Aghlabid and Kalbid Muslim Sicily 827 to 1091 AD

Until 827 AD, the Byzantine Empire had a relatively strong hold on Sicily, and it was one of their better agricultural Themes. But, in that year, a combined Arab-Berber military force of the Aghlabids of North Africa under Ziyadat Allah I, with Spanish Andalusian aid, took Mazara on the west coast of the Island. City after city soon fell, with Palermo, taken in 831 AD, becoming the crowning jewel in the Muslim kingdom of Sicily. Parts of southern Italy also temporarily fell under Muslim control during the latter part of the 9th century AD. The entire Island had fallen by 859 AD. The Fatimids took most of the North African possessions of the Aghlabids in 909 AD, and for a brief time before it also fell to the Fatimids, Sicily was the only remaining Aghlabid possession. The Kalbid dynasty' founded by Ali al Kalibi was actually loosely controlled Fatimid governors who were in effect independent.

The Aghlabids of Sicily, like the Andalusians of Spain, were a relatively tolerant regime. Christians, as "people of the book," were for the most part, left alone, forced only to pay a tax. Christians were allowed to attend Muslim universities, were artisans and armorers, served in the military and even held posts in the government. With a base of Muslim soldiers, but also containing Italian and Greek troops, Aghlabid and Kalbid armies could be very cosmopolitan.

Era: Triumph of Cavalry   Aghlabid and Kalbid Muslim Sicily 827 to 1091 AD CR: H: 3 L: 5   BP: 2 Init: 6
Number Type   Description Key FV PROT Weapon Cost
1 HC(d!) Arabs K 5(0)0 +1 Lances 12
1 HC Berbers K 4(0)0 +1 Spears 10
1 LC Berbers K 2(0)0 +1 Javelins 7
1 LC Arabs K 2(0)0 +1 Spears 6
1 FT Arabs K 4(1)1 +1 Spears/bows 6
2 FT Berbers K 5(1)1 +1 Various 6
2 SI Berbers   3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
2 HC(d!) Arabs K 5(0)0 +1 Lances 12
5 HC Berbers K 4(0)0 +1 Spears 10
1 HC Ghulam K 4(1)0 +1 Lance/bow 12
3 LC Berbers K 2(0)0 +1 Javelins 7
1 LC Arabs K 2(0)0 +1 Spears 6
2 FT Black Guards K 6(1)1 +1 Spears 8
2 FT Arabs K 4(1)1 +1 Spears/bows 6
4 FT Berbers K 5(1)1 +1 Spears 6
2 FT Sudanese K 5(1)1 +1 Various/bows 8
4 FT Sudanese K 5(1)1 +1 Various 6
1 LI Greeks   4(1)2 +1 Javelins 7
4 LI Sudanese   4(1)2 +1 Javelins 7
1 SI Sudanese   3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
1 SI Sudanese   2(1)1 +2 Bows 2
1 SI Arabs/Berbers   2(1)1 +2 Bows 2
O   Christian Italians/Sicilians          
1 HC(d) Christian Italians/Sicilians K 4(0)0 +1 Lances 10
1 LC Christian Italians/Sicilians K 2(0)0 +1 Javelins 7
4 FT Christian Italians/Sicilians K 4(1)1 +1 Various 4
1 SI Christian Italians/Sicilians   2(1)1 +2 X-bows 2
1 SI Christian Italians/Sicilians   3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
1 SI Christian Italians/Sicilians   2(1)1 +2 Bows 2
O   Byzantines          
2 HC Byzantine Thematic Cavalry K 4(1)0 +1 Lance/bow 12
2 FT Byzantine Skutatoi K 5(1)1 +1 Spears/bows 8
1 SI Psiloi   3(1)2 +2 Javelins 2
1 SI Psiloi   2(1)1 +2 Bows 2


Core: 1 GR

Bonus: (Max: 2 ) 2 GR, I SH, 1 RG


Core: 96 Bonus: 329

This list, without the Byzantines, Italians or Greeks, could be used for the North African Aghlabids.

No HC is subject to Obligatory Charges.

Italians are allies or subjects. No more than one-third of the Bonus Points may be spent on Italians. If any Italians are purchased, then no Ghulams, Black Guards or Sudanese other than FT without bows may be purchased. If any Italians are purchased, then no Byzantines may be purchased.

All Byzantines are allies. If any Byzantines are purchased, then all must be purchased. If any Byzantines are purchased, then no Black Guards, Christian Italians or Sudanese FT with Spears-Bows may be purchased. Byzantines may not be used in pick-up games against other Byzantines. In tournaments they may always be used.


(1.)The Arab HC was described as the best mounted units in the army. They were also well armored. That is why they are they are FV 5 [0] 0. (2.)Arab foot was described as poor. They were mixed units, but were noted as avoiding hand-to-hand combat when possible. (3.)Sudanese, unlike the Arabs, were described as very aggressive and of good melee quality. (4.)Andalusians did help in the initial invasion of Sicily. However, they were more of an aid in transportation than in battle. Also, I have read some modern commentary that they may well have stayed with the boats when the invasion took place. For these reasons, I have not included them. (5.)Byzantines were used earlybefore the black guards or the mixed Sudanese units. Also, and this is just a judgment call, but I felt that the assimilation of the Italians would take some time, so they would not be available in the earlier period (when the Byzantines were used). (6.)I was unable to find specific information on the composition of the Italian contingents other than that they were there. Southern Italy and Sicily in this era were more rural and did not have the armor and modern weaponry of the North of Italy. I believe that this is a good estimate at what was available, and that the chance that I am incorrect (although unless someone has specifics of a battle that detail the OB, who can know), I think not including them would have been a mistake. (7.) The Sudanese were slave troops. Once the Fatimids cut off Sicily from North Africa, there would be an affect on the ability to obtain Sudanese slave troops. That is why they are not allowed with certain other troops that would not be available until later in the period. (8.) I did not include Normans. The Normans conquered Sicily in the late 11th Century. Normans are recorded as fighting in Sicily as mercenaries (for the Byzantines) as early as the 990s. I could find no specific reference to them serving with the Aghlabids or Kalbids.

Ordo Link: Muslim Sicily

Last Edited: 29 March 2006

List Author: Blue Duck