Thursday, September 14, 2017

Caracalla: A Military Biography

Salvete omnes!

a little bit of the ancients today
I can say I correspond from time to time with dr Ilkka Syvänne, scholar of the ancient and medieval military history, so I am happy to announce his new book on the military life of one of the most maligned Roman rulers Imperator Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus.

 The work has been given a release date on Amazon - October 14, 2017
Caracalla: A Military Biography, 361 pages, maps, plate &  published by Pen & Sword, ISBN : 9781473895249.

Some of the reconstruction plates from the book, historically accurate, with dr Ilkka Sylvänne consent


I hope to read it soon.
Meantime you can read a libre online-version of  dr Syvänne's article on the Parthian Caraphract vs Roman Army, in the University of Siedlce periodical publication Historia i Swiat.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bitwa z Turkami - battle with Ottoman Turks - Dirk Stoop

Salvete omnes,
Warsaw Royal Castle  has in its collection a painting by a Dutch painter Dirk Stoop.
The Museum calls - Bitwa z Turkami ( Battle with the Ottoman Turks), and dates it after AD1661.
It shows a combat scene between the Islamic, most likely Ottoman Turkish, horsemen  and East-Central European  horsemen. They could be Polish horsemen, as the period saw the new war between Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ottoman empire's vassal the Crimean Khanate that in AD 1672 became the outright Ottoman invasion of Polish realm and eventual conquest of the Polish province of Podolia.
 There is drama and fear, but also a display of camaraderie as the horseman in a red cap is about to save, with his javelin or short 'dzida' the fallen green clad bareheaded cavalryman.
The horsemen are of two kinds, turbaned ones with bows and arrows, or lancers wearing fur-trimmed hats somewhat Polish in character and design.
Horses are stallions, colorful when comes to their coats and manes all in the Baroque fashion and preference, but also powerful war mounts. Curiously they are all shod and have long-shanked curb bits. Their horse tack is somewhat orientalised, especially the breastplates that could have come from some collections messer Stoop had access to.

The painting is unusual on many levels - amazingly well painted horses, dynamic combat scene, flamboyant costumes somewhat resembling figures from other period paintings and costume books.
I wonder about the time and place of painting of this piece. From this site you can quickly see that Stoop lived and worked in Hamburg, then Swedish territory, since at least 1667 until 1682, although there he worked for the Cathedral (demolished in 1807) that was outside the ius patronatus of the city. According to the Museum this painter painted more than a few of such combat scenes involving Turks.
Perhaps one of the Polish lords hired his brushes to do this work?
Or he was influenced and inspired by the news coming from the south-east?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Vienna 1683

Jan III apotheosis by de Hooghe
Salvete omnes,
et voila! today we have a very important date for the Polish history aficionados and patriots, for it is September 12, and on this day His Royal Majesty winged hussars charged with their lances couched and won; hence today we celebrate the anniversary of the momentous charge and victorious battle that changed the course of the history.
if you are in Vienna, you could visit  the famous Belvedere where they have magnificent exhibit devoted to His Royal Majesty & our 'Sarmatian' king Jan III at and circa Vienna 1683 (open until All Saints Day or November 1, 2017).

His Royal Majesty, King of Crown of the Kingdom of Poland Jan III according to van der Muelen
This painting of the battle attached below, from the Museum Narodowe in Warsaw,  is most unusual for the high quality painterly quality and panoramic dimensions (55cm X 360cm) - I am afraid I do not have a better resolution image than the one provided by the museum. The researchers see the reality of the king's appearance as perhaps too idealized,  king Jan perhaps being too thin and too robust. 
unknown painter, National Gallery, Warsaw
Also I would like to bring to your attention this painting by Adam Frans van der Meulen who was the popular Louis XIV court painter.I have never seen it in this resolution.

