June 21, 2011

Great Polish Warriors: The Winged Hussars Part II - Weapons and Battle Tactics

"We saw it…. the hussars let loose their horses.  God, what power! They ran through the smoke and the sound was like that of a thousand blacksmiths beating with a thousand hammers. We saw it…Jezus Maria! The elite's lances bent forward like stalks of rye, driven by a great storm, bent on glory! The fire of the guns before them glitters! They rush on to the Swedes! They crash into the Swedish riters…. Overwhelm them! They crash into the second regiment - Overwhelmed! Resistance collapses, dissolves, they move forward as easily as if they were parading on a grand boulevard. They sliced without effort through the whole army already. Next target: the regiment of horse guards, where stands the Swede King Carol. And the guard already wavers!"   description from Potop "Deluge" Henry Sienkievich

The Polish Winged Hussars, an elite branch of the Polish army during the 16th and 17th centuries dominated the European continent for over 200 years striking fear into their enemies. They defeated the Swedes, Teutonic Knights, the Tatars, the Russians, and the Ottoman Turks. The Hussars were a skilled tactical shock-force capable of annihilating armies twice their size and with terrifying ferocity and speed.

The origins of the hussar were the Serbian exiles who had fled their homeland after the defeat under the Ottoman Turks in the late 15th century. The Hungarian Kingdom organized their own hussar banners (units) and trained them into a strong, highly effective cavalry which time and again proved their mettle in the heat of battle.

Like that of the Hungarians, the early Polish Hussars wore no armour and were armed only with the lance, sabre and shield.  It gave them greater maneuverability and speed in battle - unlike that of the heavy, lumbering knights. The Hungarians soon made improvements to their hussars by introducing helmets, mail, and gorgets, making the cavalry heavier. 

By the mid-16th-century, the Polish King and Lithuanian Grand Duke, Stefan Batory reorganized the Polish and Lithuanian cavalry along similar lines as those of the Hungarians. He included armor, yet ensured that the Hussars would remain a fast, albeit heavy cavalry.  They were made the standard of the Polish army, and were very-well trained and well-equipped.


The most distinctive feature of the Polish Hussars were the pair of huge wings attached to their backs, each constructed of high wooden frames upon which eagle feathers were attached, although ostrich, swan and goose feathers had also been used.  Feathers were inserted into a series of holes bore into the length of the wood and the frame was either painted, or covered with crimson velvet and mounted in brass. By a series of metal rods on the batten, the wings were attached to the backplate of the hussar's armour. This symbolism is related to the Serbian practice of painting wings on cavalry shields. By the 1590s the double frame was replaced by a single decorative wing attached to back of the saddle on the left side. 

It is believed that the Polish Hussars wore these wings for the purposes intimidating the enemy,  and they have often been depicted in battle wearing wings. This is the image that has long promoted by painters through the ages and more recently by film productions. The reality however may be that the Polish Hussars donned these wings only for the ceremonial purposes and victory parades. The size and weight of such apparatus would have been cumbersome if not self-defeating during battles.  Legend has it that the mere sight of these huge wings and the rustling sound they apparently made as the steeds charged in battle, were enough to unnerve infantrymen and horses.  Such a spectacular sight would indeed alarm the enemy,  but it is highly unlikely that feathers could emit any sound in the din of battle.  However, one other feature contributed to the awesome appearance of the Polish Hussars: in addition to their uniforms (and wings), draped over one shoulder would be the pelt of a leopard, tiger, or wolf, the total of which must have struck fear in their enemies before they even attaced.


handle guard of lance 17th century
Each towarzysz, or hussar was required to provide arms and armour as well as horses, for himself and for his poczet, or retinue. (Only the szlachta, or Polish nobility became Polish Hussars, as they could well afford the expenses to supply and upkeep their retinue.)  The weapons may have also included a Tatar or Turkish reflex bow, with arrows in a quiver. But the main offensive weapon was the lance, and it was the only weapon
provided to the hussar by the King of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.  It was extremely expensive because of the rate at which lances broke in battle, however, the lance was deadly in the hands of a hussar, who could effortlessly thrust it into the chest of the enemy.

