Was it possible to hold the Anatolian coast in the long term after Manzikert?

Nov 2014
511
ph
Was it possible for the Romans to hold on to the Anatolian coast for centuries longer than they did without controlling the interior? Say they survive hold on to the Anatolian coast until the 1700s, by which time European armies gain a significant technological advantage over Eastern armies.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,065
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
In 1025 the size of the "Byzantine" empire was about 1,6750,000 square kilometers and its population was about 12,000,000.

The Battle of Manzikert was in 1071.

In 1097 the size of the "Byzantine" empire was about 555,000 square kilometers and its population was about 5,000,000. the area was down to 0.331 and the population down to 0.4166 of the 1025 figures.

In 1143 the size of the "Byzantine" empire was about 950,000 square kilometers and its population was about 10,000,000. The area was up to 1.711 and the population was up to 2.00 of the 1097 figures.

Population of the Byzantine Empire - Wikipedia

Those are dramatic changes in the period of 72 years from 1071 to 1143, which saw a swit decline and then a rapid increase in the 46 years from 1097 to 1143.

The "Byzantine" Empire was ruled by Alexios I from 1081 to 1118, John II from 1118 to 1143, and Manual I from 1143 to 1180. The "Byzantine" Empire faced invasions from Normans in southern Italy, Pechnegs from the steppes, and Turks in Aaia Minor, so couldn't devote all of its power to fighting the Turks.

Did the "Byzantine" Empire manage to reconquer any lands in Asia Minor from the Turks during 1071 to 1180?

Here is a link to a map of the "Byzantine" Empire in 1025: File:Map Byzantine Empire 1025-en.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Here is a link to a map of the "Byzantine" Empire in 1081: Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty - Wikipedia

Here is a link to a map of the "Byzantine" Empire in 1100: Euratlas Periodis Web - Map of Europe in Year 1100 This seems to exaggerate the areas ruled in Asia Minor.

Here is a link to a map of the "Byzantine" Empire in 1170 Byzantine Empire under the Komnenos dynasty - Wikipedia

And another one: File:Byzantium in 1170(4).PNG - Wikipedia

So the "Byzantine" Empire clearly managed to reconquere a lot of Asia Minor during the reigns of Alexios I, John II, and manual I, and push the Turks farther and farther from the coast of Asia MInor. If Manuel I had focused more on reconquering Asia Mnor from the Turks, and if he had been followed by another strong emperor who also concentrated on fighting the Turks, the "Byzantine" empire woudl have reconquered a lot more of Asia Minor. If there was no defeat at Mryiokephalon in 11766, and if the period of success continued for just a few more reigns after Manuel I, the Turks would have been totally defeated and conquered or driven out of Asia Minor and they would never have reached the shores of Asia Minor unless the Mongol Invasions really weakened the "Byzantine" Empire.

So in my opinion it was possible to keep the Anatolian coast for centuries longer than in our history if things had gone just a little bit differently.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
24,534
SoCal
Was it possible for the Romans to hold on to the Anatolian coast for centuries longer than they did without controlling the interior? Say they survive hold on to the Anatolian coast until the 1700s, by which time European armies gain a significant technological advantage over Eastern armies.
Yes, very possibly. I believe that @Kirialax and/or @JeanDukeofAlecon previously indicated that the loss of interior Anatolia actually wasn't that huge of a blow to the Byzantines since a lot of the travel back then occurred by sea anyway and since maintaining logistics in the interior of Anatolia isn't necessarily easy due to its mountainous terrain. Indeed, please keep in mind that land travel might have not been anywhere near as prominent or important back then as it is today.

If the Byzantines will actually manage to survive until the railroad era, though, then it might make sense for them to reconquer the Anatolian interior--though by that point in time it might already be full of Muslims and thus demographically not necessarily easy to swallow for the Byzantines.
 
