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Had been muslim armies tougher to keep up within the area?

I’m at the moment studying Thomas Asbridge’s Creation of the Principality of Antioch and whereas writing concerning the lack of ability of Il Ghazi to capitalise on his victory on the Discipline of Blood, he mentions mentions that muslim armies have been notoriously exhausting to keep up within the area, particularly throughout sieges. How would they’ve been tougher to keep up than a Western European power or perhaps a ‘frankish’ power within the Levant? What was the system of mustering and why does asbridge suppose that it was inefficient at retaining troops throughout longer campaigns? The ebook’s foremost focus is on the Principality of Antioch within the first three many years of the twelfth century.

Comments ( 17 )

  1. There was also a lot of fractiousness in the Muslim world during the era of the first crusade. It was probably difficult to keep control if the guys next to you wanted to fight you almost as much as the crusaders. The crusaders, on the other hand, were more unified in purpose (without factoring in things like dropping out of the road to Jerusalem to found the principality of Antioch 😉 )

    Good book?

  2. I was reading 1453: the fall of Constantinople a few years back and as I recall, a large part of the reason Muslim invaders were able to field such problematically large armies was that the soldiers were expected to be self-sufficient, responsible for their own daily upkeep.

  3. Muslim Armies (I think) were not full-time armies. So people would sometimes want to go back home after the danger is gone.

  4. Lots of general remarks in this comment section about jihad and fractiousness and “Arab armies,” but it’s helpful to talk about this specific situation. After the Field of Blood, Il-Ghazi didn’t besiege Antioch, but he did lead a raiding army all the way to the Mediterranean coast.

    As far as we can tell from the sources, Il-Ghazi’s army in 1119 was made up primarily of Turkmen nomads. These nomads all owned horses and were capable horseback archers, making them very effective warriors in the right situations. However, their main source of income was actually herding sheep and other herd animals – most of them weren’t professional soldiers. Il-Ghazi recruited these nomads mainly from eastern Anatolia, where they would graze their herds and move from pasture to pasture. The longer they were at war and away from their herds, the less they were able to access their stable source of income.

    In order to keep his army in the field for as long as possible, Il-Ghazi had to make sure he could pay them. He couldn’t give them wages like one would to professional soldiers, and he couldn’t give them land in exchange for military service like Frankish lords did to their knights. He basically promised them that they would get paid out of the things they were able to steal from raiding the countryside around Antioch.

    The good thing about this system is it let Il-Ghazi and people like him do a lot of raiding, because it paid for itself to an extent. The bad thing about this system is that it restricted the things Il-Ghazi could do other than raiding. A long siege was not an attractive prospect for Turkmen nomads – their risk of injury or death was high, and they weren’t able to get wealth from raiding while besieging a city.

    Il-Ghazi didn’t have enough money on hand to keep his army together long enough to besiege Antioch – the only thing he could really do (apart from taking a few small castles) was carry out a massive raiding operation, which is what he did. He didn’t achieve any major strategic victory, but he got lots of money in a short amount of time, and he bolstered his reputation with a group of effective Turkmen fighters.

    Il-Ghazi couldn’t keep his army together if he wasn’t consistently raiding the countryside around Antioch to pay them. This was why it was so difficult to keep an army together for extended campaigns.

  5. There are so many inaccurate statements and generalizations here, that I don’t know where to start addressing them. A few of the main ones:

    – Grouping up the multitude of medieval Muslim kingdoms into one generalized category;

    – Arguing that Muslim armies had little to no strategy due to “Jihad”, which contextually makes no sense here as a translation or tenant;

    – Muslim armies had no specialization;

    – Medieval Arabs were all “Tribes” who maintained a nomadic lifestyle;

    – Arab political figures only trusted outsiders as fighters.

    And more. Please people, it’s better not to answer than to make up history as we go!