According to the writings of Guillamde de Beauplan, a French military engineer and cartographer under King Jan Casimir, the "kopia-lance was hollowed out from the apple (handgrip) to tip, the lower part being of solid wood, which was surmounted by a pennant averaging somewhere from 6-8 feet in length, which fluttered, swirled and created, at full charge a unique (snapping popping) sound, which, multiplied by several hundred men (or in the case of the famous charge in Vienna - 1683), combined with the leopard skin cloaks and wings created a most fearful sound and appearance which was contemporarily noted to frighten both enemy infantry and cavalry."  

The length ranged from 4.5m to 6.2m, though there were shorter demi-lances at 3.5m. It had to be long enough to enable the Hussar to overreach the infantry pikes, which measured 4.5m to 5.5m in length. Because of its length the lance had to be considerably light and easy to maneuver.  They were constructed from fir-wood, though aspen was used in the fore part of the lance to make it lighter. In order to obtain a hollow lance, the core was bored out from the point to the ball, by first cutting the lance in half and hollowing out each side. Then it was glued back together and reinforced with string webbing over which tar was applied.  The lance point was made of steel and reinforced with additional metal straps around the shaft. This also protected the wood just below from any saber cuts. It was often richly gilded.


The banners were a familiar sight during battle and parades. Its lengths ranged from 2.5m to 3.5m and had distintive designs and colors according to the regiment. But it served a larger purpose, that is, the fluttering and flapping of so many banners caused panic in their opponents' horses which were not accustomed to such sights and sounds. The base of the lance was inserted into the tuleja (metal cup)  allowing the Hussar to manage his horse and weapons without the burden of carrying the banner.  However, when the hussars were on long marches, the banners were furled and carried along by accompanying wagons.



Sabres were brought to Eastern Europe by nomads during the sixth century. By the 15th century curved sabres were widely used in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hungary largely as a result of the many battles engaged with the Turks and Tatars. Many of these weapons had been captured from the enemy and passed on to the peasants. However, the Polish nobility refused to bear such common weapons and, like their Western European counterparts, continued to choose straight bladed swords.

When Stefan Batory was elected King of Poland in 1576, he reformed the Polish and Lithuanian army, and made the sabre one of the basic weapons used by the nobility.  It became widely used by armies not only in Poland and Lithuania, but the Ukraine, Moldavia-Wolachia and Hungary. Over time, the Polish sabre or szlaba, evolved into an extensive array of sabre-like weapons, designed to accomodate as many practical as well as ceremonial functions.

The Hussar Sabre was the most famous. Developed around 1630, it served as the main weapon for the Polish cavalry, mainly the Polish Winged Hussars. The Hussar Sabre was less curved than those of eastern versions and was well suited for use during horseback fighting, allowing for faster and stronger strikes at close quarters. The hilt provided excellent protection to the hand because of its weight and almost full enclosure.  Moreover it was easier to maintain control of the sabre during a skirmish. Its durability was further enhanced by the addition of  two feather-shaped pieces of metal on both sides of the blade called moustache,which strengthened the weakest point of the blade, that is, the joint between the blade and the hilt.  

Hilt of a Hussar Sabre

When fencing on foot or on horseback, the Hussar could wield even greater control of the weapon by extending his thumb along the back strap of the grip; or by using the thumb-ring, the small ring of steel or brass positioned at the junction of the grip and the cross-guard through which the thumb is placed.  This permitted greater ease in making forceful downward swinging cuts from the shoulder and elbow with a "locked" wrist.   The thumb ring also allowed 'recovery' of the weapon to inflict the next cut, giving the Hussar a distinct advantage over infantry and less experienced cavalry.

A typical hussar szabla was relatively long, the average blade having a length of 85 centimetres. The tip of the blade measured 15 to 18 centimetres long and was, in many cases double-edged, making it extremely stable and durable. 

