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Road to Manzikert (Paperback)

Byzantine and Islamic Warfare, 527–1071

Military P&S History > Medieval World > Medieval History Photographic Books

By Brian Todd Carey, Illustrations by Joshua B Allfree, Illustrations by John Cairns
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 100 black and white maps & battle diagrams
ISBN: 9781526796646
Published: 20th January 2021


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In August 1071, the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenese led out a powerful army in an attempt to roll back Seljuk Turkish incursions into the Anatolian heartland of the Empire. Outmanoeuvred by the Turkish sultan, Alp Arslan, Romanus was forced to give battle with only half his troops near Manzikert. By the end of that fateful day much of the Byzantine army was dead, the rest scattered in flight and the Emperor himself a captive. As a result, the Anatolian heart was torn out of the Empire and it was critically weakened, while Turkish power expanded rapidly, eventually leading to Byzantine appeals for help from Western Europe, thus prompting the First Crusade. This book sets the battle in the context of the military history of the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic World (Arab and Seljuk Turkish) up to the pivotal engagement at Manzikert in 1071, with special emphasis on the origins, course and outcome of this battle. The composition, weapons and tactics of the very different opposing armies are analysed. The final chapter is dedicated to assessing the impact of Manzikert on the Byzantine Empire's strategic position in Anatolia and to the battle's role as a causus belli for the Crusades. Dozens of maps and battle diagrams support the clear text.

"Road to Manzikert is the type of medieval military history veteran readers will add to their collection and undergrads will use as a reference for years to come. The notes and bibliography sections will be familiar to Byzantine historians, with names like John Haldon, David Nicolle, and Warren Treadgold....there’s little to complain of in Road to Manzikert. It’s a welcome addition to early Byzantine and Islamic military history, a pleasant read, and at its best covers ground that many military histories don’t, such as the Battle of Dorostolon or the Seljuk campaigns preceding Manzikert.

De Re Militari - The Society For Medieval Military History

“The numerous maps and battle plans (expertly drawn by Joshua B. Allfree and John Cairns) are excellent. Readers with an interest in medieval military history will enjoy it.”

Read the review here


“…the book is generally well edited and highly readable. Readers with an interest in medieval military history will enjoy it.”

The NYMAS Review

Military history publishing house Pen & Sword has recently published a new historical analysis of the Battle of Manzikert by medieval expert Brian Todd Carey. It firmly grounds the battle in the context of the history of the five centuries that led up to that fateful day in 1071. Entitled Road to Manzikert, Carey explains not only what happened in a small Anatolian town in the modern-day province of Muş, but also why it was inevitable and what its consequences were. The narrative of this history is unusual because, focusing on the military aspects, it is told in a neutral fashion.

Professor Carey neither seeks to portray the forces of Islam as jihadists with an agenda to take over the world, nor does he extol them as martyrs. In our modern world protagonists on each side of the war on terror tell the story of early Islamic battles and the later crusades in a manner that either aims to invoke Muslim phobia or that can be used to inspire and recruit for al-Qaeda. Carey treads the clear middle ground between these two ideologies, giving the military and tactical facts, well supported by superb maps and charts drawn by Joshua Allfree and John Cairns.

Carey tells a gripping story of desertion, defection and betrayal amongst the Byzantine troops and of the fleet and ferocious Seljuk steppe warriors that were the greatest light cavalry troops of their age. The Alparslan he describes is neither the blood-drinking demon as styled by Byzantine historians from nearby Edessa (modern Urfa) nor a saintly Joan-of-Arc style hero, but a real military man with real military concerns. His account is thoughtful, measured and believable. The illustrations and maps make his academic research accessible, and the useful tables of chronology of events and leaders on both sides and glossaries of military and historical terms are excellent summaries of the facts make for a clear and concise overview of why Muş really can claim to be 'the gateway to Anatolia.

Marion James, Today's Zaman

Manzikert is of course one of the decisive battles in medieval history. The defeat of the Byzantine Empire, including the capture of the Emperor, by the Seljuk Turks resulted in the loss of Anatolia to the Empire. While there was something of a recovery, the Byzantine Empire lost key revenue, manpower and horse breeding areas to the Turks. This book is about much more than the battle. The authors take us through 500 years of conflict from Justinian through the rise of Islam to the coming of the Turks. Usefully, not just a focus on the Byzantine Empire but good chapters on Islamic warfare as well. The narrative is well written, but the strength of the book is in the maps and diagrams of the key battles. This really brings the text alive.

Balkan Military History

Carey's book is not limited to discussing direct action between the Byzantines and the Muslims; it also considers Byzantine wars on other fronts. This is important for understanding how Byzantine warfare changed in the stated period. Chapters are well-supported with relevant maps...In addition 20 black and white illustrations and a chronology support the text.

Medieval Warfare
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 Brian Todd Carey

About Brian Todd Carey

Brian Todd Carey is an Assistant Professor of History and Military History at the American Public University System, where he has taught ancient, medieval, and early modern military history for over twenty years. His first two books, Warfare in the Ancient World and Warfare in the Medieval World, cover the history of warfare in western civilization from the Bronze Age through the Thirty Years' War. His other publications include Hannibal’s Last Battle and Road to Manzikert: Byzantine and Islamic Warfare, 527-1071.

About Joshua B Allfree

Joshua B. Allfree is an IT project manager supporting the US Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He retired from the US Army as a Sergeant Major in 2014 after a 34-year career in the fields of both combat arms and information technology. He is a member of the Society for Military History.

About John Cairns

John Cairns is a professional software developer with a special emphasis on computer cartography. In collaboration with Joshua Allfree, he has worked with author Brian Todd Carey to produce Warfare in the Ancient World, Warfare in the Medieval World, Hannibal’s Last Battle and Road to Manzikert.

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