Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some Sketches

 just some sketches I have been working on in my 'digital studio':









Sunday, January 22, 2012

Maurice de Saxe & ... mechanical hackamore

I have been interested in the life and works of the spirited German prince Maurice de Saxe, son of our awful Polish king Augustus II der Starke and beautiful Aurora von Königsmarck.
Prince Maurycy Saski, as we call him in Polish, was a very brave and talented soldier who won many important victories, mostly against the enemies of the French Crown, amongst others he defeated Duke of Cumberland at Fontenoy. He dictated his ideas about military, in the fashion of other famous military commanders, and these were published as ''Mes Reveries'' in 1757, almost 10 years after his untimely death. Had he lived perhaps the world would not have been celebrating that Prussian king Frederic the Great, soldier, philosopher, and thief. Why Frederic of Prussia was a thief? well, that is a story for another time, but perhaps for now it suffices to say he had the counterfeit Polish money minted in Prussia, but with much reduced amount of gold and silver in each respective coin, and then introduced that fake and injurious currency into the Polish market thus taking millions in gold and silver from Poland  and then in 1772 he took our lands and people, building his military state.
Ad rem, in volume I article III of''Mes Reveries'' prince Maurycy goes in detail about cavalry, its types and their equipment. Amongst the detailed description of the horse trappings we have a description of the bridle without a bit, looking like a curb-bit thus I naturally call it a 'mechanical hackamore'.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is prince Maurycy Saski's ''bride sans mors,''after the one invented by warrior-king of Sweden Charles XII while the Americans call mechanical hackamore, awfully inaccurate name for this device I daresay, for it has little if nothing to do with the vaquero's hackamore aka jaquima. One set or reins and plenty of control needed in one-handed military riding.

'Je ne veux point de bride avec ùn mors. II faut qu'il ait une têtière  avec deux branches droites, comme il y en a à nos brides, avec des bossèttes. De la place où est le mors ordinairement , il passe un cuir sur le nez du cheval; la gourmette venant à serrer, lorsque l'on tire les rênes, ramène parfaitement bien le cheval, & mieux qu'aucune bride : il n'y a point de cheval que l'on n'arrête avec cela, & que l'on ne manie bien; l'on ne sçauroit leur gâter la bouche, hi leur échauffer les barres.
II en résulte un autre avantage qui est trèsgrand; c'est que les chevaux peuvent tepaître sans que l'on soit obligé de débrider : dès que l'on lâche les rênes, ils peuvent ouvrir la bouche toute grande; & lorsqu'on les tient dans la main, ils ne sçauroient l'ouvrir, tirer la langue, & s'accoutumer à quantité de mauvaises habitudes qu'ils prennent avec la bride. D'ailleurs cela les relève plus, & fait fort bien. Cette invention est de Charles XII roi de Suède.'

'' I do not see a point in having a curb-bit (bride avec un mors): instead of which, it should have a head-stall (une tetiere) having two straight shanks like those of our curb-bits, with small round ornaments (avec des bossettes); and from the spot where the bit is usually placed, a leather [strap] passes over the horse's nose, [while] a curb bit chain (la gourmette) comes to draw close [this bridle], in proportion as the rider tightens his reins, will govern a horse effectively, and better than any curb-bit: one may stop and manage the most headstrong horse at pleasure, without spoiling his mouth, or inflaming (echauffer) his jaws.
There is another advantage [to this bridle] that is very important, in that horses will be able to feed with it on, without obligation to take it off (debrider): for, by only slackening the reins, he is able to to open his mouth all the way, and again by gathering them in hand ('one hand' riding), he is not able to open his mount  and will prevent  lolling out his tongue, and put a stop to number of bad habits, that take hold with [use] of a bit. By the way, it will moreover make him raise and carry well [his head] ( elevating the front and lowering the hindquarters - better collection). This invention belongs to Charles XII, King of Sweden.''

