[ 1075 -1318 M.]


Aydoğan DEMİR*

 Founded by Suleyman Shah, son of Kutalmish, in Nicaea (Iznik) in 1075, Seljuks of Anatolia[1] concurrently fought and subdued the Byzantium Empire, the Crusaders, Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, Empire of Trebizond, Georgian Kingdom, Cypriot Kingdom, Danishmendids, Mangujakids, Saltuqids, Artuqids and Ayyubids. At one point, Asia Minor was mostly united under the Seljuks. In less than a century, what had been a land of Romans became Turchia (Turkiye).[2] Seljuks of Anatolia knew well enough to reap the fruits of their newfound geography. Not only did they utilize the rich plains of Anatolia, its forests and mines, but they also managed to secure the vital spice and silk roads that ran through Anatolia . This fact makes itself crystal clear in the construction of more than 250 caravanserais during the Seljuk period, most of which still attracts people’s admiration and remains either intact or recently renovated for cultural purposes.[3] Another issue that the Seljuks attributed special importance was attracting foreign traders; they drafted and executed legal guarantees for merchants travelling in the Seljuk realms. Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw I (r.1205-1211) who conquered Antalya in 1207 issued imperial decrees and made treaties with Cypriot merchants, thereby providing them with life and property securities, and paid reparations for their damages due to piracy or grand-theft. Osman Turan suggests that “Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw I, with an attempt to secure and promote trade, paid these reparations, which were an essential part of Seljuqid policy and constituted a form of state insurance[4] Izz ad-Din Kayka’us I (r.1211-1220) continued his father’s policies and approved the renewal of a trade agreement with the Cypriot merchants. The new agreement had special addendums to the treaty in effect and “gave mutual non-confiscation pledges in cases of shipwrecks on the other party’s shores, granted asylum rights to the merchants and their crew, and guaranteed safe return of the deceased merchants’ goods to his home country[5] Likewise, a new and more comprehensive treaty with the Venetian merchants (dated March 8 1220 ) was signed during Ala ad-Din Kayqubad I’s reign (1220-1237), and further expanded the trade agreements network, setting a precedent for future trade accords. This new treaty brought tax exemptions for trading of precious mines.

Turan further suggests that “Venetian merchants were granted right of free passage into the Seljuk country to trade valuable items such as gold or silver, but the exportation of these goods was prohibited, which means that they were trying to allocate capital and improve the treasury[6] Yet, Şerafettin Turan disagrees with Osman Turan and argues that Kayqubad’s decree also mentions “the exemption of customs tax from the exportation of valuable stones and pearls, processed or raw silver and gold.” In other words, the exportation of these goods was promoted as much as their importation. Şerafettin Turan adds “it would be misleading to look at [Kayqubad’s] decree from a mono-causal point of view, even if one assumes that it was enacted for purposes of promoting trade[7] Regardless of this difference in interpretation, Anatolia during this period experienced an abundance of gold and silver. “During the reign of the first Turkish Seljuk sultans, the only coins in use were those that had been struck in the Byzantium or Islamic empires. Commensurate with the rising economic power of the Seljuks, local coins in silver or gold were struck in Turkiye and due to their high carats demand for Turkish gold and coins (dinar and dirham) rose dramatically[8]

Following the abrupt death of the Great Sultan Ala ad-Din Kayqubad I, Anatolian Seljuk state began to decline at a substantial pace. The Baba Ishak Rebellion of 1240, Battle of Kösedag in 1243, and Abaka Khan’s intervention into Anatolian administration in 1277 altogether constitute the most troublesome period in the history of this disintegrating state. In the aftermath of the Mongol invasion, which began in 1243 particularly after the death of Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw II (r.1237-1246), exile, torture, dethronement and execution of Seljuk Sultans became a common practice. What became a defining moment in the Seljuk period of decline was the joint crowning of Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw II’s three sons, Ala ad-Din Kayqubad II, Rukn ad-Din Kilic Arslan IV and Izz ad-Din Kayka’us II aged 7, 9 and 11 respectively. The Mongols obviously benefited from the quarrels between the three. They not only received a heavy tribute from Anatolian rulers, but also arbitrarily intervened in domestic politics to let their presence be known, and marauded villages. When Ala ad-Din II died on his way to the Mongols to submit his allegiance, the conflict between the remaining two brothers exacerbated and ultimately divided the empire into two (1254-56; 1259-62). In a condescending manner, Rukn ad-Din IV and Izz ad-Din II brothers went to see Hulagu Khan and upon his orders, joined him in his Syria campaign.