Meulen pinxit, National Gallery, Warsaw
Some details of the wounded horse with a 'jarczak'(Tatar-style saddle) and fallen soldiers, one of them appears to have a maile-coat like the Polish pancerny cavalrymen:

Below interesting Italian print circa the battle time period - Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi etc.

you can also enjoy studying the plan of the Ottoman Turkish camp during the siege of Vienna, a period print. And the battle plan.
Vivat Jan III, vivat husaria, vivat allies, also especially the duke of Lorraine, and ... Pacem aeternam to the Fallen.
Map of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during King Jan's reign

and if you read Polish then do read Radoslaw Sikora's opus magnum about the Crown companies of winged hussars during this battle- Husaria pod Wiedniem 1683 [review].

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dr Anthony - Indo-Europeans and horses

Salvete omnes,
finally I got his book - The Secrets of Silk Road -edited by dr Victor Mair with articles by various scholars, including dr David Anthony, whose book on the horse domestication and Indo-Europeans I also have. In May 2012 I provided some links to the video lectures made available by Penn Museum, from their symposium on the Silk Road. The links in my 2012 post are still good and all lectures are still available.

So I did a little sweep of youtube for interesting lectures and in therms of the Bronze Age and horse domestication some of the lectures and discussion involving dr David Anthony (who represents the research done by his wife Dorcas Brown and he).
from 2012 - Roots of Europe - Language, Culture, and Migrations, University of Copenhagen, 12-14 December 2012:
Early Indo-European migrations, economies, and phylogenies
Wheeled vehicles, horses, and Indo-European origins
and the discussion - Tracing the Indo-Europeans: Origin and migration.

also, Dr Anthony's page on academia- great stuff like this article on the warbands and ritualised canine consumption.enjoy

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Winged hussar saddle & tack AD 1684

September  has arrived and our 2017 summer is getting to the old age when we have to say goodbye to each other, if there would be Indian summer then the time will come, perhaps, to do some riding and perhaps to do some reenacting, if possible... - Ojala!

Today I am going to turn to the Old Poland horse-tack from XVII century or actually the description of such tack from the XVII century primary sources (although published in the XX century).
a pukiel - noseband adorning plate with precious and semiprecious stones

Well, here we go:
amongst the winged hussar saddles in the movable property roll (done in 1684 after their owner's passing) of horse tack and military equipment owned by a  captain/rotameister,  imć pan Stanisław Wężyk ( Wąż coat of arms, capitaneus or starost/starosta of Sierdz,  (he was a captain between 1657-1677) there was the following magnificent specimen:

     One complete winged hussar saddle [unfortunately no description] and tack set, silver & gilded,  turquoises-adorned, whereas its breastplate had 31 'braycarki'* (small gilded silver plates ornamenting the leather straps of the said breastplate); in each 'braycarek' 3 turquoises, and there was a larger plate (sort of a falerae, centered in the breastplate on horse's breast) with the following precious stones set in it:
5 large turquoises,
5 small rubies,
5 smaller turquoises,
7 smaller rubies
4 of some green stones (emeralds?); 
Bridle - consisted of bridle itself with straps and so called 'pukle' (sing, 'pukiel'-  small convex gilded silver plates, one  covering the forehead and the other nose, and 2 other plates on the both sides of the bridle, where cheekstraps/crownpiece and browband meet)
the 'noseband' 'pukiel'/plate had 9 turquoises
the side 'pukle'/plates - one had 15 turquoises and 5 rubies, the other had 13 turquoises and 8 small rubies.
the forehead 'pukiel' -  18 turquoises, 7 rubies, 2 green stones.

Bridle's straps were covered with 'braycarki ' as well, the browband had 53 braycarki, and each braycarek had 2 turquoises in it.
There were 4 buckles in total:
 2 buckles had 8 turquoises each, and the other 2 buckles had 6 turquoises each. Between these buckles there were 65 braycarki.

This set included also a pair of winged hussar type spurs that were silver & gilded.
detail of a breastplate with 'braycarki and larger 'phalerae'
detail of the Polish Army Museum winged hussar horse's bridle - braycarki, noseband pukiel and side pukiel visible

Polish original from general Czesław Jarnuszkiewicz's article in the Polish periodical publication of  'Stowarzyszenie Miłośników Dawnej Broni i Barwy' (the Old Arms and Uniform Aficionados Society) titled - Barwa i Bron, 1934, nr 1, p. 7-8
 jeden z kilkunastu rzędów husarskich zmarłego w roku 1684 rotmistrza (był nim w latach 1657 – 1677 roku) Stanisława Wężyka. 
 „Rząd usarski srebrny, złocisty, turkusami sadzony, u którego podpiersień mając braycarków [blaszek, zdobiących rzemienie] wszelkich trzydzieści jeden, w każdym braycarze po turkusów trzy, a w narożnych pośredni pukiel wielki, w którym turkusów wielkich pięć, rubinów pięć małych, turkusów pięć, rubinów małych siedm, a zielonych kamyczków drobnych cztery; [...]Nagłówek w którym braycarków pięćdziesiąt trzy, w każdym po dwa turkusy, na końcach zamków cztery, we dwóch zamkach tych po osiem turkusach z osobna, a we dwóch po sześć turkusach; między tymi braycarkami jest braycarków sześćdziesiąt pięć; braycar na wierzchu jeden z pięcią turkusów, puklów cztery; w jednym puklu turkusów dziewięć, a we dwu postronnych: w jednym z nich turkusów piętnaście i rubinów sześć, w drugim [puklu] zaś turkusów trzynaście, rubinów małych ośm. W puklu czwartym, co na czole, turkusów ośmnaście, rubinów siedm, zielonych kamyczków dwa. Ostrogi srebrne, złociste, usarskie.” (Jarnuszkiewicz, Broń, s. 7 – 8).


reconstructions by Radoslaw Szleszynski of Polish Army Museum extant winged hussar period bridles
*braycarki - braycar (singularius), also brajcar and brajtar/braytar. via elektroniczny słownik Języka Polskiego XVII i XVIII wieku.

Gabor Bethlen - royal horse tack II

Salvete omnes,
continuing with prince Gabor Bethlen and his horse furniture from the Swedish collection,
the elements of the bridle and breastplate, that survived  the passage of time.

we should note that this horse furniture, especially the bridle and breastplate would have been typical for the wealthy winged hussar companions and banner captains (rotameisters)

 On the note why this saddle is located in Sweden, well, this entire amazing horse furniture was a gift that prince Gabor Bethlen presented, by his envoys, to his brother-in-law the king of Sweden  Gustavus Adolphus alias the Lion of the North.  

about Gabor Bethlen's rule in Upper Silesian duchy of Opole and Raciborz you can read this article.
About his diplomacy and diplomats a fine article here.

Gabor Bethlen - royal horse tack I


from the Swedish collection comes one of the most splendid early modern Eastern European horse furniture sets (saddles and tack) attributed to the Hungarian prince Gabor Bethlen (died AD 1629 - map of his possessions, and the changing borders of Transylvania ). For the purposes of our Polish history this prince was a mixed blessing, but we should note that :
 Since 1610s he had  sought to influence his Turkish overlords to invade Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,  which they did in 1621, but perhaps due to the Polish private and state actions in and around the Danubian Turkish fiefdoms.
During his wars against the Hapsburg(part of the 30 Years War) but for a short while (2 years)  he ruled over a part of Poland,   he became the overlord of the Opole-Raciborz duchy, then in the Crown of Bohemia and part of the Upper Silesia.
They say he was looking to become a Polish king, so in his pursuit of the Polish crown his diplomatic actions lead him to seek alliance with Gustavus Adolphus and grand duke of Muscovy in 1620s.  He died before his actions would have born any fruition.
Hungarian webpage about his times and armies - a pdf file in English about the soldiers of Gabor Betlen can be had from there 'libre.'
  Ergo, allow me to share with you the 'corralled items' from this set:
the saddle with stirrups, shabraque and saddle pad