I will bring more of prince Maurycy writings and inventions regarding cavalry, the next of his writing brought here should be the saddle prince Maurycy invented. By the way, when we get to the cavalry , he may shock some of you, enthusiasts of XVIII century warfare,, for he advocated using an armoured cavalryman with a 15 feet long lance a la Polish winged hussaria.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter time - kulig/sleigh time

It is winter time in the Northern Hemisphere and in the olden days our ancestors in Europe (and to some extend in North America) used sleigh as transport vehicle, and in the Old Poland lands this was time for for going hunting and''kulig'' or a sleight party :)

Kulig described
In a short time the court was filled with sledges, and the saloon with guests. The ladies were all dressed in the costume of their villagers, and accompanied with their husbands, cousins, or admirers, all likewise dressed as the peasants of the neighbourhood. Madam Wabinska received them with a gladness and welcome that could only come from the heart, and had a compliment ready for every lady or gentleman, sometimes upon their dress, at other times on something else, but all delivered with that grace, which we can admire and appreciate, without being able to imitate, and which belongs exclusively to the ladies. The table was already covered, and the guests, when assembled, had nothing more to do than to sit down to their light repast, before proceeding farther, as they well knew that Kurowo was not the end of their journey. The house of Madam Wabinska was only the rendezvous; the horses had ten good English miles to travel further before they reached their goal.
The judge mounted the same sledge with a young widow, to the great mortification of a young gentleman, who had already, in anticipation, occupied the seat. The musicians were all placed in the first sledge, and although not one of them knew how to play a rondino, or a rondolletto, yet they knew how to please the travellers, and played la polonaise of Kosciuszko.
The principal sledge, and that which followed immediately after the musicians, was covered with Turkish tapestry, and built in the form of a stag reposing in the midst of a forest after a tiresome chase. The head, formed of wood, and turned towards the horses, was adorned with real antlers, the numerous tines upon which gave them the appearance of two trees stripped of their leaves by the wind. The pedestal, upon which the stag reposed, and which represented the green sward, was supported by four little pillars fixed in the skates, about four feet distant from each other, at the end furthest from the horses, describing a half circle, and narrowing by little and little until they approached the front of the sledge, where they were united, and terminated in a gilded ball, elevated a little in front of the stag's head. These skates serve in place of the wheels of a carriage, and enable the sledges to slide along upon the frozen snow. The back of the stag was hollowed out in such a manner as to allow two persons to sit in it; and behind, upon the extremities of the skates, stood a servant, who guided the horses, crackling his whip, at the end of which was fixed a red ribbon, making a noise in the wind blowing keenly from the north.
Felicjan Andon Wolski – A sledge party in Poland 1830 (Glasgow, 1835)

"BRING out another sleigh," said my friend. "How the wind cuts! does it not?" he continued, as the breeze, whistling against our bodies, made itself felt in spite of all the precautions we had taken. The vehicle now brought was broader and more commodious than the previous one, which, somewhat in the shape of a coffin, seemed especially designed so as to torture the occupants, particularly if, like my companion and self, they should happen to be endowed by nature with that curse during a sleigh journey — however desirable appendages they may be when in a crowd — long legs. Three horses abreast, their coats white with pendent icicles and hoar-frost, were harnessed to the sleigh; the centre animal was in the shafts and had his head fastened to a huge wooden head-collar, bright with various colors. From the summit of the headcollar was suspended a bell, while the two outside horses were harnessed by cord traces to splinter-bars attached to the sides of the sleigh. The object of all this is to make the animal in the middle trot at a brisk pace, while his two companions gallop, their necks arched round in a direction opposite to the horse in the centre, this poor beast's head being tightly reined up to the head-collar.
A well-turned-out troika with three really good horses, which get over the ground at the rate of twelve miles an hour, is a pretty sight to witness, particularly if the team has been properly trained, and the outside animals never attempt to break into a trot, while the one in the shafts steps forward with high action; but the constrained position in which the horses are kept must be highly uncomfortable to them, and one not calculated to enable a driver to get as much pace out of his animals as they could give him if harnessed in another manner.
Off we went at a brisk pace, the bell dangling from our horse's head-collar, and jingling merrily at every stride of the team.

Sights of Saint Petersburg:
If we stand in any frequented part of St. Petersburg, and watch the passing crowd of shaven and unshaven Russians, the latter predominating according as it is a more or less fashionable quarter, we observe as great a variety in the appearance of the vehicles which whirl them by, as in those who ride within, or constitute the stream of foot-passengers. In the winter season, when St. Petersburg is in its glory, let us take the corner of the Nevsky prospect.
The old body of a chariot placed upon a sleigh without its wheels, is rapidly whisked past by four rough-looking little horses, wiry and uncouth as the rudest of Welsh ponies, with long ragged tails and manes. Two footmen, in furred greatcoats, with enormous cocked-hats, stand behind the carriage; a coachman, bearded, caftaned, and wearing the quadrangular velvet cap which distinguishes his profession, sits on the box, the reins in both hands, without a whip. One of the leaders is mounted by a boy dressed like the coachman, sitting on a high Tartar saddle, the skirts of his ample caftan being tucked round his legs. This may be a minister, a counsellor of state, or some man high in office, driving to the palace. His dingy equipage shows the negligence to externals of the man in power. His four horses are not worth forty pounds; but these are the hacks which save his fat, sleek, showy nags, of which he has many sets. These horses are harnessed according to the fashion which the Russians have derived from their former Tartar conquerors. The collar is very light, so are the breeching and traces, and all of black oiled leather, which, in dry weather, wears eternally. In the mouth, the horse has nothing but a snaffle.
Then dashes by us, at an astounding pace, the bearded coachman shouting as he drives along, a light
sledge, of polished walnut or maple wood, scarcely heavier than an arm-chair. The horses are bright bay or jet-black, glossy in coat, and so sleek and fat, that the near horse, as he canters or gallops along, covers the trace with foam ; for the near horse gallops always the same shoulder foremost, his neck being rounded, from his head being strapped down, so that his long mane almost trails in the snow. The off horse in reality draws the vehicle. He is harnessed between shafts, and these shafts are held forcibly apart, so as to yield him some support, by a bow about the thickness of a man’s wrist, which rises high over his head, above the collar, and to which he is bound by a bearing-rein. This horse trots, whilst
the one beside him canters, and the effect is very graceful, when the galloping horse, or pristastcluz, is
showy; but it is painful to behold, when the curb of the neck, instead of appearing natural in a fiery animal, is evidently torturing some worn-out brute, which flounders wearily along, as is so often the case. In this sledge sits an ofiicer in the guards — a Russian nobleman — enveloped in the light bluish-grey cloak of the Russian army, with a collar of the beautiful fur of the sea-otter muffling up his face, and a white cock-tail feather streaming from his preposterously large cocked-hat. He is a man of family and fortune ; his conversation will amuse you for an hour; he appears high-bred and gentleman-like ; but converse with him for a thousand hours, and the theme is always the same — champagne, cards, and French actresses.
Next […] vehicle is also driven by a Russian bearded coachman ; but it heavy and gaudy old harness, in the English fashion, fastens the horses to the pole. The horses themselves have a touch of the heavy Mecklenburg breed about them. They are nicked, and retain the smallest imaginable stump of a tail. If there are four horses, a heavy postilion, parodying the costume of an English postboy, sits in his saddle like an Austrian dragoon.
he next is the equipage of a Russian magnate in all its glory […] The horses, light-limbed, arch-necked, and sleekcoated, show all the useless points of breeding, and the skillful grooming of their dark, glossy coats, shows off the light and elegant harness, which is relieved by silver ornaments and studs, like the cowrie-shells on the Morisco bridles. But perhaps one of those gorgeous footmen standing behind the carriage shows the toe of his foot coming through his boot, one of those showy horses wants a shoe, and some part of the brilliant harness is fastened with a piece of rope.
By Richard Hildreth (1843)

