Alternative History
Battle of Qadisiya
Location Southern Jezira, Persian Empire
Date 637AD
Attacking Army Rashidun Caliphate (Khalid ibn al Walid) with 30,000 men.
Defending Army Sassanid Persia (Emperor Yazdegird III) with 35,000 men.
Result Complete victory for the Arabs.
Casualties Arabs: 5,000; Persia: 30,000

The Battle of Qadisiya, fought near the namesake desert town in the barren waste of the southern Jezira, was the second of the battles of the Rashidun Caliphate and the first victory of Arab general Khalid ibn al Walid. It also set the seal of decline on the Sassanid Persian empire.

Aftermath of Yarmuk

To Caliph Abu Bakr, defeat at Yarmuk appeared to be the end of his dream for Arab mastery of the Middle East. Were it not for the firey enthusiasm of his chief general, Khalid ibn al Walid, he may well have given up there and then. Duly, however, he arranged a peace with the Byzantines (though this was not concluded until 640), and sent Khalid off to face off against his other intended enemy, Yazdegird of Persia.

The Lines are Drawn

Yazdegird was eager to step up for the occasion; he was determined to make himself a good rival for Heraclius in history books to come. Consequently he barged past his generals and their plans and demanded that he, with the grace of Ahura Mazda, should lead the armies of Persia himself. Disgruntled, the generals consented. This was the Persians first mistake.

The second mistake Yazdegird made was to call a general advance. Despite his lack of experience in warfare, his 'divine aspiration' apparently made him an expert - and, according to his learned opinion, it would be better for the Persians to attack the Arabs. The Persian army, mustered at Nineveh ready to make use of the terrain that this position offered, begrudgingly moved off with Yazdegird to his southern border. The attack on Arabia was to commence.

The Battle

The Arabs moved quicker than Yazdegird, however, and caught him off balance whilst his army was resting at the oasis town of Qadisiya. Yazdegird hurriedly deployed his infantry in a line across the oasis, apparently declaring that the Arabs would lose heart without this source of water. He had evidently failed to accept that the Arabs, being a desert people, had come prepared for the occasion. The Persian Clibinarii were more of a problem to deploy; being of noble birth they demanded a position of primacy near the oasis. This was not what Yazdegird wanted, but whilst he was arguing with his cavalry commanders, the Arabs were moving. A series of hit and run attacks served to panic the Persian infantry; by the time Yazdegird had got his act together, the infantry were on the verge of rout. This they promptly did when the Arabs charged. They were wiped out quickly in their panic.


Without the infantry, even Yazdegird could see that the battle was lost. A quick reconciliation was made with the Clibinarii, who then fled back to Nineveh, then the Ctesiphon and then to Nevahend, where a second battle was fought with the Arabs.