Since some of these historical details fall beyond the scope of our research, it would be fair to finish the background history here, by simply adding that Izz ad-Din Kayka’us II lost the conflict with his brother Rukn ad-Din Kilic Arslan IV, who managed to secure a greater Mongol support. Having lost the rivalry, Izz ad-Din went to Istanbul first (1263) and later escaped to Crimea and spent the remaining 15 years of his life here. Cahen suggests that “the people who currently live in Dobruca today is believed to be the descendants of the Turcoman tribe, called the Gagavuz, who followed Izz ad-Din Kayka’us II.[9]

Securing the Mongol support, Rukn ad-Din Kilic Arslan IV reestablished control over Anatolia particularly with the aid of Muinüddin Süleyman Pervane, who was the most influential figure during this period. Earning the trust of the Il-Khanate, Pervane labored hard to maintain order and peace in the society. Yet it was impossible to regenerate the whole state mechanism, which stopped functioning for 25 years with the death of the Great Sultan Ala ad-Din Kayqubad I. Turcoman hordes had been uneasy ever since the Baba İshak Rebellion. They had to leave their homes in Eastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan , struggling to survive at the outskirts of the Taurus Mountains and Western Asia Minor . The Turcoman beys and Karaman Oğullari, who resettled around Denizli and the Taurus respectively, became a major threat to both the Seljuks and Il-Khanate. On top of all this, Sultan Kilic Arslan IV and Pervane began to experience major disagreements, upon which the latter collaborated with the Mongols and executed the Arslan in 1266.

Pervane became a mentor and imperial advisor to Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III – the young son of the now dead sultan Kilic Arslan IV. For a brief period of time, Pervane managed to establish tranquility in Anatolia but later sought to declare independence from the Mongols through a rapprochement with the Mamluk Sultan Baibars. This treacherous move dragged Anatolia into another tragedy. In 1276, Hatir Oğlu - one of Pervane’s close aids and the governor of Niğde – rebelled against the Il-Khanate although he had in his possession the child Sultan Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III. Karaman Oğullari and other Turcoman Beys also joined Hatir Oğlu in the failed rebellion. Hatir Oğlu was executed by the Il-Khanate, while Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III was forgiven due to “his youth and immense pressure against him.”[10] In 1277, Baibars finally decided to accept the invitation and embarked on a campaign against the Mongols to crown himself the Seljuk Sultan. It was on the Elbistan plains (contemporary Maraş) that Baibars triumphed over the Il-khanate and received a warm welcome from the population of Kayseri (May 1277). Baibars was crowned in Kayseri (Caesarea Mazaca) in the Seljuk fashion, and in his name a sermon was delivered and coins struck. An interesting anecdote here is that during his brief 10 day Kayseri visit, Baibars repeatedly told those around him: “I am not here for looting but saving [the Seljuk Sultan] from Tatar captivity[11]

Meanwhile, Pervane – who still held Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III in his possession – continued to play both sides. Baibars saw that carrying out a campaign too far stretched from their center was not viable; his army already began facing food supply problems. He therefore decided to return to his capital and left Kayseri . Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III and Pervane sent ambassadors to Baibars asking him not to leave; but Baibars was well aware of Pervane’s deceit and uncertainty, hence turned down this offer and responded: “Please tell his excellency [Pervane] that I have mastered the roads of Rum [Anatolia]. His mother, son and children of his daughter are with me. This is enough for us. We have not intended to take the Seljuk crown for pleasure. Recapturing Jerusalem and keeping our own crown would be satisfactory.”[12]

Baibars’s Asia Minor Campaign that ended up in Kayseri would trigger another tragedy for Anatolia . Seeking revenge for his soldiers that were killed in Elbistan, Abaka Khan entered Anatolia with 200.000 men and executed Pervane. Although Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III kept his seat, the Il-khanate Prince Kongurtai was appointed to administer Anatolia . During Baibars’s Asia Minor campaign, Karaman Oğlu Mehmed Bey captured Konya and looted the city. He crowned Siyavush (the ungenerous) son of Izz ad-Din Kayka’us II, and struck coins in his name. Perhaps the most important development during this period was the institutionalization of Turkish as the official language. Sahip Ata Fahreddin Ali, who was Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III’s new grand vizier, did not accept this fait accompli and joined forces with the Mongols to fight against Mehmed Bey and Ala ad-Din Siyavush – killing both in 1279. The Seljuk administration naturally despised Siyavush, nicknamed him “tightfisted” and did not see him as a member of the dynasty; furthermore, in a rather morbid and un-princely manner they displayed his dead body.

Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III, who was crowned as a child and spent his youth under the circumstances discussed above, soon found himself in yet another succession dispute. The children of his uncle, Izz ad-Din Kayka’us II who died in Crimea, continued the rivalry for the Seljuk crown even after the death of their brother Ala ad-Din Siyavush. Prince Mas’ud knew well enough to seek Mongol support and joined Abaka, without whom claiming the crown was impossible. The death of Abaka Khan in 1282 resulted in a crown dispute this time among the Mongol princes. Tekudar Ahmad became the new Khan and engaged in a fight with Prince Argun. Mas’ud made use of this opportunity and was crowned as the new Seljuk Sultan replacing Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III, who was executed in 1284 for taking the wrong side in the Mongolian crown dispute.[13]

Although the people of Konya cheered the crowning of Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud II, he was in no position to fulfill the expectations of the general populace. First of all, the enormous living expenses of the Mongolian administrators and soldiers – numbering around 10.000 – were financed by the Seljuk treasury. These expenses were so heavy that Sahip Ata Fahreddin Ali was desperately looking for loans.[14] Besides the Mongol pressure, the never-ending crown disputes among Seljuk princes, Germiyan, Karaman, and Eşrefoğlu Turcoman rebellions were gradually bringing the end of the Seljuk dynasty.

Upon the death of Sahip Ata Fahreddin Ali of Konya , who labored hard to survive the Anatolian Seljuk State , in 1288 Fahreddin Kazvini became the new grand vizier. During Kazvini’s office Seljuk administration fell completely to foreigners such as Persians, Mongols and Jews. Taxes were raised by ten times. Failing to suppress the Turcoman rebellions, in 1292 Sultan Mas’ud II invited Il-Khan Geyhatu, who held a strong animosity towards the Karamanli’s and began brutal atrocities and looting. His massacres continued in Konya , Muğla and other cities as well. While the Seljuks were dealing with Turcoman uprisings, Mas’ud’s brothers Geyümers, Kilic Arslan and Feramurz also raised different rebellions. Sultan Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud II was able to check Feramurz and Kilic Arslan but was exiled to Hemedan in 1296 for allegedly collaborating with Baltu Noyan, who rebelled against the Il-Khanate.

After leaving the Seljuk crown vacant for two years, Ghazan Khan took the advise of his grand vizier Sadreddin Halidi[15] and finally replaced Mas’ud II with his brother Feramurz’s son Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III (r.1298-1302). At this point however the Seljuk State was in such a hopeless condition that even Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III’s vizier Ahmed Lakushi was appointed by Ghazan. Meanwhile, the Anatolian governor of the Il-Khanate Sulemish rebelled against his ruler with the support of the Mamluks. In response, Ghazan Khan sent Kutluğşah to Asia Minor on April 27 1299 , who crushed the rebellion in Erzincan and executed Sulemish.[16] Kayqubad III, who did not support Sulemish in his rebellion, left for Tabriz in order to leave Anatolia and submit his allegiance to Ghazan Khan.[17] Yet, when Kayqubad III arrived in Erzincan, the newly appointed governor of Anatolia Nizameddin Yahya from Tabriz confiscated Kayqubad’s gifts for the sultan of Il-Khanate as a tribute.[18] When Kayqubad III finally arrived in Tabriz , he was welcomed for not participating in the Sulemish rebellion and resided here for a while.[19] He was even wed to Hulagu’s daughter and attained great power and influence.[20] Looking at the coins (Nr.001) that were struck in 1299-1300 C.E. (699 A.H.) under Mas’ud’s name, it is clear that when Ala ad-Din III was in Tabriz Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud III[21] served as an acting ruler during his father’s absence.[22]

During this period, Mongol pressure and cruelty in collecting taxes continued in Anatolia . It is unfortunate that Ala ad-Din III actively participated in Mongol brutality. According to Aksarayi, he abandoned legal procedures and pursued violent methods in taxing the wealthy families of Sivas , Malatya , Divriği and other places. In order to temporarily relieve the treasury of fiscal crisis, the silver alloy of dirham was lowered down to 20 percent and later to an even lower level.[23] Upon growing complaints, the Il-Khan governor of Anatolia, Abışka Noyan, called the Sultan, who was then in Sivas to his headquarters in the Yabanlu plain in a rather condescending manner as if he was calling one of his officers. Concerned about his life, Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III tried to escape but was caught in the caves of Ürgüp on his way to Konya . The Sultan was subsequently sent to Ghazan Mahmud Khan in Tabriz , but upon the request of his wife, who is a Mongolian princess, his execution order was changed into torture and exile.[24] Ultimately, Ala ad-Din III died of a wound inflicted by someone accompanying him.[25] Osman Turan argues that the coins struck between August 26 1302 and August 14 1303 (702 A.H.) in Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III’s name do not necessarily imply that he was the ruler, who was actually deposed sometime between September 6 1301 and August 25 1302 .[26] According to Turan, even after Ala ad-Din was toppled, the casting molds were preserved and used for a while.[27] This situation might have lasted until the newly appointed Seljuk Sultan Mas’ud II arrived in Anatolia in 702 A.H.

Perhaps the last remaining Beylik (emirate) that still respected the Seljuqid dynasty and state during Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III’s reign was the Menteşe Oğullari who occupied the Karya region of the Anatolian southwest. The emirate was named after Menteşe Bey, who was the father of its current ruler Mas’ud Bey and a naval commander of the Seljuk coasts (Emir’üs Sevahil – emir of the shores). This was a post that would later correspond to the Ottoman Admiral-in-Chief’s office (Kaptan-i Derya). Historians now assume that Mentese Bey breached the troubled Byzantium coastal defense line and through organizing Turcomans and Khwarezms (Harzem) established his own emirate. As a sign of respect to the successive Seljuk Sultans (Kayqubad III and Mas’ud II), under whose ancestors’ command his father once held a respected office, Mas’ud Bey struck coins in the coastal cities of Bafa, Milas, Megri[28], Finike and Döğer (Map1). Hence, our research subject is the inscribed coins struck in honor of Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III.

In 1302, Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud II (r.1302-1310) was crowned Sultan of the Anatolian Seljuk State for a second time. Yet, the already troubled Anatolian Seljuk State continued to experience crises during Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud II’s second term. After a failed rebellion, the prominent Turcoman Bey Ilyas demanded asylum from the Great Sultan Han ( Ala ad-Din Caravanserai) while escaping from the Mongolian regiments between Aksaray and Konya . Despite using heavy catapults with fire and stones, the Mongol forces failed to capture Ilyas from the castle-like caravanserai. Angered by this failure, the Anatolian Commander of Mongols İrencin Noyan punished Kerimuddin Aksarayi – the prominent Anatolian historian and chair of waqfs - with 6000 dirhams for each dead Mongol soldier for recently renovating the building. Although not renovating damaged waqf buildings should instead be a crime for someone holding Aksarayi’s post, the opposite – repairing them – was considered a crime, which led Aksarayi make the following remark: “This is one of the few events in our time that is quite obscure.”[29]

İrencin Noyan, carried out many brutalities in Anatolia to punish the collaborators. It is now known that Mas’ud II was completely ineffective to prevent these atrocities. Deprived of his wealth and impoverished, the Sultan died in Kayseri after a lengthy sickness.[30] There are also rumors that he poisoned himself out of sorrow for his endless debts and continuous Mongol demands.[31] Therefore historians also assume that his son Kilic Arslan took up the crown in 1310 and replaced Ghiyas ad-Din Kaykhusraw III. This period was followed by yet another ineffective sultan, Kilic Arslan V, until 1318.[32] In this year, Timurtaş ended the Seljuk Dynasty effectively by killing the remaining princes of the Seljuk dynasty. The chronology of this period is very controversial. Bertold Spuler further complicated existing historiography by using the following sentence: “[T]he Seljuk state ceased to exist in 1317 with Mas’ud II’s successor Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud III (son of Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III).”[33] Within the seven hundred years that elapsed since the fall of Anatolian Seljuk State , the Seljuqid masterpieces of civic and religious life have been commemorated and will continue to be respected.[34]

*This section is written by Professor Emeriti Aydoğan Demir. 

