15 min

1077 to 1308

Sultanate of Rum

by Something Something

The Sultanate of Rum was a Turko-Persian Sunni Muslim state, established over conquered Byzantine territories and peoples (Rûm) of Anatolia by the Seljuk Turks following their entry into Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert (1071). The Sultanate of Rum seceded from the Great Seljuk Empire under Suleiman ibn Qutalmish in 1077, just six years after the Byzantine provinces of central Anatolia were conquered at the Battle of Manzikert (1071). It had its capital first at Nicaea and then at Iconium. It reached the height of its power during the late 12th and early 13th century, when it succeeded in taking key Byzantine ports on the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. In the east, the sultanate reached Lake Van. Trade through Anatolia from Iran and Central Asia was developed by a system of caravanserai. Especially strong trade ties with the Genoese formed during this period. The increased wealth allowed the sultanate to absorb other Turkish states that had been established following the conquest of Byzantine Anatolia: Danishmendids, House of Mengüjek, Saltukids, Artuqids.

The Seljuk sultans bore the brunt of the Crusades and eventually succumbed to the Mongol invasion at the 1243 Battle of Köse Dağ. For the remainder of the 13th century, the Seljuks acted as vassals of the Ilkhanate. Their power disintegrated during the second half of the 13th century. The last of the Seljuk vassal sultans of the Ilkhanate, Mesud II, was murdered in 1308. The dissolution of the Seljuk state left behind many small Anatolian beyliks (Turkish principalities), among them that of the Ottoman dynasty, which eventually conquered the rest and reunited Anatolia to become the Ottoman Empire.

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The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum

1077 Jan 1 -

İznik, Bursa, Turkey

In the 1070s, after the battle of Manzikert, the Seljuk commander Suleiman ibn Qutulmish, a distant cousin of Malik-Shah I and a former contender for the throne of the Seljuk Empire, came to power in western Anatolia. In 1075, he captured the Byzantine cities of Nicaea (present-day İznik) and Nicomedia (present-day İzmit). Two years later, he declared himself sultan of an independent Seljuk state and established his capital at İznik.

Suleiman was killed in Antioch in 1086 by Tutush I, the Seljuk ruler of Syria, and Suleiman's son Kilij Arslan I was imprisoned. When Malik Shah died in 1092, Kilij Arslan was released and immediately established himself in his father's territories.

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First Crusade: Battle of Civetot

1096 Aug 18 -

İznik, Bursa, Turkey

The Battle of Civetot in 1096 brought an end to the People's Crusade, which was a poorly-armed movement of lower-class pilgrims of the First Crusade distinct from the subsequent and much more well-known Princes' Crusade.

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| © Real Crusades History


First Crusade: Battle of Dorylaeum

1097 Jul 1 -

Dorylaeum, Eskişehir, Turkey

Despite the Turkish forces of Kilij Arslan almost destroying the Crusader contingent of Bohemond, other Crusaders arrived just in time for a very close victory.

As result of the stronger invasion, Rum and the Danismends allied in their attempt to turn back the crusaders. The Crusaders continued to split their forces as they marched across Anatolia. The combined Danishmend and Rum forces planned to ambush the Crusaders near Dorylaeum on June 29. However, Kilij Arslan's horse archers could not penetrate the line of defense set up by the Crusader knights, and the advance body under Bohemond arrived to capture the Turkish camp on July 1. Kilij Arslan retreated and inflicted losses on the Crusader Army with guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics. He also destroyed crops and water supplies along their route in order to damage logistical supplying of the Crusader Army.

The capital İznik is lost to Crusades.

