Sultan Meliksah

Awakening Who is the Great Seljuk Sultan Melikşah?
Here is the place and importance of Sultan Melikşah in history… Sultan Melikşah (I. Seljuks lived their most brilliant period during the Melikşah period. Here is information about the life of Sultan Melikşah, who is also mentioned in the series Awakening Great Seljuk

Melikşah was born on Sunday, August 16, 1055. His childhood passed in and around Isfahan. His father, Alparslan, was closely interested in Melikşah, who drew attention with his talent and courage. Melikşah is depicted as tall, somewhat fat and with white skin.

Melikşah joined the Georgia expedition with his father at a young age. In the same year, he was married to Terken Hatun, daughter of Karahanlılar Han. Alparslan appointed Melikşah as the crown prince in 1066 and the city of Isfahan was given as “ikta (or timar)”.

In 1071 he went on a campaign to Syria with his father Alparslan. His father headed north (and made the Battle of Manzikert) to stop the advance of the Byzantine Emperor Roman Diogenes in Anatolia. Meanwhile, Melikşah stayed in Aleppo in Syria. In 1072, when his father was on a campaign against the Karakhanids, he was with him. He was martyred by Yusuf Harzemi, a Karahanli castle commander, whose father was taken prisoner during this expedition.

Melikşah became the head of the Seljuk army and declared his Sultanate. Kavurt Bey, the uncle of Çağrı Bey, did not accept Melikşah to be a Sultan. Melikşah marched west into Iran with the Vizier Nizam-ül Mülk beside him. He embarked on the “Battle of Karach” on 17 April 1073 near Karach (nowadays “Erak” in Iran) with Kavurt Bey’s army. In this battle, many Turkmen soldiers in Melikşah’s army joined Kavurt Bey’s army during the battle. Despite this, Melikşah and his army prevailed. Kavurt Bey was executed and his two sons were blinded by their eyes. Thus, Melikşah Sultan was determined as one of the emirs in the Seljuk country. In 1074, he officially declared the new Abbasid caliph Melikşah in Baghdad as the Sultan.


In the first years of his reign, his uncle Kavurt, who rebelled twice during the reign of Sultan Alparslan and was forgiven, rebelled again. This rebellion was suppressed and he was executed by strangling it with the beam of Kavurt bow. Marching to the land of the Karakhanids, Melikşâh captured the region up to Semerakant. Kinship was established between both dynasties. The Ghaznavids also faced the same fate and had to accept the supreme sovereignty of Melikshah.

He sent Kutlamış’s son Süleyman Şâh to Anatolia and appointed him as his ruler to this country. Kutlamış-his son Süleyman Şâh captured the whole of Anatolia in a short time. He laid the foundations of the Anatolian Seljuk Dynasty, with Izmit being the capital (1077). Seljuk Empire reached its broadest borders during the reign of Melikşâh. From Seyhun River and Tanrı Mountains in the east to the Mediterranean and Straits in the west, from the Caucasus Mountains in the north to the Indian Sea in the south.

One of the most important internal events of the Melikşâh period is the Batınî movement, in which Hasan Sabbah was the leader. Hasan Sabbah had established a sect with his false heaven in Alamut Castle and started to assassinate many Turkish and Muslim notables with the fedayeen who belonged to his sect. Sultan Melikşâh, who was dealing with Batınîler in the last years of his reign, died from poisoning when he was 38 years old (1092).


Shortly after the death of Sultan Melikşâh, Vizier Nizam’ül-Mülk was killed by Batınîs. The Empire disintegrated as Kirman Seljuks, Syrian Seljuks and Anatolian Seljuks, depending on the Great Seljuk Sultans in Iraq and Khorasan. Although his 5-year-old son Mahmud was ascended to the throne after Melikşâh, Berkyaruk did not recognize him.

