The Sultanate of Rûm was the Seljuk Turkish sultanate that ruled in Anatolia in direct lineage from 1077 to 1307, with capitals first at İznik and then at Konya. Since the sultans of Rum were highly mobile, cities like Kayseri and Sivas also functioned at times as capitals. At its height the sultanate stretched across central Turkey from the Antalya-Alanya shoreline on the Mediterranean coast to the territory of Sinop on the Black Sea. In the east, the sultanate absorbed other Turkish states and reached to Lake Van. Its westernmost limit was near Denizli and the gates of the Aegean basin.
The term "Rûm" comes from the Arabic word for Rome. The Seljuks called the lands of their sultanate Rum because it had been established on territory long considered Roman by Muslim armies. Contemporary Turkish historians prefer the term "Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate" (Anadolu Selçukluları) or, more recently, "Seljuks of Turkey" (Türkiye Selçukluları). The state is occasionally called the Sultanate of Konya or Sultanate of Iconium in older western sources.
The sultanate prospered, particularly during the late 12th and early 13th centuries when it won from the Byzantines key ports on Anatolia's Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. Within Anatolia the Seljuks fostered trade through a program of caravanserai-building, which facilitated the flow of goods from Iran and Central Asia to the ports. Especially strong trade ties with the Genoese formed during this period. The increased wealth allowed the sultanate to absorb other Turkish states that had been established in eastern Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert: the Danishmends, the Mengücek, the Saltuklu, and the Artuklu. Seljuk sultans successfully bore the brunt of the Crusades but in 1243 succumbed to the advancing Mongols. The Seljuks became vassals of the Mongols, and despite the efforts of shrewd administrators to preserve the state's integrity, the power of the sultanate disintegrated during the second half of the 13th century and had disappeared completely by the first decade of the 14th.
In its final decades, the territory of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm saw the emergence of a number of small principalities or beyliks, among which that of the Osmanoğlu, known later as the Ottomans, rose to dominance.
In the 1070s, the Seljuk commander Suleyman bin Kutalmish, a distant cousin of Malik Shah and a former contender for the throne of the Great Seljuk Empire, came to power in western Anatolia. In 1075, he captured the Byzantine cities of Nicaea (İznik) and Nicomedia (İzmit). Two years later he declared himself sultan of an independent Seljuk state and established his capital at İznik.
Suleyman was killed in Antioch in 1086 by Tutush I, the Seljuk ruler of Syria, and Suleyman's son Kilij Arslan I was imprisoned. When Malik Shah died in 1092, Kilij Arslan was released and immediately established himself in his father's territories. He was eventually defeated by soldiers of the First Crusade and driven back into south-central Anatolia, where he set up his state with capital in Konya. In 1107, he ventured east and captured Mosul but died the same year fighting Malik Shah’s son Mehmed Tapar.
Meanwhile, another Rum Seljuk, Melikshah (not to be confused with the Great Seljuk sultan of the same name), captured Konya. In 1116 Kilij Arslan's son, Mesud I took the city with the help of the Danishmends. Upon Mesud's death in 1156, the sultanate controlled nearly all of central Anatolia. Mesud's son, Kilij Arslan II, captured the remaining territories around Sivas and Malatya from the last of the Danishmends. At the Battle of Myriokephalon in 1176, Kilij Arslan also defeated a Byzantine army led by Manuel I Comnenus, dealing a major blow to Byzantine power in the region. Despite a temporary occupation of Konya in 1190 by German forces of the Third Crusade, the sultanate was quick to recover and consolidate its power.
After the death of the last sultan of Great Seljuk, Tuğrul III, in 1194, the Seljuks of Rum became the sole ruling representatives of the dynasty. Kaykhusraw I seized Konya from the Crusaders in 1205. Under his rule and those of his two successors, Kaykaus I and Kayqubad I, Seljuk power in Anatolia reached its apogee. Kaykhusraw's most important achievement was the capture of the harbour of Attalia (Antalya) on the Mediterranean coast in 1207. His son Kaykaus captured Sinop and made the Empire of Trebizond his vassal in 1214. He also subjugated Cilician Armenia but in 1218 was forced to surrender the city of Aleppo acquired from al-Kamil. Kayqubad continued to acquire lands along the Mediterranean coast from 1221 to 1225. In the 1220s, he sent an expeditionary force across the Black Sea to Crimea. In the east he defeated the Mengüceks and began to pressure on the Artukid.
The Seljuk realm was divided among Kaykhusraw's three sons. The eldest, Kaykaus II (1246–1260), assumed the rule in the area west of the river Kızılırmak. His younger brothers, Kilij Arslan IV (1248–1265) and Kayqubad II (1249–1257) were set to rule the regions east of the river under Mongol administration. In October 1256, Bayju defeated Kaykaus II near Aksaray and all of Anatolia became officially subject to Möngke Khan. In 1260 Kaykaus II fled from Konya to Crimea where he died in 1279. Kilij Arslan IV was executed in 1265 and Kaykhusraw III (1265–1284) became the nominal ruler of all of Anatolia, with the tangible power exercised either by the Mongols or the sultan's influential regents.
