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Flag of Karaman according to the Catalan Atlas.
The Karamanid Emirate and other eastern Mediterranean states in 1450
|Languages||Old Anatolian Turkish|
|-||1256?||Kerimeddin Karaman Bey|
|Historical era||Late Medieval|
The Karamanids or Karamanid dynasty (Modern Turkish: Karamanoğulları, Karamanoğulları Beyliği), also known as the Principality of Karaman and Beylik of Karaman (Karaman Beyliği ), was one of the Anatolian beyliks, centered in south-central Anatolia, around the present-day Karaman Province. From the 13th century until its fall in 1483, Karamanids was one of the oldest and most powerful Turkish beyliks in Anatolia.
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The Karamanids traced their ancestry back to Hodja Sad al-Din and his son Nure Sufi Bey, who emigrated from Azerbaijan to Sivas because of the Mongol invasion in 1230. According to Yazici-oglu they were members of the Afshar tribe. The Afshars participated at Baba Ishāq's revolt and afterwards, moved from there to the western Taurus Mountains, near the town of Larende, where they will serve the Seljuks. Nûre Sûfi will work there as a woodcutter. His son, Kerîmeddin Karaman Bey, gained a tenuous control over the mountainous parts of Cilicia in the middle of the 13th century. A persistent but spurious legend, however, claims that the Seljuq Sultan of Rum, Kayqubad I instead established Karamanid dynasty in these lands.
Karaman Bey expanded his territories by capturing castles in Ermenek, Mut, Ereğli, Gülnar, Mer and Silifke. The year of the conquests as indicated in the Encyclopedia of Islam (vol. IV, page 643) is 1225, during the reign of Ala al-Din Kaykubadh I (1220-1237), which seems excessively early. Karaman Bey's conquests were mainly at the expense of the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia (and perhaps at the expense of Rukn al-Din Kilidj Arslan IV, 1248-1265); in any case it is certain that he fought against the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia (and probably even died in this fight), in such extent that King Hethum I (1226-1269) had to place himself voluntarily under the sovereignty of the great Khan, in order to protect his kingdom from Mamluks and Seljuks (1244). The rivalry between Rukn al-Din Kilidj Arslan IV and Izz al-Din Kaykaus II allowed the tribes at the border areas to virtually live independently. Karaman Bey helped the second but the first had the support of both the Mongols and Pervâne Sulayman Muin al-Din (who had the real power in the sultanate). The Mongolian governor and general Baidju was dismissed from office in 1256 because of his failing to conquer new territories, but he continued to serve as a general and appeared, the same year, fighting the Sultan of Rum, who had not paid the tax, and he managed to defeat the sultan a second time. Rukn al-Din Kilidj Arslan IV got rid of almost all hostile begs and amirs except Karaman Bey whom he gave the town of Larende (now Karaman in honor of the dynasty) and Ermenek (c. 1260) in order to win him on his side. In the meantime, Bunsuz, brother of Karaman Bey, was chosen as a bodyguard (Candar) for Kilij Arslan IV. Their power rose as a result of the unification of Turkish clans that lived in the mountainous regions of Cilicia with the new Turkish elements transferred there by Kayqubad.
Good relations between the Seljuqs and the Karamanids did not last. In 1261, on the pretext of supporting Kaykaus II who had fled to Constantinople as a result of the intrigues of the chancellor Pervâne, Karaman Bey and his two brothers, Zeynül-Hac and Bunsuz, marched toward Konya, the capital of Seljuqs, with 20,000 men. A combined Seljuq and Mongol army, led by the chancellor Mu'in al-Din Suleyman, the Pervane, defeated the Karamanid army and captured Karaman Bey's two brothers.
After Karaman Bey died in 1262, his older son, Şemseddin Mehmet I, became the head of the house. He immediately negotiated alliances with other Turkmen clans to raise an army against the Seljuqs and Ilkhanids. During the 1276 revolt of Hatıroğlu Şemseddin Bey against Mongol domination in Anatolia, Karamanids also defeated several Mongol-Seljuq armies. In the Battle of Göksu in 1277 in particular, the central power of the Seljuq was dealt a severe blow. Taking advantage of the general confusion, Mehmed Bey captured Konya on 12 May and placed on the throne a pretender called Jimri who claimed to be the son of Kaykaus. In the end, however, Mehmed was defeated by Seljuq and Mongol forces the same year, and executed with some of his brothers (1278).
Despite these blows, Karamanids continued to increase their power and influence, largely aided by the Mamluks of Egypt, especially during the reign of Baybars. Karamanids captured Konya on two more occasions in the beginning of the 14th century, but were driven out the first time by emir Chupan, the Ilkhanid governor for Anatolia, and the second time by Emir Chupan's son and successor Timurtash. An expansion of Karamanoğlu power occurred after the fall of the Ilkhanids. A second expansion coincided with Karamanoğlu Alâeddin Ali Bey's marriage to Nefise Sultan, the daughter of the Ottoman sultan Murat I, the first important contact between the two dynasties.
As Ottoman power expanded into the Balkans, Aleaddin Ali Bey captured the city of Beyşehir, which had been an Ottoman city. However, it did not take much time for the Ottomans to react and march on Konya, the capital city of Karamanids. A treaty between the two kingdoms was made and peace existed until the reign of Bayezid I.
