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Turkish Myth and Muslim SymbolThe Battle of Manzikert$
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Carole Hillenbrand

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625727

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625727.001.0001

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Writing the battle

Writing the battle

(p.111) Chapter 5 Writing the battle
Turkish Myth and Muslim Symbol

Carole Hillenbrand

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the strategies and tropes used by the Arab and Persian chroniclers in the medieval Muslim narratives of the battle of Manzikert, and the didactic purposes for which these narratives are used. Qur'anic resonances, such as presenting the arrogant Byzantine emperor Romanus as a latter-day Pharaoh, and other Muslim elements in these accounts, such as the importance of positioning the battle on a Friday, are discussed. Narrative techniques, including theatrical features, are analysed. The influence of the Mirrors for Princes advice literature is also examined. This chapter emphasises in its conclusion that these accounts can hardly be described as providing concrete details about the actual battle of Manzikert; instead, they are vehicles through which Arabic and Persian writers can praise their Turkish overlords, can vaunt the military prowess traditionally associated with the Turks, and – through the triumphal symbol of none other than the captured Byzantine emperor himself – can proclaim the triumph of Islam over Christianity. Thus Manzikert provides not only a spur but also an examplar for subsequent Muslim victories over the Christian foe.

Keywords:   Rhetoric, Ideology, Qur'an, Pharaoh, Mujahid, Friday, Anti-Christian tropes, Storytelling, Theatricality, Advice literature

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