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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP08 Jan 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

…. Thirteenth-Century North Africa

"Introduction: In the medieval period, Muslim rulers frequently hired Christian mercenary soldiers to defend their persons and bolster their armies. Nowhere was this practice more common than in North Africa, a region, then as now, linked to Europe through migration, diplomacy, and trade. From the twelfth century to the sixteenth, North African regimes of all types found it useful to recruit European fighters to their sides. Some of these mercenaries were former prisoners of war, while others were prominent political exiles. Most, though, were of humbler origin, fighting men who found a lively market for their services in the decentralized, fiercely competitive political environment of the late medieval Maghrib.

Though their terms of service were informal at first, by the thirteenth-century Christian mercenaries were a well-defined presence in North Africa. Treaties negotiated between their homelands and the governments that hired them specified their wages, weapons, and supplies in minute detail. Despite the increasingly contractual nature of their employment in the Maghrib, there was nonetheless much that remained uncertain about the status of these Christian mercenaries serving in Islamic lands. The treaties might detail how much barley a mercenary's horse could eat while on campaign, but they had nothing to say about the larger questions of propriety, belonging, and allegiance that loomed over the mercenary enterprise. In an era of crusade and jihad, when acting against one's faith was sometimes defined as a crime akin to treason, could fighting for a Muslim rule rever be licit for a Christian? Could one remain a member of the community of the faithful while serving an avowed enemy of the faith in arms? Could one be a good mercenary and a good Christian at the same time?…"
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