Zanji Bowmen

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"We defeated Dhu Nowas and killed all the Himyarite princes, but you [Bedouin] ... have never conquered our country."

— Al-Jahiz, Epistle on the Superiority of Negroid Peoples over Bedouins

In game

Archers rkc.png
Zanji Bowmen — Vital statistics
Zanji Bowmen

Unique Moorish archer unit. Moves faster than Archers, but has fewer hitpoints.

Prereq: Build time HP LOS Attack Attack speed Movement
Upgrades to
Level 2: Mercenaries Military
74 11 14 2s

Orsini merc.png

Cost Created from Armour Weapon range Specialty
Base Ramp Pop
Wealth.jpg: 50
Timber: 40;
Wealth.jpg: 1;
Timber: 1
1 Barracks 0 1–10

Strong versus heavy infantry.


Overall strategy

These fighting men may not have as much in the way of equipment or hitpoints as other archers, but do not underestimate what they are capable of, as they are all highly capable with their crude bows. They may not have as much hitpoints as other archer units and are probably for all accounts as weak as Japanese ronin archers, but their terrifying speed makes up for what they lack in resistance, making them the perfect skirmishing troops. These men can be used to shower enemy melee infantry with a hail of arrows and then leave afterwards, allowing for your heavier cavalry units to pick off the survivors and glean victory from their corpses.

Although they may be fast skirmishers, they still need to be protected from light cavalry with infantry as their poorer hitpoints mean that they are subceptible to being ridden down. If you are playing as the Moors, you should switch to recruiting Composite Bowmen instead once the opportunity arises.

Unit summary

  • Fights, Shoots and Leaves — The terrifying speed of Zanji Bowmen makes them the perfect skirmishing troops, capable of reducing melee infantry with a hail of arrows to be mopped up by cavalry.
  • Ageing Process — Although they may be fast skirmishers, Zanji Bowmen must need to be protected from light cavalry with infantry. They can be upgraded to Composite Bowmen to drastically increase their durability — at the cost of losing their mobility.


Due to their connections to North and East Africa, mediaeval Arabo-Muslim kingdoms often recruited black Africans for a variety of purposes, ranging from menial labour all the way to military service, and the individuals recruited could be either freemen or slaves (although it must be mentioned that military slaves were often better treated than those whose lot was to grow sugar and cotton) ... with mixed results for their employers. Some other dynasties, however, like the Moroccan-based Murabitun (known as Almoravides to Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking communities) were however of African descent themselves. The Murabitun were the most distinctive of all, and the volunteers and levies recruited through their connections with West Africa left a highly indelible legacy on the European imagination for centuries long after their fall in the 13th century.