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Warlords on the Nile: Tulunid and Iqshidid Egyptian

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 7 months ago

Tulunid Egyptian (AD 868 – AD 905) & Iqshidid Egyptian (AD 935 – AD 969)


Draft List by Ulf Olsson


This list covers the armies of the Tulunid and Iqshidid dynasties in Egypt. Both the Tulunids and the Iqshidids established autonomous states centered on Egypt during the long decline of the Abbasid Caliphate. Officially, these dynasties were ‘governors’ of Egypt working for the Caliph in Baghdad, but in practice they were independent. Both the Tulunids and the Iqshidis expanded into Palestine, the Lebanon and Syria from their base in Egypt.

The armies of the two dynasties were very similar and based around professional troops of slave origin. The mounted troops were largely Turkic Ghilman, while the best infantry were African ‘Abid al-Shira. In addition to these professional troops the Egyptian armies of the period used Bedouin and Berber auxiliaries along with city militias.



The Tulunid state was founded by the governor Ahmad ibn Tulun in AD 868. Ahmad rapidly became de facto independent and stopped sending tax revenue to Baghdad. The taxes were instead used in Egypt itself and led to a much revived local economy. But a very expensive professional army, over-ambitious building projects, general inefficiency and an increasingly splendid court gradually ruined the economy by AD 900. The Tulunid dynasty rapidly disintegrated in a confusing mess of court intrigues and financial collapse. In AD 905 the Abbasid government in Baghdad re-established control of Egypt.



Another Abbasid governor of Egypt, Muhammed bin Tughj, made himself independent of Baghdad in AD 935. Muhammed was given the title Iqshid (‘Prince’ in Persian) and the short-lived dynasty he founded is known by this title. The Iqshidid state was quite similar to the Tulunid one and had a period of prosperity for a generation. It then rapidly declined (mainly due to financial crisis) and fell to external enemies. The Abbasid central government was now itself much too weak to regain control of Egypt. However, the Fatimids based in Tunisia and Libya were on the rise and made Egypt their main target. At first, the Iqshidids successfully defeated a number of Fatimid attacks, but finally fell to renewed Fatimid assault in AD 969.


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



Army List


Terrain: Dry - Coastal


1-3 Ghilman Division

1c Ghilman

1-2 Ghilman

0-1 Bedouin or Berber Cavalry


0-1 Bedouin Ally Division

1c Bedouin Cavalry

1-2 Bedouin Cavalry


1-2 ’Abid Infantry Division

1c ‘Abid al-Shira

1-2 ‘Abid al-Shira

0-1 ‘Abid Swordsmen


0-1 Maghrebi Infantry Division

1c Maghrebi Infantry

1-2 Maghrebi Infantry

0-1 Maghrebi Archers


0-1 Levy Infantry Division

1c Levy Infantry

1-2 Levy Infantry


Additional Units

0-2 Armenian Cavalry (1)

0-2 Maghrebi Infantry or Hillmen (2)


Additional Unit Notes

No Additional Units may be added to an Ally Division.

  1. Armenian Cavalry may only be added to a Ghilman Division
  2. Maghrebi Infantry or Hillmen may be added to any infantry Division


Mounted Units



Heavy or Medium Horse Archers- Initiative 7 (Expert)

2 Bases – 52 Pts if Heavy, 44 if Medium

4 Bases – 91 Pts if Heavy, 76 Pts if Medium


Ghilman personally commanded by the Division’s general may be Heavy, all other Ghilman are Medium.



The Tulunid and Iqshidid armies relied heavily on ghilman troopers. They were highly effective, but also very expensive to recruit and maintain. The Ghilman were supposedly of Turk origin, but in practice many were from other ethnic backgrounds.



Bedouin Cavalry or Berber Cavalry

Medium or Light Irregular Horse – Initiative 6 (Wave)

4 Bases - 48 Pts, 40 Pts if Allied

6 Bases - 66 Pts, 54 Pts if Allied


Bedouin Cavalry may be Medium if personally led by the Division commander. All other Bedouin Cavalry and Berber Cavalry must be Light.

Bedouins of a Bedouin Ally Division are Allies, other Bedouin and Berber Cavalry are not Allies.



The Tulunids and Iqshidids used Bedouin and Berber tribal auxiliaries in significant numbers.


Armenian Cavalry

Heavy Cavalry – Initiative 6 (Audacious)

2 Bases – 36 Pts

3 Bases – 48 Pts


May be equipped with Bow (no extra Pts cost).



Considerable numbers of Armenian Cavalry were recruited by the Egyptian states of the period. It is unclear whether they were included in the Ghilman or if they fought in separate contingents.


Foot Units


’Abid al-Shira

Medium Shieldsmen- Initiative 6

6 Bases – 32 Pts, 35 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment

8 Bases – 40 Pts, 44 Pts if including Light Archer Detachment


May include Light Archer Detachment.



The ‘Abid al-Shira formed the core of the professional infantry units. They were recruited from black Africans, at least some of whom were slave soldiers. They were good quality infantry and were often supported by archers.



’Abid Swordsmen

Medium Shock- Initiative 6 (Audacious)

6 Bases – 42 Pts

8 Bases – 52 Pts



Some of the ‘Abid infantry were primarily armed with swords.


Maghrebi Infantry or Hillmen

Medium or Light Irregulars – Initiative 6

6 Bases - 26 Pts

8 Bases - 32 Pts



The Tulunids and Iqshidids used infantry from the Maghreb in some numbers. They were both ill-disciplined and ill-equipped (probably completely lacking armour), but could still be effective.

In addition, some local groups of hillmen from Palestine, Syria, and/or the Lebanon may have been used as well.


Maghrebi Archers

Light Archers – Initiative 6

4 Bases – 28 Pts



Some of the Maghrebi infantry were armed with bows. See Maghrebi Infantry above.


Levy Infantry

Medium Irregulars – Initiative 5

6 Bases – 22 Pts

8 Bases – 26 Pts



Levy Infantry depicts hastily mobilized city-dwellers. They were numerous, but unreliable and ill-equipped.

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