Check out my painted 15mm DBA Andalusians here
As part of the Islamic expansion under the Umayyad Caliphate, Muslim armies first arrived in Iberia at Gibraltar on April 30, 711 lead by the general Tariq ibn Ziyad. After the Battle of Guadelete, where Tariq's army soundly defeated the armies of the Visigothic king Roderic of Hispania, the North African Arabs and Berbers carved al-Andalus out of the former Iberian Visigothic empire. al-Andalus would expand northwards and eastwards until October 10, 732, when the Andalusians were defeated by the armies of Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours.
Tariq ibn Ziyad
It was against the expanding al-Andalus that the Spanish Reconquista began at the Battle of Covadonga, where the armies of Pelayo of Asturias defeated the Islamic armies of al-Andalus and guaranteed the survival of the Christian presence in Iberia.
After its initial expansion, al-Andalus became first an Emirate and then an independent Umayyad Caliphate after the Umayyad Caliphate was overthrown in Damascus by the Abbasids. The former Caliph claimed al-Andalus. When the Caliphate dissolved in 1031 thanks to infighting brothers, the territory split into small Taifas, or kingdoms. During this time the Almohad and Almoravids became involved in al-Andalus, claiming kingdoms of their own, which were carved out of the Taifas.
Spanish Reconquista raged between 711, when Tariq's armies first landed in Iberia, until 1492 when al-Andalus was driven from the Iberian peninsula after the Battle of Granada. During this time the armies of al-Andalus would find enemies in the Iberian Visigoths, the Franks, the Feudal Spanish, various North African Berber armies, as well as Vikings hordes.
The armies of al-Andalus varied greatly in composition and make up throughout the Reconquista, but Jinettes, light skirmishing, javelin armed horse warriors were always a main stay. Even the more heavily armoured nobility used this tactic primarily.
As the Reconquista progressed, the Andalusians adopted more and more the European style of fighting. Their Jinettes began to abandon the javelin for spears used for throwing and jabbing. Furthermore, eventually the Andalusians fielded their own knights toward the end. They also employed knights from the Christian realms that surrounded them as well.
With the varied cavalry elements, a modeller has great opportunity to field many different types of figures. Light horse units could be made up of Andalusians, Berber, or Christian riders. They would be lightly armed and typically used javelins, however bow armed horse troops were also known. The cavalry elements could be more heavily armoured Jinettes, using the same javelin dominated tactics. They could also be represented by spear armed troops as well. Again, Andalusian, Berber, and Christian figures could be used here as well because of the common use of mercenaries.
The foot troops of the early Andalusian armies were primarily skirmishers using slings or javelin. Slingers were very prominent, but bow-armed skirmishing foot troops were not uncommon. Skirmishing troops could be Andalusian, Berber, Christians, or even Slav slaves brought in from Eastern Europe working off their slavery as well. As time progressed, the crossbow was adopted. In an Andalusian army, crossbow-armed troops acted as skirmishers, so for later armies, crossbowmen could be included on psiloi elements.
As the Reconquista progressed, the Andalusians adopted spear armed units more and more. Often these spear armed units would be mercenaries from Berber tribes in North Africa, the Almohads and Almohavrids in Andalusia, Nubian states, or from the Christian realms to the north. As such, there are many choices, including even french spearmen! So, feel free to pull out those Norman spearmen elements!
Perhaps the one thing missing from the DBA list is the mercenary knight option. Andalusian armies often employed mercenary Christian knights within their armies, and it is a shame not to have the option to field some! As for other mercenaries, they can be represented in the spear and psiloi options easily enough.
The DBA al-Andalus army list includes the following element types:
|3Cv and General||The general would be accompanied by heavily armoured noble cavalry or mercenary cavalry carrying throwing spears or javelins. [3Cv+G Image], [3Cv Image]|
|2LH||Andalusian or mercenary Jinettes often using javelin, but were also known to use bows and throwing spears. [2LH Image], [2LH Image]|
|2Ps||Poor, often conscripted skirmishing slingers. Bows were also not unknown. Slingers could derive from anywhere, bow troops were commonly Andalusian. Crossbows appeared in later armies. [Image], [Image], [Image], [Image], [Image], [Image], [Image], [Image]|
|4Sp||Spears could be made up of Andalusians or mercenaries, including Berbers or Christians from the northern realms. [Image], [Image]|
To field this army, both A and B, you will need nine noble or heavy cavalry figures, six figures to play the role of Jinettes or skirmishing cavalry with bows, 16 skirmishing foot soldiers holding slings or carrying bows, and eight spear-armed figures. The total: 15 mounted figures and 24 foot figures.
The official DBA army list for opponents of Andalusian armies is Later Visigothic (II/82b), Carolingian Frankish (III/28), Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (III/33), Andalusian (III/34), Fuedal Spanish (III/35), Norse Viking (III/40), West Fankish or Norman (III/51), and Fanatic Berber (III/74).
For an Andalusian army there are several choices for different styles of camps and BUAs. Most commonly though, simple Arab styled tents work well for camps. These should be populated with a smattering of civilians such as Essex miniatures' Arab civilians.
Other ideas for camps are plundered loot. The Andalusians commonly raided their Christian neighbors, stealing bells and other valuables. A group of cheering, hands up in the air Andalusians crowding around a bell would look great (and may require some converting work!). Also, a horse watering/food traught would work well. The Andalusians took great pride in their horses.
For BUAs, the most likely choice would be one of the many great walled cities. Alhambra being one of the most notable. Also, a plundered church would work well. Imagine a scenario where Andalusian raiders were caught in the middle of a raid by an army of Feudal Spanish. They could then quickly convert their church target into a fortification to repel their attackers! Make sure you include a bell in this as well, half drug to a cart or something!
Specifically Andalusian figures are difficult to find. Old Glory is one of the only manufacturers of specifically Andalusian 15mm miniatures. For 28mm scales, Artizan Designs has some very nice Andalusians. Gripping Beast also has a pretty extensive range.
Luckily, the Andalusians have a lot in common with some of the North African Berbers and Arabs in their clothing. Light horse troops would resemble those used in both North Africa and the Middle-east. This is also more or less true for foots troops, both spears, bows, and slingers. As such, those ranges may fit the bill.
Essex miniatures has a great line of Crusades Arabs that could be pressed into service. Arab spearmen, bow armed troops, and mailed cavalry troops would work well. It may be good in these situations to remove some of the more Arab designs though, such as curved swords. Things such as heart-shaped adarga shields were common in later Andalusian armies as well as both tear-drop and round shields. Adding tassles to round shields would nudge them enough to make them nearly perfect Andalusians.
Gladiator miniatures, now distributed by Black Hat Miniatures, also have a line of Crusades Arabs figures that might work. Especially the Bedouin cavalry, Syrian cavalry with unarmoured horses, and Fatmid/Syrian spearmen.For the more heavily armoured troops, it might be wise to convert European figs from the era. The Andalusians were also influenced in their dress by their northern neighbors. As such it is possible to put some wraps around the base of the helmet of a mounted Feudal Spanish soldier and call it Andalusian. Other cultures might work as well with a little conversion, such as Black Hat Miniatures' mounted huscarls.
A Brief History of Andalusia (wikipedia)
The Reconquista (wikipedia)
A Timeline of the Reconquista
My 15mm Andalusian DBA in Pictures!
Some good books for reference:
Armies of the Muslim Conquest (Men-at-Arms, 255)
by by David Nicolle (Author), Angus Mcbride (Illustrator). (Osprey Publishing)
The Armies of Islam : 7th-11th Centuries (Men at Arms, 125)
by by David Nicolle (Author), Angus Mcbride (Illustrator). (Osprey Publishing)
El Cid by James Morris. (Warhammer Historicals, BL Publishing).