On 26 August 1071 a large Byzantine army under Emperor Romanus IV met the Saljuq Turk forces of Sultan Alp Arslan near the town of Manzikert to the far east of the Byzantine Empire. The battle ended in a decisive defeat for the Byzantine forces, with the wings of the army routing following withering Turkish arrow fire, and the centre overwhelmed, with the Byzantine emperor captured and much of his fabled Varangian guard killed. This battle is justifiably regarded as a turning point in Middle Eastern, European and to some extent even world history. It is seen as the primary trigger of the Crusades, and as the moment when the power of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire was irreparably broken. The Saljuq victory opened up Anatolia to Turkish-Islamic conquest, which was eventually followed by the establishment of the Ottoman state which went on the conquer south-eastern and much of central Europe, the entire Middle East and most of North Africa. Nevertheless the battle itself was the culmination of a Christian Byzantine offensive, intended to strengthen the eastern frontiers of the empire and re-establish Byzantine domination over Armenia and northern Mesopotamia. Turkish Saljuq victory was in no sense inevitable and might, in fact, have come as something of a surprise to those who achieved it - at least in proving to be so complete. It was not only the battle of Manzikert that had such profound and far-reaching consequences, many of these stemmed from the debilitating Byzantine civil war which followed and was a direct consequence of the defeat.
About the Author
DR. DAVID NICOLLE was born in 1944 and lives in England. He worked for BBC Television News and the BBC Arabic Services and, after returning to university to obtain a Doctorate, he taught in a Jordanian university. Since returning from the Middle East Dr. Nicolle has written numerous books, both academic and for the general reader, on various aspects of Islamic and medieval history. He has also contributed articles to many academic journals and specialist encyclopedias, and has presented papers at various scientific or historical conferences. Meanwhile Dr. Nicolle continues his research into medieval Islamic military technology, a field in which he is respected as a leading expert.
Ian Castle is an experienced historian who is a member of the Napoleonic Association, the Victorian Military Society and is a consultant for the Anglo Zulu War Historical Society. Ian began writing more than ten years ago and, besides contributing numerous articles to military journals, he has written ten books, five of which are in the Osprey Campaign series The author lives in London, UK.