Berkyaruk also died in 1104. His brother Muhammed Tapar (1105-1118) ascended the throne in Isfahan. After Tapar, Sultan Sançar (1118-1157), the last great ruler of the Seljuk State, ascended the throne. He paid the Ghurids, the Karakhanids, the Harezmşahs again. He put an end to the caliph’s efforts to seize political power again, leaving him only religious duties. However, he was defeated by the Karahıtaylar in Katvan in 1141. This defeat was a turning point for Sultan Sançar and he could not gather again. In 1153, he was captured by the nomadic Oghuzs. Sultan Sançar, who was rescued after three years of captivity, died in 1157 at the age of 72.

Sultan of Great Seljuklu Empire (B. August 6, 1055-  D. November 20, 1092). His full name is Muizzuddin Ebul feth; and he is son of Seljuk Sultan Alpaslan, who had opened the gates of Anatolia to Muslim Turks.

During the reign of Meliksah, Diyarbakir was conquered on May 28, 1085. Rule of Mervanoglu was ended. Ulu Mosque was restored upon Meliksah’s orders. The first epitaph in Ulu Mosque belongs to Meliksah.

Diyarbakir Ulu Mosque is among the first mosques in Anatolia and the epitaph dated 484 (1091-1092) bears the name Sultan Meliksah. During his reign, the city castle was also expanded and the first epitaph on castle also belongs to Meliksah. Nur bastion and Seljuk bastion is the works of Meliksah period. It is written with Kufi script (1088).                                  During his twenty years of reign; there was a unique period of peace, welfare and prosperity.

Meliksah was raised carefully by his father Alpaslan. He has received religious information from the scholars of that period and also was trained as a skillful fighter by the warriors. He was interested in governing when he was eight years old. When he was ten, he joined the Georgia campaign with his father and represented him at the encampment. He conquered a Byzantine castle with Nizamulmulk. He insisted on the siege of Meryem Nisin Castle close to Kars/Ani and played an important role in the capture of castle.

Alpaslan has officially declared the beloved, Islam-oriented, and skillful leader Meliksah as his crown prince in 1066 and stated this to everyone around. When Alpaslan was martyred in 1072; Meliksah became the sultan of Seljuk State when he was only seventeen years old.

Sultan Meliksah spent the first two years of his reign by appeasing the internal fights and defending the borders of state. He had appointed Nizamulmulk, a skillful ruler, as his vizier with vast authority. He fought against the Karakhanid and Ghaznavid states which threatened the state and defeated them. During the first years of his reign; his uncle Kavurd had revolted to seize the rule; he defeated his uncle and established order within his country. Meanwhile, Karkhanid and Ghaznavid states have collaborated against Seljuk State, taking the upheavals within the country as an advantage. He defeated both states and Karkhanid State was divided into two. Then Karahitays have demolished the Eastern Karkhanid State as Kharzemshahs have demolished the Western Karkhanids.

The greatest ideal of Meliksah was to unite all Muslim states and to establish the Islam Union. He began to work to achieve this goal. He had close relations with Caliph Kaim bin Amrulah. Caliph has entitled Meliksah as “Mu’izze’ddin” and “Celaluddevle” and with “Kasım Emire’l Mu’minin”, which was the first time to be entitled to a ruler and meant the greatest supporter of caliphate.

The completion of Anatolia’s conquest rapidly continued during his reign. With the aids he provided to Suleyman Sah; Anatolia has become a land of Islam. Anatolian Seljuklu State was established upon his order. Meliksah has put the state and army into an order and continued with the conquest campaigns as his father did. Famous commanders such as Kutalmisoglu Suleymansah and Mansur, Artuk Bey, Tutak and Alp Ilıg as famous Turcoman commanders have achieved victories in Anatolia, defeating the Byzantine armies. The Christians in Anatolia were having problems with the Byzantine rule. The feudal lords were ruling over Anatolia due to fraud in palace and weakness in administration. There were commanders who declared themselves as emperors and walked to center, which caused a pressure. So, they were celebrating the arrival of Muslims who treated them with justice and brought peace and prosperity together.