Sabres varied widely in cost, depending on its decorative features. Some were cheap but Polish nobles usually bought the very best quality that they could find because such sabres were always worn to public occasions and were considered personal "jewelry". Many designs were gold plated and jewel-encrusted symbols of nobility and always hung from a belt on the left side.

Polish Hussar szabla is believed to be one of the finest cold weapons ever made.  They were used in combat well into the 19th century.


Each towarzysz husarski, or Hussar, carried a koncerz which was placed on his saddle underneath his left thigh. The Koncerz was a type of sword in use during the late 15th century and measured 1.3 metres in length.  Though not a fencing or slashing weapon, it was meant for thrusting and was designed to pierce armour plate,  As such it had no edge at all.  It was very light and its grip permitted that the hussar could hold the koncerz at arms length and it would seem to him an extension of his own forearm.  In other words, even if he were to thrust the weapon with his eyes closed, he would have a pretty good idea of where the steel point was.


However, in a forward charge during battle, the koncerz was instead used like a short lance. In this way,  the weapon could not be used in a thrusting motion, but rather held out with arm fully extended. The opponent would be impaled, carried by the momentum of the horse in full charge.  In the event that the weapon had been thrust deeply into the opponent, it would have been abandoned by the hussar and another weapon selected such as the saber or palasz.  By the late 16th century the length of the koncerz increased to 1.6 metres. It was used like a spear and gave  the Hussar a very long reach. Again, it did not have a cutting edge, but rather a sharp point, which appeared triangular or square in cross-section.  It was sometimes used like a short pike, putting the hilt between the arm and the chest and pointing the blade a third of the way down.


Under the Hussars right thigh attached to the saddle was the palasz, or a type of broadsword with a saber grip. It had a straight, long and wide single or double-edge cutting blade designed for hacking at the enemy, as well as a sharp point.  They are somewhat shorter but heavier than the palasz.  However, there were many variations made of these weapons.  The palasz is essentially an axe shaped like a sword. While it has a point that was used during a charge, it was designed for heavy cutting blows and slashes, making it versatile for close quarter fighting.



These were war steel-hammers which the Polish Hussaria used to deliver devastating and fatal wounds to the enemy.  One swift thrust of the czekan (or nadziak) could slice through armored helmets like a knife in butter.


Firearms were a basic weapon of the Hussars and were became available in the 1570s. There were three kinds of pistols - short, medium and long.  The long firearms like matchlock muskets were not used by the Hussars. Instead they relied on short weapons like pistols, which they carried in pairs of holsters over the front part of the saddle. The medium range weapons were arquebus carbines with a maximum length of one meter. They were designed to be used on horseback and were carried by a sling over the shoulder.

Matchlock musket made in Suhl-Henneberg, Thuringia, 1600-1620; and bandoleer

A collection of arquebuses from the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Hussars who carried the lance usually did not carry the arquebus and treated pistols only as secondary weapons.

The reason was that pistols could use only small loads of gunpowder and thus had a low rate of efficiency, low range and poor accuracy. Effective use was limited to about 20 metres or less. Instead the arquebus was carried by their retainers following in the rear ranks.
However, the Hussars and other cavalry used long guns whenever they fought on foot. As surprising as that seems, it was to be expected that Hussars would have to dismount at some point to continue fighting when called upon, say during sieges and ambush, and at night.

Following an edict by King Stefan Batory, all cavalry was required to carry pistols. It became customary to carry four however in practice the Hussars usually carried six pistols.

Hussars relied on wheellock weapons because it gave them an advantage over armies using matchlock weapons. The wheellocks were always ready to shoot  and could be triggered using only one hand, whereas the matchlock pistol had to be lit with a match even if loaded. However there were several disadvantages; the wheellock was very expensive to produce and the lock often failed. Moreover the pyrite crumbled easily or became misaligned; or the mechanism was obstructed by powder residue and as a result became corroded. The delicate mechanism of the wheellock made it particularly vulnerable to mechanical damage and hence the weapon was not always reliable.

