Andalusian Order of Battle

Andalusian armies were composed of a number of elements. The proportion of these elements changed depending on the political situation, and particular armies would concentrate on some and not others.

Organisationally the army was composed of 5 groups (Heath, 1980):

Jund, hereditary regulars,

Hashid (“recruits”), volunteers recruited for a single expedition,

Mujahids or al-Murabitun, unpaid religious volunteers,

Murtaziqa, regular foreign mercenaries

Muttawia, unpaid foreign irregulars

Ethnically the army was also compose of 5 groups:

Arabs. Arab immigrants provided the basis of some early armies; the significant influxes were in 711, 712, and 741 (Heath, 1980).

Slavs (Saqlabi). European Slave troops were employed from the reign of al-Hakam I (796-822) although only became a large professional military force in the 10th century (Kennedy, 1996). Despite being called Slavs, most were recruited from Kingdom of Leon.

Berbers. Berbers mercenary/immigrants were being employed throughout the history of Al-Andalus, however, there were particular bursts of recruitment: under Abd al-Rahman II (822-852), Al-Hakam II (961-976), and the vizier Al-Mansur (976-1002) (Kennedy, 1996).

Negroes. Negro slaves and mercenaries were employed periodically – particularly as a counter-balance to either the Slavs or Berbers (Kennedy, 1996).

Andalusians. Muslims born in Al-Andalus of any extraction (native, Arab, Berber). Iberian Muslims were actually called Muladíes (Wikipedia: Taifa)

Abd al-Rahman I (756-788) imported 40,000 Berber mercenaries from North Africa as a counter-foil to the Arab Jund already settled in Al-Andalus. He also recruited a Black Guard of 2,000 men.

Al-Hakam I (796-822) had an army of 50,000 (Heath, 1980). it consisted mainly of Berbers and Negroes, but also included a Christrian Guard known as al-Khurs (“The Mutes”) of 2,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry.

The vizier Al-Mansur (976-1002) had a fully professional army of 60,000 (Kennedy, 1996; Heath, 1980). He particularly favored Berbers, bringing many over from North Africa. This emphasis meant the army was predominately cavalry. In c. 978 Al-Mansur disbanded the existing Caliph’s Slav bodyguard of 3,750 men, but Slavs continued to form a significant proportion of the army. A small Andalusian element remained although the Andalusian elite was largely demilitarised by this time (Nicolle, 1988) .

The Caliph Muhammad II (1008-1010) was opposed by the Berber generals, and most, but not all, of the Slavs abandoned him to pursue their own political aims (Kennedy, 1996). As a result he attempted to recruit a militia from the native Cordobans which faired badly against the Berbers.

The Caliph Al-Qasim ibn Hammud (1018-1021, 1023) attempted to counterbalance the Berbers by recruiting a Negro bodyguard (Kennedy, 1996).

Taifa armies were small (Kennedy, 1996). In 1055 Seville took Algerciras with only 200 horse, and in 1069 when they took Cordoba they had an advance guard of 200 horse and a main body of 1,000. However, having called for volunteers to retake Barbastro, Al-Muqtadir of Zaragoza managed to raise an army which included 6,000 archers and 50 horsemen from Seville. Granadine garrisons may have been as low as 100 Zanata in Granada itself and 300 at Malaga.


Gush, G. (1975). Renaissance Armies 1480-1650. Patrick Stephens.

Heath, I. (1980). Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 (2nd ed.). Wargames Research Group.

Heath, I. (1982). Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1. Wargames Research Group.

Heath, I. (1989). Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300 (2nd ed.). Wargames Research Group.

Nicolle, D. (1998). The Fall of Granada 1481-1492: The twilight of Moorish Spain (Campaign Series 53). Osprey.

Kennedy, H. (1996). Muslim Spain and Portugal: A political history of al-Andalus. London: Longman.

Oman, C. (1987). A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century. London: Greenhill Books. Originally published 1937.

Wikipedia: Taifa

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