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An Island in the Sun: Muslim Sicily and Italy

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

Muslim Sicily and South Italy AD 827 – AD 1091

 

Draft list by Ulf Olsson


 

Around AD 700, the island of Pantelleria was captured by Arabs, and it was only discord among the Arabs that prevented Byzantine Sicily being next. Instead, trading arrangements were agreed and Arab merchants established themselves in Sicilian ports. In AD 827 Euphemius, a wealthy Sicilian landowner, attempted a coup against an unpopular Byzantine governor, proclaimed himself Emperor and invited the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia to help him. The response was a fleet of 100 ships and 10,000 troops under the command of Asad ibn al-Furat. The army consisted of Arabs and Berbers from North Africa and Spain. After resistance at Siracusa, the Muslims gained a foothold in Mazara del Vallo. Palermo fell after a long siege in AD 831, but Siracusa held out until AD 878. The Arabs went on to slowly capture other cities until the last Byzantine stronghold, Taormina, finally fell in AD 902.

Raids into southern Italy started during the early 9th Century and continued well into the 11th century. The Muslims gained and maintained footholds on the mainland during the period AD 840 – AD 880, but Lombards, Byzantines and Imperial Germans eliminated them after a lengthy struggle.

 

Muslim Sicily was ruled first by the Sunni Aghlabid dynasty in Tunisia, then by the Shiite Fatimids in Egypt.

The Byzantines took advantage of temporary discord to occupy the eastern end of the island for several years in the mid-10th Century, but failed to reconquer the entire island.

After suppressing a revolt the Fatimid caliph appointed Hassan al-Kalbi (AD 948 – AD 964) as Emir of Sicily. He successfully evicted the Byzantines and founded the Kalbid dynasty.

 

 

Sicily was remarkably multi-ethnic. In addition to Arabs there were Berbers, black Africans, Persians, Greeks, Jews, Slavs and Lombards. Western Sicily particularly prospered. As a virtually an independent emirate, Sicily played a privileged role as bridge between Africa and Europe. Trade flourished and taxes were low. The regime was quite tolerant and allowed subjects to abide by their own laws.

 

With Emir Usuf al-Kalbi (AD 990- AD 998) a period of steady decline began. Under al-Akhal (1017-1037) the dynastic conflict intensified, with factions within the ruling family allying themselves variously with Byzantium and the Zirids of Tunisia. By the time of Emir Hasan as-Samsan (AD 1040 – AD 1053) the island had fragmented into several small fiefdoms reminiscent of the ‘Taifa’ kingdoms of al-Andalus. A Byzantine expeditionary force made another attempt to recover Sicily in the AD 1030s, but failed after initial success.

 

Muslim rule in Sicily slowly came to an end following an invitation by the Emirs of Catania and Siracusa for a Norman invasion. The Normans, under Count Roger de Hauteville attacked Sicily in AD 1061, beginning a thirty year struggle against the Arabs. In AD 1068, Roger and his men defeated the Arabs at Misilmeri but the most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo in AD 1072, and the conquest of Sicily was completed by 1091 with the defeat of the last Emir in Noto.

 

  • A Muslim Sicilian army must state whether it is operating in Sicily or overseas.

 

For a list of sources used to compile this list, please see Early Islamic Sources.

 


 

Army List

 

Terrain in Sicily: Normal - Hilly

Terrain overseas: Normal - Coastal

 

1 Amir’s Division

c1-2 Amir’s Cavalry

0-1 Light Cavalry

 

The Amir’s Division must be commanded by the C-in-C.

 

0-1 Cavalry Division - Only in AD 827 – AD 989

c1 Heavy Cavalry or Light Cavalry

0-1 Heavy Cavalry

1-2 Light Cavalry

 

0-3 Berber Infantry Division

c2-4 Berber Spearmen

0-1 Foot Archers

 

At least 1 Berber Infantry Division must be used in AD 827 - AD 878. No more than 1 Berber Infantry Division may be used in AD 879 - AD 1091.

