Thousands of Seljuk Turkic riders poured out of Central Asia, thrusting into Persia and Mesopotamia during the 11th century. Challenge the mighty Byzantine Empire and battle Crusaders with mobile mounted armies, survive the Mongol onslaught, and establish the legendary Ottoman Empire. Can your vast gunpowder-wielding armies and lethal Janissaries overrun territories from the Levant to North Africa and Southeastern Europe, or will the Safavid armies and the walls of Constantinople foil them?
Likely originating from Northeast Asia, Oghuz Turks migrated to Central Asia and established their first state in the 8th century, and the in-game civilization is based on their Persianate descendants: Seljuk Empire, the Sultanate of Rum (shown in the Manzikert scenario), and the Anatolian Turks, from whom arose the Ottomans (in the Bapheus scenario), who were best known for winning many battles in the Crusades, capturing Constantinople which ended European foothold of the Silk Road and contact with the Orient, conquering the much of the Eastern Europe until the siege of Vienna. The Turks were also highly involved in the sciences and mathematics especially in the area of alchemy that would later form the backbone of modern chemistry. Being an Islamic civilization, they were notable for transmitting this knowledge to the west. Therefore, Turks mine gold faster and get Chemistry for free.
Ottoman Turks also used gunpowder quite effectively, becoming the first "gunpowder empire", having received it from their control of the Silk Road. Therefore, many of their unique traits benefit their gunpowder units which have greater range, are created faster, and have more hit points. Additionally, their unique unit is also a gunpowder unit.
The earlier Turkish states, such as the Seljuk Empire, made extensive use of Light Cavalry during their campaigns. To reflect this, the Light Cavalry and Hussar upgrades are free for them and have free extra pierce armor. Turkish archery is a tradition of archery which became highly developed in the Ottoman Empire. That fact is mirrored in their unique technology Sipahi, which grants additional hit points to their cavalry archers.
The Turks are a gunpowder civilization and arguably have the best units there that have greater range, are created faster, and have more hit points. Apart from gunpowder using soldiers and Champions, the Turkish foot soldiers are very weak. Especially the lack of the Elite Skirmisher and Pikeman can hurt at times. Their mounted units, however, are great. Their cavalry units are complete apart from the Paladin, their Light Cavalry get extra pierce armor, and their Cavalry Archers are among the very best, only seeking competition from the Magyars, Mongols, and Saracens. The siege weapons are good, too, especially the long-ranged Bombard Cannon, but the Onager is missing which can be a disadvantage on densely forested maps like Black Forest as the Turks have no means to quickly cut large numbers of trees. The Turkish navy is very good, only the Fast Fire Ship is missing. Their Monks rank below average, but their defensive structures get all upgrades. Their economy is overall below average without Crop Rotation and Stone Shaft Mining, but their faster gold gathering comes in very handy and greatly benefits their playing style.
In the first scenario of the Dracula campaign the player plays as the Turks (and as Slavs or Magyars in the rest of it). This civilization appears throughout the entire campaign as the main opponent of the player.
Janissaries have 15 (18 for Elite) attack. Non-Elite Janissaries have an attack bonus of +4 against infantry, and Elite Janissaries have +8 attack against infantry as well as +3 attack against buildings.
Janissaries have an accuracy of 55%.
The Turkish Team bonus does not affect Elite Janissaries.
Turkish units speak their namesake, an Oghuz Turkic language spoken in the modern-day Turkey. It is formerly written with modified Arabic script (Ottoman Turkish alphabet) and currently written with modified Latin alphabets.
As a side note, Oghuz languages are related to other Turkic languages such as Cuman (spoken by the Cumans) and Chagatai (spoken by the Tatars).
When playing a random map game against the computer, the player may encounter any of the following Turkish AI characters:
Seljuk (960 - 1009) (Persian: سلجوق بگ, Modern Turkish: Selçuk Bey): The eponymous hero of the Seljuq Turks. He was the son of a certain Toqaq surnamed Temür Yalığ (meaning "of the iron bow") and either the chief or an eminent member from the Kınık tribe of the Oghuz Turks. In 985, the Seljuq clan split off from the Oghuz Yabghu State, long settled between the Aral and Caspian Seas. They set up camp on the right bank of the lower Syr Darya (Jaxartes), in the direction of Jend, near Kzyl Orda in present-day south-central Kazakhstan. There, in 985, Seljuk converted to Islam.
Chaghri Beg (989 - 1060) (Persian: چاغرى بگ, Modern Turkish: Çağrı Bey) : Da'ud b. Mika'il b. Saljuq, also spelled Chaghri, was the co-ruler of the early Seljuq empire. The name Chaghri is Turkic (Çağrı in modern Turkish) and literally means "small falcon", "merlin".
