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Early Islamic Sources

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 1 month ago

Early Islamic Sources


This is a selection of books I used while compiling the drafts of army lists for early Islamic armies, such as Abbasids and Hamdanids. The list of sources is much less extemsive than for the Byzantine lists. Information on the military aspects of the pre-Seljuq era of Islamic history is quite sparse. I hope this list will prove useful to other gamers interested in the period.


/Ulf Olsson


From the Meadows of Gold


Penguin, 2007

ISBN 978-0-141-0253-3

This is a very slim little volume containing extracts from the writings of the Arab traveller Ma'sudi. It was written in Baghdad in the early 10th C. It contains very little military information, but gives a most readable insight into the world view and political outlook of educated Muslims of the period. It is highly entertaining and very cheap.


Medieval Warfare Source Book, volume 2: Christian Europe and its Neighbours

David Nicolle

Arms and Armour Press, 1992

ISBN 1-85409-307-X

This is a good overview of military matters in the Muslim world, those parts of Christian Europe that faced the Muslim onslaught, i e Byzantium and the Iberian Peninsula, as well as Sassanid Persia and Central Asia. The Period covered is roughly AD 400 - AD 1400. This is a very useful book that compares the military forces of these regions in a readable, but not simplistic way. Highly recommended.


The Armies of the Caliphs

Hugh Kennedy

Routledge, 2001

ISBN 0-415-25093-5

This is probably the best book on Early Muslim military forces I have come across. It covers the armies of Islam from the initial wave of conquest until the end of the Abbasid Caliphate and also some of its successor states. Well-written and very informative. Highly recommended.


The Court of the Caliphs

Hugh Kennedy

Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2004

A very good book focusing on the Abbasid Caliphate. It is primarily a political history, but still very useful. It is well written and covers the period from just before the revolt against the Umayyads until the final collapse of Abbasid power. Highly recommended.


The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphates

Hugh Kennedy

Pearson, 2004

ISBN 0-582-40525-4

Another very good book from Kennedy. This one covers Islamic states from the Prophet until the collapse of the Abbasid caliphate, plus some information on various successor states. A very good introduction to the period. Not much military information, since this is primatily a political history, but well wort reading.


The First Dynasty of Islam

G.R. Hawting

Routledge, 2000

ISBN 0-415-24073-5

A most useful volume and the only accessible book I've come across that covers the history of the Umayyads. Well written and informative. It is a political history and does not have much in the way of military history,although some of the major campaigns are described briefly. Well worth reading for historical background and general 'feel' for the period.


White Banners, Contention in Abbasid Syria

Paul M Cobb

State University of New York Press, 2001

ISBN 0-7914-4880-0

An academic book concentrating on one aspect of the Abbasid state; insurrections in Syria. It does not really focus on military matters, but rather on on the political aspects of rebellion and resistance to central authority. There are quite a lot of military information, though. Especially the difficulties of raising troops for less popular campaigns. Very interesting, but really requires some prior knowledge of the period.


Slaves on Horse

Patricia Crone

Cambridge University Press, 2003

ISBN 0-521-52940-9

An academic book that describes the history of military slaves in early Islamic society. It does not focus so much on actual military matters, but rather on military slaves as a social institution in society. There is quite a lot of information on early ghilman (the book ends in about AD 850) that I have not seen anywhere else. Also very interesting, but really does require some prior knowledge of the period.


Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs

Nadia Maria El Cheikh

Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2004

ISBN 0-932885-30-6

An interesting view from 'the other side of the hill', this book looks at the view that the Arabs had of their Byzantine adversaries. Very interesting, it contains more information on military matters than one would expect. It is a very academic book and primarily political, religious and historiagraphical, though.

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