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Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

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Muhammad Tapar 1105–18

While Ibn al- Qalanisi presents the Seljuk campaigns as motivated by a newly enthusiastic jihad spirit, operations were evidently hindered, and in some instances had to be aborted, owing to the intense distrust and suspicion of Mawdud’s would-be allies like Najm al-Din Ilghazi b. Artuq of Mardin and the Seljuk Ridwan of Aleppo. By far the most effective of Mawdud’s campaigns came in 507/1113 when he turned his attention to Damascus, which had been threatened by Baldwin of Jerusalem. Watch Episode 18

Maududi and his allies penetrated as far as Galilee in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, even capturing Baldwin, although he was not recognized at the time and was released. However, Seljuk supply lines were over-extended in Palestine, and Mawdud ordered a withdrawal to Syria to prepare for another campaign the following spring. Although Mawdud was murdered before this could take place,

56 his replacement as amir of Mosul, Aqsonqur al- Bursuqi, was similarly ordered to fight the Franks. Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series Watch Episode 17

57 Another Seljuk expedition was defeated in 509/1115, with Tutush’s descendants, the Seljuk rulers of Aleppo and Damascus, actually allying themselves with the Crusaders. Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series Watch Episode 16

58 However, even under Muhammad Tapar’s successor Mahmud, when Bursuqi was reappointed governor of Mosul after a hiatus in 515/1121–2, he was again ordered to fight the Franks.

59 The campaigns were continued with much greater success by Zangi (amir of Mosul from 521/1127, to which he added Aleppo in 1128), but Ibn al- Athir states that while all the earlier amirs were backed by the Seljuk sultans who sent them armies, ‘not one of the sultans helped [Zangi] with a single horseman’. Watch Episode 15

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

60 Nonetheless, Zangi successfully carved out for himself a hereditary principality in northern Syria and the Jazira, capturing Edessa in 1144. The collapse of the Crusader County of Edessa spurred on the Second Crusade (1147–9), in which Zangi’s son Nur al-Din (d. 569/1174) won great renown for fighting. Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

61 Under Muhammad Tapar, and to a lesser extent Mahmud, the Seljuk sultan thus did coordinate some efforts to fight the Crusaders, but on none of these occasions did the sultan himself, or his deputies like the vizier, command these armies operating in Syria. Instead, jihad was delegated to the amir of Mosul. Efforts were largely concentrated in northern Syria and the Jazira, and, with the exception of Mawdud’s campaign of 507/1113, left the Kingdom of Jerusalem largely unaffected.

This one occasion when the Seljuk armies under Mawdud do seem to have launched a concerted effort against the Franks coincides with the presence in Syria of a dangerous Seljuk refugee, Tekish b. Alp Arslan’s son, who had fled there from his uncle Muhammad Tapar, taking refuge both in Muslim Hims then Crusader Antioch. One must wonder if Mawdud’s sudden efforts in this period are in fact connected with the desire to capture or kill this potential threat to Muhammad.

62 However, the Crusaders never came close to threatening the heartlands of the Seljuk state in Khurasan, Iran, and Iraq, and so they were not at the forefront of the minds of most chroniclers who praised Muhammad for his defense of Islam. The real threat was represented by the Ismailis, who were not just proponents of a rival branch of Shia Islam, initially allied to the Fatimids, but rejected the whole Seljuk political edifice of a sultanate legitimized through the ‘Abbasid caliphate.

They intended to build an alternative state that would prepare the way before the return of Imam Nizar, the unsuccessful claimant to the Fatimid caliphate in 1095 whom most of the Ismaili movement in Iran and Syria (al- da‘wa al- jadīda) recognized as legitimate and elevated to messianic status. It is the Nizari Ismaili strongholds that are meant as ‘the castles of the heretics’ that Muhammad is praised by Isfahani for destroying. Similar sentiments are reflected in the admiring biography of the sultan by Nishapuri, which has nothing at all to say about Muhammad’s campaigns against the Crusaders, but discusses at length his exploits ‘strengthening religion and suppressing accursed heretics’.

63 The Ismaili challenge to Seljuk rule had developed in the reign of Malikshah when the two leaders of the Ismaili movement, Hasan-i Sabbah and Ahmad b. ‘Attash, apparently independently of each other, seized a series of fortifications in Iran. To date, the da‘wa (lit. ‘call’, ‘propaganda’, the name the Ismailis gave to their movement, as had earlier the ‘Abbasids whom the Ismailis intended to supplant) had largely followed a quietist policy, not seek- ing to challenge Seljuk rule, but Hasan-i Sabbah aimed to establish an Ismaili state.

64 The first sign of Hassan’s revolt came even before the Nizari break with Cairo when in 483/1090 he managed to seize the remote and impregnable fortress of Alamut in northern Iran from its lord, the Zaydi ‘Alid ruler of Tabaristan. From Alamut, Hassan sent dā‘īs (missionaries) across Iran. His strategy focused on seizing castles, which could then be used both as bases for propaganda in the surrounding towns and countryside and as strongholds in case of need.

