Bedouin Horse Retinue
"All the Roman kings give him jizya
— 9th century Arabic poem
Élite cavalry unit unique to Saracens and Moors, very costly but capable of healing friendly units.
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A medium cavalry unit unique to the Saracens, the Bedouin Horse Retinue forms some of the best units which can be mustered for war. The Bedouin Retinue is best described as a "chivalric order unit" with a short-ranged, low-frequency missile attack, capable of rallying units to stay longer in a fight. These units, however, form an elite corps of cavalry, and for this reason only the richest and most devout factions can hope to attract them. Additionally, because of how they are recruited, Bedouin Horse Retinue are not created in the Stable, but are trained instead from the House of Worship since they are picked from the tribal aristocracies of North Africa and the Islamic Middle East.
It will serve to say that your Bedouin Horse Retinue units, given their cost, should be split up around your armies. It is best to train just three or four of them, and then let them sit alongside your Officers and other troops, particularly mercenaries since mercenary units such as the Slavic Raiders or Dailamiyan will often get hurt easily. Thus, Christians when facing down Muslim Arab armies had best remember that an army consisting of light cavalry, along with a variegated foot compoment is necessary when facing down Saracen armies escorted by Bedouin Horse Retinue. The best factions for countering them are the Britannic factions (with their Helwyr and Longbowmen), along with the Papal States (who can raise Orsini Marksmen along with Skirmisher Levy) to pick these warriors off from afar.
- War Cry — Bedouin Retinue, while being powerful fighters, are better off being used to rally your units to war.
- Oh Ye Who Believe — Bedouin Retinue are available only if you have researched Republic and Darul Islam together.
- At What Price Loyalty? — Because of their cost, only a few Bedouin Retinue units ought to be created to escort mercenary troops, since many of them need to have their resistance bolstered in extremely heated battles.
Deserts are harsh environments to fight in, and the heat and relative paucity of resources meant that for centuries, the nomadic Arabs would seldom muster massive infantry armies for battle, preferring to place emphasis on speed, mobility and surprise. The limitations of technology also meant that it was also unfeasible to send large armies into deserts — an Achaemenid Persian army dispatched by Darius to Egypt disappeared without a trace — and so in many cases, the power of Islamic empires sometimes rested on obtaining an oligarchic consensus from the many smaller tribes and clans which presided over a certain region, such as the taifas of Spain.
The terrain of Iberia which varied between arid deserts and deadly mountain passes meant that whatever military cultures in that area had to be as flexible and innovative as possible. It was in this environment that the jinete (named after the Zenata, a people which supposedly lived in North Africa) or Iberian cavalry skirmisher first came to the fore, following cavalry traditions in Africa that reached back to as early as Roman times. Although this meant that it eliminated the problems associated with establishing standing armies, it also meant that if unity amongst the tribes broke down then the entire nation would be lost.