Alp Arslan (1029 - 1072) (Persian: آلپ آرسلان, Modern Turkish: Alp Arslan) : Real name Muhammad bin Dawud Chaghri; he was the second Sultan of the Seljuk Empire and great-grandson of Seljuk, the eponymous founder of the dynasty. As sultan, Alp Arslan greatly expanded Seljuk territory and consolidated power, defeating rivals to his south and northwest. His victory over the Byzantines at Manzikert ushered in the Turkish settlement of Anatolia. For his military prowess and fighting skills he obtained the name Alp Arslan, which means "Heroic Lion"in Turkish.
Sultan Malik-shah (1055 - 1092) (Persian: سلطان ملكشاه, Modern Turkish: Sultan I. Melikşah): During his youth, he spent his time participating in the campaigns of his father Alp Arslan, along the latter's vizier Nizam al-Mulk. During one of such campaigns in 1072, Alp Arslan was fatally wounded and died only a few days later. After that, Malik-Shah was crowned as the new sultan of the empire, however, Malik-Shah did not access the throne peacefully, and had to fight his uncle Qavurt, who claimed the throne. Although Malik-Shah was the nominal head of the Seljuq state, the vizier Nizam al-Mulk held near absolute power during his reign. Malik-Shah spent the rest of his reign waging war against the Karakhanids on the eastern side, and establishing order in the Caucasus.
Sultan Sanjar (1086 - 1157) (Persian: سلطان سنجر, Modern Turkish: Sultan Sencer): Also known as Ahmad Sanjar. The Seljuq ruler of Khorasan from 1097 until in 1118 when he became the Sultan of the Seljuq Empire, which he ruled as until his death in 1157.
Atsiz the Khwarezmian (? - 1078) (Persian: إتسيز الءخهواريزمي, Modern Turkish: Atsız bin Uvak): Known as Atsiz Ibn Uvaq, he was a Khwarezmian Turkish mercenary commander who established a principality in Palestine and southern Syria in 11th century. After capturing Damascus in 1076, he began constructing the Citadel of Damascus.
Danishmend (? - 1085) (Persian: دانشمند احمد غازی, Modern Turkish: Danişmend Ahmed Gazi): Danishmand Ahmad Gazi, was the founder of the beylik of Danishmends. After the Turkish advance into Anatolia that followed the Battle of Manzikert, his dynasty controlled the north-central regions in Anatolia.
Ghiyas-ud-Din of Ghor (1139 - 1203) (Persian: غیاث الدین محمد بن سام, Modern Turkish: Gıyaseddin Muhammed): During his early reign, known more as Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad, defeated the Ghurid claimants to the throne and fought with the Khwarazmian Empire over the lordship of Khorasan. He occupied Herat in 1176 and went on to establish control over most of what is now Afghanistan and the surrounding areas by 1200, and as far west as Bastam and Gurgan. His brother, Mu'izz al-Din, helped manage and expand the eastern part of the empire (as far as Bengal) and served Ghiyath with utmost loyalty and deference. Ghiyath died in 1202 and was succeeded by his brother Mu'izz al-Din.
Osman I Gazi (1258 - 1326) (Ottoman Turkish: عثمان بگ, Modern Turkish: Osman Gazi): He was the leader of the Ottoman Turks and the founder of the Ottoman dynasty. He and the dynasty bearing his name later established and ruled the nascent Ottoman Empire (then known as the Ottoman Beylik or Emirate). The state, while only a small principality during Osman's lifetime, transformed into a world empire in the centuries after his death. It existed until shortly after the end of World War I.
Orkhan (1281 - 1362) (Ottoman Turkish: اورخان بگ, Modern Turkish: Orhan Gazi): Also known as Orhan. He was born in Söğüt, Turkey,he was the second bey of the nascent Ottoman Sultanate from 1323/4 to 1362. He focused his energies on conquering most of northwestern Anatolia.
Bayazid (1354 - 1403) (Ottoman Turkish: بايزيد, Modern Turkish: I. Bayezid): The Ottoman Sultan from 1389 to 1402. He was the son of Murad I and Gülçiçek Hatun. He built one of the largest armies in the known world at the time and unsuccessfully besieged Constantinople. He adopted the title of Sultan-i Rûm, Rûm being an old Islamic name for the Roman Empire. He was defeated and captured by Timur at the Battle of Ankara in 1402 and died in captivity in March 1403.
Sultan Murad (1404 - 1451) (Ottoman Turkish: سلطان مراد, Modern Turkish: Sultan II. Murad): Murad II's reign was marked by the long war he fought against the Christian feudal lords of the Balkans and the Turkish beyliks in Anatolia, a conflict that lasted 25 years. He was brought up in Amasya, and ascended the throne on the death of his father Mehmed I. His mother was Valide Sultan Emine Hatun (daughter of Suleyman Bey, ruler of Dulkadirids), his father's third consort. Their marriage served as an alliance between the Ottomans and this buffer state, and produced a son, Mehmed II, who would go on to successfully conquer the Byzantine Empire's capital, Constantinople, in 1453.