Of the sleigh horses:
The fast trotters are a breed in common use for hackney carriages and winter sleighs: their movement consists in trotting with the fore-legs and cantering with the hinder, proceeding at this rate fifteen or sixteen miles an hour. There are some of them higher bred that will go the pace of twenty miles, but how long they can keep it up is not quite satisfactorily ascertained. These animals are rather long for their height, very well shaped, with a square head, and mane so exuberantly long*, that their masters knot them up to keep them from trailing on the ground.
*This long-maned race is extensively spread towards the south into Poland, the Ukraine, and Podolia, there being, in the Dresden Museum, a stuffed specimen; it had belonged to the last Saxon king of Poland (Augustus III of Saxony), and had a mane which measured twenty-four English feet in length, and the tail thirty feet.
Charles hamilton Smith et al (1841)

Paintings attached are by pan Juliusz Kossak, one of the most amazingly talented and prolific horse painters of XIX century 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jana Krasinskiego opis Polski et wjazd Walezego do Krakowa

today's entry will be mostly in Polish, I hope I will translate the passages in not too many days, so please bear with me :) 
Dear Samuel pointed to me this work - Jana Krasińkiego Polska  written in Latin by a Polish scholar, clergyman and nobleman Jan Andrzej Krasiński (a fellow Mazur aka mazowszanin like me) under a Latin name: ''Joannis Crassinii Polonia. Ad Sereniss. et Potentiss. Henricum I. Valesium, Deigratia utriusque Poloniae regem. Bononiae apud Peregrinum Bonardum, venia ab superioribus concessa.''  (published 1574). It was translated by XIX century Polish scholar Stanisław Budziński and published in Warsaw (under Russian occupation) in 1852.

Polska Jazda w tym dziele:

''Liczne są w Polsce wybornego żołnierza chorągwie; dzielą się one na chorągwie pieszych i jezdnych. Jezdni bogato uzbrojeni (pancerni) mają zdatne do upartej walki konie, których przednią część zbroją żelazną pokrywają. W boju używają włóczni, a następnie dwóch ''mieczy'': jednego długiego ku spadku czworograniasto kończatego (koncerz), drugiego zakrzywionego i krótkiego do zadania cięcia [szabla]; walczą także gdy tego potrzeba krótkiemi rusznicami, podobnie jak Niemcy, lub żelaznemi buławami, jak to u Węgrów jest zwyczajem; do zasłonienia się tarczy używają (1). Inny rodzaj jazdy stanowią lekko zbrojni, t.j. tak nazwani w Polsce i Węgrzech usarze. Ci prawie wszyscy zbroje i przyłbice noszą, używają lekkiej kopii, zakrzywionego miecza i tarcz podobnych do tureckich. Niektórzy zwyczajem Scytów strzały z łuków ciskają, inni z krótkich rusznic strzelają do nieprzyjaciela. Trzeci rodzaj jazdy stanowią kozacy,którzy bardzo są wytrzymali na zimno, głód i trudy wszelkiego rodzaju. Uzbrajają się oni bardzo lekko, podobnie jak Tatarzy. Konie mają bardzo rącze i do małych utarczek zdatne. Siodła na koniach tak urządzają, iż bez trudności na wszystkie strony mogą się obracać i z łuku strzelać. Do walki używają najczęściej łuku, rażąc gradem pocisków jeźdźców i konie nieprzyjacielskie. Używają także szabli na wzór wschodnich, i krótkich drzewców. W kraju nieprzyjacielskim bardzo szybko posuwają się, niszcząc wszystko ogniem i mieczem; a właśnie na szybkości i bezpieczeństwo żołnierza i zwycięztwo polega. Przebywając w obszernych stepach podolskich, gdzie ciągle z Tatarami krymskiemi wojnę prowadzą, wożą z sobą w jukach całą swą żywność, składającą się z chleba, wędzonki i soli z pieprzem zmieszanej. Każdy prócz tego opatrzony jest w hubkę i krzesiwo, aby gdy zwierzę jakie (którego pełno jest w tych bezludnych szlakach) ubić się zdarzy, mógł zaraz ogień rozniecić i upiec zdobycz, sola i pieprzem zaprawioną. Polacy zwykli także urządzać chorągwie piechoty, częścią w rusznice, częścią w oszczepy uzbrojonej, której używają do odległych wypraw, powierzając jej wszelkiego rodzaju machiny wojenne. Ona toruje drogę wojsku, buduje mosty, dobywa miast i twierdz; wielce zatem jest na wojnie przydatną. Jednak Polacy najwięcej na jazdę liczą, a pieszego żołnierza nie-tyle co Włochy i Hiszpanie cenią.''
(1) Dokładniej I bardziej malowniczo ten rodzaj jazdy opisuje Ogier (Iter polonicum, w zbiorze Miclera I, 720, 726.), zowiąc ją właściwiej usarzami, ponieważ tak nazywano w Polsce najcięższy rodzaj jazdy. Mieli oni zbroje z żelaza kute; przeciwnie pancerni (od niemieckiego Panzerheinde— kolczuga) okrywali się kolczugą t. j. koszulą z kotek stalowych złożoną. —Włócznie (rohatyny) husarzy były to kopie do 19 stóp długości. Mlecze do przebijania, na pice; stóp długie, przymocowane były do siodła pod lewem kolanem; spód u rękojeści miały płaski dla tem łatwiejszego przebicia leżącego już na ziemi nieprzyjaciela. Buławy były to młotki żelazne dla rozbijania żelaznych pętlic i spięcia zbroi. Zob. Niemcewicza: Panowanie Zygmunta III we wstępie, i Wójcickiego: Obrazy starodawne w tomie I o husarzach.[przypis mości Budzińskiego)

