Khwarezm, the Eastern Kipchaks and Volga Bulgaria in the Late 12–early 13th Centuries
The political history of Khwarezm at the turn of the 13th century is associated with two outstanding representatives of the Anushteginid dynasty, Khwarezm Shahs Ala ad-Din Tekish and Ala al-Din, who brought the state to become one of the largest and most powerful countries in the Islamic East. The expansion and strengthening of the state entity begins already in 1157, following the death of Seljuq Sultan Sanjar (1118–1157) [11, pp. 153; 10, pp. 32–33], when Khwarezmian rulers become actually independent. The reign of Khwarezm Shah Abu-lFath Il Arslan (1156–1172) was marked by their joining the struggle over the Seljuqid legacy. It is beyond doubt that Khwarezm had numerous rivals, who did their best to take advantage of the power vacuum, trying to expand their territories as far as possible and thus succeed the Seljuq rulers. In spite of Khwarezm's military success in Khorasan, Gorgan, Dihistan, and the Persian Iraq, the Kara Khitan people and regional rulers of Transoxiana dependent on them became the most important opponents of Il Arslan [10, pp. 35; 9, p. 398]. It should be noted that Khwarezm Shah Il Arslan allied with Karluk tribes [34, p. 131] or, according to later sources, the Kipchaks [83, vol. 1, p. 239] in order to enhance his military power and confront the enemy. The former variant appears more plausible. It is more important, however, that Turkic nomads were crucial to the Khwarezmian military apparatus already during Il Arslan's rule. Please mind that Khwarezm's military alliance with Turkic tribes was to become very typical during the reign of his descendants, which practice is described in detail below.