Wheellock pistol

The Hussars also carried medium length firearms on horseback. The practice was formalized in 1689 when Hetman Jablonowski ordered Hussar retainers to carry arquebuses instead of lances. It boosted the firepower of the Hussars

Hussar medium length firearm "Bandolet", 17 century


Polish hussar saddles resembed the oriental version and had deep construction to allow support to the hussar's back, especially at the moment of a lance at­tack.  These saddles were usually covered by embroidered leather or velvet and their bow mounted in brass or silver. The stirrups, referred to as the "Polish variety," were of a design influenced by Tartar-Turkish styles. Examples of these have been preserved and can be seen in the Livrustkammaren of Stockholm, the Orusheynaya Palata of the Kremlin, and the Czartoryski Collection of the National Museum in Cracow.

Polish Hussar Saddle pre-dates 1600 (Kremlin Armoury)


The armour of the Polish Hussar consisted of breast and backplates, a pair of pauldrons and a pair of arm-guards, and was a splendid example of decorative design and superb craftsmanship. Many of the designs were inspired by earlier Roman armoury.

But until 1570 the armour consisted only of mail coat, helmet, shield, lance and saber, although many had implemented breastplates.  King Stefan Batory (1576-1586) had specific ideas about the type of armour worn by his men and insisted that they follow the Hungarian style. By1600 the Hussars breastplates had been modified to take on the "half-lobster" design with several bands or lames from the lower chest to the bottom.  However there was still quite a demand for oriental weaponry especially after the battle with the Turks in 1620-21.

Towarzysz, the Polish Hussars, also wore tassets (protectors for upper legs), cuisse (thigh protectors), and poleyns (knee protectors). All this was worn underneath a coat of mail that reached the thighs, or a specially padded coat with mail sleeves. The retainers wore less expensive and older armour, usually painted black, and after the 1670s according to sources, had no cuisses.

During the reign of Sobieski, (1674-96) Sarmatian armour was popular. They were iron scales riveted to a leather support and consisted of scale helmet, cuirass, gorget, legs and shoulder protection. 

The armour was much lighter, about 15kg, and permitted the hussar to ride quickly. Needless to say it also benefitted the horse, as it could gallop at full speed for longer periods of time without tiring.  But the armour was quite expensive to produce, and for this reason was used only by commanding officers of the husaria. Hussar armour was regarded as splendid and unique in their time, partly because the metal was burnished instead of blackened in order to prevent rust.


Originally the helmets followed the Hungarian style, but by 1620s their features evolved into designs resembling lobster-tails.  The Polish helmet was a hemispherical skull upon which beaks were attached by rivets thus permitting adjustable nose-guards and ear-guards, often with cut-out shapes of hearts.  The lower ranks, or retainers were given Shishak and kettle hat helmets which were blackened, as well as their armour.


Mail sleeves and gauntlets were eventually phased out and replaced by the kawarze. Much of the Hussars equipment and armour was lost during the Ukrainian Cossak Rebellion after 1648 and to the Swedes in 1655. However during Sobieskis campaigns, the Husaria regained their former splendour, entering a second phase of opulence that lasted until the late 18th century. 


The combat horses used by the Polish Winged Hussars in the 16th and 17th centuries were a special breed and very expensive to acquire. The horses originated from Turkish stock, which included Anatolian, Persian, Kurdish, Crimean, Caucasian and Arab breeds.

While the Polish Hussars horse had to be heavier and stronger to ensure stamina during battles, a new breed made its appearance, that is the "Polish Arabian" which was renowned (then and now)for its excellence in temperament, speed and stamina.

The price paid for these horses varied considerably depending on their breed, training, maturity, and adaptability to warfare. A typical cavalry horse sold for about 100 zloty, while a hussar horse would cost between 200 and 800 zloty.