Suleiman the Magnificent (1494 - 1566) (Ottoman Turkish: قانونى سلطان سليمان, Modern Turkish: Kanuni Sultan Süleyman): Suleiman became a prominent monarch of 16th-century Europe, presiding over the apex of the Ottoman Empire's economic, military, and political power. Suleiman personally led Ottoman armies in conquering the Christian strongholds of Belgrade and Rhodes as well as most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed much of the Middle East in his conflict with the Safavids and large areas of North Africa as far west as Algeria. Under his rule, the Ottoman fleet dominated the seas from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and through the Persian Gulf. He is the AI personality of the Ottomans in Age of Empires III.
The name Turk refers to two different Muslim groups of the Middle East-first the Seljuks and then the Ottomans. The Seljuks, nomads from the steppes near the Caspian Sea, converted to Islam around the tenth century. Approximately 70,000 Seljuks started as mercenaries to fill the ranks of the Islamic army of the caliph of Baghdad. These mercenaries converted to the Sunni branch of Islam. In 1055 they became the real power behind the caliph in Baghdad and began extending their rule. Their leaders took the title sultan, meaning “holders of power.” By 1100 they controlled most of Anatolia (taken from the Byzantines), Palestine, the lands surrounding the Persian Gulf, the holy cities of Arabia, and as far east as Samarkand.
In 1071 the Seljuks achieved a stunning victory over a Byzantine army at Malazgirt in modern Turkey, which led to Turkish occupation of most of Anatolia. At nearly the same time, they successfully captured Jerusalem from its Egyptian Muslim rulers. These two events shocked the Byzantines, the papacy, and the Christian Europeans. The result was the Crusades, which carried on for the next 200 years.
The Seljuk Turks were worn down by the recurring wars with the Crusaders, even though they were successful ultimately in regaining control of Palestine. They were threatened simultaneously by the activities of the Assassins, a heretical sect of Islam. Internally, Islam entered a period of introspection because of the popularity of Sufi mysticism. During this period of exhaustion and weakness, they were attacked suddenly by the Mongols and collapsed. Baghdad fell to the invaders in 1258 and the Seljuk Empire disappeared.
Islamic peoples from Anatolia (modern Turkey in Asia Minor) were unified in the early fourteenth century under Sultan Osman I and took the name Osmanli, or Ottomans, in his honor. The Ottomans swore a jihad against the crumbling Byzantine Empire and took their campaign around Constantinople into the Balkans. In 1389 the Serbs were defeated. In 1396 a “crusader” army from Hungary was defeated. Ottoman successes were temporarily halted by the Mongols under Tamerlane, but he moved on with his army and the Ottomans recovered.
Sultan Mehmed II (“the Conqueror”) at last captured Constantinople on May 29, 1453. The great walls of Constantinople were battered by 70 guns for eight weeks and then 15,000 Janissaries led the successful assault.
The Ottomans pushed on into Europe following the capture of Constantinople and threatened a sort of reverse Crusade. They were stopped by a Hungarian army at Belgrade in 1456, however. Attacks on Vienna were repulsed in 1529 and again in 1683. At its peak in the sixteenth century, the Ottoman Empire reached up into Europe to Budapest and Odessa and included all of Greece and the Balkans, the lands surrounding the Black Sea, Asia Minor, the Levant, Arabia, Egypt, and most of North Africa. The Ottoman Empire remained a significant world power until World War I in the twentieth century.
The Turks are the only civilization with no access to Pikemen or Elite Skirmishers. The latter also means that they cannot train Imperial Skirmishers when allied with the Vietnamese. This makes performing well on maps scarce on gold and late game trash wars a real challenge for the Turks, which also left them totally prone against archer civilizations in all stages of the game. They were one of the weakest civilizations on open maps, but their new bonus for Scout Cavalry introduced in update 42848 allows them to have a strong option in all stages against archers and works well with their free upgrades of Light Cavalry and Hussar, but also brought some controversy due of the potential impact on the Feudal Age in team games.
The ethnonym Türk (𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰏) / Türük (𐱅𐰇𐰼𐰰) originally referred to only the Göktürks, who are represented, albeit ethnologically inaccurate, by the in-game Tatars (who were originally para-Mongolic and hostile to the Göktürks).
The ethnonym Turks would later be used for other Turkic-speaking peoples, such as:
The Khazars, represented, also ethnologically inaccurate, by in-game Cumans;
The Toquz Oghuz (Nine Tribes) confederation, mentioned as drugu rus dgu "Turks of Nine Bones" in an 8th-century Tibetan document ;
All this could have stemmed from developers' oversight: even if the in-game Tatars and Cumans were supposed to also represent the 'less Persianate, less Islamized' Turkic polities, Tatars' and Cumans' in-game architectural set is Persianate (though topped with Timurid fluted domes).