Turcoman armies have conquered the Yesilırmak, Kelkit and Coruh basins and reached to the Aegean shores by capturing Alasehir. Another branch of the army has defeated Byzantine armies around Urfa and Nizip; conquered Southern and Southeastern Anatolia. Suleyman Shah has conquered Iznik; moved to Üsküdar and took control of Bosphorus. More than thirty castles and towns were conquered around Mardin and Diyarbakir in a short time. Siirt, Bitlis and Ahlat were also captured and joined the Seljuk lands. Mosul, Jerusalem, Dimesk, Aleppo, Lazkiye, Gence, Caucasia, Kars, Oltu, Erzurum (these regions were captured by the Georgian king, then re-conquered in 1080), Trabzon, Azarbaijan, Bukhara, Semerkant, Hijaz (Meccah-Madina) and Yemen have joined the Seljuk lands during the reign of Meliksah. After the Seljuk State has captured Diyarbekir and its surroundings in 1085; Marwani State was demolished. After capturing Urfa, Menbic and Aleppo castles; his armies went down to Antalya and reached to Mediterraneane. He took his cloth out and prayed on the ground, took the sand he took from the sea back to Iran and splattered them on his father’s grave, saying: “Father, here is good news for you; your son whom you left as a child has conquered the world from one end to another with the help of Allah.

Meliksah has expanded the lands of Great Seljuklu State from Kasgar to Bogazici, from Caucasus to Yemen and Aden; becoming the greatest political power of his period. He has achieved to turn the justice foundation of state as Nizamulmulk said, and therefore he was called as “Just Sultan”. He was never defeated during his reign so he has received the title “Ebu’l Feth”.

He has devoted his life to do good and useful things for Islam and prayed as follows:

“Oh God, if I am to be useful for Islam, help me, make me victorious. If my opponent will be useful for Islam, then help him, make him victorious.”

Nizamulmulk was among the strongest viziers of Meliksah and he was assasinated by the fadain of Hasan Sabbah. In the same year, on November 20, 1092, he was poisoned and murdered by unidentified people when he was only thirty-seven years old. His funeral was taken to Isfahand and buried to the tomb next to the madrasah he made built.

During the reign of Meliksah, a structured Divan (government) organization and a permanent army consisting of half million soldiers was established with the help and effort of his Grand Vizier Nızamulmulk. He added extra allowances into the state budget to protect poor people, scientists and artists. Scholars and artists were protected; he had great interest in them; visited the scholars personally and respected their knowledge and personalities. Important scholars such as İmam-ı Gazali, Kaşgarlı Mahmut, Cürcânî were raised during his period.

Nızamulmulk pioneered the establishment of Nizamiye Madrasahs which had great contributions for the dieological development in 11th century Minor Asia and Anatolia; and the Seljuklu sultans have also competed with each other in to realize this dream. We can see that Alpaslan has put great effort to establish these educational institutions all around the Seljuk lands and donated one tenth of his income to these organizations. Meliksah has also built madrasahs and cultural institutions and donated 300.000 dinars (gold) to these annually. Sultan Sencer is a unique case in Seljuk history and he donated hundreds ıf thousands of dinar, thousands of clothes, horses and valuables to the scientists.

Meliksah has developed the Seljuk lands and prospered the people. He had Nizamiye madrasahs established in major settlements. Science, culture, agirculture, industry and trade improved during his reign. His Vizier Nizamulmulk referred his ideas as follows: “Meliksah is religious, respectful to scholars, good to spiritualists, compassionate to the poor and just to the people. These are attributes very rare in a world leader.” In his country, science and justice was praised; peace and welfare ruled, and a wealthy empire was established.

REFERENCE: İbrahim Kafesoğlu / Sultan Melikşah Devrinde Büyük Selçuklu İmparatorluğu (1953) – Sultan Melikşah (1973), Osman Turan / Tür­kiye Selçukluları Hakkında Resmî Vesikalar (1958) – Selçuk­lular Zamanında Türkiye (1971), Ahmed bin Mahmud / Selçukname (1977), TDV İslam Ansiklopedisi (c. 29, s. 54, 2004), Erdoğan Merçil / Büyük Selçuklu Devleti (2005), İhsan Işık / Ünlü Devlet Adamları (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 1, 2013) – Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013). 

