Mamelukes vs Western Knights, Which One Adopted Which Horse Armors Before The Other ? Which One Had Superior Training ?

Mar 2015
834
Europe
#11
How about 5th, 7th and 9th Crusades? Mamelukes started to rule Egypt in 1250, but Aiyubid army was mainly Mamelukes well before that.
5th and 7th were disasters, 9th a success. But Mamelukes were fighting on their own land. Was it blunders of Crusaders in getting confronted with superior Mameluke forces on disadvantageous grounds, or superiority of Mameluke rank and file? How did the armour and training of ordinary Mameluke heavy horseman in 1221 or 1271 compare with armour and training of ordinary Crusader heavy horseman?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#12
I would not say the Aiyubid army was mainly Mamluks more than a Crusader army was mainly knights. They were the decisive arm in many battles and the dominant faction but purely by numbers not the most numerous. A Mameluk soldier in 1221 would be quite well trained but have varying quality of equipment depending on who he served- at this point Mamluks in Ayubid armies were mostly Turks and Georgians but slave soldiers were part of almost all Islamic military systems of this era.

After Mongols invaded Khwarezmia there was a surge in the availability of slaves from the defeated peoples and also many Khwarezmians that refused to submit caused problems across the region as well the normal sources of slaves for Mamluk soldiers shifted a bit further west while the Mongols were united bringing in Azerbaijanis, Slavs, Albanians, and some other groups. One of the sources of conflict that led to the Golden Horde converting to Islam and fighting Hulagu was the revenue from selling Turkic slaves to Islamic rulers that Ilkhnate disliked as it strengthened enemies and there were some hints of ethnic dislike of pagan Turkic people being sold to Islamic non-Turkic rulers.

The Kurds were the best Middle Eastern heavy cavalry, not the Mamluks. Their tactics and equipment were very similar to those of their western counterparts.
Kurdish heavy cavalry when mentioned definitely has a good reputation and while Mamluks were an important part of Ayubid armies the Kurdish components are often overlooked. I would hesitate to say Kurds were the 'best' but certainly had a strong reputation but Mamluks were both a system of gathering and training loyal warriors and eventually a ruling caste in a few places most well known being the former Ayubid domains. Mamluks were active in warfare for quite a long time though Kurds as distinct people are also fairly long-lived I am not sure how much of that time Kurds were cavalry specialists as the first mentions I've read of Kurds they were mentioned as specialized infantry. I would be interested to learn more sources about this for sure.
 
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Likes: Yuyue
Jul 2018
22
Istanbul
#13
...and there were some hints of ethnic dislike of pagan Turkic people being sold to Islamic non-Turkic rulers.
.
Really ?
Were the Ilkhanids not fine with the Turkic people used as slave soldiers in non Turkic islamic states ?
Ilkhanids were Mongols to my knowledge, did they care for the Turks ? Can you open this a bit more for me ?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#14
Really ?
Were the Ilkhanids not fine with the Turkic people used as slave soldiers in non Turkic islamic states ?
Ilkhanids were Mongols to my knowledge, did they care for the Turks ? Can you open this a bit more for me ?
Who were the Ilkhans? The number of Mongols in the Ilkhanate dynasty was very small- most often it was Turkic clans intermarried with Mongol nobles but within a generation, the clan overcame the family and the tribal structure was already under huge strain due to the migrations and larger territories with new peoples assigned to the various Mongol princes.

Then there are the religious strains where Hulagu was supposedly Buddhist but in reality (few Mongol conversions were enthusiastic embraces of religion but almost entirely political) but the politics of Hulagu was opposed to Islamization or cultural contamination mostly because of political concerns.

