Islamic Persian
1245AD-1393AD & 1499AD-1520AD

Unlike most DBA armies, this list covers two distinct periods in medieval Persian history. As a consequence, the background behind this army is somewhat complicated... The first period, which we will call the 'Early Islamic Persians' spans the time between 1245AD-1393AD, and covers the period of Medieval Persia directly following the Khwarazm-Shah Dynatsy (Khwarizmian IV/24), through the Ilkhanate period (IV/46 Ilkhanid) and into the Muzaffarid dynasty. It finally ends when Timur the Lame, leader of the Timurid Mongols invades and conquers Iran in 1393. The second period, which we will call the 'Late Islamic Persians' spans the time between 1499AD-1520AD and covers the early (pre-gunpowder) period of the Safavid Dynasty.

Muzaffarid and Injuid early Islamic Persian
Territories 1337

Let's start with the Early Islamic Persians. The Khwarazm-Shah Dynatsy (Khwarizmian IV/24) was crushed at the hands of the most famous Mongol invasion of Persia (the Khorosan area, which was the cultural capital of the Khwarazm Persian empire and list SE of the Caspain Sea) at the hands of Genghis Khan. After it was conquered, the area became the Ilkhanate, a Mongol khanate (a political entity ruled by a khan). However, during and before the creation of the Ilkhanate, there were many families from the Khwarizmian period that held positions of power within their area and within the Ilkhanate itself. For example, Mubariz ad-Din Muhammad, a member of a prominent Persian family during the Khwarizmian overthrew the atabeg (governor) of Yazd (a city in central Persia) in 1319 and became recognized as the legitimate governor. Once governor he began doing battle with a Mongal tribal group within his area of influence, which is likely one of the reasons why the Later Nomadic Mongol (IV/52) army is listed as an enemy. It is families and armies such as these that make up the period of the early list that coincides with the Ilkhanid army list.

The Mubariz ad-Din Muhammad leads us to the Muzaffarid dynasty, as it was he who would lead many invasions against the Ilkhanate, capturing territory from them and expanding his lands until the Muzaffarid dynasty became a prominent power in Persia. During the time of the Muzaffarid dynasty (1335-1393) and its expansion it came up against the Injuids, which was another family of prominence in Persia at the time, and who should also be represented by the Islamic Persian army list. Another enemy of the Muzaffarids were the Jalayirids (IV/67), who were a Mongol tribe who ruled over Iraq and western Persia. The Muzaffarid's lasted until Timur the Lame, another brutal Mongolian conqueror, took notice of Persia. This along with local feuding that took place within Persia ultimately facilitated the fall of these early Islamic Persians and allowed Timur the Lame and his Timurids to conquer the Muzaffarids and make them tributaries of Timur and his armies. So, for the 1245AD-1393AD list of Early Islamic Persian your enemies are the Islamic Persians themself, the Ilkhanid IV/46, the Jalayirid IV/67, Later Nomadic Mongol IV/52, and the Timurid IV/75 lists.

Yellow denotes the Safavids, green the Uzbeks,
and purple the Ottomens. The stripes
indicate contested areas. 16th century.

The late Islamic Persian period between 1499AD-1520AD picks up when the Timurid Empire declines and falls from power. From the crumbled foundations of the Timurid empire the Safavid Dynasty of Persia, which is the first Persian dynasty since the fall of the Sassanid Persians that is ruled by native Persians (the previous dynasties were all Arab in origin who came to Persia during the Arab islamic expansion - Arab Conquest III/25).

The Safavid dynasty expanded between 1501 and 1510 to include a large area of land, including large parts of modern Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. It bordered the Ottoman Turks on the west, the Turkic Uzbeks in the North East, and the Moghol empire in the east. Wars were fought between the Uzbeks and the Safavids to contest the Khorosan area of Persia (south east of the Caspian sea). Unfortunately, the DBA lists do not acknowledge this in the form of enemies. Rightfully, the Uzbeks, who could very well be represented by the Golden Horde IV/47 army list and should be listed as an enemy of the Islamic Persians. On the western border of Safavid Persia was the Ottoman Turks, who also contested their western border. Within the north western areas of Safavid Persia were the Black and White Sheep Turkomen tribes. So, for the late Islamic Persian period list, valid enemies would be the IV/75 Timurid, IV/55 Ottoman Turks, the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turkoman IV/77 and the Golden Horde & Successors IV/47.

Early Safavid

It is worth noting here that the Safavid Dynasty did not end in 1520. The Safavids endured until the mid 18th century until it fell from power and was replaced by the Zand dynasty. The armies of the Safavids beyond 1520 do not fall into the DBA paradigm unfortunately; please see the DBA humberside extension for those lists!

Army Composition

The Islamic Persian Army list contains the following elements: 1x3Cv(Gen), 7x3Cv, 1x2LH, 2x3Bw, 1x7Hd. There are no options for this army, making it an easy one to compose!

Persian Cavalryman

The cavalry elements, which include the general and the majority of the Islamic Persian army could be made up of a number of different culters of soldiers. Ultimately though, they would be mounted warriors whose styles were similar to the fast-moving, nomadic fighting styles of the Mongols and Turks. For either early or late Islamic Persians these cavalry would likely be more often armoured than not, riding either barded or unbarded horses. The range in styles could be very wide, given that their ranks could be pulled from any of the many cultures that lived in greater Persia, from the Turkic styled fighters to the Afghanistan styled fighters to the Qizilbash of Anatolia. The cavalry warriors in the army would represent all of the people of consequence and affluence in Persia at the time, and so should be modeled appropriately: bright clothes, intricate clothing patterns, brightly painted horse barding, etc.

