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Tzachas (Greek: Τζαχᾶς, Tzachas), also known as Chaka Bey (Turkish: Çaka Bey)[dn 1] or Emir Chaka of Smyrna, was an 11th-century Seljuk Turkish military commander who ruled an independent state based in Smyrna (present day Izmir).
Tzachas was taken as a prisoner during a war with the Byzantine Empire by Emperor Nikephoros III Botaneiates. The emperor took an interest in the youth and brought him to live in the palace. He was granted the title of protonobilissimus.
After Alexios I Komnenos became the Byzantine Emperor in 1081, Tzachas returned to Anatolia and began a war against the Byzantines. Intent upon expanding his power, he ordered the construction of a fleet at the shipyards of Smyrna and Ephesus. This fleet, which consisted of 33 sail ships and 17 oar ships, was the first Anatolian Turkish navy.
The fleet of Tzachas conquered Lesbos (1089) and Chios (1090), before defeating the Byzantine fleet under Niketas Kastamonites near the Oinousses Islands off Chios on 19 May 1090. In 1091, his fleet conquered the islands of Samos and Rhodes, but also suffered a crushing defeat in the Sea of Marmara to Byzantine admiral Constantine Dalassenos, undoing much of his previous successes. Dalassenos and John Doukas then defeated Tzachas again in 1092, destroyed his fleet and recovered all the islands he had captured.
According to Byzantine sources, Tzachas was murdered in 1092 by his son-in-law Kilij Arslan I. However, his name appears in later dates, such as a campaign against the strategic port city of Adramyttium (modern day Edremit) in 1095, where, according to these sources, he died. Some historians[page needed] indicate that it was in fact his son who was appointed by Kilij Arslan to take his post.
At any rate, after Tzachas's death, his beylik disappeared from history. The Byzantines would soon liberate the area under the leadership of Alexios I Komnenos, and it would take the Seljuks more than two centuries to reach the Aegean coast again.
- The Turkish form of Tzachas didn't appear in any historical documents. The name «Çaka» («Çaka Bey») prevailed especially in Turkey, after Akdes Nimet Kurat used the name "Çaka" in his work "Çaka: Orta Zamanda İzmir ve Yakınındaki Adaların Türk Hakimi", İstanbul, 1936. (Turkish), ... yüksek siyasî ve askerî görüş sahibi olarak büyük önem taşıyan bu bey'in adının gerçek söylenişi henüz tamamen kesinliğe kavuşmuş değildir. Bu hususta şimdiye kadar üç ihtimal ileri sürülmüştür: Çaka, Çağa, Çakan. AN Kurat'ın bunu «Çaka» kabûl ederek eserini de «Çaka Bey» diye adlandırması, özellikle memleketimizde Çaka şeklinin yaygınlaşmasına yol açmıştır denebilir. (Tarih Dergisi, Cilt 20, İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, İbrahim Horoz Basımevi, 1983, p. 56. (Turkish))
- Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Decline and Fall. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1996) p. 26.