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Anatolian (Turkmen) Beyliks

Anatolian beyliks (also Turkmen beyliks, Tevif-i mlk (in Ottoman Turkish) are small Turkish emirates or principalities governed by beys, which were founded in several locations of Anatolia at the end of the 13th century.


Following the conquests in Anatolia by the Seljuk Turks, Oghuz clans began invading this region. The Seljuks settled these clans in border areas, to ensure their safety against the Byzantines. (Compare marches.) These clans led by beys would receive military and financial aid from the Seljuks in return for their services, and acted as if owing full allegiance to their sovereignty. However, during the end days of the reign of Ala ad-Din Kay Qubadh I, especially with the Mongol invasions from the east, the Seljuk power deteriorated and instead Ilkhanate commanders in Anatolia gained strength and authority, which encouraged the beys openly to declare sovereignty. Many of them, following the fall of the Seljuk empire, joined forces with the dispersed Seljuk elite. Many religious Muslim leaders and fighters from Persia and Turkistan who fled the Mongols also settled in these small states. Their assaults on the Byzantines reached even further with the help of these fighters, and the power sphere of the beyliks expanded.

When the Byzantine empire weakened, their cities could resist less and less the assaults of the beyliks, and eventually many Turks settled in western parts of Asia Minor. As a result, many more beyliks were founded in these newly conquered western regions. However, power struggles and conflicts arose between them.

In the beginning, the most powerful states were the Karamanid and the Germiyan, whereas Ottoman Turks were quite weak relatively. When other beyliks were founded along the coasts, Germiyan became an inner state and lost its influence. With the advance of the Ottomans into Roumelia and their annexation of Karesi, they became rivals with the Karamanid, who were then thought to be the strongest player. The Ottomans advanced further into Anatolia by acquiring towns, either by buying them off or through marriage alliances. Meanwhile the Karamanid assaulted the Ottomans many times with the help of other beyliks, Mamluks, White Sheep Turkmen (Akkoyun or Ak-Qoyun), Byzantines, Pontus and Hungarians, failing and losing power every time. The early Ottoman leaders conquered big parts of the Karamanid land, which was restored after the Ottoman defeat to the Mongol Timur Lenk in 1402.

The final blow was made by Mehmed II who conquered Karamanid in order to construct a homogenous dominion in Anatolia. This was achieved by Selim I in 1515 who conquered Ramazan and Dulkadir, finally ending all beyliks in Anatolia and declaring sovereignty on all Turkish possessions in Anatolia.


In spite of their limited sources and the political climate of their era, art during the Anatolian beyliks flourished, probably building the basis for Ottoman art. Although the artistic style of the Anatolian beyliks can be considered as representatives of a transition period between Seljuks and Ottomans, new trends were also acquired. Especially wandering traditional crafts artists and architects helped spread these new trends and localized styles to several beyliks across Anatolia, which resulted in innovative and original works particularly in architecture. Wood and stone carving, clay tiles and other similar decorative arts of the Seljuks were still used, however with the influence of the pursuit for new spaces and its reflections in other arts as well.

Some representative examples of the Anatolian beyliks' architecture are Ilyas Mosque at Balat (Milet) (1404), Isabey Mosque at Seluk (1375), Ulucami Mosque at Birgi (1312) built by the Aydin beylik. The above mosques, although being successors of Seljuk architecture, differ greatly in the increase of decorations in the interior and exterior spaces and the different placement of the courtyards and minarets. Karaman beylik also left noteworthy architectural works, such as Ulucami Mosque in Ermenek (1302), Hatuniye Madrassa in Karaman (1382), Akmedrese Madrassa in Nigde (1409), all of which respect a new style that considers and incorporates the exterior surroundings also. One of the first examples of the Anatolian beylik architecture hinting at the forming of the Ottoman architecture that aims at uniting the interior space beneath one big dome and forming a monumental architectural structure is Ulucami Mosque in Manisa (1374) built by the Saruhan beylik. Also worth noting is the increase in constructions of madrassas that points at the beyliks' attaching greater importance to sciences.

The Anatolian beyliks were:

Karaman (Karamanid)
Osmanoglu (Ottomans)

Sources: Wikipedia,