SYRIAN INFANTRYMAN

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


44.      SYRIAN INFANTRYMAN

In Syria, Iraq and the Jazira infantry always took second place to the mounted military elite of the amirs and 'askaris. They were provided largely by city militias such as the Ahdath and other irregular volunteers, and appear most frequently either in battles in the immediate vicinity of their home towns or in sieges. Certainly the infantry of some Syrian cities, particularly Aleppo, were especially noted for their abilities as siege-engineers; these came in 3 categories the Hajjarin (artillery crews), Naqqabin (miners) and Khurasani (crews for the rams and penthouses).

This figure, from the same source as the last, is probably fairly typical of Syrian militiamen, comprised chiefly of poorly armed and armoured levies from the indigenous Arab population. Though most were Arabs the militias of some cities in Northern Syria and the Jazira (such as Aleppo and Mosul) would also have included Kurds and Turks as well as peoples of older native stock, while elsewhere Greek-speaking elements also survived.

Being largely Arabs most would have been armed with spear or sword, but javelins and bows, and sometimes even crossbows, also feature prominently in the sources.



Next: 45. SARACEN CROSSBOWMAN in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath




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