We czwartek dnia 15 lutego J. K. M. przybył na nocleg do Balic majętności wojewody krakowskiego, o półtorej mili od stolicy. Następnego dnia bardzo rano, gdy J. K. M. z Balic wyjeżdżał, przyciągnęli tam panowie polscy z licznemi hufcami. Liczby ich dokładnie nie wiem; ale naliczono do 32 pocztów, każdy we 300 około ludzi z francuzka, z niemiecka jak rajtary, lub z węgierska uzbrojonych. To ostatnie uzbrojenie składa się z hełmu, kolczugi, wielkiej tarczy, zasłaniającej aż po głowę, oraz z kopii długości małej dzidy, dosyć grubej, lecz wewnątrz wydrążonej. Konie pokrywają skórą niedźwiedzią lub lamparcią i po większej części przywiązują im dzwonki; a siebie i konie ubierają w takie mnóstwo wielkich piór oraz w skrzydła orle w pręgi zfote pomalowane, że zdają się być raczej widziadłami lub maszkarami, jak rycerzami; a jeśli dodać długie chorągiewki które mają przy kopiach, to zaiste wszystko to wyda się bardzo potwornem. Muzykę ich stanowią trąby, rogi, wydające gł os jak kobza wysoko wzięta, oraz dwa małe bębenki miedziane, które jeździec siedząc na koniu trzyma przed sobą i jeden o drugi uderza. Czwarty sposób uzbrojenia jest kozacki, którego używają Litwini i Rusini. Broń ich składa się z krótkiego drzewca .czyli spisy, kołczanu i strzał; konie mają szybkie jak wiatr. Uzbrojenie Kozaków i Tatarów jest jednakowe. Niektórzy dla lepszego przebrania się prowadzili niedźwiedzia na koniu, zupełnie uzbrojonego i trzymającego kopię.'
 O koniach ukrainnych czyli Rusi Czerwonej, Podola i Wolynia:
Konie ruskie pod względem szybkości i piękności ledwie że nie dadzą się z hiszpańskiemi i tureckiemi porównać, a daleko są od nich silniejsze.
 O rzedach polskich, w tym o malowaniu koni
'Jeżdżą [Polacy] na koniach kosztownym rzędem strojnych; szyje ich i piersi srebrnemi lub złotemi blachami oraz futrem ze szlachetnych zwierząt pokrywają; siodła zaś, czoła koni ponad oczami i ogony drogiemi kamieniami ozdabiają. Wielu różnemi kolorami konie farbuje.'

