Mantzikert, Battle of

   One of Byzantium's (q.v.) greatest defeats (19 [or 26] August 1071). It resulted in the capture of Romanos IV Diogenes (q.v.) and opened up Asia Minor (q.v.) to Seljuk (q.v.) conquest. The army that Romanos IV led was attempting to provide security to Asia Minor from marauding Seljuks by garrisoning the fortresses around Lake Van that controlled the invasion routes from Armenia (q.v.). Included among Romanos's army were numerous foreign mercenaries, e.g., Pechenegs, Uzes, and Normans under the infamous Roussel de Bailleul (qq.v.). The emperor (q.v.) was confronted by a large Seljuk (q.v.) force under Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan (qq.v.) near the fortress of Mantzikert. The Byzantine defeat can be attributed to several factors that include encirclement by mounted Seljuk archers, a false rumor that the emperor had been killed, and the defection to the Seljuks of some of the Uzes. Asia Minor now lay defenseless to further conquest by the Seljuks. The defeat was doubly felt for it occurred the same year that Bari (q.v.), the last Byzantine stronghold in southern Italy (q.v.), fell to Robert Guiscard's Normans.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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