Malazgirt or Malâzgird (Kurdish: Melezgir; Armenian: Մանազկերտ, romanized: Manazkert; Medieval Greek: Ματζιέρτη, romanized: Matziértē), historically known as Manzikert (Medieval Greek: Μαντζικέρτ), is a town in Muş Province in eastern Turkey, with a population of 23,697 (year 2000). It is popularly known as the site where the Battle of Manzikert was fought.
Manazkert • Մանազկերտ
|• Kaymakam||Emre Yalçın|
|• District||1,526.71 km2 (589.47 sq mi)|
|• District density||39/km2 (100/sq mi)|
The settlement dates to the Iron Age. According to Tadevos Hakobyan it was established during the reign of the Urartian king Menua (r. 810–785 BC). The Armenian name Manazkert is supposedly shortened from Manavazkert (Armenian: Մանավազկերտ), adopted in Greek as Μαντζικέρτ. The suffix -kert is frequently found in Armenian toponymy, meaning "built by". According to Movses Khorenatsi, Manzikert was founded by Manaz, one of the sons of Hayk, the legendary and eponymous patriarch and progenitor of the Armenians. After the demise of Urartu it passed into the hands of successive regional kingdoms and empires.
The lands around Manzikert belonged to the Manavazyans, an Armenian nakharar family which claimed descent from Manaz, until AD 333, when King Khosrov III Arshakuni of Armenia ordered that all members of the family be put to the sword. He later awarded the lands to another family, the Aghbianosyans. Manzikert was a fortified town, and served as an important trading center located in the canton of Apahunik' in the Turuberan province of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia. Following the Arab invasions of Armenia in the 7th century, it also served as the capital of the Kaysite emirate from around 860 until 964. Manzikert was the site of the Council of Manzikert in 726.
After the Armenian revolt of 771–772, the Abbasid government encouraged the migration of Arab tribes to the region, which resulted in the settling of Arab tribes near Manzikert. Under Abbasid rule, the city was a major center of commerce and industry and became one of the main cities in Asia Minor. This flourishing lasted until around the 13th century. In 968, the Byzantine general Bardas Phokas captured Manzikert, which was incorporated into the Byzantine katepanate of Basprakania (Vaspurakan). In 1054, the Seljuk Turks made an attempt to capture the city but were repulsed by the city's garrison under the command of Basil Apocapes.
The Battle of Manzikert was fought near the town in August 1071. In one of the most decisive defeats in Byzantine history, the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan defeated and captured Emperor Romanus Diogenes, which led to the ethnic and religious transformation of Armenia and Anatolia and the establishment of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and later the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. The Seljuks pillaged Manzikert itself, killed much of its population and burned the city to the ground. The city walls were substantially rebuilt during the 12th and perhaps 13th centuries under Seljuk rule. The basic design is a curtain wall with small semicircular towers projecting at intervals. The walls appear to have remained completely intact until about the end of the 18th century.
Manzikert/Malazgirt was then successively part of Ahlatshahs (their rule was briefly interrupted by the Kingdom of Georgia), Ayyubids, Sultanate of Rum, Ilkhanids, Karakoyunlu, Timurids, Akkoyunlu and Safavids before Ottoman rule.
In 1915 Manzikert was part of Bitlis Vilayet and had a population of 5,000, the great majority of them Armenians. The town's economy revolved around the cultivation of grain, trade and the production of handicrafts. There existed two Armenian churches, the Three Altars Holy Mother of God (Yerek Khoran Surb Astvatsatsin) and St. George (Surb Gevork, called St. Sergius by H. F. B. Lynch), and one Armenian school.
The Russian army briefly held Manzikert after capturing it on 11 May 1915. Today the town mostly has a Kurdish population.
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- Movses Khorenatsi. History of the Armenians. Translation and commentary by Robert W. Thomson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978, I.12.
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- See Aram Ter-Ghevondyan, The Arab Emirates in Bagratid Armenia. Trans. Nina G. Garsoïan. Lisbon: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1976.
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- H. F. B. Lynch. Armenia, Travels and Studies. 2 vols. London: Longmans, 1901, vol. 2, pp. 270-73.
- Raymond Kévorkian. The Armenian Genocide: A History (London: I.B. Tauris, 2011), pp. 349-50.