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Polish Winged Hussars

Few words about Winged Hussars…
Winged Hussars it was the type of a cavalry formation, what came from Hungary or according to some people – even from Persia. Winged Hussars in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth appeared at the beginning of the sixteenth century and gained opinion of the best cavalry in the world – invincible. 
 
 Winged Hussar from the late sixteenth century.
 
In the beggining, it was a light cavalry, which in the fifteenth century reached the Hungarian and then Polish and Lithuania.
The word “hussar” probably come from the Serbian word “usar” or “gusar”, which mean highwayman or horse warrior.
According to M. Plewczyński the word „hussar” come from the Hungarian word “husz” and “ar”, which correspondingly means “twenty” and “land”/ “feud”. The Hungarian king constituted the border guards, to which twenty of landed gentry should call up the cavalrymen with lance and corselet. It was in the middle of the fifteenth century.
According to the most unusual translation, the word “hussar” was known in Byzantium in the tenth and eleventh century – it was a light reconnaissance cavalry. Then it got to Serbia, Hungary, Polish and Lithuania.
This kind of cavalry, before it came to Poland, was used to fight with light and medium Turkish cavalrymen.
 
 
  Battle of Orsha
 
 
In Poland and Lithuania, winged hussars fight not only with Tatars and Turks but mostly with Moscow.
 
The picture of winged hussar from the early sixteenth century, including the time of the Battle of Orsha
 
 
Gradually, the winged hussars participation in the Polish army increased in the sixteenth century.
There was hussar rota (cavalry unit, also named “chorągiew”) regimented in which hussars had their unit, called “poczet” (the smallest organized unit of soldiers in Kingdom of Poland and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth).
In the beginning of sixteenth century, Hussars already confirmed its usefulness and effectiveness.
In 1506 they demolished Tatars in the Battle of Kleck, and in 1514 they won with Muscovites in  Orsza.
Over time, the Hussars was used in cavalry charges. That is why they started to use corselets.
The battle of Obertyn was probably the first battle the hussars used cuirasses. 
However, both – before and in the days of His Majesty the Stefan Batory, most of Winged Hussar did not wear cuirasses.
During the last quarter of the sixteenth century, the Winged Hussars was gradually rearmed – they more and more often wear corselets and cuirasses. They become a heavy cavalry.
 
 
 
 
Anima – the armor used by the hussars in the time of Stefan Batory and in the beginning of the seventeenth century.
 
The Battle of Lubieszewo was the great test of Batory’s reforms relating to Hussars – the Hussars contributed to the victory. The army of Gdańsk sustain several times larger losses than Polish army.
Very interesting was the Battle of Byczyna in 1588 between Polish and Hungarian army. In this battle, the Hapsburgs and their henchmen’ forces fought against the army commanded by Jan Zamoyski, who supported Zygumnt Waza. The Hungarian Hussars, German Reiters and Harquebusiers were smitten by Polish Hussars. This victory show how much the Polish art of war was better than in Western Europe.
Next, not well known but very important battle in which Winged Hussars confirmed their effectiveness, was the Battle of Bukowa on Wallachia.
 
Winged Hussars during the charge in the Battle of Klushino (1610)
 
Next years and decades, it was a time of the greatest Winged Hussars’ victories. They were able to defeat even  many times numerous army like for example Swedish army in the Battle of Kircholm (now Salaspils) in 1605, Russians and foreigners from Western Europe in the Battle of Klushino in 1610 and Turkish in the Battle of Khotyn in 1621.
In the seventeenth country the Polish Hussars achieved also other spectacular victories: Berestechko – victory over the Cossacks, Połonka on the Moscow river, the great battles of Khotyn (1673) and Wien (1683), in which the Polish army was commended by John Sobieski.
There were also many other battles in which Polish Hussars participation decided about victory of Poland – with Swedish, Muscovites, Tatars and Turkish. Some of this battle, they are unfortunately known just by historians, who are interested in polish battles.
 
  Hussar armor in seventeenth century
 
If the terrain was properly and therefore the Winged Hussars could use their speed and agility they were unstoppable. The enemies had no chance.
The weapon, which made the Winged Hussar so effective and harmful was a lance. The lance was tunneled into. It has 4-6,2 m long and it weighed to approx. 3 kg.
The lance was expensive and single use – it destroyed at cutting into the opponent's body. Then, the Winged Hussar turfed out the lance and took his sabre. Interestingly, the sabre was not keep into scabbard. It was slung at the thong (called “temblak”). The rawhide was tied to Winged Hussar’s hand. This kind of sabre fixing let to use the sabre immediately. 
Of course, sometimes the Winged Hussars charged without lances – they used koncerz (type of sword), broadsword (called “pałasz”) and sabre. However, they usually tried to prepare appropriate number of lances or saplings – most often it was the limb. 
The Winged Hussars was also equipped with pistols, which was kept into a pistol holsters, called  “olstro”. The pistols holsters were strapped to the saddle.
 
  The Winged Hussar with the wing during the Battle of Khotn in 1673.
 
 
Hussar Wings WERE USED!!! Not always and not all of Winged Hussars have used it. However, if they were used, they were attached to the cantle. The wing usually took a form of one straight wing with few/ a dozen of feathers of rare raptors but sometimes even gooses.
The wings’ existence is proven not only in written sources, but also in iconography – on the paintins: The Battle of Klushino, The Battle of Khotyn and The Battle of Wien. All this paintings were painted in seventeenth century and they show inter alios the Winged Hussars using wings.
Two wings were use seldom or gaily. The wings were attached to Winged Hussars’ backs in the end of seventeenth and eighteenth century. In this time the Winged Hussars were more often use as parade formation not yeomanry.
 
The Winged Hussars as the military formation were never officially disbanded. As the year of the end of Winged Hussars is considered 1775/6 – the date of the constitution the National cavalry. However after it, the notations about the Winged Hussars can be found in documents end even in parliament constitution from 1780.