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The Danishmend dynasty was a Turcoman dynasty that ruled in north-central and eastern Anatoliamarker in the 11th and 12th centuries. The centered originally around Sivasmarker, Tokatmarker, and Niksarmarker in central-northeastern Anatoliamarker, they extended as far west as Ankaramarker and Kastamonumarker for a time, and as far south as Malatyamarker, 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 founder

The dynasty was established by Danishmend Gazi for whom historical information is rather scarce and was generally written long after his death.

His title or name, Dānishmand or more accurately Dāneshmand, means "learned man" in . 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".

The dynasty

Danishmends established themselves in Anatolia in the aftermath of the Battle of Manzikertmarker in 1071, in which the Seljuks defeated the Byzantine Empire and captured most of Anatolia. Gazi took advantage of the dynastic struggles of the Seljuks upon the death of the Sultan Suleyman I of Rûm in 1086 to establish his own dynasty in central Anatolia. The capital was likely first established in Amasiamarker.

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.

In 1130 Bohemond II of Antioch was killed in a battle with Gazi Gümüshtigin, after coming to the aid of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, which Gümüshtigin had invaded. Gümüshtigin died in 1134 and his son and successor Mehmed did not have the martial spirit of his father and grandfather. He is nevertheless considered the first builder of Kayseri as a Turkish city, despite his relatively short period of 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 Sivasmarker, and Ayn el-Devle, who ruled from Malatyamarker.

In 1155, Seljuk Sultan Kilij Arslan II attacked Melik Yaghibasan, who sought help from Nur ad-Din, the Zengid emir of Mosulmarker. 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.

Danishmends in folklore

Danishmend Gazi, the founder of the dynasty, is the central figure of a posthumous romance epic, Danishmendnâme, in which he is mis-identified with an 8th century Arab warrior, Sidi Battal Gazi, and their exploits intertwined.

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 Niksarmarker, Bünyan, Kırşehirmarker, along the River Zamantı near the castle of the same name (Zamantı) and elsewhere in Anatoliamarker, and Melikgazimarker is also the name of one of the central districts of the city of Kayserimarker. The same uniformity in appellations in popular parlance may also apply to other edifices built by Danishmends.


Danishmends Reign Notes
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 Yaghibasan 1142-1164
Melik Mücahid Gazi 1164-1166
Melik İbrahim 1166-1166
Melik İsmail 1166-1166
Melik Zünnun 1172-1174
Malatya branch (Emirs) 1142-1178 Incorporated to Anatolian Seljuks
Ayn el-Devle 1142-1152
Zülkarneyn 1152-1162
Nasreddin Muhammed 1162-1170
Fahreddin 1170-1172
Afridun 1172-1175
Nasreddin Muhammed 1175-1178 Second reign

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