o okrywaniu koni wyszczególniam tutaj: 'Konie pokrywają skórą niedźwiedzią lub lamparcią i po większej części przywiązują im dzwonki; a siebie i konie ubierają w takie mnóstwo wielkich piór oraz w skrzydła orle w pręgi złote pomalowane, że zdają się być raczej widziadłami lub maszkarami, jak rycerzami'

O Litwie i jej jezdzie:
'Liczną mają jazdę [Litwa], która stanowi znaczną dla króla polskiego pomoc; gdyż (jak o tem słyszeliśmy od tamtejszych mieszkańców dobrze rzeczy świadomych) są oni w stanie do 40,000 jeźdźców zgromadzić. [I]Konie ich sa piękne, silne i raczę[/I]. Prowadząc z Moskwa prawie ustawiczną wojnę o granice, niekiedy tylko cieszą się pokojem'
I na koniec, dodatkowo, opis mieszkańcow tego krolestwa nad Dnieprem, Niemnem i Wisłą:

..Zwykłym zaś napojem jest piwo z wody, pszenicy lub jęczmienia i chmielu przyrządzane. Piją także wyborny miód. który się robi z miodu pszczół i chmielu. Szlachta i możniejsi używają wina, które morzem z Hiszpani i Francyi, a lądem z sąsiednich Węgier i Niemiec sprowadzają. Ubiór mieszkańców po większej części długi, niewiele od węgierskiego i dalmackiego różniący się. Kolor twarzy, jak u wszystkich północnych mieszkańców biały. Ludzie obojej płci są po większej części wysokiego wzrostu, silni i pięknej urody. Mężczyźni w ogóle siłą obdarzeni i na wszelkie niebezpieczeństwo odważyć się gotowi. Shańbionym przez wyrok sądowy tak jak trucizną się brzydzą. W ogóle naród ten lubi strojność w ubraniu. Szlachta i znakomitsi bardzo kosztownie odziewają się: noszą bowiem suknie ze złotogłowu t. j. z jedwabiu przerabianego złotem, obszywane perłami, futrem sobolim lub kunim podbite, a wyłogi ich srebrem i złotem aż do dołu przerabiane; pierścienie złote lub srebrne pozłacane, perłami zdobne, na palce kładą. Bardzo kosztowne zakrzywione miecze, szablami perskiemi zwane, w srebrnych lub złotych pochwach do boku przypasują; pochwy i rękojeście drogiemi kamieniami zdobią.
 I would like to welcome all new followers of my blog - Witajcie!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Polish horse - first post in 2012

we made it into the new year of 2012 (2011 was a rough year by far), so here I am blogging anew. And my first post is obviously on the most favorite subject of mine: Polish horses in historical sources. I must admit upon finishing all the novels by John Maddox Roberts 'SPQR' I will be inclined to write more about ancient Roman and later Italian horses, sometime during this year.
Ad rem, in December I wrote about Polish embassy to England, and included two images from a Swedish carousel of 1672, and now I am attaching a better version of that hussar horses. In my version this splendid mount is shown dyed with Brazilwood dye (most likely) or our native Polish kermes dye, a custom that we had gotten from the Turks and the steppe in general.
Now the historical text - this is the very description from a printed work by John L. Cadwalader (1735) titled ''The sportsman's dictionary: or, The country gentleman's companion, in all ...” vol. II (repeated by Thomas Wallis in 1767, ''Farrier and horseman's dictionary '').

The Polish Horses. These are much like the Danish horses, and are generally about the size of the Spanish Genet [jennet], are of a middle stature, but their limbs are much better knit together, and are of a much stronger make, than the Spanish ones. This horse is in many respects, like our natural English horse, except that their heads are somewhat slenderer, like the Irish hobby; but their necks and crests are raised upright, and very strong; their ears are very short and small, and their backs capable of bearing any weight ; their chines are broad, and their hooves are judged to be as good as those of any horse in the world. They are very good for a journey, and will endure long ones, with more ease than any other hores.
*original spelling