Apr 2017
1,785
U.S.A.
The above posts point out the Byzantines could have survived if things went well, reconquering asia minor was important. Geographically the interior of asia minor was a dagger pointed at the heart of the empire. The turks would be a constant threat unless defeated. Even if the Byzantines forever crushed the turks, the Mongols would be a great threat. If they survived that then it would be Persia and Egypt. Without the Ottomans they Byzantines would also have to worry about the Balkan states (Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary). Its also possible other European states may choose to expand at the Byzantine's expense. They may end up like the Ottomans, slowly being chipped away at by other states.
 
Oct 2011
584
Croatia
Was it possible for the Romans to hold on to the Anatolian coast for centuries longer than they did without controlling the interior? Say they survive hold on to the Anatolian coast until the 1700s, by which time European armies gain a significant technological advantage over Eastern armies.
Probably not. @Futurist here pointed out that Anatolian interior was huge tract of land with little value. But that is precisely where its value lies. Looking at Croatian-Ottoman warfare, a lot of Ottoman conquest was done simply by killing and enslaving people and burning land, thus forcing land to be abandoned. So having a huge tract of land with little value between you and the enemy is a massive advantage in that context.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,782
Sydney
Anatolia was a recruiting ground for both Byzantium and later the Ottoman
It's conquest allowed the Turkish tribes to switch from nomads to territorial power
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
24,534
SoCal
Probably not. @Futurist here pointed out that Anatolian interior was huge tract of land with little value. But that is precisely where its value lies. Looking at Croatian-Ottoman warfare, a lot of Ottoman conquest was done simply by killing and enslaving people and burning land, thus forcing land to be abandoned. So having a huge tract of land with little value between you and the enemy is a massive advantage in that context.
Maybe this helps explain why the Byzantines' Anatolian heartland was largely secure between c.720 and 1070?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
24,534
SoCal
Interestingly enough, even after the Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, the Byzantines were able to maintain control of the west Anatolian heartland and use that as a springboard to reconquer Constantinople in 1261. So, even when the Byzantines were at their weakest and most divided in the pre-Mongol conquests era, they were still able to avoid total annihilation and were indeed able to still retain a sizable fraction of their military power.
 
Oct 2011
584
Croatia
Maybe this helps explain why the Byzantines' Anatolian heartland was largely secure between c.720 and 1070?
Yes. Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountains were a barrier, but they were regularly penetrated. What mattered however was terrain behind the mountains: it was wasteland, essentially, so Arab armies had trouble getting through it to anywhere. Most population was either in the mountains or near the coasts; plateau was held by large landowners who used it for cattle (imagine cowboys and you won't be far off).

Interestingly enough, even after the Crusaders conquered Constantinople in 1204, the Byzantines were able to maintain control of the west Anatolian heartland and use that as a springboard to reconquer Constantinople in 1261. So, even when the Byzantines were at their weakest and most divided in the pre-Mongol conquests era, they were still able to avoid total annihilation and were indeed able to still retain a sizable fraction of their military power.
Agreed. Problem is, they soon after basically abandoned Anatolia - it was lost when Emperor WhatsHisName demobilized pronoia troops in favour of hiring more mercenaries. But as Sparky notes, Anatolia used to be primary recruiting ground for the Empire, so abandoning it was strategic suicide.
 
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Nov 2014
511
ph
Yes. Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountains were a barrier, but they were regularly penetrated. What mattered however was terrain behind the mountains: it was wasteland, essentially, so Arab armies had trouble getting through it to anywhere. Most population was either in the mountains or near the coasts; plateau was held by large landowners who used it for cattle (imagine cowboys and you won't be far off).



Agreed. Problem is, they soon after basically abandoned Anatolia - it was lost when Emperor WhatsHisName demobilized pronoia troops in favour of hiring more mercenaries. But as Sparky notes, Anatolia used to be primary recruiting ground for the Empire, so abandoning it was strategic suicide.
Andronicus II Paleologus
 
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