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


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 3 years, 6 months ago by Paskal.