IN A mighty motorcade, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, descended on the sleepy town of Malazgirt near the Armenian frontier on August 26th. He came to celebrate a millennium-old victory that Turks hail as the dawn of Muslim domination of these once-Christian lands.
Largely forgotten in the West, the battle of Manzikert in 1071 saw Seljuk Turks, led by King Alp Arslan, crush an imperial Byzantine army said to be twice their size. This Turkic push into Anatolia laid the foundation for the Seljuks’ eventual successors, the Ottomans, who took Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, in 1453 and whose empire at its peak extended from the gates of Vienna to the Indian Ocean.
Mr Erdogan’s commemoration of a 946-year-old battle is a bid to woo Turkish nationalists. Having foiled a coup in July last year and only narrowly won sweeping powers in a constitutional referendum in April, he is eager to find new supporters….