The Turkish Dynasties
This period of successive Iranian dynasties ended with the emergence of the political scene of the Sunni Turks, who until then served as soldiers or military heads at the Persian courts. In 976, one of these military leaders used the weakening of the Samanid power to proclaim its independence and found the Ghasnavid dynasty (962-1186) in today's Afghanistan. His son Mahmud (998-1030) took Sistan and Baluchestan in the west and the Punjab in the east.
But the Ghasnavids were not able to prevent the arrival of another powerful force, the Eljuqs, a clan of the Oghuzz Turks, who first settled in Transoxiana and later in Bukhara. Under the leadership of Toghrul Beg, who settled in Neishabur in 1038, the Seljuq army overthrew the last Buyid ruler, conquering Isfahan (1051) and Baghdad (1055). The three great Seljuq rulers Toghrul Beg (1038-1063), Alp-Arslan (1063-1072) and Malik Shah (1072-1092) managed to create a centralized state with an efficient administration and a powerful army Nizam-al-Mulk (10201092). This brilliant administrator and author of a treatise on the government, written for the use of princes, was also the founder of Nizamiyeh or Madresseh, institutions for higher religious doctrine that established the Sunni orthodoxy throughout the empire.
After the death of Malik Shah, the empire and local dynasties were broken by provincial governors, mainly in Azerbaijan, Luristan, Pars and Yazd. Khorassan recognized the sovereignty of the princes of Khwarezm (1153), a Turkish state in Central Asia, who quickly occupied all of eastern Iran. In 1217 the Khwarezmi armies even reached the Zagros Mountains, but they could never consolidate their conquests when a new threat arose in Central Asia.
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