MAPS: 0979AD – 1215AD Middle East

Middle East 979AD – 1215AD 


The preceding two centuries[1] have seen the rise and decline of the Seljuq empire in the Middle East. The Seljuqs were a group of Muslim Turks from central Asia who, swooping down from their homeland, overran Iran,[2] Iraq,[3] Syria[4] and much of Asia Minor,[5] where they took much territory from the Byzantine empire.[6]

The Seljuq empire soon broke up, however, giving way to regional states ruled by sultans of Turkish origin. The sultanate of Rum was the most enduring of these.

Turkish sultans also came to power in Egypt,[7] which had never been conquered by the Seljuqs. These were the Ayyubids, and they have succeeded in conquering up into Syria and far into the Arabian peninsula.[8]

The Seljuq conquests, and the stricter conditions they placed on Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem, led to a succession of campaigns from Europe, which attempted to set up a number of Christian states in Syria. These “Crusades” met vigorous resistance, and have all but failed. The Europeans now control only a narrow strip of coast. They will soon lose even this.

In recent years, another Muslim Turkish group, the Khwarizm Shah, have taken control of Iran, and the Middle East will see new waves of invaders from central Asia during the next two centuries.


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