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Battle of Melitene

1100 Jan 1 -

Malatya, Turkey

In the Battle of Melitene in 1100, a Crusader force led by Bohemond I of Antioch was defeated in Melitene in eastern Anatolia by Danishmend Turks commanded by Gazi Gümüshtigin. After acquiring the Principality of Antioch in 1098, Bohemond allied himself with the Armenians of Cilicia. When Gabriel of Melitene and his Armenian garrison came under attack from the Danishmend state to their north, Bohemond marched to their relief with a Frankish force. Malik Ghazi's Danishmends ambushed the expedition and "most of the Crusaders were killed." Bohemond was captured along with Richard of Salerno. Among the dead were the Armenian bishops of Marash and Antioch. Bohemond was held for ransom until 1103, and his rescue became the object of one column of the ill-fated Crusade of 1101. This battle ended the string of victories enjoyed by the participants of the First Crusade. Baldwin, Count of Edessa and later king of Jerusalem, successfully relieved Melitene afterward. However, while the Crusaders were negotiating the ransom of Bohemond, the Danishmends seized the town in 1103 and executed Gabriel of Melitene.

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Battle of Mersivan

1101 Jun 1 -

Merzifon, Amasya, Turkey

The army moved east, toward Danishmend territory and the rescue of Bohemond. However, the Seljuqs, under Kilij Arslan I, realizing that disunity was the cause of their inability to stop the First Crusade, had now allied with both the Danishmends and Ridwan of Aleppo. In early August the crusaders met this combined Muslim army at Mersivan.

The battle took place over several days. On the first day, the Turks cut off the crusading armies’ advances and surrounded them. The next day, Conrad led his Germans in a raid that failed miserably. The third day was somewhat quiet, with little or no serious fighting taking place, but on the fourth day, the crusaders made an intensive effort to free themselves from the trap that they were in. The crusaders inflicted heavy losses on the Turks, but the attack was a failure by the end of the day. Kilij Arslan was joined by Ridwan of Aleppo and other powerful Danishmend princes. The Lombards, in the vanguard, were defeated, the Pechenegs deserted, and the French and Germans were also forced to fall back. The battle continued into the next day, when the crusader camp was captured and the knights fled, leaving women, children, and priests behind to be killed or enslaved. Most of the Lombards, who had no horses, were soon found and killed or enslaved by the Turks. Raymond, Stephen of Blois, and Stephen of Burgundy fled north to Sinope, and returned to Constantinople by ship.

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Battle of Mosul

1107 Jan 1 -

Mosul, Iraq

The Battle of Mosul was a battle in which Kilij Arslan I of the Rum Seljuks conquered Mosul in 1107.

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Battle of Philomelion

1116 Jan 1 -

Akşehir, Konya, Turkey

The Battle of Philomelion of 1116 consisted of series of clashes over a number of days between a Byzantine expeditionary army under Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and the forces of the Sultanate of Rûm under Sultan Malik Shah; it occurred in the course of the Byzantine–Seljuk wars. The Seljuk forces attacked the Byzantine army a number of times to no effect; having suffered losses to his army in the course of these attacks, Malik Shah sued for peace.

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Konya captured

1116 Jan 1 -

Konya, Turkey

Following the defeat and death of his father Kilij Arslan fighting against Ridwan of Aleppo at the battle of Khabur river in 1107, Mesud lost the throne in favor of his brother Malik Shah. With the help of the Danishmends, Mesud captured Konya and defeated Malik Shah in 1116, later blinding and eventually murdering him. Mesud would later turn on the Danishmends and conquer some of their lands. In 1130, he started construction of the Alâeddin Mosque in Konya, which was later completed in 1221.


Mehmed of Danishmends dies

1142 Jan 1 -

Anatolia, Antalya, Turkey

The Sultanate of Rum becomes the leading power of Anatolia for the second time.


Second Crusade: Battle of Dorylaeum

1147 Aug 1 -

Dorylaeum, Eskişehir, Turkey

The Germans were ferried from the environs of Constantinople to the Asiatic shores of the Bosphorus. With inadequate supplies, the crusaders moved into the interior of Anatolia, intending to take the overland route to the Holy Land. As the crusaders crossed into the Anatolian plateau they entered an area of debatable frontier districts between the Byzantines and Seljuk Turks. Once beyond effective Byzantine control, the German army came under constant harassing attacks from the Turks, who excelled at such tactics. The poorer, and less well-supplied, infantry of the crusader army were the most vulnerable to hit-and-run horse archer attack and began to take casualties and lose men to capture. The area through which the crusaders were marching was largely barren and parched; therefore the army could not augment its supplies and was troubled by thirst. When the Germans were about three days march beyond Dorylaeum, the nobility requested that the army turn back and regroup. As the crusaders began their retreat, on 25 October, the Turkish attacks intensified and order broke down, the retreat then becoming a rout with the Crusaders taking heavy casualties. Conrad, himself, was wounded by arrows during the rout. The Crusaders lost virtually all of their baggage and, according to the Syraic Chronicle, "The Turks grew rich for they had taken gold and silver like pebbles with no end."

