The settlement dates to the Iron Age: according to the
Soviet Encyclopedia it was established during the reign of the
(r. 810–785 BC).
 The Armenian name Manazkert is supposedly shortened from Manavazkert (
 adopted in Greek as Μαντζικέρτ. The suffix -kert is frequently found in Armenian toponymy, meaning "built by". According to
Movses Khorenatsi, Manzikert was founded by Manaz, one of the sons of
Hayk, the legendary and eponymous patriarch and progenitor of the
 After the demise of Urartu it was successively part of the
New Assyrian Empire, the
Median Empire, the
Persian Empire, the
Seleucid Empire, the
Kingdom of Armenia, the
Parthian Empire, the
Roman Empire, the
Sassanid Empire, the
Byzantine Empire, the
Rashidun Caliphate, the caliphates of the
Umayyads and the
Abbasids, and the
The lands around Manzikert belonged to the Manavazyans, an Armenian
nakharar family which claimed descent from Manaz, until 333 A.D., when King
Khosrov III Arshakuni of Armenia ordered that all members of the family be put to the sword.
 He later awarded the lands to another family, the Aghbianosyans. Manzikert was a fortified town,
 and served as an important trading center located in the canton of Apahunik' in the
Turuberan province of the ancient
Kingdom of Armenia. It also served as the capital of the
emirate from around 860 until 964.
 After the Armenian revolt of 771-772 the Abbasid government encouraged the migration of Arab tribes to the region and this resulted in the settling of Arab tribes in the vicinity of Malazgirt.
 In 968 The Byzantine general
Bardas Phokas captured Manzikert, which was incorporated into the Byzantine
katepanate of Basprakania (
 In 1054, the
Seljuk Turks made an
attempt to capture the city but were repulsed by the city's garrison under the command of
Battle of Manzikert was fought near the town in August 1071. In one of the most decisive defeats in Byzantine history, the Seljuk sultan
Alp Arslan defeated and captured Emperor
Romanus Diogenes. The Turkish victory led to the ethnic and religious transformation of Armenia and
Anatolia, the establishment of the
Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, and later the
Ottoman Empire and the
Republic of Turkey. The Seljuks pillaged Manzikert itself, killed much of its population, and burned the city to the ground.
 It was successively part of
Ahlatshahs (their rule was briefly interrupted by
Kingdom of Georgia),
Sultanate of Rum,
Safavids before Ottoman rule.
In 1915 Manzikert was part of
Bitlis Vilayet and had a population of 5,000, the great majority of them Armenians.
 The city's economy revolved around the cultivation of grain, trade and the production of handicrafts. There existed two Armenian churches, Yerek Khoran Surb Astvatsatsin (Three Altars Holy Mother of God) and Surb Gevork (St. George, called St. Sergius by
H. F. B. Lynch),
 and one Armenian school. Like many other towns and villages during the
Armenian genocide, its Armenian population was subjected to massacres and deported. In Russia's spring advance of 1915, they reached the city, but were repelled by a Turkish counter-attack shortly after.