Malik Shah I lived from about 1053 to about 1092, and was the sultan of the Seljuk Turkish Empire from 1072 to 1092.  His name in Turkish is given as Melikşah; and he succeeded his father, the renowned Alp Arslan.  According to his biographer Ibn Khallikan, Malik Shah was famous for his sense of justice and equity; he was said to have been untiring in his efforts to correct wrongs that were in his power to cure.  So known was he for this trait that some Arabic historians took to calling him الملك العادل (al-malik al-a’adil), which means “the just king.”

He also focused his attention on public works, canals, agricultural projects, and buildings; a large mosque in Baghdad called “The Sultan Mosque” (الجامع السلطان) was constructed under his direction.  As Plutarch tells us, sometimes an anecdote can tell us more about a man’s character than many pages of historical narrative can.  We are told that the sultan was fond of hunting; but over time his appetite for this diversion began to wane, and he told one of his ministers:

I fear that I may have offended Almighty God by the shedding of the blood of animals for pleasure, rather than for food. [III.445]

After having said this, he resolved to give a gold dinar in charity for every animal he killed on the hunt.  And when he began to think of all the animals he had killed in the past, he gave an additional sum of ten thousand dinars as a form of compensation.  Around 1087, as he was passing the city of Kufa, he had a tower erected that was made of all the horns and hooves of the deer and onager he had killed; this became known fittingly as the Minaret of Horns (منارة القرون, Minara al-Qurun).  Once when Malik Shah was on the march and waging war against his brother Tukush, he paused to say his prayers at a small house of worship.  He was with one of his viziers, a man named Nizam al-Mulk.  After they had finished, the sultan asked his minister what he had prayed for.  Nizam al-Mulk replied:

I prayed for God to assist you in overcoming your brother and granting you victory.

To this, the sultan responded:

That is not what I prayed for.  I asked only that God should grant victory to whichever one of us could provide a better life for the people whom we serve.

This was the kind of thinking that animated the mind of the sultan.  But the best anecdote I have been able to discover about the Just Sultan is the following tale.  One day the sultan encountered a poor man, a native of Al-Sawad (Al-Sawad is an old name for southern Iraq, which means “the black land” on account of the soil color).  The man was weeping and seemed to be broken in spirit.

“What is the matter, brother?  Why are you crying?”  said Malik Shah.

“O Commander of the Faithful!” said the Iraqi.  “I have lost what little money I have in the world.  I bought a melon for a few coins, but several Turkish soldiers took it from me.  And now I have nothing.”

Hearing this stirred the sultan’s innate sense of justice, and he began to become angry.  “Be still,” he told the man.  “Let us see what can be done.”  So he told one of his attendants that he was in the mood for a melon, and commanded him to scour the camp to find one for him.  Off went the attendant to carry out these orders.  Soon the attendant returned with a melon.

“Where did you get this from?” the sultan asked the attendant.

“It was given to me by one of your viziers, who had it in his possession,” was the reply.

“Go and fetch this vizier, and bring him to me,” ordered Malik Shah.

When the startled vizier appeared before the sultan, the king asked him in a stern voice, “Where did you get this melon, sir?”  The vizier could sense the monarch’s displeasure and knew he needed to be fully honest with his sovereign.

“The melon, sire, was brought to me by my pages,” said the vizier nervously.

“Go and find them, and bring them here without delay, sir,” ordered the sultan.

The vizier now knew that they were all treading on very thin ice at this point, since discipline in the Turkish army was known to be extremely strict.  He knew that his pages would at the very least be subject to a flogging, possibly worse.  So he told them to lie low and vanish for a time.  When the vizier returned to the sultan’s presence, he informed him that he could not find his pages.

Malik Shah, then, turned to poor Iraqi man and said to him, “This vizier of mine, the man you see before you now, I am going to give to you as your slave.  He has failed to produce the men who stole your property, and so he himself will now suffer the consequences.  Take him as your slave.  If he wishes to purchase his freedom from you, that will be a matter between the two of you.  I shall not get involved in that matter.  For now, however, he is your slave until such time as you decide otherwise.  If you let him go, by God, I will strike off your head.”

