He’s one of the greatest Muslim conquerors, Alp Arslan (meaning The Heroic Lion) really deserves that title.
His real name is Muhammad Ibn Dawud Chagri. He was born in 1029, in Central Asia. He comes from a noble Turk family : The Seljuks. —
On 27 April 1064, after the death of his father, uncle and brother, Alp Arslan became Sultan. He continued the policy of his forefathers: Jihad. He invaded Caucasus, he then decided to fight the Byzantines. This Christian Empire has always been a problem of the spreading of Islam in the region. (Spoiler: I’ll do a more detailed post about that)
So on 1068, he invaded it. The Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, met the Turks in Cilicia, the Turks were first defeated and driven across the Euphrates. So they made a peace treaty in 1069. But in 1071, Romanos broke the treaty and invaded Armenia.
Alp Arslan who was fighting in Syria, quickly moved his troops to Armenia to fight him. They met each other in Manzikert (Turkey), on 26 August 1071. This battle was a turning point in the Jihad against the Byzantines, a great victory for Islam. The Byzantine army was nearly destroyed, opening the way for Alp to conquer Anatolia. And opening the way to Islam in the region. It also opened a period of instability in the Empire, because Romanos was captured. It was the first time in history a Byzantine Emperor had become the prisoner of a Muslim commander. —
Alp Arslan’s conquest of Anatolia is also seen as one of the pivotal precursors to the launch of the crusades. But this is for an other post...
Alp then wanted to conquer Central Asia, the land of his forefathers. So he had to take several fortresses, one of them was defended by a governor, Yusuf al-Kharezmi. He was forced to surrender, and made prisoner. Alp sentenced him to death. Yusuf, in desperation, drew his dagger and rushed upon Alp. Alp, who took great pride in his reputation as an archer, told his guards not to interfere. He drew his bow, but his foot slipped, the arrow glanced aside, and he received Yusuf’s dagger in his breast. Alp Arslan died 4 days later, on 25 November 1072, at the age of 42, and is buried in Merv, Turkmenistan.