The highest price known to have been paid was 1,500 zloty for a breed of the most exceptional value, affordable to only the wealthiest of Polish and Lithuanian families.(Compare this with what it cost to buy an ordinary common horse at less than 10 zloty.)

The Polish Hussar's horses were the finest breed in all of Europe, and was particularly sought after by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz to replenish his own stud farm.


The Polish Hussars were a powerful striking force of the Polish-Lithuanian cavalry, and their dominance in Europe was supreme for over 200 years. Their fierceness in battle was exceeded only by their skill and cunning in tactical maneuvers.

The Charge
The hussars charged the enemy in a formation of 3 to 4 ranks depending on the terrain and numbers, while the rear rank could detach from the formation in order to deal with flank attacks. In the latter part of the 17th century formation was limited to only 2 ranks.

A typical charge was staged at gradually accelerated intervals; for the first 75 meters, the hussar, mounted on his steed, would advance at a normal walk, the next 150 meters would be at a trot, then a canter, breaking into a gallop.  The charge would be completed by a canter for the last 30 meters. This method was imperative in order to preserve the horse's stamina, especially in the event that the hussars had to engage in multiple charges, or final pursuit of the enemy. Incidentally, a trot is a two-beat gait with averages of about 8 mph (13 kph). A canter is a three-beat gait that averages 10-17 mph (16-27 kph).  A gallop is like a canter but much faster at a four-beat gait averaging 25-30 mph (40-48 kph).

As the hussar ranks advanced, slowly at first, the distance between each horse was the length of a horse. It was a necessary formation in order to allow enough space to bypass unexpected barriers such as the wounded soldiers and horses, or enable opposing cavalry to bypass during a charge.
Sometimes the second rank of hussars would move forward to take up positions with the first, as would happen whenever the first rank suffered losses. This ensured that the rank would maintain a constant and maximum density during battle.

The hussars normally advanced together in an open, loose formation, but during the charge, their positions would become much tighter, so that each hussar would be virtually knee-to-knee at full gallop. Not only did it minimize losses as a result of enemy fire power, but the intense power of this attack, by thousands of hussars, literally crushed the enemy. The agility and speed of the hussars was not diminished in any way by the armour which they wore. On the contrary, they were able to engage in a full charge from a virtual standstill with ease.  Speed was of the essence and their ability to change speed and direction was only one of the factors that contributed to their amazing success. Unlike those of other cavalry, the Polish Hussars not only charged, but fought through the enemy, literally trampling over the infantry in the process.

Facing the hussars were the opposing infantry, whose soldiers were assembled in formations of about 6 or 10 ranks, each rank stepping forward to deliver fire, then falling back to the rear to reload. If the hussars succeeded in killing the first rank of pikemen, another two ranks remained to defend the musketeers. Radisoslaw Sikora,a published author on the subject of Polish antiquity, surmises in his book, "How the Hussars Fought" (in Polish; Wojskowość polska w dobie wojny polsko-szwedzkiej 1626-1629. Kryzys mocarstwa, Poznań: Sorus, 2005) gave three explanations on how the hussars managed to defeat the enemy under those conditions. Point # 1, the hussars assembled into a "dense formation so as not to be greatly outnumbered by the pikemen." He explains that "some hussars had intact lances after the collision and could continue the offensive on the other lines of pikemen."  (Editors note: With respect, I cannot concur with his assumption because evidence supports the fact that lances could not have survived any collision owing to its construction. It was light-weight and hollow). Point #2. He explains that even broken lances, that might have measured 2 to 3 meters long, could have been used by the hussars to exact serious injuries on the pikemen.  (Editors Note: Such an occurrence is highly unlikely during a skirmish. Once a hussar dispensed with his lance he had to choose the next weapon quickly or die.) Point # 3,  mentions that the most ffective means with which the hussar defeated the pikemen was by attacking its formations on its flanks. (You may read about such tactics, and more, in Part I Famous Battles)