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Second Crusade: Battle of the Meander

1147 Dec 1 -

Büyük Menderes River, Turkey

The Battle of the Meander took place in December 1147, during the Second Crusade. The French crusader army, led by Louis VII of France, successfully fended off an ambush by the Seljuks of Rum at the Büyük Menderes River (historically known as the Meander).

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Second Crusade: Battle of Mount Cadmus

1148 Jan 6 -

Ürkütlü/Bucak/Burdur, Turkey

The French and Germans decided to take separate routes. Conrad's army was defeated at the Battle of Dorylaeum October 25, 1147. The remnants of the army of Conrad were able to join the army of the king of France. The armies followed the path left by the first Crusaders advance to Philadelphia in Lydia. The troops of Louis VII followed the coast and then took the road to the east. The Seljuks waited on the banks of the river Meander, but the Franks forced the passage and marched to Laodicea, which they reached on January 6, the day of the Epiphany. They then marched to the mountains that separate the Phrygia of the Pisidia.

The vanguard, led by Geoffrey de Rancon, was recklessly placed too far ahead of the army. King Louis, with the main column, ignored that fact, and proceeded onward. The French soldiers walked with confidence, convinced that their comrades occupied the heights in front of them. However, the Seljuks had the advantage when the French ranks broke and rushed upon them swords in hand. The French retreated to a narrow gorge, bordered on one side with precipices and crags on the other. Horses, men, and baggage were forced into the abyss. King Louis VII was able to escape the fray, leaned against a tree and stood alone against multiple attackers. At night, the king took advantage of the darkness to join the vanguard of his army, which had been believed dead. After the battle, the army of the king of France, which had suffered heavy losses, barely reached Attaleia on January 20.

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This image by Gustave Doré shows the Turkish ambush at the pass of Myriokephalon. This ambush destroyed Manuel's hope of capturing Konya.


Battle of Myriokephalon

1176 Sep 17 -

Lake Beyşehir, Turkey

The Battle of Myriokephalon was a battle between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Turks in Phrygia in the vicinity of Lake Beyşehir in southwestern Turkey on 17 September 1176. The battle was a strategic reverse for the Byzantine forces, who were ambushed when moving through a mountain pass. It was to be the final, unsuccessful effort by the Byzantines to recover the interior of Anatolia from the Seljuk Turks.

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Battle of Hyelion and Leimocheir

1177 Jan 1 -

Nazilli, Aydın, Turkey

The Battle of Hyelion and Leimocheir saw the almost complete destruction by the Byzantines of a large Seljuq Turk army. The Seljuq army had been raiding Byzantine territory in the Maeander Valley in Anatolia, and had sacked a number of cities. The Byzantine force ambushed the Turks at a river crossing.

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Third Crusade: Battle of Philomelion

1190 May 6 -

Akşehir, Konya, Turkey

The Battle of Philomelion was a victory of the forces of the Holy Roman Empire over the Turkish forces of the Sultanate of Rûm on 7 May 1190 during the Third Crusade. In May 1189, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa began his expedition to the Holy Land as part of the Third Crusade to recover the city of Jerusalem from the forces of Saladin. After an extended stay in the European territories of the Byzantine Empire, the Imperial army crossed over to Asia at the Dardanelles from 22–28 March 1190. After surmounting opposition from Byzantine populations and Turkish irregulars, the Crusader army was surprised in camp by a 10,000-man Turkish force of the Sultanate of Rûm near Philomelion on the evening of 7 May. The Crusader army counterattacked with 2,000 infantry and cavalry under the leadership of Frederick VI, Duke of Swabia and Berthold, Duke of Merania, putting the Turks to flight and killing 4,174–5,000 of them.

