SELJUK INFANTRYMEN

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

[Based on a Seljuk bowl]

[Based on illustrations in Varqa wa Gulshah]
see Men Treading Grapes for heads.
49 & 50.      SELJUK INFANTRYMEN

Despite the predominance of cavalry in their armies Seljuk infantry were, seemingly, not uncommon, for example featuring prominently at Myriokephalon in 1176, while Anna Comnena records as many as 80,000 'fully-armed infantry' opposing the First Crusade at Heraclea in 1097. They were usually unarmoured and most were either javelinmen or archers, some carrying short spears too. By the mid-12th century at the latest crossbows were also in use, becoming an important infantry arm by the 13th century; Rumi crossbowmen recorded at the Battle of Akhlat in 1230 were protected by large cowhide shields, presumably wielded by shield-bearers.

49 is from an early-13th century Persian painted bowl which shows a number of similar figures as well as horsemen like 39. Clothes are depicted mainly dark blue, light blue, turquoise, brown and tan; alternative sources depict red, green, black and most other colours also being worn. On the bowl some infantrymen have their trousers cross-gartered.

50, from Azerbaijan (the same source as 40 and 48), is interesting in showing that the Seljuks too used the kite-shield (some infantry figures on the painted bowl mentioned above also substitute kite-shields for circular ones), and also in its depiction of the more 'characteristic' Turkish hairstyle which during this era seems to appear only in Eastern frontier regions and amongst the 'uncivilised' Turcoman nomads. 50a and b are alternatives from a Persian source of c. 1225.



Next: 51. RUMI 'FIRENK' HEAVY CAVALRYMAN in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath