Monday, March 31, 2014

White Eagle - Miechowita Chronica Polonorum

circling around the Orsza battle anniversary and the White Eagle emblem in Polish historical iconography I found a perfect example of the eagle emblem used during the reign of king Sigismund Jagiellon (Sigismund I the Old). The Jagiellonian Dysnaty reign is still considered the Golden Age of Poland, however, unlike in the United Kingod and the US [sic! - it is a bit funny, the Americans, with the majority being of  German ethnicity, go gaga over the British Renaissance history :) ]  during the late XX and this  XXI century there have not been any works of popular culture, be it film, novels, plays nor graphic stories/comics about the Golden Era of Polish culture.

The image, a detail of the woodcut, comes from the title page of the first printed history of Poland, written by father Maciej z Miechowa, doctor in medicina filosofia, historian, alchemist, writer and scholar at the Jagiellonian University in Cracovia (Kraków), printed in AD1519.
I coloured the image(with GIMP) in accordance with surviving heraldic eagle images of king Sigismund I.

Also, in the same work, there are images of all Polish kings and princes, including the legendary ones (until AD1506). And amongst these woodcuts there are several interesting depictions of early sabres and also costumes of Renaissance Poles.
A few examples (do pay close attention to the swords and the method of carrying them, these are sabres and langes messer):
legendary forefathers of Poles (Lech) and Czechs (Czech)
Mieszko I

et Venceslaus

..and another eagle from the inside the text, also interesting I hope.
There is one more image from the book, however I will reserve it for another time, as there are also riders and horses in it...


Friday, March 28, 2014

Mercury wing - early hussars Orsza 1514

      following the post before the last post I am going to turn to a curious element of the Polish early hussars equipment depicted in the Orsza AD (1514 battle of Orsha now in Belarus) painting:
the so called Mercury wing or 'gilded, tooled leather flap attached to the boot 
instep' (''removed when not in saddle'')  - I am citing here what  dr David 
Nicolle  said in 'Polish Medieval Armies' (from Osprey Military Publishing) on 
page 47.
I am going to copy the reconstructed early hussar there with some comments 
on the reconstruction in the near future, following the thread on the 
anniversary of AD 1514 Orsza battle.
Anyway, the 'wing' seems to me  to follow the tradition of the Greek 
mythology, of the winged shoes worn by Hermes (Roman Mercury) and known
as 'talaria.' After all this was the Renaissance :) 

This Hungarian nobleman seems to be wearing them albeit covered by the 
hem of his caftan/robe..

The various styles of Mercury wing on Polish early hussars, plus stirrups,
spurs and boots; in the last detailed image the hussars had crossed the river 
and are removing water from their boots and clothing, soon to rejoin the
battle, and Mercury wing is nowhere to be seen, perhaps stowed away before
the crossing of Dnieper River:

 The above images come  from battle of Orsha painting AD 1520-30s

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Philippe Delaby - pacem aeternam

I do enjoy graphic novels, especially Franco-Belgian books, created by the some of the most talented and creative graphic story tellers in the world.

I do have a sizeable collection of Bande Dessinee albums ( and Spanish and Italian too ), and some albums devoted to the individual artists.
I learned that the great master of historical and fantasy BD Philippe Delaby passed away January 28, 2014.
 Pilippe Xavier, another BD artist - strongly admire his work, his mastery evidenced in the series ''Croisade,' created a tribute to Mr Delaby, also many BD sites have information on this excellent artist, eg Bedetheque .

I have all the albums of the acclaimed series 'Murena,'  one-shot ''Bran - Légende née des tourbillons des vents du Nord,''  and all albums of ''Complainte des landes perdues'' (first 4 albums drawn by fantastic artist and creator of 'Thorgal' Grzegorz Rosiński) and some of L’Étoile polaire
The images here are from the series 'Murena'  that takes place in the ancient Rome during the end of reign of emperor Claudius and his scessor emperor Nero, and there is a bit more about the series here
I am going to miss Mr Delaby's excellent work...

Pacem Aeternam maestro!

