Cappadocia History


   

   Cappadocia was known as Hatti in the late Bronze Age, and was the homeland of the Hittite power centred at Hattusa. After the fall of the Hittite Empire, with the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians (Mushki) after their defeat by the Lydian king Croesus in the 6th century, Cappadocia was left in the power of a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt for foreign slavery. It was included in the third Persian satrapy in the division established by Darius, but long continued to be governed by rulers of its own, none apparently supreme over the whole country and all more or less tributary to the Great King. Thoroughly subdued at last by the satrap Datames, Cappadocia recovered independence under a single ruler, Ariarathes (hence called Ariarathes I), who was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, and maintained himself on the throne of Cappadocia after the fall of the Persian monarchy.The province was not visited by Alexander, who contented himself with the tributary acknowledgment of his sovereignty made by Ariarathes before the conqueror’s departure from Anatolia; and the continuity of the native dynasty was only interrupted for a short time after Alexander’s death, when the kingdom fell, in the general partition of the empire, to Eumenes. His claims were made good in 322 BC by the regent Perdiccas, who crucified Ariarathes; but in the dissensions which brought to Eumenes’s death, the son of Ariarathes recovered his inheritance and left it to a line of successors, who mostly bore the name of the founder of the dynasty.Fairy chimneys in CappadociaUnder Ariarathes IV Cappadocia came into relations with Rome, first as a foe espousing the cause of Antiochus the Great, then as an ally against Perseus of Macedon. The kings henceforward threw in their lot with the Republic as against the Seleucids, to whom they had been from time to time tributary. Ariarathes V marched with the Roman proconsul Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus against Aristonicus, a claimant to the throne of Pergamon, and their forces were annihilated (130 BC). The imbroglio which followed his death ultimately led to interference by the rising power of Pontus and the intrigues and wars which ended in the failure of the dynasty.The Cappadocians, supported by Rome against Mithradates, elected a native lord, Ariobarzanes, to succeed (93 BC); but it was not till Rome had disposed at once of the Pontic and Armenian kings that his rule was established (63 BC). In the civil wars Cappadocia was now for Pompey, now for Caesar, now for Antony, now against him. The Ariobarzanes dynasty came to an end and a certain Archelaus reigned in its stead, by favour first of Antony, then of Octavian, and maintained tributary independence till AD 17, when the emperor Tiberius, on Archelaus’s death in disgrace, reduced Cappadocia at last to a Roman province and later to a region of the Byzantine Empire .

Cappadocia contains several underground cities (see Kaymaklı Underground City), largely used by early Christians as hiding places before they become a legitimate religion. The Cappadocian Fathers of the fourth century were integral to much of early Christian philosophy. It also produced, among other people, another Patriarch of Constantinople, John of Cappadocia who held office 517–520. For most of the Byzantine era it remained relatively undisturbed by the conflicts in the area, first with the Sassanid Empire and later against the Islamic expansion led by Arabs.

Cappadocia shared an always changing relation with the neighbouring Armenia, by that time a region of the Empire. The Arab historian Abu Al Faraj, purports the following about Armenian settlers in Sivas, during the 10th century: “Sivas, in Cappadocia, was dominated by the Armenians and their numbers became so many that they became vital members of the imperial armies. These Armenians were used as watch-posts in strong fortresses, taken from the Arabs. They distinguished themselves as experienced infantry soldiers in the imperial army and were constantly fighting with outstanding courage and success by the side of the Romans in other words Byzantine.”[1] As a result of the Byzantine military campaigns, the Armenians spread into Cappadocia and eastward from Cilicia into the mountainous areas of northern Syria and Mesopotamia. This immigration was increased further after the decline of the local imperial power and the establishment of the Crusader States following the 4th Crusade. Cappadocia became part of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, a state formed in the 12th century by Armenian refugees fleeing the Seljuk invasion of Armenia and a close ally of the Crusaders.

Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 various Turkic tribes under the leadership of the Seljuks began settling in Anatolia. After the rise of the Turkic power in Anatolia, Cappadocia slowly became tributary to the Turkic empires and some of the population converted to Islam. By the early 13th century the Seljuks had conquered the vacum of the shrinking Byzantine Empire and established the vassal emirate of Karaman to control the centre-east areas. The Karamanids expanded their land attracting the discontent of the Seljuks. This fragile peace was interrupted frequently by open hostilities. The Karamanid dominion survived the decline and fall of the Seljuks, who soon were replaced by the Ottomans as the dominant Turkish emirate and leaders of Islam. A treaty between the two dominions was made and peace existed until the reign of Bayezid I who disolved the semi-independant Karaman. Apart from a brief control under the Timur empire, Cappadocia remained part of the Ottoman Empire for the centuries to come and remains now part of the modern state of Turkey.

Many Cappadocians shifted during that period to a Turkish dialect (written with the Greek alphabet, Karamanlıca) and where Greek was maintained (Sille, villages near Kayseri, Pharasa town and other nearby villages), it became heavily influenced by the surrounding Turkish. This dialect of Greek is known as Cappadocian Greek; following the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, the language is now only spoken by a handful of the former population’s descendants in modern Greece.

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