The initial weapon used during the charge was the lance which, if used successfully, impaled the victim on contact.  Contrary to certain sources, the impact could not have caused the hussar to fall off his steed and inadvertently trip his compatriots.  During an attack the hussar would clasp the lance in a horizontal position  under his armpit but the lance was never removed from the tuleja (metal cup). Instead there was a long ribbon fastening the lance to the saddle's tuleja.  When the decisive thrust of the lance was made, carried by the momentum of the horse at full charge, the hussar no doubt would have released the lance at the approprirate

Certain sources indicate that frontal assaults by heavy cavalry were ineffective against formations of pikemen. Pikemen were a formidable but not impenetreable defense system against the cavalry. They stood in a line in very tight formations each soldier brandishing a pike, or long pole, the end of which was embedded into the ground, and tilted forward with the spike facing the oncoming attack. As forboding as it appeared, the pikemen were no match for a skilled hussar with a very long sharp lance.

The most successful campaigns by the Polish Hussars  were fought on hard, level ground with a lot of space - ideal conditions for a cavalry charge.  However in the Battle of Klushino, (July 4, 1610)  the hussars were confronted with an unexpected obstacle. The Muscovites had erected a high fence crossing the span of the battlefield thereby frustrating the efforts of the Polish Hussars to stage a charge. They could only pass through a narrow opening. Nevertheless, the hussars continued to attack ferociously about 8 or 10 times. In the end however, the Muscovites were defeated and demoralised. (Please read about these battles in Part I.)

The Polish Hussars were a heavy cavalry, and relied on the support of combat units such as heavily armed archers and infantry who advanced together with the cavalry. The archers were essential in the early stages of battle as they could weaken and demoralize the enemy before the onslaught of the charge.  During the Battle of Vienna, the Holy League Cavalry waited upon the hilltops for twelve hours and watched while the infantry battled all day. Then at the appointed hour, the King of Poland gave the command for the cavalry to commence the attack, in four groups. (The Holy League was initiated in 1684 by Pope Innocent XI to oppose the Ottoman Empire, and was composed by the Holy Roman Empire,  the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and the Venetian Republic. Two years later the Tsardom of Russia joined.)

Each hussar was armed to the teeth, and had an array of terrifying weapons that he used with great skill. Many hussars also carried bows, and a quiver of arrows, but these were soon replaced by the arquebus. Most feared by the enemy was the swift retribution by the hussars with his arsenal of sabers, koncerz, palasz, czekan and wheellocks.

Needless to say, many a Polish Hussar fell under the barrage of firepower from the their opponnents, but those losses were relatively few compared to that of their opponents.  The Polish warriors were consistently able to defeat armies considerably larger than their own. At the Battle of Kircholm, there were only 100 Poles killed and 200 wounded, while Swedish losses were 8,000 dead or wounded and 500 captured.

Among pistols, wheellocks, and arquibus, the opponent also used muskets against the cavalry, however there were numerous disadvantages resulting from use of the latter. Muskets were slow to reload, inaccurate at over 50m range, and often caused accidental ignition of gunpowder stores.  According to Radoslaw Sikora, the firepower of enemy infantry was insufficient to hold off the charging hussars.  The maximum range for muskets was 250 to 300 metres while the arquebus had a maximum range of 150m to 200m.  Moreover, according to research conducted by *Scharnhorst, in the19th century, only 65 shots of every 1,000 managed to hit its target. *[Wg. Hansa Delbrucka. "Geschichte der Kriegkunst Rahmen der politischen Geschichte " Berlin 1920-1923 (op.cit. Page (s) 310 ) t.IV. ]  From a distance of 225 meters the ratio was  149/1000 while at closer range of 75 meters, the ratio was 403 hits out of 1000.  These statistics are not surprising since firearms were still in their developmental stages. The weather also had an impact on weapons reliability, since damp weather would virtually put an end to the use of gunpowder for the interim.

