Tokat was established in the Hittite era. During the time of king Mithradates VI of Pontus, it was one of his many strongholds in Asia Minor.
After the Battle of Manzikert the town, like most of Asia Minor, came under the control of the Seljuq Turks. However, after the death of Sultan Suleiman ibn Qutulmish in 1086 the Emir Danishmend Gazi took control of the area, operating from his power base in the town of Sivas. It would be many decades before the Seljuks took control of that region, in the reign of Kilij Arslan II.
After the battle of Battle of Köse Dağ the Seljuks hold over the region was lost, and local Emirs such as the Eretna took power until the rise of the Ottomans.