The light horse would be best represented by either Turkic or Mongolian light horse. If you are modeling early Islamic Persians, it might be best to do lightly armoured Mongol or steppe nomadic horsemen with light armour. For later Islamic Persians, Ottoman style Turkish light horse would certainly be valid as well.

The bow elements would be made up of peasants who could not afford horses to go into battle with. Drawn from the Arab or Afghan populations, the Qizilbash of Anatolia or any others in greater Persia they could be modeled as Arabs, bowmen with felt caps wrapped around the base with a turban style wrap, or simply the straight up cylindrical felt cap.

The hordes represent the conscripted masses and could resemble the bowmen in style and dress; they could be from anywhere in greater Persia and so there are a lot of options for representing them.

The DBA Islamic Persian army list includes the following element types:

3Cv General, 7x3Cv Wealthy, well armoured fighters using the fast cavalry method of fighting, prefering to fight at range with bows before closing in for the final charge. Bright colours and painted barding allow these elements to dominate the theme and colour of the army.
1x2Lh Either Turkic or Mongolian light horse typically fighting with bows.
2x3Bw and 1x7Hd Peasants without the means to afford horses, these bowmen and foot could come from anywhere in greater Persia and be made up of various groups of people: Arab, Turkic, or Persian.

This army doesn't have any options, and so it is an easy one to plan for. To field it one would need 24 mounted figures including one command element of three figures. Along with that one would need two mounted light horse, six bowmen on foot, and seven foot soldiers for a total of 39 figures: 26 mounted troops and 13 foot.


For the 1245AD-1393AD list of Early Islamic Persian your list of enemies are the Islamic Persian itself, the Ilkhanid IV/46, the Jalayirid IV/67, Later Nomadic Mongol IV/52, and the Timurid IV/75 lists.

For the late Islamic Persian period list, valid enemies would be the IV/75 Timurid, IV/55 Ottoman Turks, the Black Sheep and White Sheep Turkoman IV/77 and the Golden Horde & Successors IV/47. It is worth pointing out that the DBA army list has left out the Golden Horde & Successors IV/47 list as an enemy, and apparently ignored the battles that took place between the Uzbeks and the Safavid Persians as a consequence.


Being predominently cavalry, this army is very mobile. For the rough going, the army boasts only two elements of bowmen, which should be enough for the crafty general to contest the rough going for any in-period battles. For extra speed and potentially dealing with the elephants of the Timurids the army has a single element of light horse. Finally, the Islamic Persians also have a single horde element, which could be put to good use guarding the army's camp.

The strengths of the cavalry element are many, and should be used to their maximum potential. Against in-period opponents the Islamic Persian general will have to deal with a lot of fast-moving light horse elements. Thankfully cavalry elements (3Cv) are born to destroy light horse elements (2LH). Cavalry vs. light horse fights give cavalry the advantage at +3 to +2, and neither element is quick-killed by the other. So, as long as the Persians take care to protect their rear from those fast-moving light horse, they should have little trouble with most of their enemies. This is especially true since cavalry elements are almost as maneuverable as their light horse counterparts.

The Timurids alone are likely to be a larger threat to the Islamic Persians than any of their other in-period opponents. The Timurids themselves have six elements of cavalry (3Cv) and only 2 elements of light horse (2LH), making the fight much more evenly matched; unfortunately the Timurids can also field an elephant. Elephants have a great advantage against cavalry in DBA, and so an Islamic Persian general should take measures to avoid the Timurid elephant. One way is to force your opponent to move to you; since elephants cost extra PIPs to move making the Timurids move their elephants is likely to cause them to neglect other elements in their army, and potentially open up a hole or weakness in their lines that can be exploited.

Finally, it is worth noting that for in-period enemies, pretty much all of the foot elements are not too difficult for the cavalry army of the Persians to deal with. As long as the cavalry elements avoid the rough going (easier said than done), chasing down elements of auxalia, warband, artillery, and even bowmen shouldn't be too much trouble. And, for those foot that refuse to leave the rough going, the two elements of bowmen *may* be more than enough; none of the in-period enemies of the Islamic Persians will load the board with rough going, as they are all also predominently mounted troops and so contesting what limited amount of rough there is on the board should not be all that tough.

Camps and BUAs

There are a number of options for camps for the Islamic Persians. Firstly a standard army tent camp from the region would work well, using either Arab or Turkish style tents. Also, it could be argued that Mongolian style tents would be in use as well for an army on the move.

More interesting would be to model one of the amazing Persian Adobe cities as a camp of BUA. Since the terrain type of the Islamic Persians is Dry, a BUA is perfectly valid. The most notable Islamic Persian Adobe cities is Bam and Reyen, offering a lot of possibilities to the modeller.


My favourite line of miniatures for this army are the Navwar Roundway Medieval Persian line of figures. It offers everything anyone would need to field this army, although perhaps not in as many poses as could be, but it's certainly adequete. For my own Islamic Persians I used this line, see them in all their glory in my Medieval Persian gallery.

Essex is also a good source for figurines. Their mounted command is very similar in style to the Navwar figures, although their foot are all Arabs. Check out the Vexillia Testbed blog here for some pics of the Essex and Navwar figures together.

Khurasan Miniatures also has a small number of Islamic Persian figures. At the time of writing, thei only figures are Persian archers. Their archers have a high-degree of historical accuracy for warriors based in north-eastern Persia. Khurasan has promised to fill out the line somewhat, but in the mean time, check out their Late Medieval Persian Levy Archers.

Other Resources

Online Resources:

  • The best resource by far is Wikipedia's Greater Iran which is an article that serves as a jumping point into the many periods in Iranian history. From there you can see all periods, including the Muzaffarid and Safavid periods. It is the only resource I used and it was more than I could possibly hope for. Support Wikipedia!

Some good books for reference: