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Abbasid Arab

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 2 months ago

Abbasid Arab 747 AD - 945 AD (III/37)


1. Reclassify the Maghariba

2. Dismounting


1. Reclassify the Maghariba as infantry


Proposer: Adrian Garbett




Maghariba guards - Reg LH (O) @ 5AP 2-5



Upgrade spearmen to Reg Sp (I) as Maghariba 2-8

Replace Maghariba Sp with archers - Reg Ps (O) 0-1/3


Add the following rules consideration:

"Maghariba Reg Ps can support Maghariba Sp"


In the notes, replace from "a second bodyguard unit" to "The two bodyguards together"



"... a second unit recruited from captured tribal Arab rebels from Egypt. These are described as infantrymen, and as fighting with spears. The two units together..."




The Maghariba are described in the sources as infantry spearmen, not as cavalry. Kennedy states that al Tabari (iii. 1839) reckons them foot troops and there are two other references (in ibn al-Qalanisi and ibn al-Athir) to them being infantry. Even though they have an area in Baghdad given over to them they are relatively lowly paid, were moved from their homeland due to continual revolts, have little political influence or power (unlike the Abna) and are not Berbers as sometimes stated. Their low status suggests they should not be called "guards".


Gordon quotes al-Ya'qubi, Buldan 263, (d. 897, so close to a contemporary source) as saying that a certain quarter of Samarra "was inhabited by infantrymen of the Maghariba (al-rajjala al-Maghariba) at the time of the initial settlement at Samarra". The fact that only one rate of pay, and that a low one, is recorded for the Maghraiba suggests that all, not simply part of the corps, were infantry.


Tabari also confirms the Maghariba fought as infantry spearmen:


"... they (the Zanj forces advancing along a canal) came across about a thousand Magharibah troops lying in wait ... They then advanced upon the Zanj with their spears extended, and fighting ensued until the time of the noon prayer" (p.55, 255 AH/869 AD).


"Finally when al-Muhtadi marched forth, most of his cavalry was composed of Faraghinah and most of his infantry of Magharibah" (p.104, 256 AH/870 AD).


(Kennedy acknowledges it as possible these are different maghariba ("westerners", North Africans) from the Samarra-period Maghariba regiment. Continuity of the regiment seems more likely.)


As for numbers, 4,000 are recorded at a parade and 2,000 on campaign in 865AD. 4,000 at normal scale would be 16 elements, but the number of ghulam elements allowed suggests that the list may be at half normal scale, at least when considering maximum strengths. Eight elements reflects both the parade strength at half scale and the recorded field strength at normal scale.


Archer support is not specifically mentioned in any source we've seen but is possible given period practice. Converting spearmen to archers rather than upgrading some of the existing Ps(O) to regulars enables players to field all 8 Maghariba elements as spears if they prefer not to use unattested archers.



Matthew Gordon, The Breaking of a Thousand Swords: A History of the Turkish Military of Samarra (A.H. 200-275/815-889) (SUNY Press, 2001)


Hugh Kennedy, The Armies of the Caliphs: Military and Society in the Early Islamic State (Routledge 2001)


Tabari, in The History of al-Tabari, volume XXXVI: The Revolt of the Zanj, trans. David Waines (SUNY Press, 1992)



2. Cavalry dismounting


Proposer: Duncan Head


Replace the following sentence in the notes:


"At the battle of the Zab in 750, they dismounted and knelt in close formation with their lance butts dug into the ground. Ahl Khurasan can accordingly always dismount as Sp(O)."


with the following:


Under "Rules considerations":


"Ahl Khurasan and Cv (O) generals can always dismount as Sp (O); Ahl al Sham can always dismount as Sp (I). Abbasiyah and other Khurasani Cv (S), and Cv (S) generals before 814, can dismount only when the rules provide that all cavalry may do so, as Bw (O). Ghilman, and Cv (S) generals from 814, can always dismount as Bw (O)."


And in the notes proper:


"At the battle of the Zab in 750, they followed the Umayyad practice of dismounting and kneeling in close formation with their lance butts dug into the ground."


After "also having lance and shield", add:


"Ghilman sometimes dismounted to shoot."




The list notes imply that the Khurasani Arabs dismounting at the Zab was a new practice, but in fact it was a continuation of a tactic first described in 657 – see the Umayyad Arab list. Subsequently there are still occasional references to dismounting: the governor of Ahwaz and his retinue dismount in the civil war of 811-12 (Kenedy p.109), and the manual of Harthama al-Sha'rani (early c9th) recommends deploying on high ground so that the horsemen can dismount alongside the foot (p.113). The Ahl al-Sham could be treated as dismounting as Sp (I) to reflect their lower status and loyalty.


For ghilman dismounting, see Turkish ghulam cavalry. References to the earlier Khurasanian heavy horse-archers dismounting in battle have not yet been located (though I wouldn't rule it out).


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