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The battle of Iconium


Third Crusade: Battle of Iconium

1190 May 18 -

Konya, Turkey

The Battle of Iconium (sometimes referred as the Battle of Konya) took place on May 18, 1190 during the Third Crusade, in the expedition of Frederick Barbarossa to the Holy Land. As a result, Iconium, the capital city of the Sultanate of Rûm under Kilij Arslan II, fell to the Imperial forces.

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Great Seljuk Empire collapses

1194 Jan 1 -

Anatolia, Antalya, Turkey

The Sultanate of Rum becomes the sole surviving branch of Seljuks.

Queen Tamar


Battle of Basian

1202 Jul 27 -

Pasinler, Erzurum, Turkey

The battle was one of those several conflicts between the Georgian monarchs and the Seljuqid rulers of Anatolia that fill the region’s history of the 11th–13th century. It marked yet another attempt by the Seljuqids to stem the Georgian advances southward.

In a pitched battle, the Seljuqid forces managed to roll back several attacks of the Georgians but were eventually overwhelmed and defeated. Loss of the sultan's banner to the Georgians resulted in a panic within the Seljuq ranks. Süleymanshah himself was wounded and withdrew to Erzurum.

The Georgians captured Rukn ad-Din Süleymanshah II's brother, who was later exchanged for one horseshoe. This action demonstrated that Tamar held absolute power in the Caucasus, Anatolia, Armenian Highlands, Shirvan and western parts of the Black Sea. The victory at Basian allowed Georgia to secure its positions on the southwest and keep the Seljuqid resurgence in check. Soon after the battle, the Kingdom of Georgia invaded Trebizond to create a state.

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Siege of Antalya

1207 Mar 1 -

Anatolia, Antalya, Turkey

Sultan Kaykhusraw;took Antalya by storm;in 1207 from its;Niceaen;garrison which furnished the Seljuq sultanate with a port on the;Mediterranean. The capture of port gave the Turks another path into the Mediterranean although it would be another 100 years before the Turks made any serious attempts into the sea.

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Battle of Antioch on the Meander

1211 Jun 17 -

Ali Kuşçu, Asia Minor, Karde

The Battle of Antioch on the Meander (also known as the Battle of Alaşehir) was a military engagement near Antioch-on-the-Meander between the forces of the Empire of Nicaea and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm. The Turkish defeat ensured continued Nicaean hegemony of the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. The Seljuk sultan, Kaykhusraw I, was killed on the field of battle. The battle took place near the modern town of Yamalak in Kuyucak district in Aydın Province.

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Sultanate of Rum captures Antalya and Sinop

1214 Jan 1 -

Sinop, Sinop Merkez/Sinop, T

Kaykhusraw I seized Konya in 1205 reestablishing his reign. Under his rule and those of his two successors, Kaykaus I and Kayqubad I, Seljuk power in Anatolia reached its apogee. Kaykhusraw's most important achievement was the capture of the harbour of Attalia (Antalya) on the Mediterranean coast in 1207. His son Kaykaus captured Sinop and made the Empire of Trebizond his vassal in 1214.

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Access to the Black Sea

1214 Nov 1 -

Sinope, Turkey

Kaykaus’ most significant contribution to the Seljuq state was the acquisition the;Black Sea;port of;Sinope. Sinope was an important port city on the Black Sea coast, at the time held by the Empire of Trebizond, one of the Byzantine Greek successor states formed after the Fourth Crusade. The Trapezuntine emperor Alexios I (r. 1204–1222) led an army to break the siege, but he was defeated and captured, and the city surrendered on 1 November.

