The Seljuk Turks (also known as Seldjuk, Seldjuq or Seljuq) are a major branch of the Oghuz Turks and a dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries. The Seljuks migrated from the north Iranian provinces in Central Asia into mainland Iran formerly known as Persia.
The Seljuks were a group of nomadic Turkish warriors from central Asia who established themselves in the Middle East during the 11th Century as guardians of the declining abbasid caliphate. After 1055 founded the great Seljuk Sultanate; an empire centered in Baghdad and including Iran, Iraq, and Syria. They helped to prevent the Fatimids of Egypt from making Shiite Islam dominant throughout the Middle East. In the 12th century, they blocked inland expansion by the crusader states on the Syrian Coast. Their defeat of the Byzantinesø at the battle of Manzikert (1071) opened the way for the Turkish occupation of Antolia.
Seljuk power was at its zenith during the regions of Sultans Alp Arslan (1063-72) and Malki Shah (1072-92) who, with their Vizier Nizam Al-Mulk, revived Sunnite Islamic administrative and religious institutions. They developed armies of slaves (mamelukes) to replace the Nomad warriors, as well as an elaborate bureaucratic hierarchy that provided the foundation for governmental administration in the Middle East until modern times. The Seljuks revived and reinvigorated the classical Islamic educational system, developing universities (madrasahs) to train Bureaucrats and religious officials. After Malik Shah’s death, a decline in the quality of dynastic leadership and division of their rule among military commanders and regents (Atabegs) weakened the power of the great Seljuks. The last of their line died in battle against the Khwakizm-Shahs in 1194. A branch of the Seljuks established its own state in an Tolic (the ultanate of Konya or Rum), which survived until it was conquered by the Mongols in 1243.
The Seljuk Turks are regarded as the ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day inhabitants of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. The Seljuk played a major role in medieval history by creating a barrier to Europe against the Mongol invaders from the East, defending the Islamic world against Crusaders from the West, and conquering large parts of the Byzantine Empire.
Under Alp Arslan’s successor Malik Shah I and his two Persian viziers Nizam al-Mulk and Taj ul-Milk, the Iranian state expanded in various directions to former Iranian border before Arab invasion, so that it bordered China in the East and the Byzantine in the West. When Malik Shah died in 1092 the empire split, as his brother and four sons quarrelled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. In 1118, the third son Ahmed Sanjar, unsatisfied by his portion of the inheritance, took over the empire. His brothers did not recognize his claim to the throne and Mahmud II proclaimed himself Sultan and established a capital in Baghdad. Ahmed Sanjar was captured and held captive by Turkish nomads from 1153 to 1156 and died the following year.
Despite several attempts to reunite the Seljuks in the centuries following Malik Shah’s death, the Crusades prevented them from regaining their former empire. For a brief period, To?rül III, was the Sultan of all Seljuk except for Anatolia. In 1194 To?rül was defeated by Ala ad-Din Tekish, the Shah of Khwarezm, and the Seljuk finally collapsed. Of the former Seljuk Empire, only the Sultanate of Rüm in Anatolia remained. As the dynasty declined in the middle of the 13th century, the Mongols invaded Anatolia in the 1260s and divided it into small emirates called the Anatolian beyliks, which in turn were later conquered by the Ottomans.