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Role of Serbian medieval cavalry in formation of Polish hussars

Crow 152 | 9,786
29 Oct 2009 #1
It is hard to say from when started Polish-Serbian historical contacts but, relationship is continual and originates in time immemorial. What i can note is that history of Polish-Serbian contacts belong to most interesting chapters of Slavic and European reality.

This story is about Serbian influence on Polish military doctrine.

Did you know that famous Polish Winged Cavalry and Hussars represent one of crucial results of contacts between Polish and Serbian nobility, warrior class and people.

Then, read....

Story about Polish Hussars beggan with Turkish invasion on Slavic world, in moment when Turks reached western Balkan and south-eastern Europe, when they reached Serbian lands.

Serbian Hussars

the very begining of Polish Hussaria belongs entirely to the Balkan Serbian warriors already known as hussars (for almost a hundred years prior to their coming to Poland).

They came to the Polish Kingdom, at the end of the 15th century, in search of military employment and probably somewhat of a easier life, and our Polish Kingdom did offer these noble refugees from the Turkish-Hungarian-Habsburg wars of the 15th century plenty of religious freedom and economic prosperity...

Orsha battle; Polish-Serbian hussars can be seen in action circa AD 1514 in this very large 1530s painting from the Polish National Museum in Warsaw

Pictures and text that follow are from the work of Franchman Nicolas de Nicolay who described unknown Serbian Winged Rider- `Discours et histoire véritable des navigations, pérégrinations et voyages, faicts en la Turquie, Anvers, 1586`

original text >>>

here, among else, we can read: ``i was curious about that warrior, full in armour and feathers [for whom Nicolas de Nicolay thought that was Turkish deli-horseman] and, i asked about his faith... he said that he is Serbian and that he joined to the Turkish caravan only because he also travel to Istambul (Constantinople). He said that he only pretend to be nice to Turks but that he is Christian by his will and his soul and he said few prayers as a proof to confirm his identity- Simbol of faith, Mother of God and Our Father. Prayers were said in Greak and on his native Serbian langauge.``

in his book Nicolas de Nicolay contines: ``i asked warrior why he uses all those feathers on his equipment. To look more terribe to my enemies, to confuse them in battle- answered warrior. Warrior then said that by the tradition of his people, feathers could be used only by brave warriors who deserved that in real combat and who are known by their skils and virue. Featers are decoration exclusively for brave warriors. That`s what i was able to get as information from that warrior.``

pics are original work of Nicolas de Nicolay and represent unknown Serbian Winged Cavalier

Comparision of unknown Serbian warrior mantioned in above text with Polish Winged Hussar >>>

Very likely that the beginning of its existence Husarz owe to the Serbs. After the defeat at Kosovo in 1389, Serbs everywhere sought an opportunity to seek revenage on the Turks.

Jan Dlugosz enrolled in the year 1463, that the battle over the Sava fought Cohors Raczanorum (Raców branch - the Serbs). After the death of King Matthias Corvinus, the Serbs went to the Poland, to continue the struggle against the Turks after usarsku.

Encyclopedia Wirtualna Polska,1730632,name,racowie,haslo.html

racowie, lekka najemna jazda złożona z Serbów, znana na Węgrzech od XIV w.; w Polsce w końcu XV-pocz. XVI w. służyli w obronie potocznej.

to be continued
1jola 14 | 1,879
29 Oct 2009 #2
True. Racowie gave us the gift of Hussaria. I'll post my collection of photos when you finish.

A book recommendation(in Polish):

Historya Jazdy Polskiej by Konstanty Górski (a XIX century historian).,2841046,p?gclid=CKXlg-2K4 50CFQQFZgodZiSaMQ
OP Crow 152 | 9,786
29 Oct 2009 #3
few important quotations >>>

The Polish Winged Hussars

Sobieski at Chocim
This painting by Wojciech Kossak, depicts the husaria at Chocim, in 1621, where the Polish Army repulsed a 100,000 strong, united Turkish and Tartar army in this battle

Researched and Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Gear at Grunwald

"The hussar originated in Serbia towards the end of the 14th century. There are references to hussars in Poland in treasury returns of 1500, though they were probably in Polish service before this date. These early formations were foreign mercenaries...

