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Azerbaijan as part of The Seldjukids Empire

Since the mid of the 11th century, the major factor of socio-political and socio-economic development of Front and Cental Asia became the existence of the Seldjukids empire, which played an essential role in the history of Azerbaijan.

There were existed several states and essential feudal possessions in the territory of Azerbaijan in the first half of the 11th century; Shirvan state, led by the dynasty of ShirvanShah Kesranids with the capital of Shamakha, which occupied the lands of historical Shirvan and part of Souther Daghestan; in the north-west of the country there was existed Shaki malikate, which created confederation with the kingdom of Khakhetia, led by its own dynasty in the beginning of the 11th century; the historical lands of Arran and Nakhichevan were ruled by two branches of Shaddadids dynasty – in the emirates with the centre in Ganja and Dabil (Dvin).

First campaigns of oghuz-seldjukid troops to the South Caucasus coincided to the first quarter of the 11th century. In the same campaign they intervened to Arran, reached to the cities of Nakhichevan and Dabil and in 1029, according to Georgian manuscript, Seldjuks reached and destroyed the central part of South Caucasus. Returning to Khorasan, Seldjuks rose uprising against Gaznavids. But, this uprising was pressed and in the beginning of 30s, two thousand oghuz tribes emigrated to the southern regions of Azerbaijan, settled in the possessions of Ravvadids. Emir Vahsudan (1026-1059) gave them lands, demanded them to pay taxes and participate in his military campaigns.

Most part of oghuz tribes, which stayed in Khorasan was united under the leadership of Toghrul bey and Chaghri bey, who were from the tribe of Ginig by origin. Being the vassals of Gaznavid Sultan, they began independently to enlarge their territory. Sultan Masud’s (1031- 1041) attempt to stop the danger ended with the victory of Seldjuks in 1034 and they gained part of the territory of Khorasan as igta: Toghrul bey obtained the city of Nisa, Chaghri bey – Dikhistan and their uncle Arslan Payqu-Feriv. Soon after these events, Toghrul bey was declared the first Sultan of the dynasty of Seldjukids but he ruled the state with his brother Chaghri bey and other oghuz beys. So, there was established new oghuz state under the leadership of Sultans from the dynasty of Seldjukids. After two years, on May 24, 1040, Seldjukids won Gaznavids in the most essential battle, in the location of Dandanakan near Merv (modern city of Bayram-Ali, in Mary region of Turkmanistan). So, Seldjukids became the sole owner of Khorasan, which became the property of great Sultans. The struggle against Gaznevids assisted to the consolidation of essential part of oghuz and other Turkish tribes under the leadership of Seldjukids. The victory of the year of 1040, opened the way to Iran, it became the important phase in the destiny of oghuz nation as well as further historical development of the Middle and Front Asia. In 1042, Seldjuks conquered strategically essential city of Rey, which became the defensive point and bridgehead for the further moving to Front Asia and Caucasus. From the beginning of oghuz- seldjukid conquests process the troops were directed to Azerbaijan and in the second half of 40s of the 11th century, the southern parts of this country became the settlements of Turkish tribes, where they crossed to Northern parts of the country, other parts of South Caucasus and Azerbaijan. Seldjukid military commanders, who had concrete duties, led these independent troops. For instance, Ibrahim Yinal moved to Djibal (region of Hamadan-Isfahan), Kutulmish and Rasul Teginto pre- Caspian regions, Hasan-to Northern parts of Azerbaijan. They implemented their duties successfully, but sometimes encountered with unlucky. For example, Kutulmish directed to the frontiers of Byzantine voluntarily, where he was defeated. In Syria, the emir of Abbasid caliph, Turk al-Basasiri, destroyed his troops. Kutulmish returned to the East and tried to compensate his unsuccess with the besiege of Gandja. However, emir of Gandja, Lashkari II Shaddadid (1034-1049) prevented this first campaign of Seldjukids successfully. Due to secure the city in the future, he ordered to fortificate the walls of Gandja. Worring about the appearance of Seldjukid troops in Azerbaijan, ShirvanShah Kubad (1044-1049) also constructed new fortress walls around the capital city of Shamakha in 1045.

For the year of 1048, emir Sharur I Shaddadid, who utilized from the actions of Seldjukids in the South Caucasus, did his best to extend his reign through the Kur and occupied the fortresses in the frontiers of Tiflis emirate of Jafaris.

In 1050, caliph al-Kaim (1031-1075), who worried about the further aggravation of relations with Saldjukids recognized Toghrul bey as great Sultan de-yure and gave him the title of “Rukn ad-Din” (pillar of belief). Simultaneously he presented to Seldjukid the right of secular suzerain of Islamic world, i.e. caliph gave him the secular part of his authority over muslim countires. With this act caliph recognized all conquests of Seldjukids. Now, the most essential title of seldjukids was the formula of “as Sultan al-azam, ShahenShah al-muazzam” (great Sultan, ShahenShah magnificant).

In 1054, Seldjukids added Iran and South Azerbaijan to their authority, where they accepted vassal oath from the emirs of Ravvadids. At the same year Toghrul bey led the campaign, which aimed to support muslim states and central part of South Caucasus-Shaddadid and Tiflis emirates and to utilize from their help in the struggle with Byzantine. In 1055, great Sultan directed to Baghdad, where he received the symbols of authority personally from the hands of caliph. After that Baghdad caliphs became the obedient gun of the policy of seldjukid Sultan.

In April, 1060, when Toghrul bey returned from Baghdad, he encircled the biggest and majorest craft-trade and military-strategic centre-the city of Tabriz. He did not achieve anything and that’s why left this city on August of the same year. At the result of coming of winter, his troops left Tabriz too. Although, Tabriz was not captured his ruler and head of Ravvadid state, emir Mamlan II (1059-1071) confirmed his vassality from Seldjukids. There was applied the tax-kharac on him, which the Ravvadid ruler paid partly and sent his sons as captive as the other part of kharac.