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

The da‘wa met with particular success in remote areas like Rudbar in the Alburz mountains and Quhistan. Expeditions launched by Malikshah in 485/1092 against Alamut and Quhistan were abandoned upon his death, and the civil war allowed Ismaili influence to expand more widely, into Fars, Arrajan, Kirman, and Iraq. By around 490/1096–7, Ahmad b. ‘Attash had the spectacular success of capturing the major fortress of Shahdiz just outside Isfahan and was able to collect taxes in the surrounding area. A program of assassinations, for which the Ismailis became notorious, targeted senior Seljuk amirs and political figures, and Ismaili influence was such that several districts of Isfahan itself came under Ismaili control.

65 The situation was more complex than a simple Ismaili versus Seljuk conflict. Even Nizari Ismailism was not a unified force, and the movement in Isfahan, subject to Ahmad b. al-‘ Attash, seems not to have recognized Hasan-i Sabbah’s authority, while the Syrian branch of the da‘wa also had divided loyalties. Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

66 Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series The real opposition to Ismailism, which culminated in a massacre of Ismailis in Isfahan in 494/1101, came from the local Sunni population more than the Seljuks.

67 Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series All sides in the dynastic crisis relied on Ismaili soldiers, and Berkyaruq in particular is accused of Ismaili sympathies by several chronicles.

68 Some members of the Seljuk elite embraced Ismailism themselves, including Qavurt’s descendant, the Seljuk malik of Kirman, Iranshah b. Turanshah. Ridwan b. Tutush in Syria also relied on Ismaili support, and was sympathetic to the movement, although whether he actually converted is not clear.

69 Yet when expediency demanded, even Berkyaruq was prepared to launch an anti-Ismaili purge of his army. The general pattern, however, is clear enough: as a sultanic authority and the Seljuk state weakened, in both Syria and Iran, Ismailis were able to move into the gap. The years of the civil war between Berkyaruq and Muhammad represent the high-water mark of Ismailism. In the event, despite Ibn ‘Attash’s successes in the Isfahan region, the Ismailis were never able to gain control of any major urban centers. In both Syria and Iran, their territories were largely restricted to isolated fortresses and their surrounding villages, although they did control some towns in the remote and sparsely populated province of Quhistan.

Beyond Quhistan and Rudbar in Iran and the Jabal Ansariyya in Syria, the Ismailis held virtually no contiguous territory. With the end of the civil war, conditions became less propitious for Ismailism. Muhammad seems to have been persuaded that his own court was a hotbed of heresy, and, encouraged by the qadi of Isfahan, ‘Ubaydallah al-K hatibi, started to purge the bureaucracy of the supposedly heretical Jibalis. This was followed up by military action, and Shahdiz fell to Muhammad’s forces in 500/1107, after which Muhammad issued the elaborate fatªnāma (a victory proclamation, circulated throughout the Seljuk domains), which the Syrian chronicler Ibn al-Q Alanis cites.

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

70 The attack on Shahdiz was followed up by expeditions against Ismaili strongholds in Fars and Arrajan. The Ismailis, unable to withstand a concerted attack by sultanic forces, responded through a program of assassination, resulting in their labeling by European authors as the ‘Assassins’. In 502/1108–9, the leader of the anti-Ismaili reaction in Isfahan, ‘Ubaydallah al-K hatibi, was killed by an Ismaili assassin, and other senior bureaucrats and amirs, including Mawdud of Mosul, also fell victim. Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

71 From 503/1109, Seljuk armies under Anushtegin Shirgir were entrusted with the task of reducing Alamut itself. After eight long years of campaigning in the Rudbar, besieging Lamasar and other Ismaili strongholds, Shirgir was on the verge of capturing Alamut when news came of the sultan’s death on 24 Dhu ’l- Hajj 511/April 1118.

72 The Ismailis had won an unexpected reprieve. With the intra- Seljuk fighting that inevitably followed Muhammad’s demise, later efforts against Ismailism were distinctly half-hearted. Some minor operations were launched, but in general, for the rest of the Seljuk period, the relationship is best described as a stalemate.

73 The Ismailis lacked the strength or support to repeat actions like the capture of Shahdiz, and the Seljuk rulers did not seek to pursue Ismailis into these isolated mountain hideouts given they offered little direct threat to sultanic interests. As with the Crusaders, pragmatism was always the better part of valor, and the Ismailis had their uses. With their fame for assassination, they could be blamed, and perhaps sometimes directly employed, for the murder of one’s opponents. Thus when Sultan Mas‘ud had the mamlūk Aqsonqur al- Ahmadili murdered, ‘he gave out that Ismailis had killed him’.

74 The same was true of the murder of Caliph al- Mustarshid in 529/1135, which certainly suited the Seljuks. According to some sources, it was falsely blamed on the Ismailis, while others directly claim that Sanjar had sent the Ismaili assassins.

75 The convenient (for Sanjar and Mas‘ud) death of Caliph al- Rashid shortly afterward should also be noted, where there are also allegations of Ismaili involvement.

76 Indeed, Sanjar seems to have maintained positively friendly relations with the Ismailis for much of his reign, an attack in 520/1126 notwithstanding.

