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8-08-2015, 00:14

Byzantine–seljuq relations 1176–1232: the ties of ruling families

According to a letter from Manuel I Komnenos to Henry II (1154–89) of England, after the battle of Myriokephalon Sultan Kilij Arslan sent to beg our imperial majesty supplicantly, employing the language of entreaty, suing for peace, and promising to fulfil every wish of our imperial majesty, to give us his service against all men, to release all the prisoners who were detained in his kingdom, and in every way to conform to our desires.43 In reality Manuel agreed to demolish the fortresses of Dorylaion and Soublaion and to become a Seljuq tributary,44 although it should be noted that even before 1176,Manuel had paid sums to Kilij Arslan as part of his special relationship with the Seljuqs. The friendship (philia) betweenManuel and Kilij Arslan continued until Manuel’s death in 1180. The sultan’s failure to exploit his victory at Myriokephalon and Byzantium’s gradual weakening after 1180 are not to be explained entirely in military terms.45 Kilij Arslan decided to divide the sultanate – most probably in 1187 – between his nine sons, a brother and a nephew. However, soon afterwards he handed the whole realm over to his eldest son, Qutb al-Din, upon which Kilij Arslan’s other sons ceased to recognise his authority. Seeking undisputed power, Qutb al-Din arrested his father, but the old sultan escaped and settled in Sozopolis in the ‘realm’ of his youngest son Kay-Khusraw I (1192–6, 1205–11). Kilij Arslan recognised Kay-Khusraw as his heir before his death in 1192, and that same year Kay-Khusraw entered Konya. AfterQutb al-Din’s death in 1195, his brother Rukn al-Din of Tokat gradually occupied almost all the sultanate’s lands. Kay-Khusraw I was forced to leave his capital in September 1196. After a long journey trekking across Cilician Armenia, Ablastayn and the Pontos, the ex-sultan sailed to Constantinople in 1200, where he was received with great honour by Alexios III Angelos (1195–1203). Kay-Khusraw was wedded to the daughter ofManuel Maurozomes, a member of the Komnenian elite, and was even baptised and adopted by the emperor as his son. He was still in Constantinople when the Fourth Crusaders arrived on 23 June 1203 and he helped his adoptive father, Alexios III, to flee the capital on the night of 17–18 July 1203. Whenthe crusaders finally took Constantinople inApril 1204, the empire broke up into its constituent parts. In Asia Minor, ‘Theodore, who was calledMorotheodore [i.e. ‘silly Theodore’],46 ruled over the city of Philadelphia; another, Sabbas by name,47 ruled Sampson and its surrounding territory; and David, brother of Alexios, who had taken over Trebizond and was also known as Grand Komnenos, subdued the whole of Paphlagonia . . .’48 Others who seized this opportunity to establish local power bases included Leo Gabalas of Rhodes and, on the upperMaeander, Nikephoros Kontostephanos and Kay-Khusraw I’s father-in-law Manuel Maurozomes (from 1205). One of the most successful was Theodore I Laskaris (1205–21), founder of what emerged as the Nicaean state; he managed to unite all the Byzantine territories in Anatolia, save those conquered by the Latins or occupied by the empire of Trebizond. Of all the emperors recognised as legitimate in or just before 1204, none managed to establish himself in Asia Minor after the fall of Constantinople. 49 In 1203–4 Alexios III was in Adrianople, and then he moved to Mosynopolis in Thrace (see below, p. 734). It was his son-in-law, Theodore I Laskaris, who acted as the emperor’s chief deputy in Anatolia, where at first his imperial connections offered Theodore little advantage; what he really needed was military help so as to vanquish his rivals. When help arrived it came in the form of the Seljuqs. In June 1204 Rukn al-Din died and his young son Kilij Arslan III (1204–5) succeeded him as sultan. That summer Kay-Khusraw I and Manuel Maurozomes left the environs of Constantinople and hastened to the sultanate of Rum. They passed through Nicaea, where Theodore and Kay-Khusraw concluded an agreement. With the sums advanced by Theodore, Kay-Khusraw was able to depose Kilij Arslan III inMarch 1205; in return, the sultan gave Theodore a military force to help him subdue his main rivals – TheodoreMangaphas, Sabbas Asidinos and probably also Nikephoros Kontostephanos – and to reconquer some of the lands occupied by the Latins. Only two Greek rivals remained:ManuelMaurozomes, now himself at large in Laodicea, and the Grand Komnenos David in Paphlagonia. Despite receiving support from his son-in-law, Kay-Khusraw I, by 1207Maurozomes had been defeated and imprisoned by Theodore while his lands were absorbed by the sultanate. Relations between the empire of Nicaea and the Seljuq sultanate should be seen in terms of the family ties between them. While Kay-Khusraw I was married to Maurozomes’ daughter, Theodore I Laskaris’ wife Anna was the daughter of Alexios III, to whom Kay-Khusraw was indebted. The sultan certainly tried to take advantage of the Byzantine empire’s disintegration but, strikingly, his direct assaults were reserved for the lands of other, peripheral rulers. These included Trebizond – capital of the Grand Komnenos Alexios I (1204–22), which Kay-Khusraw attacked in 1205 – and Antalya, which he captured on 5 March 1207. For the Seljuqs, the situation after 1204 was unique: for the first time their sultanate faced several Greek states in Asia Minor, instead of a single, centralised empire. And yet the sultan, constrained by his family ties, did not exploit the situation to the full. What set Theodore I Laskaris and Kay-Khusraw I against each other was Maurozomes’ imprisonment at Theodore’s hands, Theodore’s coronation as emperor in 1208 and, finally, the appearance of Alexios III Angelos in the sultanate of Rum around 1210.50 In 1211 the sultan declared open war. In a battle at Antioch-onthe- Maeander some time after 15 June 1211 the Nicaean army was almost defeated, but Theodore managed to kill Kay-Khusraw, and the sultan’s eldest son Kay-Kawus I (1211–19) signed an ‘inviolable alliance’ with him. Thereafter the Seljuqs did not dare threaten the empire ofNicaea directly. In fact in 1214 the Seljuqs and the Nicaeans simultaneously attacked their common enemy, the empire of Trebizond, whose ruler, the Grand Komnenos Alexios I, was forced to cede western Paphlagonia to Theodore and eastern Paphlagonia, with Sinope as its centre, to Kay-Kawus. The sultanate of Rum became the Nicaean empire’s only eastern neighbour. The former rivals pursued different courses: the sultanate, which reached its apogee during the long reign of Kay-Qubad I (1219–37) expanded eastwards; for his part, John III Vatatzes (1221–54) of Nicaea was largely preoccupied with military operations in the Balkans. Yet the Nicaean–Seljuq joint domination of Asia Minor was about to be shattered by the Mongol invasions.