Mamluk Egyptian

Mamluk Egyptian

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Historical Overview Section

The first mamluks served the Abbasid Arab caliphs at the end of the 9th century in Baghdad. The Mamluk system was an evolution of the Ghulam or Ghilman system, invented by the Caliph al-Mu'tasim, in which Turkic prisoners of war became the caliphal guard. This system ended in disaster in the 860s with the murder of four caliphs in a row, and the Mamluk system was created on its ruins. The main difference was that the Mamluks were captured as children and then trained and moulded within the Islamic world to ensure their loyalty to their masters. The Abbasids "recruited" (i.e., enslaved) them mainly from areas near the Caucasus (mainly Circassian and Georgian), and from areas north of the Black Sea.

After Saladin's death his sons fell to squabbling over the division of the Empire, and each attempted to surround himself with larger expanded mamluk retinues. By 1200 Saladin's brother Al-Adil succeeded in securing control over the whole empire by defeating and killing or imprisoning his brothers and nephews in turn. With each victory Al-Adil incorporated the defeated mamluk retinue into his own. This process was repeated at Al-Adil's death in 1218, and at his son Al-Kamil's death in 1238. The Ayyubids became increasingly dependant upon their mamluks and soon involved them in the internal court politics of the kingdom itself.

In June 1249, the Later Crusaders Seventh Crusade under Louis IX of France landed in Egypt and soon after Egyptian sultan As-Salih Ayyub died and power passed briefly to his son Turanshah and then his favorite wife Shajar Al-Durr (or Shajarat-ul-Dur). She took control with mamluk support and launched a counterattack. Troops of the Bahri commander Baibars defeated Louis's troops. The king delayed his retreat too long and was captured by the Mamluks in March 1250, and agreed to a ransom of 400,000 livres. Political pressure for a male leader made Shajar marry the mamluk commander Aybak; he was later killed in his bath, and in the power struggle that ensued vice-regent Qutuz took over. He formally founded the first Mamluk sultanate and the Bahri dynasty.

In 1258 the Egyptian Sultan Qutuz drew an invading Ilkhanid Mongol army into an ambush and using his Mamluk forces routed them at the Battle of Ain Jalut. After this great triumph, Qutuz was assassinated by conspiring Mamluks. It was said that Baibars, who seized power, was involved in the assassination. The Mamluks then defeated the Mongols a second time in Homs in 1260 and began to drive them back east. In the process they consolidated their power over Syria, fortified the area, formed mail routes, and formed diplomatic connections between the local princes. Baibars's troops attacked Acre in 1263, captured Caesaria in 1265, and massacred the inhabitants of Antioch in 1268. The Mamluk Sultanate survived until 1517, when it was conquered by the Later Ottoman Turkish Empire. The institution of the mamluks continued under the Ottomans, although not in the same form as under the Sultanate.

Using the army in FoG

  • Like other shooty cavalry armies, your battle plan is usually to stake out as much ground as possible to block enemy Second Moves, at least in some sectors, and leave ample manoeuvre room behind your lines. Getting first move is very helpful so losing the PBI roll is preferred by some players, although your tough Cv may be willing to face the enemy in close combat, so its therefore less critical to keep lots of manoeuvre room to the rear.
  • Sometimes you are lucky and the enemy deploys with a hanging flank you can readily outwing and envelop, or a good flank march opportunity presents itself, but often the terrain and enemy dispositions limit you to a frontal approach of disrupting, loosening and disjointing the enemy line of battle with shooting, threats, and uncontrolled enemy charges in order to expose gaps, flanks and other weak spots you then exploit with concentrated shooting or timely charges
  • Destroy or flee enemy Skirmishers, draw their mounted and aggressive foot away from their other troops by skirmishing - he will have to charge shooters to reduce their effect - pick off isolated detachments, and provoke charges where possible. Work around his flank and hunt his BG count filler such as Mobs and LF.
  • Ultimately your cavalry will need to be the ones to win the battle for you by running down your opponents - remember this and don;t expect your LH to do all the work in eroding enemy morale and competence to breaking point.
  • One common mistake with all Shooty cavalry is to take advantage of the possibility evade too often - superior armoured cavalry swordsmen are still very potent combat troops against most enemies, and it is often better to advance in 2 ranks (inflicting more shooting as a result) and take on any enemies in hand to hand combat.
  • The time to commit is once an enemy has gone disrupted, or if they have lost bases - waiting and skirmishing in the hope they go fragmented may well be gilding the lilly.
  • The Mamluks can also have a serious amount of lancers - of all types. Worth considering, as the mix of cheap unprotected lancers and also drilled ones plus maneuverable drilled Bw/Sw cavalry is quite tidy.

A 6-strong Mob unit is rare and great value, along with the Naffatun/firearm boys and poor MF to bulk out the army

  • The Elites are very pricey, and you can't give them rear support. Superiors (+ a general) should be good enough.
  • Cv are better than too many LH - you only really need a couple of BGs, 3 at most.
  • Look at the naffatun - a BG for 16 AP who's shooting can work with others and add an extra -1 on CT's
  • The cheap poor LF Bow are also good value - a whole BG for 18 or 24 AP
  • Don't forget the dismount option too when deploying

UK Tournament Results with this army

User-contributed links about this army:


  • Syrian States (Syrian Ayyubids) : Dates: Before 1286 Swords and Scimitars page 29 : Compulsary Bw/Sw cavalry, optional cavalry and LH lancers, more Bw/Sw - and some cheap foot units. Worth looking at

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site. This listing only covers "arabic" figures - Turk/Hunninc/Mongol figures are omitted as nearly everyone does some of them.

Image Image Image Image

Core Troops

Which troops are absolutely needed for this army, and what are your thoughts on how to organise, paint and buy them.

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
800 AP list with a surprising amount of lancers

  • 1 Foot Archers LF unprotected Average Undrilled bow - - - 8
  • 2 Turcomans LH unprotected Average Undrilled bow - Swordsmen - 4
  • 3 Turcomans LH unprotected Average Undrilled bow - Swordsmen - 4
  • 4 Turcomans LH unprotected Average Undrilled bow - Swordsmen - 4
  • 5 Mob Mob unprotected poor Undrilled - - - - 6
  • 6 Sultans Mamluks Cv armoured superior Drilled bow Swordsmen - 4
  • 7 Amirs Mamluks Cv armoured superior Drilled bow Swordsmen - 4
  • 8 Amirs Mamluks Cv armoured superior Drilled bow Swordsmen - 4
  • 9 Bedouin LH unprotected Average Undrilled - lancers Swordsmen - 4
  • 10 Bedouin LH unprotected Average Undrilled - lancers Swordsmen - 4
  • 11 Naffatun LF unprotected Average Undrilled Firearm - - - 4
  • 12 Kurdish Cavalry Cv armoured superior Undrilled - lancers Swordsmen - 4
  • 13 Halqua Cv armoured superior Drilled - lancers Swordsmen - 4
  • 14 Bedouin Cv unprotected Average Undrilled - lancers Swordsmen - 6
  • Generals TC - - - - - - - 4

900 AP list as used at Oxford Doubles 2009 by Phil Powell

  • 6 MF, Poor, Undrilled, L/Sp, protected
  • 4 LH, Bw, Sw, Av
  • 4 LH, Bw, Sw, Av
  • 4 LH, Lance, Sw, Average
  • 8 LF, Bw, Av
  • 4 LH, L, Sw, Av
  • 4 LH, L, Sw, Av
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 4 Cv, Drilled, Armoured, Average Bw/Sw
  • 1 x IC, 3 x TC

You really do not want to use this. Average cavalry are pooh.

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