Ilkhanate sat on the trade routes between China and the west while also benefitting from the urban culture and resources of Persia and Khorasan. The Golden Horde as the furthest west and least populated of the Mongol political regions was also the poorest relatively and a large part of its revenues was based on slave trade where some of the most valuable slaves were healthy boys who already possessed many military traits being raised in the Turkic steppe way. Since Islam forbade enslavement of Muslims most of these boys had to come from the non-Muslim Turkic clans in the Golden Horde who were most often pagan, Nestorian, or Buddhist and these clans appealed to their fellows in the Ilkhanate for help and because the Ilkkanate was in nearly constant battle against Muslims the consequences of improving the fighting qualities of Muslim armies with Turkic slave soldiers was quite obviously strongly opposed.

Next should be mentioned that while 'slave' soldiers sounds ominous and the training of Mamluks was quite harsh that is a relative condition vs what those boys would have faced if remaining on the steppes and most importantly the fact that once a Mamluk passed the training and was part of a military unit his status was in fact quite high in society- there are many existing letters and descriptions particularly from Mamluk Egypt demonstrating the high status of Mamluk who were able to send gifts and letters to their former families and in fact this was a common avenue of conversion. Some sons would be sold as slaves and become Mamluks- gain status and wealth and maintain connections with their relatives and even sometimes visit them. Some of the letters openly recommend the qualities of Islam and advise converting.

Along with the political, geographical, and wealth isolation of the Golden Horde it thus quite makes sense they were the first of the Mongol hordes to convert to Islam. Once Hulagu died and the Ilkhanate faced repeated rebellions and opposition from all the nearby Islamic states their own political adoption of Islam occurred quite quickly.
 
Likes: Yuyue
Feb 2018
202
US
#15
The Mamluk army pre- and post- Baibars are very different and shouldn't be compared as the same. It would be like equating the Macedonian armies before and after Philip II. Mamluk units before Baibars were not even necessarily the best units in their army: at the key battle of La Forbie in 1244, Khwarezmian mercenary cavalry that had fought with Jalal al Din and fled west from the Mongols made a decisive impact. After Baibars, the Mamluk army was one of the highest quality forces in the world, and much larger. The large influx of high quality Kipchak Turkic slaves only occurred after the Mongol conquest of the steppe in the 1230's.

The Ilkhanate and Golden Horde disputed the Caucasus/Azerbaijan territory and thus were enemies regardless of religion.
 
Likes: Ichon
Feb 2019
255
California
#17
I'll be interested to go back and read the comments from knowledgeable folks re Mamluk training. As far as "knight" training goes, the question is "training for what?" I think western knights were generally quite well trained indeed in the ways of their caste. From the age of 7 to 21. But that training tended towards one on one combat, nacht? Perhaps of limited use or sometimes even downright detrimental on a large battlefield. But was the Mamluk training very different in that regard?
 
Feb 2019
255
California
#19
How about 5th, 7th and 9th Crusades? Mamelukes started to rule Egypt in 1250, but Aiyubid army was mainly Mamelukes well before that.
5th and 7th were disasters, 9th a success. But Mamelukes were fighting on their own land. Was it blunders of Crusaders in getting confronted with superior Mameluke forces on disadvantageous grounds, or superiority of Mameluke rank and file? How did the armour and training of ordinary Mameluke heavy horseman in 1221 or 1271 compare with armour and training of ordinary Crusader heavy horseman?

When did the Mamluk start to adopt the "war garb" (armor) that we all picture them in now?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#20
Knights training varied hugely with the wealth, interests, and reputation of the person in question. Quite a few knights as time passed neglected their martial training in favour of managing estates or various rents. Knights as a caste developed basically from anyone with a horse and the wealth to afford to risk it in battle. There were different ranks of knights and eventually it was nearly a hereditary position where the son of a knight would follow the career path of his father but this 'classic' romance ideal of a Knight actually had a very short life even in the medieval era from perhaps 1100-1300 if you want to make up reflective dates (not everywhere the same).

So really the ideal knight was around for the first Crusades and was probably fading not long after in reality though the remembrance of chivalric ideals made reappearances in popular culture even if rarely matching the reality.

What Mamluk war garb are you talking about?