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Battle of Yassıçemen

1230 Aug 10 -

Sivas, Sivas Merkez/Sivas, T

Jalal ad-Din was the last ruler of the Khwarezm Shahs. Actually the territory of the sultanate had been annexed by the Mongol Empire during the reign of Jalal ad-Din’s father Alaaddin Muhammad; but Jalal ad-Din continued to fight with a small army. In 1225, he retreated to Azerbaijan and founded a principality around Maragheh, East Azerbaijan. Although initially he formed an alliance with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm against the Mongols, for reasons unknown he later changed his mind and began hostilities against the Seljuks. In 1230, he conquered Ahlat, (in what is now Bitlis Province, Turkey) an important cultural city of the era from the Ayyubids which led to an alliance between the Seljuks and Ayyubids. Jalal ad-Din on the other hand allied himself with Jahan Shah, the rebellious Seljuk governor of Erzurum.

This battle was Jalal ad-Din’s last battle, as he lost his army, and while escaping in disguise he was spotted and killed in 1231. His short-lived principality was conquered by the Mongols. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum gradually absorved Ahlat, Van, Bitlis, Malazgirt and Tbilisi. The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum attained a border with the Mongol Empire as they occupied the former territories of Jalal al-Din Mangburnu.

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Babai revolt

1239 Jan 1 -

Samsat, Adıyaman, Turkey

The revolt of Turkmen (Oguz) and Harzem refugees who have recently arrived in Anatolia.;began in 1239 around Samsat, and spread quickly to Central Anatolia. Baba Ishak who led the revolt was a follower of Baba İlyas, the kadı (judge) of Kayseri. He declared himself Âmīr’ūl-Mu’minīn Sadr’ûd-Dūnya wa’d-Dīn and Rāss’ūl-Allāh.Although the Seljuk governor of Malatya tried to suppress the revolt he was defeated by the revolutionaries around Elbistan The revolutionaries captured the important cities of Sivas, Kayseri and Tokat in Central and North Anatolia. The governor of Amasya killed Baba Ishak in 1240, but this did not mean the end of the revolt.;


;The revolutionaries marched on Konya, the capital. The sultan saw that his army could not suppress the revolt, and he hired mercenaries of French origin. The revolutionaries were defeated in a decisive battle on the Malya plains near Kırşehir. The revolt was suppressed with much bloodshed. But with the diversion of resources needed to suppress the revolt, the Seljuk army was severely affected. The defence of the eastern provinces was largely ignored, and most of Anatolia was plundered. The Seljuks lost the valuable trade colony in the Crimea, on the north of the Black Sea. The Mongol commander Bayju saw this as an opportunity to occupy East Anatolia, and in 1242 he captured Erzurum.

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The Mongols chasing the Seljuqs.


Mongol Invasions: Battle of Köse Dağ

1243 Jun 26 -

Sivas, Sivas Merkez/Sivas, T

During the reign of Ögedei Khan, the Sultanate of Rum offered friendship and a modest tribute to Chormaqan, a kheshig and one of the Mongols' greatest generals. Under Kaykhusraw II, however, the Mongols began to pressure the sultan to go to Mongolia in person, give hostages and accept a Mongol darughachi. The battle resulted in a decisive Mongol victory.

The Seljuk defeat resulted in a period of turmoil in Anatolia and led directly to the decline and disintegration of the Seljuq state. The Empire of Trebizond became a vassal state of the Mongol Empire. Furthermore, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia became a vassal state of the Mongols. The Seljuk realm was divided among Kaykhusraw's three sons. The eldest, Kaykaus II, assumed the rule in the area west of the river Kızılırmak. His younger brothers, Kilij Arslan IV and Kayqubad II, were set to rule the regions east of the river under Mongol administration. In October 1256, Bayju defeated Kaykaus II near Aksaray and all of Anatolia became officially subject to Möngke Khan.;

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Disintergration: Battle of Elbistan

1277 Apr 15 -

Elbistan, Kahramanmaraş, Tur

On April 15, 1277, the Mamluk Sultan Baibars marched from Syria into the Mongol-dominated Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm and attacked the Mongol occupation force in the Battle of Elbistan (Abulustayn). Upon reaching Elbistan with at least 10,000 horseman, Baibars made ready for battle with the Mongols, expecting them to be around 30,000. However, although the Mongol forces were smaller than the Mamluk army, there were the Georgians and Rum Seljuks that bolstered their numbers.

