The much larger Ummayad armies had integrated units used to both fight in movement warfare campaigns and siege warfare to take or defend fortified cities. These units included lance-armed cavalry on horse, lighter javelin and sword armed cavalry on camel, light cavalry archers, and infantry.
In line with these differences, the extent to which the elite would join the rank-and-file would also vary. Some sultans, kings and emperors were fighting leaders, drawing their authority and legitimacy from their campaigns and conquests. In many cases, the landed elites were expected to both offer troops and lead these on the battlefield themselves, as for example in the early Ottoman Empire.
The role of spirituality and faith in relation to war also varied, linking to ideas of being protected or chosen, the question of who could legitimately be enslaved as well as the question of the legitimacy of war, as was the case in the crusades, for example.
Altogether, most wars before 1500CE were fought by Agrarian and Nomadic societies on the same continents with a reliance on human and animal energies, and wind in the cases of wars with naval dimensions. Gunpowder also gradually made its appearance across Eurasia from the 13th century, although not yet leading to profound changes to the dynamics, tactics and strategies of warfare.
Still, pre-industrial warfare was brutal, devastating and efficient. There are many examples of conquerors being anything but benevolent when establishing, or maintaining, their presence and rule, particularly if faced with revolts. This is often evident in how former empires are remembered.
Some of these features of war began to change with the military and industrial revolutions that transformed not only warfare but also the global economy and global power politics.
Millions died from the combination of epidemics, violence and slavery in mines and on plantations.
How steam globalisation and European imperialism changed warfare, from 1500 to 1910
Across Eurasia, the empires of the Ottomans, the Mughals, the Qing and the Russians all innovated and expanded their armies’ use of cannons, artillery and firearms. They also reorganised their societies and economics to sustain their ever-larger armies, some of which moved away from being mobilised to become partially standing forces with core military staff and bureaucracies.
Using their armies in wars of conquest, against revolts and in civil wars, these empires became the dominant powers of Eurasia and both swallowed numerous kingdoms and smaller empires and bested the power of the nomadic way of war in Eurasia in the process.