Medieval Glossary


The Ghulams were slaves recruited into an army and were principally armoured horse archers, famed for their exceptionally obedient horses. By the 10th Century they were rarely used on expeditions outside Iraq and Iran.

Originally Turkish slave soldiers during the later part of the Abbasid Caliphate, the Ghulams were initially recruited from prisoners of war, but later would quite often be purchased as children. In Baghdad they formed a new corps in the Caliph's Guard under their own commanders, many of whom quickly gained political influence. This corps was not unlike the Praetorian Guard of later Imperial Rome, or the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors.

Related term(s): None
Category: Troop Types
Added: 08.08.05
Last modified: 10.03.05
Contributor(s): Natalie Kohout, Alan Chanter
Source information: Nicolle, David. The Armies of Islam 7th-11th Centuries. (Osprey Publishing,1982); Konstam, Angus. Historical Atlas of the Crusades. New York: Checkmark Books, 2002.


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