Welcome / Bienvenu

This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

I hope this blog offers you much enjoyment and some inspiration !

mardi 21 août 2012

Khazars (860-965)

My army represents the Khazars from c. 860 - 965. The opening date is that of the great civil war in Khazaria, which saw the massive introduction of Ghhuzz and Petchenegs into the regular army. The closing date is the destruction of Itil by the Rus and the relegation of the Khazars to a backwater power.
A sample of their enemies include Ghuzz, Petchenegs, Magyars; Byzance; and the Arab, Kurdish and Daylami dynasties of the 10th century Transcaucasian region.

Army lists often generate a smallish army, due to the cost of heavy cavalry archers. This should not disguise the real size of a Khazar army. Already in 627, for example, they sent 40,000 horsemen to assist Byzance against the Sassanids. 9th century military strength must have been even more significant.


THE ROYAL ARMY
After the defeat by the Arabs in 738, the beg raised a "royal army". This consisted of troops who received low pay at irregular intervals - a sort of semi-standing army - supplemented by booty obtained by war (or raiding). They were also used to protect caravans, who were taxed heavily for this service.  This army numbered 8-12,000 horsemen, almost entirely foreign mercenaries settled in Khazarie.

Arsiyah

The Arsiyah were the backbone of the Royal Army. They were Muslim mercenaries (or refugees) from Sogdian Khwarezm. Their exact fighting style is uncertain, but it is likely they followed Turkish rather than Arab practice, and fought with bow and lance.



Petcheneg light cavalry
The Royal Army doubtless contained horse archers drawn from subject tribes, such as Petchenegs and Ghuzz. Permanent Ghuzz garrisons are in any case attested. My "Royal Army" is made up 1/3 of Arsiyah heavy cavalry and 2/3 of light cavalry.
Unlike most Turks, Petchenegs sported large beards. They inspired the Byzantine proverb "as stupid as a Petcheneg"...



Khazar nobles
The Khazars in my army are a minority, as would have been the case on the battlefield. The wealthiest Khazars supplied a levy to supplement the Royal Army. I have characterised them by their chainmail veil. This was worn by other Turks, but particularly prised by the Khazars, steeped in Sassanid traditions.

Artillery
Field artillery was used as early as the 8th century wars with the Arabs, both bolt-throwers and stone-throwers.



Foot levy
Drawn on the urban centres, these unenthusiastic soldiers are a mix of Ghuzz foot archers, Petchenegs, and Bulgars from the subject northern cities, wearing characteristic Arab dress.



Volga Bulgars
The Volga Bulgars adopted Islam as their offician religion some time in the 9th century. It is certain that they wore Arab dress at the time of the Mongol invasions, and it is likely that they did so beforehand.
Traditional Arab costume was a long topcoat reaching to the knee or the mid-shin. These were typically brightly coloured (red, blue, yellow, green and white being favoured) and could be striped. Coloured and inscribed silk bands called tiraz were sported around the biceps. Men wore trousers or went bare-legged.
The most common headgear was of course the turban, typically but not always white. It could be worn wrapped around a helmet if present. Other Arab headgear included a tall conical hat of felt or fur.
Arab cavalry were frequently unarmoured, or wore a padded or quilted jerkin, and I have followed that practice for my Volga Bulgars. A mid-sized round shield of leather or wood, brightly painted, was carried.
Arab cavalry used only lance (rumh) and sword (saif), but it is unlikely that the Volga Bulgars would have abandoned the bow.



Slav infantry
The Slav tribes have not yet coalesced into the future kingdoms of Central Europe. Christianiaty is only just beginning to penetrate into these regions.
Both the Khazars and the Volga Bulgars (as well as the Magyars) counted large Slav contingents, either residents or vassals.



Alan cavalry
The remnants of the Alans are mostly concentrated in the Transcaucusus. They number four hordes. These provide a splendid cavalry contingent to their Khazar overlords. Alan heavy cavalry was, like their distant Sarmatian forebears, still among the best in the Known World. They fought with lance (held in a two-handed grip) and bow. The Alans also fielded and numerous light cavalry. Some Alans also fought on foot, with bow or axe.



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