Soon, Toghrul bey directed to another important centre of Azerbaijan – the city of Nakhichevan, where its governor was emir Abu Dulaf al Sonkur ash-Sheybani accepted the suzerainty of Seldjukids. The governor of Urmia, al-Khalil also accepted the reign of Seldjukids.

In the summer of 1063, great Sultan Toghrul bey approached to one of essential fortificated cities of Azerbaijan-Khoy, where the reis (head of urban administration) was Sheikh Yusuf ibn Mankin. Toghrul bey demanded from the people to pay 10 thousand dinars, but Sheikh rejected and mentioned that they were engaged in jihad; that is why they would not be able to pay the demanded amount, as “troops cost lots of money”. Toghrul bey was suggested only 4 thousand dinars. Directed to Khoy, the army was defeated and then great Sultan sent his ally, emir of Khuzistan, Khazarasp ibn Tankir al-Kurdi and his military commander Sav-Tegin for negotiations to the city. In September, 1063, Khoy was captured.

In 1062, after the death of Toghrul bey, his nephew, the son of Chaghri bey-Alp Arsalan became the Sultan. Approximately, immediately after his proclamation as Sultan, Alp-Arslan made campaign to the South Caucasus, which aimed to the strengthening of frontiers of the empire with Byzantine, with the confirmation of the vassal dependence of the local governors of Azerbaijan and Georgia under Seldjukid authority.

In 1066, Seldjuks made the ShirvanShah Fariburz I pay big contribution -70 thousand dinars of kharac and in the next year Alp Arslan passed the winter in the possessions of his vassal-emir of Gandja, Fadl II (1067-1073); from there he directed to Georgia and accepted vassal dependence from Georgian tsar, Bagrat IV and emir of Tiflis, Jafarid, who preserved their authority and possessions being the vassals of Seldjukids. Neverthless, Alp Arslan appointed the emir of Gandja, Fadl II the governor and reliable person over them.

It is important to mention that, in the 11th century Seldjukids supported only the authority of Shaddadid emirs in the South Caucasus, as they were the pillars of Seldjukid policy in the region. They (Shaddadid emirs) prevented Byzantine expansion in the South Caucasus, objectively aided Seldjukids in their moving to the West and that is why the emirs of Gandja had a right to extend their possessions at the expense of the lands of ShirvanShahs and Georgian tsars.

Further campaign of the successors of Toghrul bey-Sultans Alp- Arslan and Melik-Shah, which continued as “the wars for belief” were directed to the fortification of Seldjukid supremacy on the South Caucasus, Minor Asia and Syria. The one of the most essential achievements of Seldjukid state and the breaking point in the history of Front Asia was the victory over Byzantine army in Malazgird, on August 25, 1071. At the result of this victory, the Byzantine Empire was stroken so that, this empire was not able to recover till the end of his final collapse, in the mid of the 15th century; emperor Roman IV Diogen was captivated, Byzantinian ceded most of cities and also fortresses to Seldjukids.

At finally, the possessions of Seldjukids began to stretch in a big territory-from Kashgar in the east to the Mediterranian Sea in the west, from Caucasus mountains in the north to the Persion Gulf in the South. Local governors, who preserved their authority in various areas, as well  as the successors of independent dynasties became the vassals of Seldjukids. The empire of Seldjukids reached to its magnificence during the reign of Melik Shah (1072-1092); namely in this period South Azerbaijan was completely included to the empire and in 1086, the authority of Shaddadids in Ganja was liquidated and Shirvan was obliged to pay annual tax in the amount of 40 thousand dinars.

The role of Seldjuks in the history of Turkish nations, living in the region was great. It’s important to mention that several authors considered that the local population of Azerbaijan continued to speak: in the South-in Iranian languages, in the north-in Caucasus- Daghestanian languages before the third branch of Turkish conquests (first branch-was cemmerian-skythian, the second branch was hun- sabirian moving). They thought that namely in the 11th century, there was shaped contemporary Azerbaijanian Turkish language in Azerbaijan and in boundaried territories and the local ethnos transited into Turkish language in the presence of Seldjuks and forgot their previous languages, which they had spoken for a thousand years.

In the history there were many cases, why the whole nation forgot their native language and began to speak in foreign languages of conquerors because of circumstances, but in this occasion there were some moments that should be examined. Generally, several authors even refused the existence of Turkish ethnic graps in Azerbaijan before the Seldjuks.

First of all, lots of nations, who had never included to Seldjukid empire, as well as within the bounds of Azerbaijan and other countries, did not “forget their language and were made turkish by the influence of Seldjukids”. If Persians, Arabs, Armenians, Georgians, Talishes, Tats, Lezgies and other small nations did not forget language, then why it should be happened only with Azerbaijanis. And it’s known that, there was spoken in Persian in Seldjukid palace at that time, then why Seldjuks made “Azerbaijanis speak turkish language”.

Fair thought of Anar, the prominent representative of modern Azerbaijan literature should be taken into account; if our nation transited into Turkish language only after the appearance of Seldjuks in 11th century and had spoken in other languages for thousand years, then there would be some traces of previous languages. But there are not such traces in Azerbaijanian language, as prominent turkologist (turkoloq), academician M.S.Shiraliyev investigated.

There was no such change of language in Azerbaijan, since more than 10 thousand Turk-Seldjuks, who settled in Azerbaijan in 11th century, also rapidly “spread” among the local population, met their relative ethnos and which spoke in Turkish language. That is why there was happened natural confluence of these people into the sole nation.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"