[1] It is generally accepted that the Anatolian Seljuk State was established in 1075. For further reference see Osman Turan, Selçuklular Zamanında Türkiye Tarihi, 1st ed. (İstanbul 1984), 54-55; Yaşar Yücel and Ali Sevim, Türkiye Tarihi vI (İstanbul: The Sabah Daily Press), 76.

[2] Claude Cahen, Osmanlılardan Önce Anadolu’da Türkler, tr. Yıldız Moran ( Istanbul , 1979), 151.

[3] M. Kemal Özergin, “Anadolu’da Selçuklu Kervansarayları,” İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Tarih Dergisi, c. XV, sayı 20 ( Istanbul , 1965), 144-164. This article states the number of caravanserais as 132. Further research on the subject demonstrates a larger number – over 250. See: Hakkı Acun, ed., Anadolu Selçuklu Dönemi Kervansarayları ( Ankara , 2007), 17.

[4] Ibid, 285.

[5] Ibid, 302.

[6] Osman Turan, Türkiye Selçukluları Hakkında Resmi Vesikalar ( Ankara , 1956), 130.

[7] Şerafettin Turan, Türkiye-İtalya İlişkileri I – Selçuklular’dan Bizans’ın Sona Erişine (İstanbul, 1990), 120.

[8] Osman Turan, Türkiye Selçukluları Hakkında…, 130-131.

[9] Claude Cahen, Ibid, 273; İbrahim Kafesoğlu, Selçuklular, İslâm Ansiklopedisi, 3rd ed., IX (İstanbul, 1979), 395; For Gagavuz – Uz/Oğuz relations see İbrahim Kafesoğlu, Türk Milli Kültürü ( Ankara , 1977), 176; also see Müstecip Ülküsal, Dobruca ve Türkler ( Ankara , 1966), 58.

[10] Cahen, 280-281.

[11] Osman Turan, 548.

[12] Osman Turan, 549.

[13] Osman Turan, 583-584; Faruk Sümer, “Anadolu’da Moğollar,” Selçuklu Araştırmaları Dergisi I ( Ankara 1970), 58; Bertold Spuler, İran Moğolları, 2nd Ed., tr. Cemal Köprülü ( Ankara , 1987), 95.

[14] Faruk Sümer, 59-60.

[15] Kerimüddin Aksarayî, Müsameret’ül Ahbar, tr. Prof. Mürsel Öztürk, ( Ankara , 2000), 189 and Osman Turan, Ibid, 622.

[16] Spuler, 110.

[17] Osman Turan, 632.

[18] Kerimüddin Aksarayî, 208-209.

[19] Osman Turan, 632.

[20] Kerimüddin Aksarayî, 226.

[21] Spuler argues that Kayqubad’s son Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud became sultan in 1307 under the name Ghiyas ad-Din III. See Spuler, 137.

[22] Ahmet Tevhid, Müze-i Hümayun Meskûkat-i Kadime-i İslamiyye Kataloğu, (Kısm-ı Rabi, Kostantiniyye, 1321), 350.

[23] Spuler, 330.; For coins with lower fineness see Osman Turan, 631.

[24] Faruk Sümer, 70-71.

[25] İbrahim Kafesoğlu, “Keykubad III,” İslâm Ansiklopedisi, IV (İstanbul, 1954), 663.

[26] Dirham struck in Ala ad-Din Kayqubad III’s name by Hamidoğullari in Burdur in 702, Kamil Eron Collection Nr: 1831.

[27] Osman Turan, 634; here, footnote 52.

[28] There is no known figured dirhams struck in Megri.  There are dirhams without figured inscriptions in Mas’ud II’s name, struck in 702 in Megri. See Coin Nr: 7; Halûk Perk and Hüsnü Öztürk, Anadolu Sikke Monografileri I, (İstanbul 2007), 24-26.

[29] Osman Turan, 635.

[30] Faruk Sümer, 75.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Osman Turan, 645.

[33] Bertold Spuler, 137; For Ghiyas ad-Din Mas’ud III’s father See E. De Zambaur and Manuel De Généalogie Et De Chronologie (Bad Pyrmont, 1955 from the 1927 Hannover copyright edition), 143.

[34] Compare O. Turan, 644; Also see F. Sümer, Ibid.


I am particularly grateful and indepted to Mr. Gültekin Teoman for his permission to using the historical knowledge from his book " SELJUQ OF RUM FIGURAL DIRHAMS.