Author: David Nicolle
Illustrator: Christa Hook
In the Middle East, not only were the 12th and 13th centuries punctuated by European Crusades but, even more
significantly, the mid-11th century saw the invasion of the Saljuq Turks and the mid-13th century witnessed a
devastating Mongol assault. Crucial to the Middle Eastern forces involved was the professional cavalryman, known as a
faris or 'horseman'. A faris' training was far more wide-ranging than that of a contemporary European knight, including
the use of horse-archery and the ability to fight on foot as well as general horsemanship and the use of the lance and
sword. David Nicolle's text presents a detailed view of these fascinating and versatile warriors.
This text was originally printed as an article and refers to Knight of Outremer 1187-1344AD (Warrior 18) as well as to
Being asked to choose your favourite title from the Osprey list is like being asked which of your children is your
favourite - an impossible decision to make. Consequently, I have cheated and selected two books.
I have had a personal fascination with the phenomenon of the Crusades since my days at university. Often one of the
difficulties of the study of history is to translate dry facts and figures into human terms. It can be almost impossible
to fully understand the significance of past events, or certainly to see them in their true context without some idea of
the attitudes and philosophies that motivated the people of the period. One of the unique strengths of the Osprey Warrior
Series is its ability to take the reader 'under the skin' of its subjects and, at least to some extent, to allow one to
see through their eyes, not reflected in the distorted mirror of hindsight.
I think both the books I have chosen achieve this aim admirably. Islamic history, society and culture have for centuries
been tragically and even wilfully misunderstood by western Europeans. Saracen Faris AD 1050-1250, David Nicolle's study
of the mounted Islamic warriors during the Crusades, reveals a civilised and cultured society, more advanced in science
and medicine than its European contemporaries. He examines in great detail the weapons, armour and equipment used by the
Saracens on a day to day basis - including the intricate construction of the composite bow.
The Latin or Catholic Christian population of the Outremer (literally 'the land over the sea') saw their Islamic
neighbours in a different light to the more fanatical western Europeans. In Knight of Outremer 1187-1344 AD, David
Nicolle brings to life a people for whom the Holy Land was not some abstract concept to be defended, but their home.
After the disastrous defeat at Hattin in 1187 the knights no longer represented a threat to Islam and their military
lite preferred to live in peace, focusing on trade as much as on the defence of Christendom's holy places. In the
Outremer, warfare was seen as a business where victory meant profit and defeat loss. The idea that medieval warfare
relied on individual prowess with little or no planning is revealed as nonsense. It was a science whose successful
prosecution required sophisticated skills as Dr. Nicolle reveals.
Lee Johnson,Campaign Series EditorLee studied Medieval and Early Modern History at University, having caught the history 'bug' from his father at a
young age. He was 'recruited' by the architect of the Osprey military list of books, Martin Windrow, joining Osprey in
November 1989. Until June 2000 he was Managing Editor of the Military List, when he took the freelance plunge and now
works for Osprey commissioning and editing the Campaign Series.
- Origins and Recruitment
- Home and Barracks
- Military Careers
- On Campaign
- Arms and Armour
Saracen Faris AD 1050-1250