And with this, he dismissed the astonished persons standing before him, and they were led away by guards.  Outside the tent, the vizier negotiated with the poor Iraqi man to buy his freedom for a price.  The vizier agreed to give the native of Al-Sawad three hundred gold dinars in order to buy his freedom.  The parties were then led back into the presence of the sultan.  The Iraqi told the sultan,

“Commander of the Faithful, I have agreed to let your vizier buy his freedom for three hundred dinars.”

“Are you now satisfied that justice has been done?” said the sultan.

“More than happy, sire,” was the emotional reply.

“Then go now, brother, and may God be with you.”

This, then, is the story of Malik Shah and the Iraqi’s melon, as it is conveyed by Ibn Khallikan.

Jalāl al-Dawla Mu’izz al-Dunyā Wa’l-Din Abu’l-Fatḥ ibn Alp Arslān (8 August 1055 – 19 November 1092), better known by his military name of Malik-Shah I (Turkish: I. Melikşah; Persian: ملکشاه‎‎), was sultan of the Seljuq Empire from 1072 to 1092.

During his youth, he spent his time participating in the campaigns of his father Alp Arslan, along the latters vizier Nizam al-Mulk. During one of Alp Arslan’s campaigns in 1072, the latter was fatally wounded and died only a few days later. After that, Malik-Shah was crowned as the new sultan of the empire, however, Malik-Shah did not access the throne peacefully, and had to fight his uncle, Qavurt, who claimed the throne. Although Malik-Shah was the nominal head of the Seljuq state, the vizier Nizam al-Mulk held near absolute power during his reign.

Malik-Shah spent the rest of rest waging war against the Karakhanids on the eastern side, and establishing order in the Caucasus.

Malik-Shah’s death to this day remains under dispute; according to some scholars, he was poisoned by the Caliph, others say that he was poisoned by the supporters of Nizam al-Mulk.


Due to Hassan-i Sabbah’s qualities in the performance of his responsibilities, the ruler Malik Shah was highly impressed by him and used to take his counsel on the matters of administration, especially economic planning; while contrary to this Nizamul Mulk was breeding jealousy and enmity against Hasan and was considering him to be an obstacle in his way; therefore he was anxiously contemplating doing away with him.

Before Hassan-i Sabbah captured Alamut, the possessor of the fortress, Mahdi, was the governor of Sultan Malik Shah.

When the news of the fortress of Alamut having fallen to Hasan reached the court of Malik Shah, Nizamul Mulk became highly perturbed and despatched several units of army one after another, one of which laid a seige to the fortress for nearly 4 months but to no purpose as it was all in vain.

In 1092 Nizam al-Mulk was assassinated near Sihna, on the road to Baghdad, by a man disguised as a Sufi.

As the assassin was immediately cut down by Nizam’s bodyguard, it became impossible to establish with certainty who had sent him. One theory had it that he was an Is’maili Assassin, since these regularly made attempts on the lives of Seljuq officials and rulers during the 11th century. Another theory had it that the attack had been instigated by Malik-Shah, who may have grown tired of his overmighty vizier.

Assassination of Nizam al-Mulk

After Nizam al-Mulk’s death, Malik-Shah appointed another Persian named Taj al-Mulk Abu’l Ghana’im as his vizier.

Malik-Shah then went to Baghdad and decided to depose al-Muqtadir and sent him the following message:

“You must relinquish Baghdad to me, and depart to any land you choose.”

This was because Malik-Shah wanted to appoint his grandson (or nephew) Ja’far as the new Caliph.

Malik-Shah died on 19 November 1092 while he was hunting. He was most likely poisoned by the Caliph or the supporters of Nizam al-Mulk. Under the orders of Terken Khatun, Malik-Shah’s body was taken back to Isfahan, where it was buried in a madrasa.

Upon his death, the Seljuq Empire fell into chaos, as rival successors and regional governors carved up their empire and waged war against each other. The situation within the Seljuq lands was further complicated by the arrival of the First Crusade, which detached large portions of Syria and Palestine from Muslim control in 1098 and 1099. The success of the First Crusade is at least in part attributable to the political confusion which resulted from Malik-Shah’s death

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