Thursday, August 7, 2008

Historical Military Units - Polish Winged Hussars

Cavalrymen are some of the most feared units on the medieval battlefield - all the way up to the 19th century where cavalry still charged against lines of enemy outfitted with firearms. One of the units I find extremely interesting are the Polish Winged Hussars. Known as Husaria where they are from, the Polish Hussars, like most hussar type units across Europe, were first conceived as light cavalry slowly evolving over the centuries into heavy cavalry. Hussars as light cavalry were particularly useful mopping up loose infantry units that were seperated and routed, as well as charging field artillery pieces to render them useless. The Polish-Lithuanian hussar units were reorganised in the 16th century and equipped with long lances and heavy plated armour. This evolutionary path was what made the Winged Hussars stand out over the rest of the Hussar units in Europe. The wings on their backs were a nod to their roots - the hussars originally have painted wings on their shields.

The wings on the hussars backs were either attached to a frame that goes over the cuirass, attached directly to the cuirass or fixed onto the saddle. There are several theories about the wings, like its used in battle to make them seem more intimidating, or it makes a whipping and whooping sound during a charge so it scares the bejeezus out of the enemy's horses, or it prevents lasso attacks and so on - it was even theorised that the wings were only bolted on during parades. So far none of the theories were proven conclusive, but it doesn't take away the fact they are DAAAAMNED COOOOOOL.

So here are the Winged Hussars...








If you want to read up more on the Polish Winged Hussars, check these links out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Hussars
http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_hussars.html

1 comment:

Wongchang said...

One of my faves too Jerry - nice sketches BTW - have a look at my site if you like - a bit of info on them, their tactics and some useful links:

http://wonchangers.googlepages.com/thirtyyearswar-thepoles

Got some of my military art on linked page too (old mag covers etc)

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