Polish-Lithuanian (Winged) Hussar

Commonwealth Hussar, wings visible. Painting by Aleksander Orłowski


Light hussars

Section 4 - Arms & Armor of the Commonwealth


In the muster rolls of the armies of Poland and Lithuania, the terms 'Racowie' (Serbian) and 'hussar' or 'gussar' appear in the mid 1400's26. When you think of the grand Polish husaria, in their expensive and flashy winged armor, it is easy to forget what the root word really meant - robber! It's also interesting to note that 'robber' implies a ferocious fighter that would strike fast and hard. That implication must certainly have been on the mind of King Bathory, when he re-formed the husaria in that image.

The First Polish Hussars

The first hussars of the Commonwealth were light cavalry in a support role to the 'traditional' heavily armored knights, and were formed just before 1500. You can see that documented in the painting of the battle of Orsza in 151427. They served not only the Commonwealth, but also show up in woodcuts describing their service to the Holy Roman Empire of Maximilian I (figure 8).Looking at these images, you can see how the Jagiellon Kings had drawn upon the light, hard hitting Turkish Spahi and Deli as well as the Hungarian and Serbian hussar in the creation of their own cavalry (in fact, some Serbs did serve the Commonwealth).

The Fall of The Medieval Kingdom of Hungary

Sobiesji at Wienna

Sobieski at Vienna by Juliusz Kossak

more on Polish army development >>>

Polskie pamiątki husarskie. Szable polsko-węgierskie

01 październik, 2007 5Btt_news%5D=818&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=119&cHash=2285583c70

The heavily armoured knights, so common in Prussia, were too cumbersome and slow against the elusive cavalries of the East and began to discard the horse-bard but their numbers still dwindled as a new type of cavalry grew prominent, called racowie.

These were light cavalry armed with lance and shield with Serbo-Hungarian origins. They found success against the Tatars using tactics of speed and maneuverability and a powerful, knee-to-knee, full gallop charge.

Winged Hussar

I'll post my collection of photos when you finish.

Please, don`t hesitate. What you have in collection?

Serbian medieval Empire was destroyed by Turks. For the centuries, Serbians lived under occupation and liberated themselves only thanks to Polish and Russian help. God bless our brothes to the end of time, for their help to us.

Serbs- ancient gate keepers were sacraficed for the good of Slavija and Europe. In its last scream, Serbian medieval Empire over Sarmatian connections gave one precious gift to Poland- ancient secret of the best cavalry skill in the world, wonderfull and magnificent concept of `knee to knee, tight formation` of riders that were absolutly dedicated to fight and that used armour and feathers as addition to their powerfull impact on enemy. `Knee to knee, tight formation` increasing powerfull effects of cavalry charge to the maximum.

What was once famous Celtic and Sarmatian cavalry stayed preserved among nobility and riders of central Serbian land of Ras (that`s why name of Racowie for Serbin riders).

Only good God knows what would be path of Serbian history if Turks didn`t appear on horizon. For sure, many Slavs wouldn`t be germanized, nor hungarized, nor enslaved.

Anyway, when i see how Poles used skills of Serbian Gusar`s and upgraded it i am proud and i know that Serbs didn`t sacrafice themselves on Kosovo for nothing. What is important to me is that knowladge and skill lived and was even increased thanks to beloved Slavic Poland. Among other reasons, that`s why i like Poland, i love my people, my sisters and brothers from Poland. Every Polish succes, for me is my personal succes and sucess of my own Serbian people.

And if our foes destroy Serbs and if God let them to do so, i won`t cry, i would continue to live for Poland and for Slavija, to the last peace of my strenght that is left.

BUT, enemy won`t pass. Serbia still stand!

Glory to Poland! Glory to the last core of Sarmatia! Poljska! Poljska! Poljska!

here are some pics of Hussars that i have >>>

hussar poland

hussar poland-

Goooo Poland!

well, well

anyway, this is my favourite quotation about Polish Hussars,... best description of Hussar`s powerfull charge. Feel it >>>

Polish Cavalry


"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.... Jesus Maria!

--Description from Potop "Deluge" Henry Sienkievich.
Hussar in full battle dress

Thank you Poles. Oh, thank you

So, wings and feathers of Serbian light cavalry and later of Polish Hussars could be connected with the memory on original horseman equipment from glorious `Sarmatian` times, when both- Poles and Serbs were nothing but Sarmatians.