 

0-1 Arab Infantry Division - Only in AD 827 - AD 989

c2-3 Arab Spearmen

0-1 Foot Archers

 

1-2 Sicilian Infantry Division - Only in AD 878 - AD 1091

c1-2 Sicilian Spearmen

1-2 Foot Archers

 

No more than one Sicilian Infantry Division may be used during the period of Kalbid civil wars in AD 990 – AD 1091.

 

0-2 Levy Division – Only in AD 831 – AD 1091

c1-2 Levy Spearmen

0-2 Levy Archers

 

Levy Divisions may only be used in Sicily.

 

0-2 Ally Faction Division

c1 Ally Heavy Cavalry or Ally Light Cavalry

0-2 Spearmen

0-1 Foot Archers

 

At least 1 Ally Faction Division must be used during the period of Kalbid civil wars in AD 990 – AD 1091. Ally Faction Divisions may only be used in Sicily.

 

0-1 Zirid Ally Division – Only Kalbid factions in AD 1017 – AD 1037

c1-2 Ally Heavy Cavalry

1-2 Ally Light Cavalry

 

A Zirid Allied Division may not be used together with a Byzantine Allied Division and may only be used in Sicily.

 

0-1 Byzantine Ally Division - Only Kalbid factions in AD 1035

c1 Ally Byzantine Kavallarioi

1-2 Ally Byzantine Hoplitai

1 Ally Byzantine Akontistai

 

A Byzantine Allied Division may not be used together with a Zirid Allied Division.

 

 

Additional Units:

0-1 Black Guard Spearmen (1)

0-2 Mercenary Foot Archers (2)

 

  1. May be added to the Amir’s Division.
  2. May be added to the Amir's Division or to an Arab or Sicilian Infantry Division.

 


 

Mounted Units

 

Amir’s Cavalry

Heavy Cavalry – Initiative 7 (Wave)

2 Bases - 42 Pts

4 Bases - 72 Pts

 

Comments:

These are the well equipped members of the Aghlabid, Fatimid and Kalbid dominant clans and regular military units along with mercenaries.

 

Heavy Cavalry

Heavy Cavalry – Initiative 6 (Wave)

2 Bases - 36 Pts, 32 Pts if Allied

4 Bases - 60 Pts, 52 Pts if Allied

 

Heavy Cavalry of an Allied Faction Division are Allied.

 

Comments:

Heavy cavalry are well equipped, good quality troops in the tradition of North Africa and al-Andalus. They include a mix of the retinues of local Amirs along with mercenaries. Allied Heavy Cavalry consist of the elite of a political/tribal faction that the current ruler cannot really trust.

 

Light Cavalry

Light Cavalry – Initiative 6 (Wave)

4 Bases - 52 Pts, 44 Pts if Allied

6 Bases - 72 Pts, 60 Pts if Allied

 

OR

 

Light Irregular Horse – Initiative 6 (Wave)

4 Bases – 48 Pts, 40 Pts if Allied

6 Bases – 66 Pts, 54 Pts if Allied

 

Light Cavalry in an Ally Faction Division are Allies. Light Cavalry in other Divisions are not Allies.

 

In the period AD 827 – AD 902 Light Cavalry may be graded as Light Irregular Horse. Light Cavalry in a Division must be graded as all Light Cavalry or all Light Irregular Horse

Irregular Horse may be Audacious (same points cost).

 

Comments:

The Light Cavalry consist of the less heavily equipped mounted warriors of Muslim Sicily as well as Berber mercenaries. During the years of the Muslim conquest of Sicily these units also include considerable units of religious volunteers wishing to fight for the faith against the Byzantines and Italian Christians.

 

Ally Byzantine Kavallarioi

Heavy Cavalry - Initiative 6 (Ally, Bow)

3 Bases - 42 Pts

4 Bases - 52 Pts

 

Comments:

Represents the full-time professional cavalry of the provinces of the Byzantine Empire. In the 11th Century a contingent of Byzantines briefly joined one of the Kalbid factions.

 

 

Foot Units

 

Black Guard Spearmen

Medium Shieldsmen - Initiative 6

6 Bases – 32 Pts, 39 Pts if Including Light Archer Detachment

8 Bases – 40 Pts, 48 Pts if Including Light Archer Detachment

 

May include a Light Archer Detachment.

