The Almughavar mercenaries originated from the rugged sheep herding peoples of the Pyrenean Mountains in Spain where they proved to be ideal warriors in the almost continuous warfare between the various Christian and Muslim states of 13th Century Spain. Their numbers soon expanded to embrace recruits from all of Spain, but as their later adventures took them through the central and eastern Mediterranean they became less racially distinct – absorbing Sicilians, Bulgars, Greeks and Turks.
The beginning of the 14th Century saw the Almughavars fighting in Sicily as a mercenary band, the Grand Company of Catalans, in the War of the Sicilian Vespers. With peace inconveniently looming in 1302, their leader, an adventurer called Roger de Flor, realised the Catalan Company was about to outstay it’s Sicilian welcome, and rather than return to Spain he decided to offer their services to the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus Palaeologus. The Catalans went east and soon proved to be a great success against the Turks, but they proved just as adept at picking fights with other mercenary groups and treating their Byzantine pay masters with contempt. De Flor made himself deeply unpopular in the process and ultimately the Byzantines contrived to assassinate him at the height of his success – an action they probably regretted as his angry Almughavars looted and slaughtered their way across Thrace and Thessaly in an orgy of revenge. The Company of Catalans were later hired by Walter, Duke of Athens in 1310. He too quickly benefited from their fighting prowess, but then made the mistake of dispensing with their services without the proper remuneration the Almughavars thought was due to them. Despite his best efforts to raise a large force to get rid of them, the Duke paid for his mistake with his life when the Catalan Company smashed his army at Kephissos. The Catalans then retained control of Athens until 1388 when a combination of another mercenary band, the Navarrese Company, and a Florentine expedition finally overthrew them.
Our figures depict ‘typical’ Almughavars that formed the core of mercenary bands like the Grand Company of Catalans. They were known for their wild appearance; wearing rough sheepskin jackets, leggings, soft caps, and they kept their hair and beards long and unkempt. A wide variety of weapons were carried including javelins, broad bladed spears (often deliberately truncated for close quarter fighting) and a short sword called a coutel. Shields and armour were apparently uncommon, but being a mercenary band there was undoubtedly a fusion of adopted styles as the Almughavars pursued their adventures across the Mediterranean and the Aegean, so gamers can have fun mixing our figures with a few lightly armoured foot soldiers from other medieval ranges for an authentic looking mercenary band. More details of the Almughavars can be found in the in the new sourcebook ‘Vlad the Impaler and the Ottoman Wars in Europe’ for Warhammer Ancient Battles.
Here are the catalogue details for the new miniatures –
28mm 14th CENTURY ALMUGHAVARS
Designed & sculpted by Mike Broadbent
Variants are supplied randomly.