An extract from Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300
by Ian Heath

[Based on Cantiga 187
with the shield pattern from Cantiga 28]

[Based on Cantiga 28, Cantiga 99 & Cantiga 165]


Both of these figures are taken from the 'Cántigas' mss. Main weapons were spear, javelins and bow or crossbow, javelins called marasas being the favourite weapon of the African troops employed in Granada at the close of this era. Secondary armament consisted of either a sword or a dagger. The crossbow, called a 'Frankish' or 'Foreign' bow by the Moslems, was in use by the late-11th century and proved so popular in Andalusia that in the early-14th century Ibn al-Khatib claimed that it was in more common use than the traditional Arab bow. Ibn Sa'id similarly stated that the Andalusians customarily used the crossbow 'for arming the foot-soldiers in their encounter with the enemy.' Indeed, crossbowmen similarly armoured to figure 82 feature in the 'Cántigas' ms. illuminations. Yet other infantrymen were slingers: staff-slings are portrayed in use in several 13th century sources, and the 14th century author Ibn Hudayl records sling-armed Andalusians (he also records infantry with maces, apparently little used during this era). A large number of slingers were present at Alarcos in 1195.

Figure 81's costume of turban, tunic and leggings is fairly typical; it seems to have been customary to roll up the tunic sleeves in combat, to the elbow or even right up to the shoulder (see also figures 77, 78, 84 and 88). Others substituted trousers for the short leggings worn here wrapped round his calves. His turban is wrapped round a pointed red cap, probably of the same sort as that worn by figure 77. As amongst their cavalry, by the 13th century the adarga had generally (though not completely) replaced the turs and daraqa amongst Andalusian infantry. The one carried here is a variant design to that of figure 78; during the 14th century this was to evolve into two near-ovals joined at the centre, in which form it lasted in use amongst horsemen (notably jinetes) right up until the 16th century, by which time it was often made of wood or even steel.

Figure 82 represents the infantry counterpart of 83, though the skin colour of some indicates that they are not all Berbers, some therefore probably being Spanish mercenaries or Mozarabs (the latter term deriving from Arabic musta'rib, 'one who has Arabised himself', referring to Christians - lapsed or otherwise - living in al-Andalus). Certainly ms. illustrations depict almost identically equipped soldiers in Christian Spanish armies (note also his similarity to figure 30). His armour consists of a long-sleeved mail haubergeon under a short-sleeved scale corselet. Some such figures that are certainly Moslems carry an adarga in place of the shield and substitute turban for coif and helmet. Others wear only the hauberk. 82a-d depict some alternative 12th and 13th century helmets, a, b and d being more traditional Moslem designs. As a general rule helmets only appear to have been worn by men wearing armour, though - as ever - there are exceptions.