Home Forums Medieval Fatimid, Seljuq and Syrian infantry in the middle of the 12th century.

This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Paskal 1 week, 3 days ago.

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    Hello everyone,

    Always in the continuation of my crusading armies – given my keen interest in the appearance of the Sergeant Military Orders on other topics on this forum – here I am in front of the last obstacle, namely, the appearance of the infantry of the Fatimid, Seljuq and Syrian armies in the first half of the twelfth century.

    I bought the 4 references of Muslim infantry of Old Glory in 25mm   Figures range – Crusaders & Saracens -, for the Sudanese no problem, but for the references DAC 16 and 17, if some figurines are recognizable – notably the Seljuq and Turcomans infantrymen – in the WRG book on the Crusades by Ian Heath – the others are not, they certainly represent Arabs or other ethnic groups, but from which category of troops ?

    This being important for the bases of the figurines which can be different according to the types of troops.

    I’m waiting for help so that someone can describe me the appearance of the Kurds infantryman, the appearance of the egyptian spearmen, the appearance of the spearmen and glaivemen of the Andath militia, the appearance of the archers of the Andath militia, the appearance of the Ghazis, the appearance of the Muttawwia, the appearance of Al-Ashair and the  appearance of the Jabaliyya in the first half of the twelfth century.

    Thank you


    • This topic was modified 2 weeks ago by  Paskal.
    • This topic was modified 2 weeks ago by  Paskal.
    General Slade
    General Slade

    Are you familiar with the site Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers & Sites of Interest by Druzhina, who posts on TMP?  You might be able to find something useful there:

    Main site: http://www.warfare.meximas.com/index.htm

    Egypt and Syria: http://warfare.ga/Egypt.htm




    Hi my General,

    No we can not use the old illustrations, not what I need is something that concretely describes the appearance and the outfits of each type of troops there … Even in the Ospreys there is nothing concrete on the subject…



    Well I did my little investigation, it is not the excellent Russ Dunaway who carved the master of the  figurines  of the refereces DAC16 and DAC 17 so he (the excellent Russ Dunaway) does not know types and ethnicities of infantry are represented by the figures of these references.

    Last chance, if anyone has these figs and can recognize them …

    Let him give us his opinion on what they are …

    As for me, I’ll go back to Ian Heath’s WRG excellent book on the Crusades and tell you what I’m sure of …

    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish

    Paskal, I suspect you are going to be disappointed.

    If you find the sculptor, and he remembers the precise source, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it is a generic ‘Islamic warrior’ picture for the period. Anything else is likely to be spuriously precise.

    The terms you are seeking are largely describing variants of foot soldier – militia, raider, volunteer, mostly from Syria (save the Kurds and Egyptians).

    If major visual differences did exist I’m not sure any easily accessible contemporary European sources bothered too much recording them. Islamic sources seem generally dismissive of foot soldiers in the period.

    Sorry to sound so negative.

    You might have a look at some of the Coptic Gospels for illustrations of a range of 12th century soldiers from the region but again differentiating such nice divisions as you seek will prove challenging at best.



    Yes Guy, it is difficult to come up with an “accurate” display of how the  Muslim foot soldiers from the 12th century were armed let alone what they looked like.

    The terms are also challenging because the Arab sources don’t really differentiate between infantry types.

    A naptha thrower, crossbow shooter, spearman, were essentially all the same – foot soldiers.

    The ahdath were a city militia for siege defense and police force, perhaps better stated would be to enforce/uphold, if needed, the emir’s rule within the walls.

    They were equipped with whatever the city ruler could afford.

    Therefore they will be slightly different from one city to the next.

    Ahdath means youth (those who were recruited), not any particular infantry unit.

    Muttawwia in Arabic refers to civic duty, especially volunteer.

    These were the people who were dislodged by the Franks and later the Tatars (Mongols) and chose to fight.

    They were armed with whatever they could get their hands on.

    They could be a overzealous (see Baha al-din) and enthusiastically joined the call for jihad.

    Again, they were not any type of military unit, simply a group of volunteers who banded together.

    Ghazzi, like the two terms above, is not a military unit.

    It simply means one who fights the infidel, at least in the era of the Crusades.

    Therefore, anyone who fought the infidel was a ghazzi.

    The Seljuqs, as newly religious converts, are a good example of this.

    They were “encouraged” to go westwards to the realm of dar al-harb (abode of war) because they were not supposed to fight in the realm of dar al-islam (abode of Islam).

    To the west were the Byzantines and Armenians, and more significantly the Shia’ rulers in Egypt.

    What is interesting is the Arab sources lack using the term ghazzi for those who fought against the Franks (crusaders) and later the Mongols. Instead, jihad was invoked.

    It is even more difficult to come up with an accurate portrayal (military attire, weapons, fighting style if there was a distinguishable type) of the various ethnic groups, Qurdish, Armenian, Turkish, Bedouin, Arabic, and Sudanese soldiers.

    In many regards their military weapons would have been similar, but their clothing attire, to a degree, and banners, to a greater degree, reflected their regional identity.

    Latin sources also referred to this.

    I find the terms al-ashair and jadaliyya a bit dubious.

    I see these terms used by computer gamers.

    Other terms, such as al-harāmīya, irregulars or brigands who come out of the city to fight, or rajjalah, local infantry troops, are used, however, they do not represent any particular type of unit other than soldiers who fought on foot.

    Arabic sources from the 12th and 13th centuries, such as Imad al-din, quite often referred to various forces by their region, such as the Egyptian army/forces (askar misr), Frankish army/forces (askar fransie/fanj).

    Some forces were simply called by the city from which they came from such as the army of Homs, Allepo, Damascus, and so forth.

    The Ayyubids and later the Mamluks used additional terms for different mounted troops.

    The Fatamids reflect a Byzantine influence.

    So now it’s on the outfits of these figurines of these references DAC16 and DAC 17 that I must concentrate to discover (what the sculptor wanted to do) their ethnic identities.

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 4 days ago by  Paskal.
    Guy Farrish
    Guy Farrish

    I was going to ask you who the ‘Jabaliyya’ were.

    I thought al-‘asha’ir just meant ‘ the tribes’, but I could well be wrong – not an Arabic speaker/reader.

    As for the rest-well quite.

    I suppose you could differentiate a French from an English from a German peasant in the 12th century  – but how many contemporaries could be bothered?

    I’d go with a generic ‘levantine’ or ‘middle eastern’ or ‘caucasus’ look. Crass stereotyping no doubt – but as we saw in the Welsh discussion I am consistently indifferent to minor ‘national’/’racial’ dress differences!



    Yes this is  the ‘national’ / ‘racial’ dress differences – we must find the  vestimentary and hairstyles differences.

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