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The study of military history refers to the recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships. Over the course of several centuries military tactics changed and evolved, using more advanced technology.
By the medieval era warfare in the Middle East was dominated by tactics pioneered by the Arab caliphates, who used several techniques to expand over much of North Africa and Southern Europe. Just as Caliphate technology evolved to aid invasions into Europe, the technology and tactics of Europe changed to counter such actions.
- See: Rashidun army
In the mid seventh century the Arab world was dominated by the Rashidun Caliphate, whose army led campaigns across the Arab Peninsula, Sasanian Persia, the Levant, and North Africa. The Rashidun Army was entirely comprised of Muslim men, originally recruited from the Arab populations of Madinah, Mecca, and Taif. As the empire expanded the army recruited from the people it conquered, creating armies of Bedouins and Persians.
The Rashidun relied on infantry to do the bulk of their fighting, with their most elite soldiers and champions serving as the Mubarizun. Soldiers of the Mubarizun unit primarily focused on crushing enemy morale, targeting enemy champions. The bulk of their infantry would be armed with spears and swords, supported by arrow volleys, and would make use of a tactic known as karr wa farr, in which infantry repeatedly charged and withdrew from the enemy. Infantry would also be used to encircle enemy units. alongside cavalry. once the enemy had been adequately worn down. When defending Muslim infantry would form a Tabi’a, in which men armed with two and a half meter long spears would close ranks and form a protective wall. While holding back the enemy with spearmen, archers would continue firing to support the melee units
The Rashidun Army also made good use of light cavalry. Armed with lances and swords, cavalry was originally used as a reserve force, held until the enemy was weakened enough by repeated infantry charges. Usually in a wedge-shaped formation to attack, Rashidun cavalry would either attack from the flanks or the center in an effort to flank or encircle enemies. In both cases the cavalry regiments were initially stationed behind the flanks and center.
In the initial Rashidun army, cavalry made up less than twenty percent of the total force, limited by poor economic condition and the arid climate of the Arabian peninsula to support warhorses. During the conquests of the wealthy lands of the Near East, many Arab warriors seized horses of their own, and by the end of the Rashidun period half of the Caliphate’s forces were cavalry based. Unlike the Byzantines and the Persians, the Arabs did not use mounted archery, as this was not a traditional Arab fighting method, although by the end of the conquests of the Sassanids many who joined the military as cavalry became trained in archery as well.