Swords & Scimitars
This army guide covers the armies fighting for and against The Crusades in Outremer in the 11th to 13th centuries AD. Outremer (“overseas”) was the general name given to the Crusader states established after the success of the First Crusade.
As well as being a clash between two opposing religions and cultures, the Crusades were also a clash between two very different but equally potent military systems. The Crusaders (termed “Franks” by everyone in the East) relied on armoured knights on heavy horses, charging in close order with couched lances. These were supported by foot spearmen and crossbowmen. By contrast, most Muslim armies now relied primarily on horse archers. They still sometimes had lancers and infantry, but these were no match for Crusader knights and were fielded in decreasing numbers as time went on.
Horse archers, even when armoured, were unable to stand up to Crusader knights in close combat. Occasionally they attempted to do so, with disastrous results. Usually, however, they would evade the Crusader charges.
If the Muslims could use their archery to goad the Crusaders into repeated charges, eventually the knights’ horses would be exhausted, and they could be surrounded and defeated piecemeal. Conversely, if the knights initially deployed behind a screen of infantry, and saved their charge for a decisive moment – such as when the enemy could be pinned against obstructing terrain – victory could go to the Franks. Crossbows proved vital in countering Muslim archery.
This contrast between the equipment and tactics of the opposing sides makes for interesting and challenging tabletop wargames. The Christian states also often warred against each other, as did the Muslims. Sometimes Christians and Muslims even fought on the same side (See P.26). Field of Glory allows the historical and tactical possibilities to be explored in all their richness.
Post Latin Conquest Byzantine