I do not own any rights to these images of Mr. Delaby

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Orsza 1514-2014

this year we will be celebrating yet another historical battle - 500 years anniversary of the battle of Orsza (Orsha, in  Belarus) - actually the 2nd battle of Orsza, as there were all together 3 battles fought there during the XVI century (all victories tof the Polish-Lithuanian side), where Polish and Grand Duchy of Lithuania forces defeated Drand Duchy of Muscovy forces. Polish-Lithuanian forces were commanded by a veteran of border wars Ruthenian prince and ducal hetman Konstanty Ostrogski. It is also famous as the first big battle where early husaria lancers fighting in Polish service participated. There were also Lithuanian Tatars, Ruthenian banners, Silesian infantry units and Bohemian volunteers (Kingdom of Bohemia or today's Czech and Polish voivodeships of Lower and Upper Silesia were within the Jagiellonian dynasty realms). I will write more about this battle in the future.

Sadly in Poland the XVI century Jagiellonian era wars are not celebrated in film nor novels nor comix, perhaps all fault goes to Henryk Sienkiewicz and his 'Trylogy.' There was another prolific and quite interesting historical writer who wrote about the Jagiellonian period, but he was a spy  and traitor for the foreign and occupying powers during the XIX century Partition of Poland period, and his works were forgotten. But there are several chronicles written by the participants of the historical events and these books can be read in Latin and Polish via digital libraries.

There is a Facebook page devoted to the battle anniversary and reenactment

here you have the link to it

We are blessed with a historicla painting painted some time after the battle, and this painting, a bit trimmed, survived the wars and destruction, and it is to be found at the National Museum in Warsaw.
some detailed images from the painting, the armoured knights are Polish cavalry under   - courtesy of my friend Bartek Siedlar

So if you in Poland in the end of June do not miss this event

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Central Asian Gobi Desert and its horse fodder

today a quick jump over to Central Asia :)
I have in my possession this great book by Mr Gladtiz Horse Breeding in the Medieval World (1997), and in there, amongst the mountains of facts and stories, the author gives information on the  flora suitable for horse within the dry steppes of the Gobi.

So allow me to quote some of his research, as in my opinion it is interesting and enriching our knowledge on possible horse environments of Eurasia etc:

 Trans Altai Gobi - without life until the coming of summer rains, and its fodder consists of saltworts, bor-budurgan, Gobi feathergrass and onion. Here the horses can dig in the salt-brine pans and then drink the water that gathers there. Then they feed on tamarisk, wormwood (artemsia incana) feather grass (both stipa capillata and stipa gobica), deris (lasiagorstis splendens) white roots of rhubarb, varios bulbs such as tulipa uniflora, anabasis (anabasis brevifolia - used to fatten camels), caragana pygmaea, Rheum leucorhizum, zygophyllum xanthoxylon, Reaumuria soongorica (but this one is of little value to horses), and also stipa orientalis where conditions permit. In the steppe that borders Trans Altai Gobi the foodstuffs for horses might include Stipa Capillata and stipa gobica, couch-grass (Agropyrum cristatum) feather-grass, motley grass, in more desert steppe Gobi feather-grass and onions (Allium polyrrhizum, Alllium mongolicum), sheep's fescue or baglur (Anabasis brevifolia).

Wild horses lived there, and from the medieval sources we learn that  in  the X century Kansu Uigurs hunted them, so the wild horse is listed as the part of the list of products of these territories.

Wild asses or Khulans of Mongolia

I used Kmuser and Schreiber map  from wikipedia..

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sabre and lance drills

we have a brand new month ahead of us - a promise of the Spring perhaps as well.
Honouring this new month, I am starting with this 'plate' that I compiled some illustrations from the Polish cavalry manuals (via great Polish horse archery website regarding lance and sabre training, in the fashion of the uhlans of the prior epochs this lancers of the 1st Polish Light Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Guard (image from the manual written by general Wincenty Krasiński, commander of the regiment )


 Yanukovich's love of books - via Poemas del rio Wang blog