Timur gave control of the Karamanid lands to Mehmet Bey, the oldest son of Aleaddin Ali Bey. After Bayezid died in 1403, the Ottoman Empire went into a political crisis. During this time, the Ottoman family fell prey to an internecine strife. It was an opportunity not only for Karamanoğlu, but also for all of the Anatolian beyliks. Mehmet Bey assembled an army to march on Bursa. He captured the city and damaged it; this would not be the last Karamanid invasion of Ottoman lands. However, Mehmet Bey was captured by Bayezid Pasha and sent to prison. He apologized for what he had done and was forgiven by the Ottoman ruler.
Ramazanoğlu Ali Bey captured Tarsus while Mehmet Bey was in prison. Mustafa Bey, son of Mehmet Bey, retook the city during a conflict between the Emirs of Sham[disambiguation needed] and Egypt. After that, the Egyptian sultan Sayf ad-Din Inal sent an army to retake Tarsus from the Karamanids. The Egyptian Mamluks damaged Konya after defeating the Karamanids, and Mehmet Bey retreated from Konya. Ramazanoğlu Ali Bey pursued and captured him; according to an agreement between the two leaders, Mehmet Bey was exiled to Egypt for the rest of his life.
During the Crusade of Varna against the Ottomans in 1443-4, Karamanid İbrahim Bey marched on Ankara and Kütahya, destroying both cities. In the meantime, the Ottoman sultan Murad II was returning from Rumelia with a victory against the Hungarian Crusaders. Like all other Islamic emirates in Anatolia, the Karamanids were accused of treason. Hence, İbrahim Bey accepted all Ottoman terms. The Karamanid state was eventually terminated by the Ottomans in 1487, as the power of their Egyptian allies was declining. To never again gather and threaten the integrity of the Empire, they displaced the entire population to the last man. Most were resettled in various parts of Anatolia. Large groups are accommodated in northern Iran on the territory of present-day Azerbaijan. The main part is brought to newly conquered territories in north-western Bulgaria - Ludogorie. Another group of what is now northern Greece, southern Bulgaria - present-day Kardzhali region and Macedonia.
According to the A. Cresques' Catalan Atlas of 1375, the flag of Karamanoğlu consisted of a blue six-edged star. The flag of Karamanoğlu may be similar to Star of David, the symbol used by Israel today. This made some historians think that the Karamanids had relations with Jews. In medieval times, this star was also an Islamic symbol known as the Seal of Solomon (Suleiman) and was also extremely popular amongst the Anatolian beyliks. The seal was also used by Ottomans in their mosque decorations, coins and personal flags of pashas, including that of Hayreddin Barbarossa. Another state known to use the seal on their flag was the Jandarids.
Power of the Karamanid state in Anatolia 
According to Mesâlik-ül-Ebsâr, written by Şehâbeddin Ömer, the Karamanid army had 25,000 riders and 25,000 saracens. They could also rely on some Turkmen tribes and their warriors.
Karamanid architecture 
- Hasbey Medrese (1241)
- Şerafettin Mosque (13th century)
- İnce Minare (Dar-ül Hadis) Medrese (1258–1279)
- Hatuniye Medrese (Karaman)
- Mevlana Mosque and Tomb in Konya
- Mader-i Mevlana (Aktekke) mosque in Karaman
- Ibrahim Bey Mosque (Imaret) in Karaman
List of rulers 
- Nûre Sûfî Bey (Capital City: Ereğli) (1250–1256) 
- Kerîmeddin Karaman Bey (Capital City: Ermenek) (1256?-1261)
- Şemseddin I. Mehmed Bey (1261–1277), notable for making Turkish official language
- Güneri Bey (1277–1300)
- Bedreddin Mahmut Bey (1300–1308)
- Yahşı Han Bey (1308–1312) (Capital City: Konya)
- Bedreddin I. İbrahim Bey (1312–1333, 1348–1349)
- Alâeddin Halil Mirza Bey (1333–1348)
- Fahreddin Ahmed Bey (1349–1350)
- Şemseddin Bey (1350–1351)
- Hacı Sûfi Burhâneddin Musa Bey (Capital City: Mut) (1351–1356)
- Seyfeddin Süleyman Bey (1356–1357)
- Damad I. Alâeddin Ali Bey (1357–1398)
- Sultanzâde II. Mehmed Bey (1398–1399, 1402–1420, 1421–1423)
- Damad Bengi Ali Bey (1423–1424)
- Damad II. İbrahim Bey (1424–1464)
- Sultanzâde İshak Bey (1464)
- Sultanzâde Pîr Ahmed Bey (1464–1469)
- Kasım Bey (1469–1483)
- Turgutoğlu Mahmud Bey (1483–1487)
See also 
- Karaman Province
- Anatolian Turkish Beyliks
- List of Sunni Muslim dynasties
Notes and references 
- Türk Tarih Sitesi, Türk Tarihi, Genel Türk Tarihi, Türk Cumhuriyetleri, Türk Hükümdarlar - Tarih
- Bruce Alan Masters, Gábor Ágoston, Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, Infobase Publishing, 2010, p.40, Online Edition
- Claude Cahen, Pre-Ottoman Turkey: a general survey of the material and spiritual culture and history c. 1071-1330, trans. J. Jones-Williams (New York: Taplinger, 1968), 281-2.