bowstring put an end to his life (1073). Malik Shāh regulated also the affairs of Asia Minor and Syria, conceding the latter province as an hereditary fief to his brother Tutush, who established himself at Damascus and killed Atsiz. He, however, like his father Alp Arslān, was indebted for his greatest fame to wise and salutary measures of their vizier, Nizām ul-Mulk. This extraordinary man, associated by tradition with Omar Khayyām (q.v.), the well-known mathematician and free-thinking poet, and with Hassan (ibn) Sabbāh, afterwards the founder of the sect of the Assassins (q.v.), was a renowned author and statesman of the first rank, and immortalized his name by the foundation of several universities (the Nizāmiyah at Bagdād), observatories, mosques, hospitals and other institutions of public utility. At his instigation the calendar was revised, and a new era, dating from the reign of Malik Shāh and known as the Jelalian, was introduced. Not quite forty days before the death of his master this great man was murdered by the Assassins. He had fallen into disfavour because of his unwillingness to join in the intrigues of the princess Turkān Khātūn, who wished to secure the succession to the throne for her infant son Mahmūd at the expense of the elder sons of Malik Shāh.
Constitution and Government of the Seljūk Empire.—It has been already observed that the Seljūks considered themselves the defenders of the orthodox faith and of the Abbasid caliphate, while they on their side represented the temporal power which received its titles and sanction from the successor of the Prophet. All the members of the Seljūk house had the same obligations in this respect, but they had not the same rights, as one of them occupied relatively to the others a place almost analogous to that of the great khān of the Mongols in later times. This position was inherited from father to son, though the old Turkish idea of the rights of the elder brother often caused rebellions and violent family disputes. After the death of Malik Shāh the head of the family was not strong enough to enforce obedience, and consequently the central government broke up into several independent dynasties. Within the limits of these minor dynasties the same rules were observed, and the same may be said of the hereditary fiefs of Turkish amirs not belonging to the royal family, who bore ordinarily the title of atabeg or atabek (properly “father bey”), e.g. the atabegs of Fars, of Azerbaïjan, of Syria, &c. The title was first given to Nizām ul-Mulk and expressed the relation in which he stood to the prince,—as lala, “tutor.” The affairs of state were managed by the divān under the presidency of the vizier; but in the empire of Rūm its authority was inferior to that of the pervāneh, whom we may name “lord chancellor.” In Rūm the feudal system was extended to Christian princes, who were acknowledged by the sultan on condition of paying tribute and sewing in the armies. The court dignitaries and their titles were manifold; not less manifold were the royal prerogatives, in which the sultans followed the example set by their predecessors, the Būyids.
Notwithstanding the intrigues of Turkān Khātūn, Malik Shāh was succeeded by his elder son Barkiyāroq (1092–1104), whose short reign was a series of rebellions and strange adventures such as one may imagine in the story of a youth who is by turns a powerful prince and a miserable fugitive. Like his brother Mahommed (1104–1118), who successfully rebelled against him, his most dangerous enemies were the Isma‛īlites, who had succeeded in taking the fortress of Alamut (north of Kazvīn) and become a formidable political power by the organization of bands of fedais, who were always ready, even at the sacrifice of their own lives, to murder any one whom they were commanded to slay.