  6. Muslim armies at the time, mainly Ilghazis army were primarily made of Turkmen nomads. These nomads liked short campaigns and lucrative raids, however long sieges where one would sit in front of city or castle walls weren’t popular. These nomads would rather just plunder what was in the open, and go back to their horses and sheep. Another thing to note about them is they did not recognize the local emirs/beys as their rulers. These were wild men of the steppe. They avoided paying taxes and disobeyed laws. When things got tough, they would just move somewhere else without any regard for land ownership. Even the Turkish sultanates including Safavids and Ottomans had a hard time controlling the nomads. As a result, the nomads made for undisciplined armies. A Frankish serf or noble would face repercussions for deserting the army of the king, meanwhile the nomads would just move somewhere else.

    Seljuk leaders were especially plagued by anarchy after death of Malik Shah. Seljuk central authority was non existent, and the various armies fielded by them would have very shaky chain of command.
    Among crusader armies you would have knights, and counts and the king, or an appointed commander above them. Meanwhile Seljuks armies a lot of the time would just have a bunch of lords that were not under a single commander and functioned as looser alliances. These commanders/lords would work with each other when it suited them, and simply desert when it didn’t.

    I’d say what the author said is true for this time period. Two main Muslim states, Seljuks and Fatimids were collapsing at the time, and especially for the Seljuks the government authority was non existent. Without a legitimate state to pay and feed armies Muslims couldn’t maintain their armies. Though this changes with Zengids and later Ayyubids who built more centralized states that were as capable as any other state in the medieval times.

  7. Read about the siege of Chittorgarh. Thats one of the most famous sieges in Indian History. Rana Pratap Singh’s Fort of Chittor was placed under siege by Mughal Emperor Akbar who was a muslim and his armies were comprised of muslim soldiers too.

  8. How did the pray five times a day work if you were in battle?

  9. I don’t know why this popped up in my feed but holy crap I’m happy it did. This is a fascinating read.

  10. Lol the crusades is one of the worst understood parts of history. If you want to understand, start reading a lot of books on it. The pop culture history is very inaccurate and in many cases the exact opposite of the truth

  11. You can turn to r/askhistorians for this

  12. Because The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was notoriously unstable.

  13. Muslims have the same concept and belief about being a martyr (jihad) as everyone, we just fully believe it in every aspect of life. Studying and becoming a functioning member of society is jihad, raising your kids to be good people is jihad etc. Jihad is the way of sacrifice. You cut off one thing to gain two more, whatever your beliefs are ofc, so this translated heavily into warefare. Spain and Portugal didn’t become Muslim lands for close to eight centuries just like that did they. I advise you to read more about Muslim warfare because some of the acts are bordering on suicide missions without context

  14. Listen to Dan Harlan’s Hardcore History titled King of Kings. It predates Islam and covers the history of the near east up to Alexander the Great. However, it provides an extensive explanation of the geographic, and subsequent cultural and tactical differences between the “Asian” (mostly Persian) and European militaries. The geography doesn’t change much between antiquity and the crusades, so those differences carry through and are still applicable.

  15. Good answer above on the soldiers themselves but a key thing to note is that during this time it wasn’t “Muslims vs Other”, that came later with Zengi and Saladin.

    It was Aleppo vs Damascus vs Mosul. When the “Franks” first came, the three city states basically played a staring contest with each other, thinking of ways to use the invasion for their own upperhand. So lots of retreats, fake promises and betrayals.

    Nobody actually thought the Franks were a threat until Jerusalem fell.

  16. Muslim armies of the past were able to maintain a high level of effectiveness in the field due to a number of factors. One important factor was the strong sense of religious and cultural unity among the soldiers, which helped to increase morale and cohesion within the ranks. Additionally, Muslim armies were often well-trained and disciplined, and had access to advanced military technology and tactics.

    Additionally, the Muslim empire was vast and diverse and the armies were composed of soldiers from various ethnic groups and regions, this diversity could be a source of strength as well as a problem, as it could lead to difficulties in communication and coordination.

    Another important aspect that helped Muslim armies to maintain their effectiveness was the ability to draw on the resources of the vast Islamic empire and the support of the population. This gave them a logistical advantage over their opponents, as well as a steady stream of new recruits.

    It’s important to note that this is a generalization and it could vary depending on the period of time, the specific army, and the context.

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