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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


Peasant warriors of this type were present in large numbers in the last battles fought by the Sassanids, an indication of the extent of the Empire's military exhaustion following the wars against the Byzantines which ended in 628. They were unpaid and unreliable and all too often decided that the battle was over shortly after it had begun. This justifies the decision of the Sassanid commander to chain them together at the Battle of Nihawand in 642!

This figure is based on a 9th century copy of an earlier Byzantine ms. He wears typical Sassanid dress with the characteristic felt or leather cap, here dyed with a simple pattern. His arms consist of a thrusting spear and a dagger, with the large leather-covered cane shield as his only defence. The latter is decorated with a single solid block of colour, perhaps intended as a unit recognition device.

Better-quality infantry were supplied by sling and bow-armed mercenaries and by Kurds, Daylamis, Armenians and other Caspian mountaineers, usually armed with javelins. There were at least some heavy infantry.
[Based on Emperor Julian advancing against the Persians at Ktesiphon, f.409v, 'Commentaries of Gregory of Nazianzus', Byzantine, 9th century, BnF Grec 510]

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