Seams that Lusatian and Balkan Serbs preserved momory on Sarmatian times, keeping once universal name of all Slavs (Sarmatian name) as their own ethnic name. Linguistic science go that far to suggest that ethnic name of modern day Lusaian/Balkan Serbs (SRBI, SRBIJANCI, SRBLJI) most probably represent some original form of Sarmatian name (even on local level) that went tru Greak and Roman/Latin transcription and was recorded in form `SARMATI`. In that scenario root SRB was crucial element in ancient original form of Sarmatian name.

As for the Poles, nobody es they didn`t preserve memory on specific Sarmatian organization and social structure. While Serbian `Sarmatism` was best preserved in the continuity of use of Sarmatian name and in military doctrine- in powerfull `knee to knee` cavalry tactic, in decoration of horses and riders, Polish `Sarmatism` included memory on practicaly all aspects of society and customs.

Europeans and Sarmatians- Polish Baroque, by KRZYSZTOF MROWCEWICZ

II. Sarmatians

a. The Phenomenon of Sarmatism

The starting point for Sarmatism came froma legend about the origins of the Slavs written by Renaissance histori-ans (Marcin Bielski, Marcin Kromer), based on ancient and medievalsources. According to Pliny, early Central and Eastern Europe hadbeen inhabited by a hardened people called the Sarmatians. In the 16th century they came to be identified with the ancestors of thePoles. Poland was therefore "Sarmatia," and its inhabitants were heldto be "Sarmatians."

The noble Polish youths tossed gold coins into thecrowed, the wings of the Hussars ruffled, and peacock featherswaved...

one question used to intrigues me from long time ago. It is question of `wings` that were used by Serbian Gusar Winged cavalry. As i can remind myself, cavalry `wings` are something that has its deepest roots in Serbian verbal tradition, in our epic poetry, in history.

By the research work of Polish Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, she precisely state that `The wings were of Serbian origin...`

here it is >>>

By the 17th century, Polish hussars were held in even higher esteem and they made their own style of dress.The wings were of Serbian origin too.It was thought the wings were made to defend the backs of the men against swords and lassos...

previously, she already concluded that `The hussar concept began in Serbia` and she directly point on central Serbian land RAS- our ancient core of statehood and spirituality as the main source of `Winged cavalry` tradition. Here is exactly what she said >>>

In 1500, the Polish Treasury books make reference to hussars. Early on, they were foreign mercenaries, and were called Racowie from "Rascia" a word meaning "of Serbia." They came from the Serbian state of Ras.

Researched and Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

This is very important. Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska in her work came to the RAS.

In my belief and not only mine but also in belief of some Slavic autohtonistic theories and some other scientific theories, term and region around RAS isn`t only source of Serbian/Slavic `Winged cavalry` tradition but, being on Balkan, source of even our (Slavic in general) ethnic origin, our first foothold on European soil.

See, when i first time established connection between Serbian cavalry tradition and fact that core of that tradition coming from central Serbian land RAS (also, Rashka) i was fascinated, things automatically became clear to me. Only long and continual tradition, deep connection to the land and environment was able to produce cavalry `that was best in the world`.
polskisoldier88 5 | 11
28 Jun 2010 #4
Merged:Medieval total war: A Tribute To The Great Polish Hussars

gotta love POLAND
enkidu 7 | 623
3 Jul 2010 #5
Thread attached on merging:
Badass of the Week - The Winged Hussars

I just drop it here.

3 Jul 2010 #6
So bad that they managed to stop their country from being removed from the map for hundreds of years. Oh, no, sorry, they didn't manage that, did they?
Matowy - | 295
3 Jul 2010 #7
Damn, what a depressingly emotive and over-excited article. It was written by an American, wasn't it? You can tell by the sheer amount of romanticized crap.
enkidu 7 | 623
3 Jul 2010 #8
Well - that is what makes this website so funny.

Here complete list of badasses
Matowy - | 295
3 Jul 2010 #9
Ah, it's a satirical website. My initial reply was then a bit unnecessarily emotive.
Ozi Dan 26 | 569
5 Jul 2010 #10
Who would have thought our Turk smashing Husaria could also help you smash your business opposition? Interested?

