The Danishmend dynasty was a Turcoman dynasty that ruled in north-central and eastern Anatolia in the 11th and 12th centuries. The centered originally around Sivas, Tokat, and Niksar in central-northeastern Anatolia, they extended as far west as Ankara and Kastamonu for a time, and as far south as Malatya, which they captured in 1103. In early 12th century, Danishmends were rivals of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, which controlled much of the territory surrounding the Danishmend lands, and they fought extensively with the Crusaders.
The dynasty was established by Danishmend Gazi for whom historical information is rather scarce and was generally written long after this death.
His title or name, Dānishmand or more accurately Dāneshmand, means "learned man" in دانشمند . As of 1134, Danishmend dynasty leaders also held the title Melik (the King) bestowed in recognition of their military successes by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mustarshid, although the Beys (Emirs) of Danishmend prior to 1134 may also be retrospectively referred to as Melik. Danishmend Gazi himself was alternatively called "Danishmend Taylu" .
In 1100, Gazi's son, Emir Gazi Gümüshtigin. captured Bohemond I of Antioch, who remained in their captivity until 1103. A Seljuk-Danishmend alliance was also responsible for defeating the Crusade of 1101.
In 1116, the Danishmends helped Mesud I become the Seljuk sultan.
|Danishmend Gazi||1097 -d. 1104||Also called Danishmend Taylu|
|Gazi Gümüshtigin||1104-d. 1134|
|Melik Mehmed Gazi||1134-d. 1142|
|Sivas branch (Meliks - The Kings)||1142-1175||Incorporated to Anatolian Seljuks|
|Melik Mücahid Gazi||1164-1166|
|Malatya branch (Emirs)||1142-1178||Incorporated to Anatolian Seljuks|
|Nasreddin Muhammed||1175-1178||Second reign|
When Mehmed died in 1142, the Danishmend lands were divided between his two brothers, Melik Yaghibasan, who maintained the title of "Melik" and ruled from Sivas, and Ayn el-Devle, who ruled from Malatya.
In 1155, Seljuk Sultan Kilij Arslan II attacked Melik Yaghibasan, who sought help from Nur ad-Din, the Zengid emir of Mosul. However, when Nur ad-Din died in 1174, the Sivas lands were incorporated into the Sultanate. Four years later, the Malatya Danishmends were defeated and also incorporated, marking the end of Danishmend rule.
Virtually all Danishmend rulers entered the traditions of the Turkish folk literature, where they are all referred to as "Melik Gazi" . Hence, there are "tombs of Melik Gazi", many of which are much visited shrines and belong in fact to different Danishmend rulers, in the cities of Niksar, Bünyan, Kırşehir, along the River Zamantı near the castle of the same name (Zamantı) and elsewhere in Anatolia, and Melikgazi is also the name of one of the central districts of the city of Kayseri. The same uniformity in appellations in popular parlance may also apply to other edifices built by Danishmends.