 

Comments:

The Black Guard Spearmen unit depict professional foot soldiers of African slave origin that were used as bodyguards by several Muslim states in the western Mediterranean. They were effective troops with good discipline.

 

Berber Spearmen

Medium or Light Shieldsmen – Initiative 6

6 Bases - 32 Pts, 26 Pts if Brittle

8 Bases - 40 Pts, 32 Pts if Brittle

 

No more than half the Spearmen units in a Berber Infantry Division may be Medium, all other must be Light.

Berber Spearmen must be Brittle in AD 903 - AD 1091. In AD 827 - AD 902 any Berber Spearmen may be Brittle.

 

Comments:

The Spearmen represent the majority of the initial Muslim infantry equipped with spear and shield and fighting in the Berber tradition. Most wore no armour.

 

Arab or Sicilian Spearmen

Medium – Initiative 6

6 Bases - 32 Pts, 39 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment.

8 Bases - 40 Pts 48 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment.

 

OR

 

Medium – Initiative 6 (Brittle or Ally)

6 Bases - 26 Pts, 33 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment.

8 Bases - 32 Pts 40 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment.

 

Spearmen units in Arab or Sicilian Infantry Divisions may include a Light Archer Detachment. if any Spearmen units in a Division include a Light Archer Detachment, no Archer Unit may be included in that Division.

Spearmen units in an Arab or Sicilian Infantry Division may be Brittle in AD 827 - AD 989, and must be Brittle in AD 990 - AD 1091.

Spearmen units in an Ally Faction Division are Allied (same points cost)

 

Comments:

The Spearmen represent the majority of Muslim Sicilian infantry equipped with spear and shield. In the early part of the period most are Arab immigrants. Later, most are city dwellers of very mixed ethnic background. Some had helmets and/or mail hauberks, although most probably wore little or no armour.

 

 

Mercenary Foot Archers

Medium Archers – Initiative 6 (Expert)

4 Bases - 32 Pts

6 Bases - 44 Pts

 

Comments:

The Foot Archers represent the professional archers deployed in separate bodies. Such troops had a good reputation and were subsequently retained by the Normans when they conquered Sicily.

 

Foot Archers

Medium or Light Archers – Initiative 6 (Brittle or Ally)

4 Bases - 24 Pts

6 Bases - 32 Pts

 

Foot Archer units in Infantry Divisions are Brittle. Foot Archer units in an Ally Faction Division are Allied (same points cost)

 

Comments:

The Foot Archers represent the lightly equipped archers deployed in separate bodies.

 

Levy Spearmen

Medium Shieldsmen – Initiative 5

4 Bases - 20 Pts

6 Bases - 26 Pts

8 Bases - 32 Pts

One Levy Spearmen unit in a Division may be regraded as Light Shieldsmen (same points cost)

 

Comments:

The Levy Spearmen represent those members of the city militias and other lower quality foot warriors who fought on foot primarily armed with spears or swords.

 

Levy Archers

Light Archers – Initiative 5

4 Bases - 23 Pts

 

Comments:

The Levy Archers represent those members of the city militias and rural volunteers who fought on foot primarily armed with bows.

 

 

Ally Byzantine Hoplitai

Medium Shieldsmen + Medium Archer Detachment + Menavlatoi Detachment (Light Shock)

Initiative 6 (Ally, Deep Line, Hollow Square)

6 Bases - 32 Pts

8 Bases - 36 Pts

 

Comments:

These units represent the heavy infantry component of the main Byzantine infantry force of the period. They operated together with light infantry Akontistai in a sophisticated brigade-like organization. In the 11th Century a contingent of Byzantines briefly joined a Kalbid faction.

 

Ally Byzantine Akontistai

Light Shieldsmen + Light Archer Detachment - Initiative 6 (Ally, Hollow Square)

4 Bases - 22 Pts

6 Bases - 29 Pts

 

Comments:

These units represent the light infantry component of the ‘brigades’ described above. They consist of fast-moving javelinmen supported by archers and slingers. See above.

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