77 Thus, an independent Ismaili state survived in Rudbar and Quhistan, surrounded on all sides by Seljuk territory, but itself refusing to accept Seljuk suzerainty. Indeed, this state would outlast the Seljuks themselves and be destroyed only after a concerted Mongol campaign that captured Alamut in 654/1256. The Sultanate of Iraq under Mahmud, Tughrıl II and Mas‘ud, 511/1118–547/1152
With Muhammad’s death and the accession of his fourteen-year-old son Mahmud, Sanjar now became the senior member of the dynasty.

78 Husayni noted the shift in power: ‘Before sultan Mahmud, the [supreme] sultanate had belonged to the kings of Iraq, but from the period of Sultan Mahmud it was transferred to sultan Sanjar, the king of Khurasan.’

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

79 Muhammad’s successors in the west, of whom the most important were his two sons Mahmud (r. 511/1118–525/1131) and Mas‘ud (r. 529/1134–547/1152), were thus subject to Sanjar who frequently sought to intervene in their territories. The treacherous politics of the west were further complicated by the competing and ever-shifting factions of amirs and bureaucrats that Muhammad had only held in check with some difficulty, each faction seeking to manipulate one of the numerous potential rival candidates for the Sultanate of Iraq to strengthen its own hand. Under Seljuk succession arrangements, discussed further in Chapter 3, any one of Muhammad’s sons was equally entitled to the sultanate, and in fact of his progeny Mahmud, Mas‘ud, Tughrıl, and Sulaymanshah were at various times and in various places recognized as sultan of Iraq. At the same time, the caliphs in Baghdad also took advantage of sultanic weakness to strengthen their own power (discussed in more detail in Chapter 3).

In essence, the cause of this shift in power away from the sultan was fiscal: both Mahmud and Muhammad were permanently short of funds, as increasing quantities of land were alienated as iq†ā‘ to amirs. As a result, the authority of the sultans of Iraq came to be reduced to the Jibal and parts of Fars. In addition, the fact that the sultans came to the throne as children, and all died comparatively young, in their twenties or thirties, meant that they were more susceptible to being manipulated by the powerful entrenched interests around them. Nonetheless, both Mahmud and Mas‘ud succeeded in maintaining a degree of independence as sultans in the lands of the Jibal and Iraq and kept the ambitions of both the caliph and their amirs in check to some extent.

On occasion, the sultans were able to wrong-foot their rivals and exert their authority more widely. We should not envisage power relations under Mahmud and Mas‘ud as a simple rise in amiral power at the expense of the sultans. It is precisely this constant struggle between shifting coalitions of sultans, amirs, and bureaucrats that make the politics of this period so complex. As senior sultan, Sanjar almost immediately tried to assert his authority in the west, although the precise casus belli is unclear.

81 Most likely, Sanjar in fact aspired to resurrect the days of Alp Arslan and Malikshah when there had been only one sultan in the Seljuk realms.

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

82 Although Mahmud offered to pay a substantial annual tribute of 200,000 dinars and to cede Mazandaran to his uncle, this was not enough, and Sanjar advanced west as far as Sawa in the Jibal by Jumada I 512/September 1118. The expedition nearly ended in disaster, however, for the eastern army found itself greatly outnumbered on unfamiliar terrain where Mahmud’s troops had managed to monopolize the water supply. Only the presence of eighteen elephants in Sanjar’s army (a Ghaznavid tactic the eastern empire had evidently inherited) saved the day at the last minute by terrifying Mahmud’s cavalry. Although victorious, Sanjar realized his position was precarious, as he lacked both soldiers and any significant support in the west. He contented himself with returning everything but Rayy to Mahmud,

83 whose name he had mentioned after his own in the khu†ba in the east. The immediate threat of Sanjar gone, Mahmud’s position still remained weak. Inevitably, the sultan’s youth only encouraged the ambitions of the amirs and bureaucrats – indeed, Sanjar had used their influence as an excuse for his invasion, saying, ‘My nephew is a child dominated by his vizier and the ªājib ‘Ali.’

84 This latter, ‘Ali b. ‘Umar, who had previously served as ªājib (chamberlain) to Muhammad Tapar, was finally executed at the instigation of rival amirs.

85 Meanwhile, Muhammad’s other sons, Mas‘ud, malik of Mosul, the Jazira and Azerbaijan, and Tughrıl, whose iq†ā‘ was based around Zanjan and Qazvin in northwestern Iran, were both pushed forward by their ambitious atabegs. A further challenge to Mahmud was presented by the Arab Mayzadid dynasty of Hilla in central Iraq.

Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series
Alparslan Buyuk Seljuk 19 English Subtitle Free To Watch | Turkey TV Series

87 Sadaqa b. Mazyad, who claimed the title of ‘King of the Arabs’, had helped Muhammad Tapar come to power but had subsequently fallen out with the sultan, who was provoked to march on him in person.

88 In another symptom of sultanic weakness, however, Muhammad’s army was considerably smaller than Sadaqa’s and he only won the battle by chance.

89 Unsurprisingly, Sadaqa’s son Dubay’s sought to emulate his father’s example of asserting autonomy.

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