Source: “The Battle of Manzikert,” The Majalla.com. http://www.majalla.com/eng/2012/10/article55234527.
Battle Analysis: Manzikert
Looking at the Battle of Manzikert, lets push aside much of what clouds the content of any battle analysis (especially when looking at both Christian and Muslim religious views) and concentrate our gaze at the pivotal point of the battle. A deeper examination of the battle was written in Strategy and Tactics magazine current issue by author Brian Todd Carey entitled, “Manzikert: Alp Arslan & the Seljuk Victory.” The pivot (this author will use the word pivot instead of pivotal for the rest of the analysis) of the battle was the very dangerous, reverse movement with which Romanos and his Byzantine army were trying to make. In Turkish Myths and Muslim Symbol: The Battle of Manzikert author Carole Hillenbrand translated the work of twelfth century writer al-Turtushi on the battle, he opined of the retreat, “They (Arslan’s fighters) began shouting in the language of Byzantium: ‘The king has been killed! The king has been killed!’ The Byzantines heard that their king had been killed and they scattered and were totally torn to pieces.” (1) Quickly one realizes that the battle was more than just a fatal move by Romanos and a work of deception (though Romanos had been captured and not killed). As the Byzantine leadership fought for his life, the deck was exceptionally stacked against them when the resounding calls in the Byzantine tongue echoed throughout the myriad of fighting soldiers, mercenaries and cavalry, “THE KING HAS BEEN KILLED!” But what was the reason for the about-face before the announcement of the King’s death? It is clear that the Byzantines were the ones on the offensive and numerous accounts talk of the sun setting around the time when the Byzantines were routed. “…Realising that they were being drawn further and further from their camp and with the light fading, the Emperor gave the order to head back,” wrote author Giles Morgan in Byzantium: Capital of an Ancient Empire. (2) Here is the pivot of the Manzikert, as light began to fade and a decisive decision for the Byzantines faded with the light, Romanos made the decision to turn back. Was his decision correct? It seems as though he started too late in the day to make a decisive decision against a more mobile enemy. Examining the battle quickly. As Romanus force advanced forward, Arslan’s force stayed in a mobile state looking for the appropriate time, if any to attack the enemy. Time allowed for this decisive action as Romanus was drawn farther away from his base of operations, unnerving him, as the sun began to set. About-face was the order and thus put in motion a complicated transition, jumbling his forces, the balance was pushed into the hands of Arslan. At what point was the force completely thrown into chaos? When the Muslim deception that the King was killed in battle resounded throughout the battlefield. Manzikert falls into the category of bad planning on the part of the Byzantines and tremendous patience, adaption and a suitable use of deception by Arslan’s forces (the Byzantines were punching into a liquid that molded to their fist, then becoming a deadly wave that drowned them completely).
1. Carole Hillenbrand, Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol: The Battle of Manzikert (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), 29, ProQuest ebrary.
2. Giles Morgan. Byzantium: Capital of an Ancient Empire (Herts: Oldcastle Books, 2007), 100, ProQuest ebrary.
Carey, Brian Todd. “Manzikert: Alp Arslan & the Seljuk Victory.” Strategy & Tactics no. 290 (2015): 26-35.
Hillenbrand, Carole. Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol: The Battle of Manzikert. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. ProQuest ebrary.
Morgan, Giles. Byzantium: Capital of an Ancient Empire. Herts: Oldcastle Books, 2007. ProQuest ebrary.