SYRIAN CAVALRYMAN c. 1220

An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath



[Based on a Syriac Gospel, BL Ms. Additional 7170]
43.      SYRIAN CAVALRYMAN c. 1220

This Ayyubid warrior from Mosul wears quilted hip-length armour with mail sleeves, undoubtedly a Kuzaghand, and a helmet with nape-guard. Other figures in the same source wear lamellar and mail corselets.

The Kuzaghand (Persian Kazhaghand, called in western sources a Gazeganz, from which the term Jazerant almost certainly evolved) was basically an early type of Brigandine, sometimes apparently worn in conjunction with a mail corselet. Al-Tartusi implies that it was invented by easterners Syrians or Iraqis; he describes it as a mail corselet covered in cloth and silk, quilted, and with an outer surface of embroidered material or brocade. Al-Maqrizi records Fatimid Kuzaghands covered with brocade and silver stars, probably rivets. Usamah has left us with a detailed description of one owned by his father, which consisted of 2 coats-of-mail, a long 'Frankish' one with a shorter one, apparently waist-length, over it, lined on the inside and covered on the outside with felt, the whole being padded with felt, rabbit hair and silk and, presumably, quilted. From Ibn al-Athir we also know that the Kuzaghand had a collar, apparently upstanding, while later sources tend to indicate that it could have sleeves - as here - though more often it did not. Kuzaghands recorded in use by a contingent of Syrian Arabs at Homs in 1280 were covered with red satin and brocade, Qalqashandi recording in the 14th century that coverings were usually of red or yellow brocade. By the 14th century, however, Saracen Brigadines were manufactured in the European style, the armour element consisting of iron or steel laminae rivetted together; the resulting Brigandine was called by the name Qarqal and was the most common type of later Mamluk body-armour.

Helmets with solid iron napeguards appear to have been fairly common during this period. Qalqashandi records 2 types of helmet in addition to the Baida mentioned under 35; both were called Mighfar, one with a mail aventail (the Mighfar al-Zard), the other (apparently older) type with a solid neckguard; 43a probably depicts a variant of the latter from a mid-14th century edition of Joinville's Memoirs. Imad ad-Din too refers to helmets with neckguards. 43b, c and d show alternative helmets with nasals as well as napeguards from 2 versions of William of Tyre's History of Outremer executed in Acre c. 1280: again writing of his father's armour as worn in the 12th century Usamah mentions a 'Moslem helmet' with a nasal. 'Visors' are also occasionally mentioned, but probably aventails or coifs - perhaps like that of 58 - are meant. Baidas at least were often painted and some helmets were even gilded (as, for example, was Saladin's).



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