After Baibars victory, he marched unopposed to;Kayseri in the heart of;Anatolia;in triumph and entered it on April 23, 1277; just over a month after the battle. The Mongol;Ilkhan;Abaqa, meanwhile reasserted his authority in Rum. After Abaqa surveyed the battlefield he became very angry. He ordered the Muslim population of;Kayseri;and eastern Rum to be put to death. Large numbers of people were killed.

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  • "International Journal of Turkish Studies". 11–13. University of Wisconsin. 2005: 8.
  • Grousset, Rene, The Empire of the Steppes: A History of Central Asia, (Rutgers University Press, 2002), 157; "...the Seljuk court at Konya adopted Persian as its official language."
  • Bernard Lewis, Istanbul and the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire, (University of Oklahoma Press, 1963), 29; "The literature of Seljuk Anatolia was almost entirely in Persian...".
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  • Andrew Peacock and Sara Nur Yildiz, The Seljuks of Anatolia: Court and Society in the Medieval Middle East, (I.B. Tauris, 2013), 132; "The official use of the Greek language by the Seljuk chancery is well known".
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  • Bernard Lewis, Istanbul and the Civilization of the Ottoman Empire, 29; "Even when the land of Rum became politically independent, it remained a colonial extension of Turco-Persian culture which had its centers in Iran and Central Asia","The literature of Seljuk Anatolia was almost entirely in Persian ..."
  • "Institutionalisation of Science in the Medreses of pre-Ottoman and Ottoman Turkey", Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Turkish Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, ed. Gürol Irzik, Güven Güzeldere, (Springer, 2005), 266; "Thus, in many of the cities where the Seljuks had settled, Iranian culture became dominant."
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  • John Joseph Saunders, The History of the Mongol Conquests, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1971), 79.
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  • Alexander Mikaberidze, Historical Dictionary of Georgia, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), 184.
  • Claude Cahen, The Formation of Turkey: The Seljukid Sultanate of Rum: Eleventh to Fourteenth, transl. & ed. P.M. Holt, (Pearson Education Limited, 2001), 42.
  • A.C.S. Peacock, "The Saliūq Campaign against the Crimea and the Expansionist Policy of the Early Reign of'Alā' al-Dīn Kayqubād"Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. 16 (2006), pp. 133-149.
  • Saljuqs: Saljuqs of Anatolia, Robert Hillenbrand, The Dictionary of Art, Vol.27, Ed. Jane Turner, (Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1996), 632.
  • Rudi Paul Lindner, Explorations in Ottoman Prehistory, (University of Michigan Press, 2003), 3.
  • "A Rome of One's Own: Reflections on Cultural Geography and Identity in the Lands of Rum", Cemal Kafadar,Muqarnas, Volume 24 History and Ideology: Architectural Heritage of the "Lands of Rum", Ed. Gülru Necipoğlu, (Brill, 2007), page 21.
  • The Oriental Margins of the Byzantine World: a Prosopographical Perspective, / Rustam Shukurov, in Herrin, Judith; Saint-Guillain, Guillaume (2011). Identities and Allegiances in the Eastern Mediterranean After 1204. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4094-1098-0., pages 181–191
  • A sultan in Constantinople:the feasts of Ghiyath al-Din Kay-Khusraw I, Dimitri Korobeinikov, Eat, drink, and be merry (Luke 12:19) - food and wine in Byzantium, in Brubaker, Leslie; Linardou, Kallirroe (2007). Eat, Drink, and be Merry (Luke 12:19): Food and Wine in Byzantium : Papers of the 37th Annual Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, in Honour of Professor A.A.M. Bryer. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-6119-1., page 96
  • Armenia during the Seljuk and Mongol Periods, Robert Bedrosian, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times: The Dynastic Periods from Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, Vol. I, Ed. Richard Hovannisian, (St. Martin's Press, 1999), 250.
  • Lost in Translation: Architecture, Taxonomy, and the "Eastern Turks", Finbarr Barry Flood, Muqarnas: History and Ideology: Architectural Heritage of the "Lands of Rum, 96.

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