Chlapowski, a Polish lancer who fought in the Napoleonic Wars summed it up perfectly. He regarded the musket with considerable disdain, and admitted that while many of his men had been killed by firearms, his point (parden the pun) was that it was impossible for the enemy to stop the entire Polish cavalry.  [Dezydery Chlapowski, Memoirs of a Polish Lancer, Emperor's Press, 1992. ]

With the advent of firearms came a technique new to the cavalry and known as the caracole.  It consisted of a single half turn to the left or right, a maneuver which is used today in modern equestrian dressage.  The technique was developed in the mid-16th century (though not by the Polish cavalry) as a way to incorporate gunpowder weapons with cavalry tactics. Each rider, equipped with two wheellocks would approach their target at less than a gallop. As each rank came into range, the riders would turn slightly, shoot, retire to load, and repeat. The obvious disadvantage of this tactic is that it made the cavalry an immobile target and hence quickly fell into disuse.  Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (1594-1632) considered the technique useless and ordered his cavalry, under Swedish command, to abandon the method in favor of the technique used by the Polish-Lithuanian cavalry, that is, an aggressive charge at high speed.

Cannons were often used in battle during the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but it was not considered the major choice of weapon. It is interesting to note that the first recorded use of gunpowder in Europe was in 1248 when the Moors laid siege on the city of Seville. By the 16th century, cannons had developed into a great variety of lengths and bore diameters. Some barrels exceeded 10 feet in length and weighed over 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg) making it necessary to use large amounts of gunpowder to fire stone balls just a few hundred feet. By the end of the 15th century technological developments made the cannon more mobile. However, despite the increase in maneuverability, cannons were still slower than the rest of the army. For example, a heavy English cannon required 23 horses to transport it and many more men.  Despite the power wielded by a cannon shot, they were slow, unwieldly, and lacked organization and tactics.  Pike and shot (pikemen and arquebusiers) were still the order of the day. But as firearms increased in usage, the use of the pike was decreased or abandoned altogether.  (In Part I: The Ottoman Turks used cannons during the Battle of Vienna (September 11, 1683)  but were unable to breach the city walls.)

16th century artillery


  1. Fascinating - thank you, and more, please.

    May I ask if you are Polish?

    1. Thank you very much for your comments! I am pleased that you enjoyed this post. I have many more posts planned for this year and hope that you will enjoy those as well! In answer to your question, I am of Polish-Jewish heritage, though not born in Poland.

    2. Thank You for your very nice blog.

  2. you say that they are Polish warriors, but I remember clearly. I saw those armors in Lithuania's museum and it was written clearly that those are Lithuanian elite warriors. dunno who is lair

    1. We are both right. The origin of the armor is Polish as well as Lithuanian. Poland and Lithuania were united in a powerful Commonwealth from 1569 to 1795. It was the largest country in Europe covering a territory of one million kilometers. Did you know that the Lithuanian Grand Duke Jogailia became King of Poland and was renamed Wladyslaw II Jagiello. It was Poland's Golden Age, and merits the title, Polish-Lithuanian Greatness. Best Regards.

    2. Unfortunately, today Lithuanians hate Poles. Maybe thats the cause of using "Lithuanian warrior" term.

  3. Great website, and of course great history. 1410...then The Battle of Vienna (German: Schlacht am Kahlenberg)...Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Wondering Where the Time Went. Greetings from Poland.

  4. Great article about the hussars, and Báthory István of course!

    Hail from Hungary!

    Polak, Węgier, dwa bratanki I do szabli, i do szklankiOba zuchy, oba żwawi Niech im Pan Bóg błogosławi.

  5. I really like this article... It inspire me to insert something in my Novel... never imagined that they fought like angels =)) they have wings

  6. It's SZABLA not SZLABA!

  7. Thank you, Anonymous for alerting me to the spelling error. I do apologize to you and all my readers for this oversight on my part. The heading has been corrected. Again, I thank you.

  8. Very interesting articles about Polish cavalry, weapons and tactics.
    Thank you for publishing!

  9. Wow, lots of info in here, no wonder they call them "Angels of Death" notoriously fearless cavalry, probably the best world have seen. Keep up the excellent work, well done !