Cumans (1054-1394 AD)
|1 x 3Cv||The Cv element represents the nobility, and should be the general's element if you want to be historically accurate.|
|8 x 2LH||The LH are the bulk of the warriors, probably including some Pechenegs and Turkomen as well as Cumans.|
|2 x 3Aux||In early Cuman armies the infantry would be the poorest members of the tribe. In later, Hungarian-based, armies they are likely to represent Vlach javelinmen.|
|1 x 2Ps or
2LH or Art
|Artillery should only be used after 1180 AD, and should be either wagon-mounted bolt shooters or mangonels.|
Note that the list in the rules contains a misprint. In the optional elements it should read "2LH" not "2LC".
Tactically the Cumans were a fairly typical steppe nomad army, relying on hit and run tactics by horse archers to wear down and disorder the enemy. In my view, DBA does not simulate these tactics very well, as there is no way to "wear down" or "tire out" opponents.
The best bet is likely to be to use some of the LH to go after the opponents camp, use the infantry to protect your camp, and use the rest of the LH to disorder and harass your opponent. Tempt him to break up his formation by chasing after your LH and eventually you should get some overlaps or flank attacks. The Cv will be most useful at this stage.
Cuman camps should be a wagon laager, with tents either on the wagons or inside the laager. Even after they had settled in Bulgaria and Hungary, the Cumans continued to live in nomad style.
The bulk of Cuman armies would have worn a calf-length topcoat, sometimes with short sleeves, over a knee length tunic and trousers. Either boots or shoes could be worn. A wide range of materials were used, with fur, wool and sheepskin perhaps being commoner in the early part of the period, and linen and brocade replacing them as time went on. Colours varied, yellow, white, brown, blue, red, gold and grey are all recorded. Clothes could be highly patterned and embroidered. Richer or noble Cumans would naturally wear more decorative clothing.
Those fighting as Cv, should probably be armoured, in a mix of Russian, Turkish, and Mongol styles. Pointed helmets with mail aventails and a metal mask moulded to look like a face are recorded as popular.
The most distinctive item of Cuman clothing was a pointed cap. Unfortunately, contemporary sources show a wide range of these, possibly reflecting various ethnic sub-groups. Most have an upturned brim, often in a contrasting colour. Some versions resemble a "Robin Hood" style, others are more like old-fashioned nightcaps with upturned brims. Many have an unfortunate tendency to look like they belong to one of Santa's elves!
The Cumans themselves were fair-skinned, blue-eyed and often described as handsome. They wore their hair long, and often had long moustaches, although beards were rare.
Weapons were mainly recurved composite bows, together with sabres, maces, javelins, and possibly lances, at least for some nobles. Shields, when used, would be small and usually round, or occasionally almond-shaped.
At a pinch you could use a mix of other similar figures - Hungarians with a few Bulgar and Pecheneg cavalry, with Wallachians for the infantry would be best.
Rick S.: Minifigs Crusader line includes Cumans (intended as Byzantine mercenaries). Also, I've found that with most steppe nomads, you can largely mix and match (there are a few execptions, such as Pechenegs with their long hair & beards). I think Nasmith has a casting, as well.
David Howard: Essex offers the following Cumans in their Crusader range: CRU30 (Cuman Horse archer), CRU31 (Cuman Horse archer with javelins), CRU32 (Cuman foot archer), and CRU33 (Cuman javelinman).
Most of the information in this piece came from the Wargames Research Group books - Armies of Feudal Europe, and Armies of the Middle Ages (vol 2), both by Ian Heath.
There's not much on the Web, but if you use a decent search engine you find odd references on pages about Balkan history and culture.
Last Updated: Jan. 3, 2000
My thanks to Keith Venables for contributing these notes. Comments, questions or suggested additions to this page can be sent to Chris Brantley, IamFanaticus@gmail.com.