Western Turkish & Khazar

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Historical Overview Section

The Western Turks
The Turks' rise to power began in 546 when a local Turkish leader attacked and subdued many tribes, and also the Khitans of Western Manchuria, leading to the new empire being formally recognized by China. The newly minted Göktürk empire collaborated with the Sassanid Persians to defeat and destroy the Hephthalite Hunnic peoples, which in turn drove the Avars into Europe. In 576 the Göktürks crossed the Cimmerian Bosporus into the Crimea. and soon their expansion put them in conflict with their former allies, the Sassanid Persians. A Civil war in the early 600's led to the creation of a separate Western khanate which constructed an alliance with the Byzantine Empire against the Persian Sassanids and generally did quite well for a time. The Eastern branch were overrun by Tang China, but the Göktürks continued to be independant and clashed with the Ummayad Arab Califate in a series of battles (712-713) from which the Arabs emerged as victors. But their power was on the wane, and in 744 the empire in the west was overrun by the Uighurs and ceased to be.

The Khazars
The Khazars were a semi-nomadic Turkic people who dominated the Pontic steppe and the North Caucasus from the 7th to the 10th century. In the 7th century CE, the Khazars founded an independent Khaganate in the Northern Caucasus along the Caspian Sea. Although the Khazars were initially Tengri shamanists, many of them converted to Christianity, Islam, and other religions. During the eighth or ninth century the state religion became Judaism. At their height, the Khazar khaganate and its tributaries controlled much of what is today southern Russia, western Kazakhstan, eastern Ukraine, Azerbaijan, large portions of the Northern Caucasus ( Circassia, Dagestan, Chechnya), parts of Georgia and the Crimea.

Early Khazar history is intimately tied with that of the Göktürk empire, founded when the Ashina clan overthrew the Juan Juan in 552 CE. With the collapse of the Göktürk empire due to internal conflict in the seventh century, the western half of the Turk empire split into a number of tribal confederations, among whom were the Bulgars, led by the Dulo clan, and the Khazars, led by the Ashina clan, the traditional rulers of the Gok Turk empire. By 670, the Khazars had broken the Bulgar confederation, causing various tribal groups to migrate and leaving two remnants of Bulgar rule - the Volga Early Bulgarians, and the Bulgarian khanate on the Danube River.

The first significant appearance of the Khazars in history is their aid to the campaign of the Early Byzantine emperor Heraclius against the Sassanid Persians. During the 7th and 8th centuries the Khazar fought a series of wars against the Ummayad Arab Caliphate. They are also known to have been allied with the Byzantine Empire during at least part of the eighth century. In 704/705 Justinian II, exiled in Cherson, escaped into Khazar territory and married Theodora, the sister of the Khagan Busir. Hostilities with the Ummayad Arabs broke out again in the 710s, with raids back and forth across the Caucasus but few decisive battles. The Khazars, led by a prince named Barjik, invaded northwestern Iran and defeated the Ummayad Arab forces at Ardabil in In december 730, killing the Arab warlord al-Djarrah al-Hakami and briefly occupying the town. They were defeated the next year at Mosul, where Barjik directed Khazar forces from a throne mounted with al-Djarrah's severed head, and Barjik was killed. Ummayad Arab armies then poured across the Caucasus and eventually (in 737) defeated a Khazar army, possibly forcing the Khagan to convert to Islam. The instability of the Ummayad Arab regime made a permanent occupation impossible; the Arab armies withdrew and Khazar independence was re-asserted. It has been speculated that the adoption of Judaism (which in this theory would have taken place around 740) was part of this re-assertion of independence.

In 758, the Abbasid Arab Caliph Abdullah al-Mansur ordered Yazid ibn Usayd al-Sulami, one of his nobles and military governor of Armenia, to take a royal Khazar bride and make peace, which led to a period of prosperity for the Khazar empire. In the closing years of the ninth century the Khazars and Oghuz allied to attack the Pechenegs, who had been attacking both nations. The Pechenegs were driven westward, where they forced out the Magyars, creating instability across the region as the national groups migrated. Between 965 and 969, their sovereignty was broken by Rus King Sviatoslav I of Kiev, and they became a subject people of Kievan Rus'. Gradually displaced by the Rus, the Kipchaks, and later the conquering Tatar Golden Horde, the Khazars largely disappeared as a culturally distinct people.

