SUDANESE SPEARMAN

[Based on a painted window of the monastery church of St Denis in Paris]
An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath

34. SUDANESE SPEARMAN

Though most Sudanese in Fatimid and Ayyubid employ were archers some were instead armed with a spear, and it is as one such that I have interpreted this figure from the St Denis windows (see note 35 below). The spear could be used as a thrusting or throwing weapon, Baldwin I being badly wounded in 1103 by the thrown spear of a Sudanese infantryman.

It is apparent from his simple dress that he is not a guardsman and he carries only a spear and a circular Turs. The latter has a reinforced rim and an acutely spiked boss like that of 36. A sword would have also been carried, and Negro swordsmen appear in a list of Fatimid regiments recorded c. 1047-1054.

Usamah's anecdotes include references to Negro horsemen too, and some modern authorities - such as Lane-Poole - have even interpreted Saladin's Qaraghulam cavalry as Negroes (Qaraghulam translating literally as 'Black slave'); more probably Qaraghulam merely denoted non-Turkish mamluks, no doubt including some Negroes nevertheless.



Next: 35, 36, 37 & 38. SYRIAN CAVALRYMEN c. 1150 in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath




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