The battle of AlQadisiyyah is considered to be one of the most important events in the history of the Middle East of the VII century. The battle of AlQadisiyyah represented the decisive battle in the military expansion of the Arabians. It had taken place nearby Qadisiyyah, the medieval city in Mesopotamia. As the result of the battle, the alignment of forces on the world arena had undergone changes. The battle allowed the Arabs to advance to the North and to increase their military power.
The aim of this essay is to analyze the battle of AlQadisiyyah and to determine its place in the history of the region.
The Background of the Battle
The battle of AlQadisiyyah was the military clash between the Arabian and the Persian armies. The Arabian conquests started in the early Middle Ages. The history of the Arabian conquests was divided into three major periods. The battle of AlQadisiyyah had been referred to the first period when the Arabians gained certain territories of Byzantium and the powerful Persian state. The battle of AlQadisiyyah was a decisive battle in the conquest of Persian state which occupied the territory of modern Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. It was one of the most powerful players on the world arena of that time.
The historians claim that, at the time of the battle, the Sassanian State was weakened substantially and that period in its history was characterized by the government of the weak monarchs and the prolonged political turmoil (Halewood & Luxford 2009, n.pag.).
The Arabs had already undertaken a number of attacks against the Persians before the final battle of AlQadisiyyah. The army of the Sassanian State had won only one battle of the four.
It was argued by the historians that at the time of the intense expansion of the Arabs, the region was dominated by the two empires: the Byzantines and the Sassanian State (Hugh 2007, 36). Kennedy Hugh, the author of the book The Great Arab Conquests, claimed that both states “had problems with managing the nomad Arabs along the desert frontiers of their domains”(Hugh 2007, 36). In particular, the author refered to the cost-inefficiency as the primary weakness of the system of the borders defense of these states (Hugh 2007, 36). “During the course of the sixth century, both great powers tried to find alternative ways of managing the desert frontier, and they turned to client kingdoms” (Hugh 2007, 36).
However, these measures could not prevent the aggression of the Arabs and the military clash was inevitable.
The Major Events of the Battle
The battle of AlQadisiyyah took place in 636 AD. It lasted for four days. The Persian army had not been starting the attack for several months trying to pay the Arabs off. When Rustam, the commander-in-chief of the Persian troops, had realized that the battle was inevitable, he started the attack.
Both armies had similar location of the troops. The Persian army also included the mercenary who was chained in order to prevent their escape. There was also the squadron of the military elephants on the side of the Persians. The army of the Arabs was commanded by Sad ibn Abī Waqqās. However, the commander delegated the responsibility of managing the troops to his deputy Halide ibn Urfut who led the central flank of the Arabian army.
The first day of the battle was successful for the Persians. The attack of the military elephants was so splendid that the Arabs had to call the neighboring tribes for help. Probably, if their military support had not been provided, the outcome of the battle would have been another one.
The next day the Arabs nominated the regiment of the armed camels. The Persian army lacked the experience in the battles involving these animals. The Arabs managed to undermine the forces of the Persian cavalry and caused a substantial damage to the army of the Sassanian State.
On the third day of the battle the forces of both armies were exhausted greatly. The success of the Arabian army was explained by the war ruse which they employed against the Persians. The Arabs engaged the Syrian troops which, firstly, went away from the Arabian army and then appeared once again making the illusion of the increase in the number of the Arabian soldiers. Undoubtedly, this act was undertaken in order to undermine the morale of the Persian army.
The last day of the battle was described as the bloody military clash and the desperate attempt of the Persian army to overcome the outcome of the event in its favor. However, this attempt was in vain. The commander-in-chief of the Persian army was killed. The army suffered from the substantial losses. The Arabs won the battle.
The Place of the Battle of Alqadisiyyah in the History
The battle of AlQadisiyyah was a very important event in the history of the Middle Ages. The Sassanian State was a powerful player on the international arena of that time and its fall marked a new stage in the historic development. When conquered the Persians, the Arabs gained a significant territory and disseminated Islam among the large population of the Sassanian State.
The battle of AlQadisiyyah opened the way of the Arabs to the North and contributed to their military expansion.
The historians emphasized the role of the religion in the campaign stressing that it played a tragic role in the human conflicts of that time (Nicolle 1994, 96). On the one hand, the Islam contributed to the unity of the Arabian army, and, on the other hand, Christianity which was widely disseminated in certain regions prevented further expansion of the Arabs to the North (Nicolle 1994, 96).
In order to sum up all above mentioned, it should be said that the battle of AlQadisiyyah was a turning point in the history of the Middle East of the VII century. The battle was a victory of the Arabian army over the Persian army. Certain preconditions of the Sassanian State fall had already existed before the battle. In particular, the management of the borders on the South and the West was ineffective.
The state was weakened by the political turmoil. The battle of AlQadisiyyah lasted for four days. The success of the Arabian army was, to the large extent, explained by the war ruse employed by the Arabs. The religion played an important role in the historic events of the Middle Ages. The battle of AlQadisiyyah was an important historic event of that time. It allowed the Arabs to advance to the North and to disseminate Islam among the large population of the conquered Sassanian State.
Halewood, Phill and Carl Luxford. 2009. “The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah – 637 AD: the Beginning of the End for the House of Sassan.” Web.
Kennedy, Hugh. 2007. The Great Arab Conquests. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.
Nicolle, David. 1994. Yarmuk 636 AD. The Muslim Conquest of Syria. London: Osprey Publishing.