Mahommed had been successful by the aid of his brother Sinjar, who from the year 1097 held the province of Khorāsan with the capital Merv. After the death of Mahommed, Sinjar became the real head of the family, though Irak acknowledged Maḥmūd, the son of Mahommed. Thus there originated a separate dynasty of Irak with its capital at Hamadān (Ecbatana); but Sinjar during his long reign often interfered in the affairs of the new dynasty, and every occupant of the throne had to acknowledge his supremacy. In 1117 he led an expedition against Ghazni and bestowed the throne upon Bahrām Shāh, who was also obliged to mention Sinjar’s name first in the official prayer at the Ghaznavid capital—a prerogative that neither Alp Arslān nor Malik Shāh had attained. In 1134 Bahrām Shāh failed in this obligation and brought on himself a fresh invasion by Sinjar in the midst of winter; a third one took place in 1152, caused by the doings of the Ghorids (Hosain Jihānsūz, or “world-burner”). Other expeditions were undertaken by him against Khwārizm and Turkestan; the government of the former had been given by Barkiyāroq to Mahommed b. Anushtagīn, who was succeeded in 1128 by his son Atsiz, and against him Sinjar marched in 1138. Though victorious in this war, Sinjar could not hinder Atsiz from afterwards joining the gurkhan (great khān) of the then rapidly rising empire of the Karakitai, at whose hands the Seljūk suffered a terrible defeat at Samarkand in 1141. By the invasion of these hordes several Turkish tribes, the Ghuzz and others, were driven beyond the Oxus, where they killed the Seljūk governor of Balkh, though they professed to be loyal to Sinjar. Sinjar resolved to punish this crime; but his troops deserted and he himself was taken prisoner by the Ghuzz, who kept him in strict confinement during two years (1153–1155), though treating him with all outward marks of respect. In the meantime they plundered and destroyed the flourishing cities of Merv and Nishāpūr; and when Sinjar, after his escape from captivity, revisited the site of his capital he fell sick of sorrow and grief and died soon afterwards (1157). His empire fell to the Karakitai and afterwards to the shāh Khwārizm. The successors of Mahommed in Irak were:—Maḥmūd (d. 1131); Toghrul, son of Mahommed, proclaimed by Sinjar (d. 1134); Masūd (d. 1152); Malik Shāh and Mahommed (d. 1159), sons of Maḥmūd; Suleimān Shāh, their brother (d. 1161); Arslān, son of Toghrul (d. 1175); and Toghrul, son of Arslān, killed in 1194 by Inānej, son of his atabeg, Mahommed, who was in confederation with the Khwārizm shāh of the epoch, Takash. This chief inherited his possessions; Toghrul was the last representative of the Seljūks of Irak.
The province of Kermān was one of the first conquests of the Seljūks, and became the hereditary fief of Kāvurd, the son of Chaḳir Beg. Mention has been made of his war with Malik Shāh and of his ensuing death (1073). Nevertheless his descendants were left in possession of their ancestor’s dominions; and till 1170 Kermān, to which belonged also the opposite coast of Omān, enjoyed a well-ordered government, except for a short interruption caused by the deposition of Irān Shāh, who had embraced the tenets of the Isma‛īlites, and was put to death (1101) in accordance with a fatwa of the ulema. But after the death of Toghrul Shāh (1170) his three sons disputed with each other for the possession of the throne, and implored foreign assistance, till the country became utterly devastated and fell an easy prey to some bands of Ghuzz, who, under the leadership of Malik Dinār (1185), marched into Kermān after harassing Sinjar’s dominions. Afterwards the shāhs of Khwārizm took this province.
The Seljūkian dynasty of Syria came to an end after three generations, and its later history is interwoven with that of the crusaders. The first prince was Tutush, mentioned above, who perished, after a reign of continuous fighting, in battle against Barkiyāroq near Rai (Rhagae) in 1095. Of his two sons, the elder, Ridwān, established himself at Aleppo (d. 1113); the younger, Duqaq, took possession of Damascus, and 'died in 1103. The sons of the former, Alp Arslān and Sultān Shāh, reigned a short time nominally, though the real power was exercised by Lūlū till 1117.
After the great victory of Alp Arslān in which the Greek emperor was taken prisoner (1071), Asia Minor lay open to the inroads of the Turks. Hence it was easy for Suleimān, the son of Kutulmish, the son of Arslān Pigu (Israil), to penetrate as far as the Hellespont, the more so as after the captivity of Romanus two rivals, Nicephorus Bryennius in Asia and Nicephorus Botaneiates in Europe, disputed the throne with one another. The former appealed to Suleimān for assistance, and was by his aid brought to Constantinople and seated on the imperial throne.
But the possession of Asia Minor was insecure to the Seljūks
- See Defrémery, Journ. asiatique (1853), i. 425 seq., ii. 217 seq.
- An outline of the history of this branch of the Seljūks is given in Z.D.M.G. (1885), pp. 362-401.
- This prince rebelled against Alp Arslān in 1064, and was found dead after a battle.