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Encyclopedia > Kilij

The kilij (also spelled kilic) is a sword used by the Ottoman Empire starting around the late 15th century. These blades were a distinct variation on the Turko-Mongol sabers that had been used over all the lands touched by the empire of the Kahns.

The oldest surviving examples sport a long blade with a gentle curve slightly more noticeable in the distal half. The width of the blade stays thin (with a slight taper) up until the last 30% of its length, at which point it flares deeper. This distinctive flaring tip is called a "yelman" which greatly adds to the cutting power of the sword. Swords of the next couple of centuries were mainly of the Persian shamshir variety; Persian blades (that did not have the yelman) were fitted with Ottoman hilts. These hilts normally had slightly larger upper guards, and sported a bobble of a end-grip compared to the parent shamshir. In the mid 18th century the kilij produced looked much more like the original design, though shorter, much more acutely curved, and sporting a deep blade with an even deeper yelman. In addition to the flared tip, these blades have a distinct "T-shaped" cross section to the back of the blade. This allows even greater strength and hence greater ability to cause grievous wounds when cleaving. The flared and 'cut away' profile of these thick blades gave it the archetypal 'Voyages of Sinbad' appearance. Some of these shorter Kilij are also referred to as "Pala" but there does not seem to be a clear cut distinction in naming.

Another interesting anecdote, is that this sword is the basis for the Mameluke Sword of the United States Marine Corps. As the Mamelukes were originally of Turkish descent, the Egyptians bore Turkish sabers for hundreds of years. During the Napoleonic Wars, the French conquest of Egypt brought these beautiful and functional sword to the attention of the Europeans. In 1831 the "Mamaluke" as the sword was now called even became a regulation pattern for British officers. The American's victory over the renegade fortress in Tripoli in 1805 lead to the presentation of one of these enjewled swords to the lead Marine officer. This has since been a Marine Corps tradition.

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  Results from FactBites:
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In 1097 Kilij Arslan I was in the east fighting the Danishmends at Melitene, and in his absence the crusaders captured his capital at Nicaea; the Seljuks and Danishmends then allied against the crusaders but were defeated at the Battle of Dorylaeum.
After the defeat of the crusade, Kilij Arslan established his capital at Konya and continued to fight with the Danishmends.
In 1130 Bohemund II of Antioch was killed in a battle with the Danishmend emir Gumushtugin, after coming to the aid of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, which Gumushtugin had invaded.
Kilij Arslan II at AllExperts (435 words)
The peace treaty with the Byzantines lasted until 1175, when Kilij Arslan refused to hand over to Manuel the territory conquered from the Danishmends, although both sides had for some time been building up their fortifications and armies in preparation for a renewed war.
Kilij Arslan was able to drive Manuel's army into a valley near Myriokephalon, and although Manuel's force was not totally annihilated, the sultan forced the emperor to dismantle his fortifications along the frontier.
Despite Kilij Arslan's alliance with Saladin he was unable to stop the armies of the Third Crusade, but the remnants of the German army were in any case destroyed by the Turks after the death of Frederick Barbarossa.
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