I know the mass Turkic Migration into the Middle East occurred during the 10th-11th centuries but are there any records of Turks settling in Anatolia before the Seljuq invasion?

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    Hi Hikma History and welcome to History SE. It would help people researching your question if you could indicate some of the sources you have looked at so far. Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 10:42
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    How little would count? Just a single herder? How about Leo IV the Khazar?
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 14:23
  • He is an interesting example that I wasn't aware of before so thanks for that! But I was referring to larger numbers... Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 15:20
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    Which kind of turks? There were multiple Turkic peoples who migrated west over the centuries ... Commented May 4, 2020 at 18:21
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    Colin McEvedy's Penguin Atlas of Medieval History has the Byzantines in control of Anatolia until Manzikert in 1073. The Pechenegs (Patzinaks) controlled much of Ukraine and Khazaria in the early 11th Century, but the Cumans pushed them west until they were all in Wallachia.
    – Spencer
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 18:31

1 Answer 1


The answer is most likely, “No”. I believe historians generally consider Battle of Manzikert, in 1071, to be the key turning point. Having said this, I’m not particularly updated.

This is from 20 years ago, and I have provided more context by quoting 3 paragraphs, the last one answers this point. From “Muslims, Mongols and Crusaders” (Routledge, 2005), pp.vii-viii (emphasis mine):

The Turks had first come into the Islamic world as individual slaves, selected for training as soldiers and conversion to Islam, to be followed by manumission and service in the armies of the caliph or other powerful figures. Islam had not yet spread among the Turkish tribes of Central Asia and they were still legitimate targets for Muslim raiders and slave traders, their reputation as fighters high. The institution of the slave soldier (ghulām, mamlūk) was to remain a characteristic feature of Muslim armies in pre-modern times, and so long as there were still non-Muslim Turkish populations they were to remain a favoured source of military manpower.

During the second half of the tenth century, however, Islam began to spread among some groups of Turkish tribes in and beyond what were then the eastern border regions of the Islamic world. The reasons for, and the nature of this process of Islamization, are to some extent obscure but, given the earlier willingness of groups of Turks to adopt religions associated with the settled cultures with which they were in contact, not too difficult to envisage. One of the groups which became Muslim at this time was that of the Oghuz tribes, and in the first half of the eleventh century they began to migrate west under the leadership of the Seljuk family.

By 1055, they had won control over most of Persia and Iraq, including Baghdad, the residence of the caliphs who were the nominal leaders of Sunni Islam. Subsequently, groups of Turks continued to move west into Syria, over most of which they established control in the 1070s, and northwest into Asia Minor. There, their victory at Manzikert near Lake Van in 1071 over the Byzantine army led by the emperor Romanus Diogenes opened up Asia Minor for the first time to Islamization and Turkification. That region, before Manzikert largely Christian and Greek speaking, is now the heart of the country known as Turkey.

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