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15mm Khazars, 6th-11th Centuries


Khazar nobles preferred the lance to the bow
The Khazars created the most formidable, and wealthiest, western Turkic empire of the "Dark Ages," at one time ruling a vast territory from the Hungarian plain to the Aral Sea, and from the Ukrainian steppe to the Caucasus. Sitting astride the western reaches of the Silk Road, this empire dominated much of the trade from Asia into the west. The lower part of the Khaganate was wedged between the Caliphates and the Byzantine Empire, but the Khaganate held its own, and more, defeating numerous Arab invasions. In fact, it's been argued that the exhaustion suffered by the Umayyad Caliphate due to its incessant wars with the Khazars contributed to the fall of the Umayyads to the Abbasids.

The Khazars are primarily remembered today as the Turkic nomads who converted to Judaism -- it's been quipped that they did this so as not to commit to either side between the eternally-warring (Christian) Byzantines and (Muslim) Caliphates. (As the Arabs would never sign a peace treaty except with other Muslims or "People of the Book" (Christians or Jews), this may have also influenced the Khazar conversion.) How widespread the conversion penetrated beyond the ruling elite is not known.

The Khazars had a deserved reputation for extreme deviousness, often making false promises simply to trap a foe, only to renege on their pledges and slaughter them at their greatest vulnerability. They are also said to have had an unforgiving attitude toward retreat on the battlefield, the penalty for which was death.

Militarily, as the Khazars were nomads, their armies were mounted, the normal mixture of armoured nobility and light horse archers, although the Khazar nobility were unique in preferring a fierce charge with the lance to mounted archery. Depictions in period art of armoured warriors with spears on foot have been interpreted as a Khazar foot guard, but these may simply have been dismounted nobles. Armies were led by Beks or Begs, and subordinate commanders were Tarkhans (heroes). The Khagan himself might have led some armies, but more often was positioned in a grand wagon, topped by a silk tent with a golden pomegranate as a finial. To supplement their native warriors, the Khazars retained many thousands of cavalry known as Arsiyah (or Ursiyya) whose origins are unknown but may have been Khwarizmian Muslims, or possibly Alans. Infantry levies would have been provided from settled areas and cities. In addition to the city militias of the Caucasus, the gamer may wish to use some Turkic foot from our Central Asian Turkic range to represent some of the elements of Khazar spearmen and archers. Light horse archers from that same range can be used for the mercenary Oghuz Turks the Khazars hired in some numbers.

Three of the seven tribes of the Magyars are said to have been renegade Khazars fleeing the Khaganate after a major rebellion on the ninth century -- these are referred to as "Kabars" or "Kavars." Some of these renegades also fled north, to the lands of the Rus.

The Khaganate fell due to simultaneous threats from the Pechenegs and, especially, the Rus of Ukraine. The Byzantines, traditional allies of the Khazars, sensed that fate was against the Khazars and turned on them, seeking to ally with the Pechenegs and Rus.

Every effort has been made to reflect the many unique characteristics of the appearance of Khazar warriors in these figurines. Most of the mounted codes come with several different horse options -- whilst all of the combinations are not illustrated, all of the riders, and all of the horses, are shown in the images above. Some of the mounted archer poses are break-waist so they may be depicted shooting forward. The command set comes with loose Turkic standards that may be added to elite lancers to represent mounted standardbearers.

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CodeContentsPrice (US$)Order/Progress
khazar-high-command15mm Khazar high command -- three Begs or Tarkhans on lamellar barded horses, and three separate tailed banners to swap for lances of elite cavalry to serve as standard bearers$4.99
khazar-elite-chain15mm Khazar elite lancers (Khazar nobles, or best of the Arsiyah) on chainmail barded horses (x12)$18.99
khazar-elite-lamr15mm Khazar elite lancers (Khazar nobles, or best of the Arsiyah) on lamellar barded horses (x12)$18.99
khazar-elite-unarm15mm Khazar elite lancers (Khazar nobles, or best of the Arsiyah) on unarmoured horses (x12)$18.99
khazar-arsiyah-unarm15mm Khazar Arsiyah of the Royal Army, unarmoured horses (x12)$17.99
khazar-arsiyah-lamr15mm Khazar Arsiyah of the Royal Army, lamellar barded horses (x12)$17.99
khazar-arsiyah-chain15mm Khazar Arsiyah of the Royal Army, chainmail barded horses (x12)$17.99
khazar-native-horse-archers15mm Khazar native horse archers (x12)$17.99
khazar-guard-spear15mm Khazar guard spearmen (or dismounted elite cavalry) (x12)$8.99
khazar-levy-spear15mm Khazar levy spearmen from Caucasus cities (x12)$8.99
khazar-levy-archers15mm Khazar levy archers from Caucasus cities (x12)$8.99
khazar-slav-jav15mm Khazar Slav subject javelin-armed tribesmen on foot$X.XX Future Release