The Seljuk state had started to split into small emirates (Beyliks) that increasingly distanced themselves from both Mongol and Seljuk control. In 1277, responding to a call from Anatolia, the Mameluk sultan Baybars raided Anatolia and defeated the Mongols, temporarily replacing them as the administrator of the Seljuk realm. But since the native forces who had called him to Anatolia did not manifest themselves for the defense of the land, he had to return to his homebase in Egypt, and the Mongol administration was re-assumed, officially and severely.
Towards the end of his reign, Kaykhusraw III could claim direct sovereignty only over lands around Konya. Some of the Beyliks (including the Ottomans in their very beginnings) and Seljuk governors of Anatolia continued to recognize, albeit nominally, the supremacy of the sultan in Konya, delivering the khutba in the name of the sultans in Konya in recognition of their sovereignty, and the sultans continued to call themselves Fahreddin, the Pride of Islam. When Kaykhusraw III was executed in 1284, the Seljuk dynasty suffered another blow from internal struggles which lasted until 1303 when the son of Kaykaus II, Mesud II, established himself as sultan in Kayseri. He was murdered in 1307 as well as his son Mesud III soon afterwards. A distant relative to the Seljuk dynasty momentarily installed himself as emir of Konya, but he was defeated and his lands conquered by the Karamanoğlu in 1328. The sultanate's monetary sphere of influence lasted slightly longer and coins of Seljuk mint, generally considered to be of reliable value, continued to be used throughout the 14th century, once again, including by the Ottomans.
The exceptional period that flourished in Anatolia in the 12th and the 13th centuries, between the Crusades and the Mongol invasion, is marked by outstanding works of architecture and decorative arts.
Among these, the caravanserais (or hans), used as stops, trading posts and defense for caravans, and of which about a hundred structures were built during the Anatolian Seljuks period, are particularly remarkable. Their unequalled concentration in time and in Anatolian geography represent some of the most distinctive and impressive constructions in the entire history of Islamic architecture.
The largest caravanserai is the 1229-built Sultan Han on the road between the cities of Konya and Aksaray, in the township of Sultanhanı depending the latter city, enclosing 3,900 square meters. There are two caravanserais that carry the name "Sultan Han", the other one being between Kayseri and Sivas. Furthermore, apart from Sultanhanı, five other towns across Turkey owe their names to caravanserais built there. These are Alacahan in Kangal, Durağan, Hekimhan and Kadınhanı, as well as the township of Akkale/Akhan within Denizli metropolitan area. The caravanserai of Hekimhan is unique in having, underneath the usual inscription in Arabic with information relating to the edifice, two further inscriptions in Armenian and Syriac, since it was constructed by the sultan Kayqubad I's doctor (hekim) who is thought to have been a Christian by his origins, and to have converted to Islam. There are other particular cases like the settlement in Kalehisar site (contiguous to an ancient Hittite site) near Alaca, founded by the Seljuk commander Hüsameddin Temurlu who had taken refuge in the region after the defeat in the Battle of Köse Dağ, and had founded a township comprising a castle, a medrese, a habitation zone and a caravanserai, which were later abandoned apparently around the 16th century. All but the caravanserai, which remains undiscovered, was explored in the 1960s by the art historian/Ottoman archaeologist Oktay Aslanapa, and the finds as well as a number of documents attest to the existence of a vivid settlement in the site, such as a 1463-dated Ottoman firman which instructs the headmaster of the medrese to lodge not in the school but in the caravanserai.
|Kutalmish||1060-1077||Contended with Alp Arslan for succession to Great Seljuk throne.|
|Süleyman I bin Kutalmish||1077-1086||Founder of Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate with capital in İznik|
|Kilij Arslan I||1092-1107||First sultan in Konya|
|'Izz al-Din Kilij Arslan II||1156-1192|
|Giyath al-Din Kaykhusraw I||1192-1196||First reign|
|Rukn al-Din Suleymanshah II||1196-1204|
|Kilij Arslan III||1204-1205|
|Giyath al-Din Kaykhusraw I||1205-1211||Second reign|
|'Izz al-Din Kayka'us I||1211-1220|
|'Ala al-Din Kayqubad I||1220-1237|
|Giyath al-Din Kaykhusraw II||1237-1246||After his death, sultanate split until 1260 when Kilij Arslan IV remained the sole ruler|
|'Izz al-Din Kayka'us II||1246-1260|
|Rukn al-Din Kilij Arslan IV||1248-1265|
|'Ala al-Din Kayqubad II||1249-1257|
|Giyath al-Din Kaykhusraw III||1265-1284|
|Giyath al-Din Masud II||1284-1296||First reign|
|'Ala al-Din Kayqubad III||1298-1302|
|Giyath al-Din Masud II||1303-1308||Second reign|