The Army
Khazar armies were led by the Khagan Bek and commanded by subordinate officers known as tarkhans. A famous tarkhan referred to in Arab sources as Ras or As Tarkhan led an invasion of Armenia in 758. The army included regiments of Muslim auxiliaries known as Arsiyah, of Khwarezmian or Alan extraction, who were quite influential. These regiments were exempt from campaigning against their fellow Muslims. Early Rus' sources sometimes referred to the city of Khazaran (across the Volga River from Atil) as Khvalisy and the Khazar (Caspian) sea as Khvaliskoye. According to some scholars such as Omeljan Pritsak, these terms were East Slavic versions of "Khwarezmian" and referred to these mercenaries. In addition to the Bek's standing army, the Khazars could call upon tribal levies in times of danger and were often joined by auxiliaries from subject nations.

User-contributed links about this army:

Using the Army in FoG

  • Like other shooty cavalry armies, your battle plan is usually to stake out as much ground as possible to block enemy Second Moves, at least in some sectors, and leave ample manoeuvre room behind your lines. Getting first move is very helpful so losing the PBI roll is preferred by some players, although your tough Cv may be willing to face the enemy in close combat, so its therefore less critical to keep lots of manoeuvre room to the rear.
  • Sometimes you are lucky and the enemy deploys with a hanging flank you can readily outwing and envelop, or a good flank march opportunity presents itself, but often the terrain and enemy dispositions limit you to a frontal approach of disrupting, loosening and disjointing the enemy line of battle with shooting, threats, and uncontrolled enemy charges in order to expose gaps, flanks and other weak spots you then exploit with concentrated shooting or timely charges
  • Destroy or flee enemy Skirmishers, draw their mounted and aggressive foot away from their other troops by skirmishing - he will have to charge shooters to reduce their effect - pick off isolated detachments, and provoke charges where possible. Work around his flank and hunt his BG count filler such as Mobs and LF.
  • Ultimately your cavalry will need to be the ones to win the battle for you by running down your opponents - remember this and don;t expect your LH to do all the work in eroding enemy morale and competence to breaking point.
  • One common mistake with all Shooty cavalry is to take advantage of the possibility evade too often - superior armoured cavalry swordsmen are still very potent combat troops against most enemies, and it is often better to advance in 2 ranks (inflicting more shooting as a result) and take on any enemies in hand to hand combat.
  • The time to commit is once an enemy has gone disrupted, or if they have lost bases - waiting and skirmishing in the hope they go fragmented may well be gilding the lilly.
  • The Khazar options with Slav foot don;t really offer much save for some cheap units to bulk the army out.
  • The option to dismount is quite useful - don't forget to consider it

Allied Contingents

Western Turks

  • Only Turgesh - Sogdian - Central Asian City States . Date restrictions: None Book: Empire of the Dragon Page: -
  • Only Turgesh - Tibetans . Date restrictions: None Book: Empire of the Dragon Page: -
  • Only Gok Turks - Utigur - Early Bulgar . Date restrictions: 576 Book: Decline and Fall Page: 36 - Ln/Sword Bw/Sw cavalry, supporting Bw/Sw LH and optional L/S MF foot


  • Oghuzz - Western Turk . Date restrictions: From 780 Book: Decline and Fall Page: 30 - Superior Bw/Sw or Ln/Sw Cv and plenty of supporting LH make this useful if not entirely original

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site. This listing only covers "arabic" figures - Hunnic/Mongol figures suitable as Turks are omitted as nearly everyone does some of them.

Image Image Image Image

Khazar command stands should have a raised standard consisting of a silvery mirror on a long pole. This detail has been authenticated in contemporary Arab records

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army

800 Ap list used at Hubcon

  • 4 Bw/Sw LH
  • 4 Bw/Sw LH
  • 6 Poor LF, JLS
  • 4 Bw/Sw LH
  • 4 Bw/Sw LH
  • 4 Bw/Sw LH
  • 4 Superior Drilled Armoured Shooty cavalry
  • 4 Superior Drilled Armoured Shooty cavalry
  • 4 Superior Drilled Armoured Shooty cavalry
  • 4 Superior Drilled Armoured Shooty cavalry
  • 4 Superior Undrilled Armoured Lancer cavalry
  • 4 Superior Undrilled Armoured Lancer cavalry
  • 4 TCs

Name of Army / Date

  • 6x4 undrilled Cv sup arm lancers/sw
  • 2x4 drilled Cv sup arm bw/sw
  • 2x4 LH bw/sw
  • 2x6 LF poor
  • IC + 2TC

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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