"Then the Husaria broke into a wild g allop and the heavy mass of men and horses cascaded over the Turkish ranks, bowling over the first, slicing through the second.." th-century-poland
enkidu 7 | 623
7 Jul 2010 #11
Who would have thought our Turk smashing Husaria could also help you smash your business opposition? Interested?

Well... It's quite interesting but far fetched if may I say.
plk123 8 | 4,148
26 Aug 2010 #13
both English and Polish armies have hussar regiments in them.. not on horses but in name anyway. :)
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
26 Aug 2010 #14

I love that piece of our history but what gets me depressed is that every stupid uneducated redneck kid (like you) who just discovered youtube can make a movie, result? The most glorious bit of Polish history gets dragged around by illiterate teenagers.


I HATE the "With Fire and Sword" its a book that has epic potential and the movie that got made reeks of low budget, we can make epic history movies so the f*ck up is not excusable, just take a look at the awesomeness of "The Deluge":

The movie was f*cking epic and then comes "With Fire and Sword" with all its fail.

both english and Polish armies have hussar regiments in them.. not on horses but in name anyway. :)

Winged Hussars aint hussars but its ok, not knowing anything about anything you have a long tradition of writing bullsh*t, at least you dont make so many spelling mistakes in english as you do in Polish.
polishgreatness 1 | 5
21 Jun 2011 #15
There is nothing wrong with demonstrating pride in one's country. Poland has contributed much to the world and has an amazing history, about which the world needs to know. I dare say that many people who are not even Polish respect, admire, and love Poland.
30 Dec 2011 #16
Hi All! You may be interested in our acclaimed new film PATH TO GLORY: The Rise & Rise of the Polish Arabian Horse, in which we cover amp.g other things the Battle of Vienna and Hussars, the influx if horses from the Ottoman empire etc. We did film a Hussars who appears in the film-- the armor is amazing and would be intimidating in battle to say the least! You can check it out at
gask - | 14
28 Aug 2013 #17
Hussars is the effect of nobility culture and first of all killing waepon. They became so not at once, it taks hundreds years.

Something about Hussars according too Andrew.
Sorry only polish.
Rysavy 10 | 308
28 Aug 2013 #18
**le Sigh**... as mentioned before... My first love of anything Polish is because Hussars.
Specifically Winged Hussars. Since I was like 6 yrs old. ^_^
Poland does have a great history. Too bad winners write the books; when her borders were erased, so were her contributions to the world we live in today.
17 Jun 2015 #19
I am aware that the thread is very old, but I have to add something interesting considering Serbian medieval knights and feathers.

To this day, there is a saying in Serbia "Don't decorate yourself with someone else's feathers" meaning that you shouldn't steal glory, credits and other benefits someone else earned with his skill, effort and valor. Similarly, it is considered very bad for a person being referred to as "he is decorating himself with someone else's feathers".

Some of the better documented sources of Serbian medieval cavalry originate from Turkey. For example, Serbian heavy cavalry, in dark plate armour, performed outstandingly under Despot Stefan Lazarević in Battle of Angora (Ankara), despite defeat. Being vassal at the time, army of Kingdom of Serbia was fighting for, unfortunately, Ottoman Empire.

Despot Stefan Lazarević was one of the finest knights of the era:

Coat of Arms:

And he was one of the main founders of Order of the Dragon:

Battle of Angora was very hard fought:

As was the Battle of Rovine:

And especially the Battle of Nicopolis:

As a sidenote, the most (in)famous member of Order of the Dragon through modern popular culture is:

To whom he also owes his name we all know today as Dracula ;) .

The connection with Polish winged cavalry is outstanding. Polish Winged Hussars are one of the most impressive sights to see.
OP Crow 152 | 9,786
23 Mar 2016 #20
Merged: Danish Bishop of Roskilde Absolon in medieval Polish history

We know that Absolon operated in Pomerania but, i didn`t found much sources how his actions affected power of modern day Polish ancestors on Batics.

...., when he soundly defeated a Pomeranian fleet that had attacked Denmark's vassal, Jaromar of Rügen.


Then, we also know that it was Absolon who destroyed one of greatest pre-Christian Svetovid`s cult places at Arkona.

Bishop Absalon topples the god Svantevit at Arkona in 1169.


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