By Tony De Lyall
Seljuk Turkish - DBA Army # 124 - The Options
The Seljuks were a tribe of mercenary Ghuzz who revolted against their Ghaznavid employers in 1037. Under Sultan Arp Arslan and his son Malik they conquered from Anatolia in the west to Afghanistan in the east, from the Caucasus in the north to Syria and the Persian Gulf in the south. This period saw Arp Arslan's destruction of the Byzantines at Manzikert (1071) - often seen as one of the decisive battles of history - which resulted in the removal of the Anatolian heartland from the Byzantine empire forever. After the death of Malik in 1092 the Seljuk empire broke up into short lived smaller sultanates (Nicaea, Hamadan and Merv) and into independent emirates.
The tactics of the Seljuks resembled those of most asiatic bow armed light horse armies. They tried to destroy the enemy through archery followed by close combat once the enemy were sufficiently disordered and disheartened. Seljuks would attempt to encircle the enemy, falling upon stragglers or attacking the camp. Feint retreats would be used to draw the enemy into precipitous attacks who could then be cut off and defeated in detail. Similarly they would fall back from determined attacks only to follow up once the enemy began to fall back.
The 1st Crusaders encountered these tactics initially at the battle of Dorylaeum in 1097. Prince Bohemond's army discover that the western knightly charge was ineffective against an enemy who would rather fall back than stand. The Crusaders disintegrated into a confused struggling mass under the Seljuk's 3 hour rain of arrows unable to attack or retreat. They were only saved when Count Raymond's relief force unexpected appeared catching the Seljuks in the flank. The Crusader's long term response was to substantially increase the crossbow armed infantry in their armies so they could keep the horse archers at bay.
Enemies are -
Ghanavid (115), Nikephorian Byzantine (117), Fatimid Egyptian (118), Georgian (121), Cuman (130), Cilcian Armenian (132), Comnenan Byzantine (133), Early Crusader (138), Medieval Syrian (139), Later Crusader (141), Ayyubid Egyptian (143), Khwarizmian (146), Late Byzantine (153), (154), Mamluk Egyptian (158), Ilkhanid (159a)
Notes on the FiguresThe army is made up from -
Seljuk Light Horse
Turkoman Light Horse
The figure is a conversion from a HAT Prussian Uhlan. The shako has been cut down with a sharp knife to form a cap. (Hint: A blob of white PVA glue over the cap smooths out the nicks.) The spear/javelin is some 0.8mm brass rod. The bow case has been shaped from 6mm length of .100"/2.5mm styrene channel (manufactured by Evergreen, USA). The bow is a small bent section of a pin and the bow string a piece of sewing cotton. The bow and case were assembled with glue. A pin was inserted into the left side of the figure and cut off close leaving a small stud. The completed bow case was then glued to the stud. The figures have been mounted on the horse with a shield from the Italeri Saracen set.
Incidentally Turkoman women are known to have fought with the men which should make an interesting conversion in itself!
Notes on Painting
Seljuks were rather colourful, dressing in brocade or bright silks. Coats can be dark or light blue, turquoise, brown, tan, and to a lesser extent red, green or black or indeed nearly any colour. Coats could also be highly decorated with geometric, floral or arabesque patterns. This is too difficult for me to attempt so I have just painted my figures single colours.
Shields are also colourful in white, yellow, red, blue, green, brown or black. Shields could be decorated in geometric designs or devices eg, swords, cups, rosettes, crescents, and occasionally with animals - lions, eagles. Again a bit to hard and fiddly for me to attempt.
Barker, Phil. and Scott, Richard Bodley. DBM Army Lists, Book 3 & Book 4, 1994. Duckworth, P. "Wargaming the Crusades", Miniature Wargames, Nos 3 - 4. Heath, Ian. Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096 - 1291, WRG, 1978. Heath, Ian. A Wargamers' Guide to the Crusades, Patrick Stephens, 1980.
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