The Seljuks versus the Crusaders

The Seljuks came into conflict with the Crusaders primarily due to the Crusaders’ military campaigns in the Middle East, including Anatolia, which was part of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum.

These conflicts with the Crusaders significantly influenced the course of Seljuk history and had a lasting impact on the Middle East.

READ MORE: History and Major Facts about the Seljuk Dynasty

The Seljuks versus the Crusaders

The Byzantine Empire and the Seljuks in the 11th century

Below, World History Edu explores how the Seljuks came into conflict with the European crusaders:

First Crusade (1096-1099)

The First Crusade was launched by European Christian armies with the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim rule. It began in 1096 and culminated in 1099 with the capture of Jerusalem.

As the Crusaders advanced through Anatolia, they came into direct conflict with the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, which controlled much of the region at the time.

The key battle in this conflict was the Battle of Dorylaeum in 1097, where the Crusaders, led by leaders like Bohemond of Taranto and Raymond IV of Toulouse, defeated the Seljuk forces under Kilij Arslan I, the Seljuk sultan. This battle allowed the Crusaders to continue their march towards Jerusalem.

Around 1090, during the rule of Malik Shah I in the Seljuk Empire, Anatolia to the west was controlled independently by Suleiman ibn Qutalmish as the Sultanate of Rum, leading to disputes with the Byzantine Empire. To the east, the Kara-Khanid Khanate became a vassal state in 1089 for about fifty years before succumbing to the Qara Khitai.

Establishment of Crusader States

Following their successful capture of Jerusalem, the Crusaders established a number of Crusader states in the Levant, including the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, and the County of Edessa.

These Crusader states were strategically located in regions that were historically part of the Islamic world, and their presence became a long-term source of tension and conflict with neighboring Muslim powers, including the Seljuks.

Subsequent Crusades and Conflicts

The Crusader states faced ongoing threats from various Muslim powers in the region, including the Seljuks and later the Ayyubids under the leadership of Salahuddin (Saladin).

Over the course of the 12th and 13th centuries, there were several additional Crusades launched by European Christians, each of which involved conflicts with different Muslim rulers and dynasties.

The Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and other Muslim states continued to resist Crusader expansion in the region.

Loss of Territories

While the Crusaders initially made gains in the region, over time, they faced setbacks and ultimately lost many of their territories. Salahuddin’s capture of Jerusalem in 1187 is a notable example of this.

READ MORE: Major Accomplishments and Facts about the Great Seljuk Empire

Double-headed eagle, used as a symbol by several Seljuk rulers


In summary, the Seljuks came into conflict with the Crusaders primarily during the First Crusade when the Crusaders passed through Anatolia, which was under Seljuk control. This conflict was part of a larger series of military campaigns in the Middle East, where European Crusaders sought to establish and defend Crusader states in the Holy Land, leading to tensions and clashes with various Muslim powers, including the Seljuks and later the Ayyubids.

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