Turks. This cooperation was first and foremost economic, but it helps to explain the Amaseians’ and Neocaesareans’ similar decisions in 1176.Myriokephalon did not extinguish Byzantine hopes for a military reconquest of Asia Minor – the imperial army was still the strongest in Anatolia – but it was a political watershed. The sultanate was now as powerful as the empire and an equilibrium was established in Asia Minor after 1176 that neither side could overturn. Given the large number of Greeks (rumi) living within the sultanate, an orthodox church with strong links to Constantinople and the presence of Byzantine aristocrats at the Seljuq court,42 Byzantine diplomacy still stood a good chance of ensuring a friendly sultan. This policy was not entirely new and in fact dated back to the reign of Alexios I, but the personal, ‘father– son’ relationship between emperor and sultan became more significant after 1176.

 

 

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