Thursday, November 25, 2010

King of Poland Royal uhlans 1770s

English travelers' accounts of their voyages during have of the XVI-XIX have been great source of information for this blog, my friend Radek  found some interesting account of the 1770s uhlan regiment, serving as a household unit of the King of Poland:

Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden, and Denmark: interspersed ..., Volume 1

 By William Coxe, page 140

Ulans or Uhlans for the King
The king has a corps of 2000 troops in his own pay, and entirely dependent upon himself. These troops consist chiefly of Ulans or light horse, who furnish alternately the escort which accompanies his majesty. We saw a small party, about thirty, who were encamped near his villa, and had afterwards an opportunity of examining them more minutely.
The Ulans are chiefly Tartars, many of them Mahometans, and are greatly to be relied on for their fidelity. The corps is composed of gentlemen and vassals : they all form in squadron together, but are differently armed ; they both indiscriminately carry sabres and pistols, but the gentlemen only bear lances of about ten feet long ; instead of which, the others are armed with carabines. Their dress is a high fur cap, a green and red jacket, pantaloons of the fame colour, which cover the boots as low as the ankle; and a petticoat of white cloth descending to the knee*. Their heads are all shaved after the Polish manner. Their lances, at the end of which is fastened a long swallow-tailed flag [pennon] of black and red cloth, are shorter and weaker than those of the Austrian Croats, but they carry and use them much in the same manner, and with no less dexterity. The men were of different sizes, and seemed fine and well-grown, but were greatly disfigured with their petticoats and pantaloons.
Polish horses for light cavalry
The horses on which they were mounted. were about fourteen hands high, of remarkable spirit, with great strength of shoulder. 
Poland is much esteemed for its breed of horses; and the king of Prussia procures his light cavalry from this country. 
On the ruin of the Polish horses

The breed, however, has been almost ruined during the late civil wars*, and the nobility are now chiefly supplied from Tartary.

Coxe, Travels vol1 (page 140)
* I intend to draw and paint several reconstructions of these Royal Uhlans (ulans) - pan Bronislaw Gembarzewski  premier military uniform historian from Poland seen in this relief  B.Gembarzewski , in his monumental work 'Polish Soldier - arms and equipment' vol II has some interesting reconstructions and cites sources for the Royal Uhlans, from 1770s through 1794.
*Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth under the Saxon kings was subject to increasing Russian influence during the first half of XVIII century, and after the last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski  S_A_Poniatowski  - his election at Wola was subject to some paintings showing  Polish horses eg  Election_of_Stanislaw_II_August_of_Poland_at_Wola muzeum w Poznaniu , was elected with full support of the Russian army bayonets, coercion and money PLC become Russian protectorate. Enraged patriotic elements of nobility declared a confederacy (at the ancient fortress of Bar in present Ukraine) and civil war erupted, but it has to be stressed that quickly the Polish-Lithuanian royal armies had been replaced by the Russian forces that had battled Bar Confederates troops  for 4 years -
 The end of Bar Confederacy resistance spurred three black eagles: Russia, Prussia and Austrian Empire cease the moment and to take some defenseless Polish-Lithuanian  territory. Russia received the least developed areas but Prussia took the ethnically Polish territories of northern Poland  and  begun infamous Prussian robbery of Polish-Lithuanian foreign  commerce profits and in the end caused the economic strangulation of the country (including counterfeiting Polish currency and imposing huge tariffs on PLC agricultural exports and other commerce), while the losses to Austria were painful because they took some of the best cities ( the Royal city of Lwow-Lviv,  returned in 1918 to be again stolen from Poland in 1939 and 1944 by the 1st class world murderer and genocidal tyrant J. Stalin ), most populated areas of the country, including  the horse breeding areas of southern Poland - it was the so called First Partition of Poland

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends, readers and followers :)

 a little sketch after drawing by Juliusz Kossak

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