Contrary to what is generally believed, the Turks are in no way related to the Arabs. this misconception arose from the fact that they borrowed their religion and writing from the Arabs, while for centuries the dominated the Arab countries. This resulted in certain customs and practies of Arab-Moslem origin, but, while these have had a far from negligible influence, the can in no way be taken as indicating an assimilation of the Turks by the Arabs.
The Turks are neither Indo-Europeans, nor Semites, but are related to the peoples of eastern Upper Asia: the Toungoos, the Mongols, and the Manchus. However, the were differentiated from them by their successive migrations to the west, and their contacts with the peoples of Middle and Near East and of the Mediterranean finally lead to their being considered as more western than they were in fact.
The actual origin of the Turks is obscure: Chinese sources mention the appearance in Upper Asia, from the 2nd millennium on, of nomadic groups who may be considered as the acestors of Turks. Alittle before of Christian era appeared the Hiung-Nu people, whose history extends to the 5th century A.D. They were found first in north-east China, then in the region of the Orkhon (Upper Asia). In the 1st century A.D., they split into the eastern Hiung-Nu, who founded the western Hiung-Nu, who gradually advanced westwards and reached western Europe in the middle of the 5th century: these are the people who became known as theHuns.
In Central Asia, Turkish tribes succeeded in imposing their rule. these include the Tu-Kiu (from which the Turks got their name), who were in contact theByzantinesin the 6th century, and later on the Uigurs, who in the 9th century established a brlliant civilization in Upper Asia and Turkestan. In the State they formed, four different religions were practised: Buddhism, Manicheeism, Nestorianism, and Shamanism. The last of these -consisting in worship of forces of nature- was long the religion of the Turks. The turkish language has remained pure; in writen Turkish, the Uigurs replaced the runic characters used by the Tu-Kiu(Orkhon inscriptions, 8th century) by the Syriac characters introduced by the Nestorian and Manicheean monks and modified under the name of Sogdian characters.
Once installed in Turkestan, the turks came into contact with the Iranians, who were instrumental in the Turkish penetration of Middle East and in the conversion of the turks to ıslam. From the 10th century on, the Iranian Smanids incorporated az increasingly large number of Turkish slaves in their army. These Turkish slaves became converted to Islam, and acquired so much importance that one of them, Alp Tekin, independentley founded the Ghaznevid State in Afghanistan, which stretched from eastern Iran to western India. At the beginning of the 11th centurh, theGhaznevid Mas’udwas defeated by Turkih newcomers, theSeljuks, to whom he had to cede the territory ofKhorassan(eastern Iran) in 1035.
After 1071, following the defeat and capture of Romanus Diogenes, anarchy reigned Constantinople; severel pretenders to the thore engaged in a struggle for power, calling on the services of Turkish mercenaries, including Sulaiman, chief of the Seljuks of Asia Minor, who finally obtained permission from Alexis Comnenus, who became Emperor in 1081, to settle in Central Anatolia and even in Nicaea, not far from Constantinople. the Danishmends had meanwhile taken over the Kayseri-Sivas-Amasya region; as for the Armenians, hitherto subjects of the Basileus, they became independent, under the leadership of Philaretes, in south-east Asia minor. Within the space of ten years, Bysantine domination in Anatolia had collapsed, and the Turks were the beneficiaries of the new situation.
But the embryonic State established by Sulaiman did not last very long for, on his death, following a defeat before Aleppo in 1085, his anatolian possesions were broken, adn his son Kilij Arslan – a minor at the time – was taken to Iraq. Returning in 1092, Kilij Arslan recovered Nicaea, but his Danishmend rivals exteded their territory at his expense. The struggle between the Seljuks and Danishmends for the domination of Anatolia lasted until 1175, interrupted only by the passage of the Crusaders, against whom they became temporary allies. Entering Asia Minor in 1096, the Crusaders took Nicaea and defaat Kilij Arslan at Dorylaeum (July 1097). The Turks wereforced out of western Asia Minor for more than two hundred years, adn the Greeks reocupied the lost territories. On their wayto Syria, the Crusaders of the Crusade temporarily took Konya and Kayseri. However, the Seljuks and the Danishmends united against the French reinforcements that arrived inAsia Minor in 1101. The Lombard and Bavaria were beaten and wiped out in turn. The Franks were refused any further passage through Anatolia, Kilij Arslan, taking advantage of a possessions. His attempt to take over part of eastern Anatolia failed, and he then founded the Seljuks Sultanate on the central plateau of Asia Minor, establishing its capital at Konya, the former Iconium.
Malik-Shah,Kilij Arslan’s successor, and his brother Mas’sud fought unsuccessfully against the Byzantines, with somewhat more succes against the Danishmend Ghazi, and most successfully of all against the second Crusade, opposing an impenetrable barrier to Conrad III and Louis VII.
Kilij-Arslan II(1155-1192), conqured at first by Manual Comnenus, declared himself the latter’s vassal and, freed from any anxieties about his western, turned against the Danishmends whom he finally subdued (1174-1175), and then against the Byzantines, whom he crushed at Myriocephalon in 1176, thus finally putting an end to their attempts at reconquest. At the end of his reign, Kilij Arslan had to cope with the armies of the Third Crusade, who had succeeeded in taking Konya – a victory that was carved up his Sultanate. The unity of the Seljuk State was reestablished only by Rukn ud-Din Slaiman (in 1204) and byKaikhosrau. After a few diffecult years, the Sultans Kaikaus of Rum to the peak of its glory; the second had a particularly brilliant reign not only from the military standpoint, but also from the standpoints of scholarship, art, and economics.
Hissuccessor Kaikhosru II had first of all to deal with a Turkoman revolt led by the dervish Baba Ishak – arevolt that was social, religious, and anti-aristocratic in nature – and then with Mongols attach in its eastern part. In addition rivalries breke out between members of the reigning family and between the sovereings and their viziers; one of the Sultanate’s unity and independence, but he wasput oto death by the Mongols in 1277. The pendence, but he was put to death by the Mongols in 1277. The end of the century witnessed the total disintegration of what remained of the Seljuks State and it finally disappeared in 1304. For some twenty years beforehand, the goverment of the Sultans had no longer had any authority, either in the east, where the Mongols were in command, or in the west, where local emirs had appeared and were increasingly seeking their independence. One of them – Osman – founded the Ottoman dynasty in the 14th century