1/n what these eminent historians won't tell you is that Islamic armies from the Arabian peninsula conquered half of Byzantium and all of Sassanid Persia in less than a decade. North Africa and Spain fell within 3 decades. Yet while the same armies of the Caliphate.
2/n reached Bharatam and took lands across the Indus by 700 AD, for 350 years they never made headway. Arguably this is the longest Islam took to break into any territory. But after 1050 waves of Nomadic tribes, converted to Islam invaded Bharatam successfully. Why?
3/n In a very brief manner,

The Eurasian steppe is a vast territory that spans from Rania to Manchuria. The region is flat terrain, but not very fertile for food or cash crops( think wheat or cotton).
4/n It was however grass all the way which made for excellent fodder for horses & milch animals like native breeds of cattle. The region is also host to a native breed of horses called *Przewalski's horse* and it's sub breeds which include the Mongolian horse. 5
5/n These horses over 10's of thousands of years before they were domesticated, adapted to their environment and terrain. These horses were shorter, sturdier (could carry way more weight than an Arabian or European charger) and had unique adaptations like Hypodermis
6/n (slows down it's metabolism), and consumed lesser food and water than other breeds of horses outside the steppe.

Why is all this important? Well the early steppe tribes domesticated the horse and eventually structured their lives around these beasts.
7/n Steppe children it is said apocryphaly that children learned to ride before they learned to walk. Apocryphal or no, children were master riders by the time they turned 7 or 8 (both men and women). They could ride for days, non stop, eating on the horse, sleeping on the horse,
8/n only stopping to change horses (each raider had multiple horses, and often rotated horses).

They also eventually learnt to shoot arrows on the March, including at full gallop. European, Indian, Chinese heavy cavalry used charges or they would ride up, stop, shoot and run.
9/n Steppe raiders could shoot arrows on the gallop, turn around and shoot an arrow overhead (Parthian shot). These aspects gave steppe armies massive massive mobility. And in wars, mobility was and remains key.

The key elements are now in place. Robust steppe warriors trained
10/n from birth to ride and fight, horses uniquely adapted to their environment and that could carry more weight, eat less, drink less water and had very high stamina. The one piece missing is the weapon of choice.

Enter The Composite Bow.
11/n long story short, this bow was much smaller than the conventional "self" bows, and had higher power. This was mated to the horse Archer and you had a unit that was highly mobile and capable of delivering arrows with great power and accuracy. 1
12/n This was found in ancient India and China, but Europe had no answer to this.

Now the region is vast and you had 100's of tribes and this was their greatest weakness. They spent more time fighting amongst themselves than the enemies. A tactic recognised and used to deadly
13/n effect by both the Chinese empires and Byzantium. They would simply bribe A, B, C tribe with gold and trade to go war on tribes 1, 2 & 3. If they saw a particular tribe getting too powerful they would either co-opt it by Bribery and trade or simply fund rivals into fighting
14/n and weakening the powerful tribe.

However ever so often, a strong leader like Genghis Khan, Attila, Kujula Kadphises (Kushana leader) and many others, forged a small or in the case of Genghis, large number of tribes together, united them and then invaded the settled
15/n civilisational states like China, Rome, Byzantium and India.

It is when this happened, these states were overrun. They mostly had no answer at all to these nomadic invasions who were extremely mobile (in an era when a traditional army could March 30km a day, the armies of
16/n someone like Caesar or Chandragupta could march 50-60km. A day, these armies could easily cover 100 kms without breaking a sweat), armed with the deadly composite bow and which had a "barbaric" sense of honour (for instance they would simply retreat if losing a battle,
17/n something that was difficult for the settled empires as they had concepts of honour, duty etc). These traits combined the steppe armies decimated the settled states.

Yes there were exceptions, but these were not the norm one that is exceptional would be Skandagupta. 1
18/n He as a prince fought the Huns and realising there advantages, raised an all cavalry army from scratch, trained them in horse archery and successfully crushed multiple Hun, Kidarite invasions.

In this case Islam succeeded because it could convert many if not most
19/19 of these tribes to be it's foot soldiers and used them to wage war.

All that said, I hope the makers of Bahubali make a movie on Skandgupta, there is so cinematic material there.
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