Alternate History

Alp Arslan (Fidem Pacis)

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Alp Arslan (AD 1029 - 1082) was a khan of the Seljuq Turks and the great-grandson of the eponymous founder of the dynasty. He was renowned for his military prowess, personal valor and fighting skills, for which he received his name, which means "Heroic Lion" in Oghuz Turkish.

Alp Arslan's ancestors had migrated into Persian territory from their homeland north of the Aral Sea. As a child he accompanied his father Chaghri Beg on many expeditions, and was present at the Battle of Dandanaqan where the Turks destroyed the Armenian army but lost half of their own warriors in the process. Eventually the Seljuqs made peace and settled in Khorasan, but when Alp Arslan became khan in 1063 he renewed hostilities as a way to keep his people loyal.

In 1069 Alp Arslan, hoping to find his people better hunting grounds, initiated a great campaign aimed at the wealthy yet corrupt and decaying Roman Empire, which lay far to the west. After storming through the Bagratid lands, sacking the city of Rey before being bribed to leave the region, his army crossed into Cappadocia and began plundering the area. Before long his forces were also occupying most of Galatia and Cilicia as well, and Turkish settlers were beginning to move into Anatolia.

In summer 1071 the Roman emperor, Michael IV, gathered an army to dislodge the Turks. At the Battle of Manzikert on August 23rd the Romans won a stunning unexpected victory over the Seljuqs, and captured Alp Arslan and two of his sons.

Though he expected to be executed, Alp Arslan was instead treated with all the respect due to a foreign king. He was not however allowed to return to his people and instead lived out his days on parole in Antioch, later marrying Michael IV's niece. His descendants by her were soon assimilated to Roman high society, and became the long-lasting aristocratic family of the Tzagrioglou.

In 1082 Alp Arslan was released and given an escort to return to his own clan, which had settled in Khorasan. En route, however, he was assassinated on the orders of the new Seljuq khan, and was buried near Mosul. His tomb can still be seen on the main road between Mosul and Arbil.

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