Friday, January 25, 2013

Battle of Byczyna continued

 winter is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere as it was 425 years ago when armies met at the Byczyna battlefield to hotly and bloodily determine what course of history Polish Commonwealth was to take, with Maximilian and the Hapsburga or with the Vasa prince and democracy of the szlachta.

    I prepared a map to show the battle array of the Maximilian's forces as they were awaiting the attack of Zamoyski and his army, based on the map from the prof. Marek Plewczyński's article mentioned yesterday.

Also two sketches of Hungarian winged hussars, one really work in progress ...


Ergo, more to follow, I hope.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Battle of Byczyna anniversary

today we celebrate the anniversary of the famous battle of Byczyna, that took place on January 24, 1588, exactly 425 years ago. In many respects this battle changed the history of Poland, since Hapsburg pretender Imperial Prince Maximillian III of Austria was defeated by  Crown Grand Hetman Zamoyski who supported young prince Sigismund Vasa, descendant via his mother  of the Jagellonian Dynasty, and for next 80 years Poland would be ruled by the Vasa dynasty kings, for better or worse I guess.

   This battle is interesting in that it was one of the unusual circumstances where the Polish and Hungarian winged hussars banners fought against one another; of course they also fought against the landsknechts and other Western and Hungarian style infantry, Western style cavalry like reiters.

Bycznya 1588 was also a prime example of Old Polish military doctrine of assault  by using Polish heavy cavalry - then the winged hussars - to hammer the enemy on a field battle and possibly destroy him once and for good during that one terrible clash of arms. This time it worked well as we know at Byczyna this Old Polish military tactic was acctually accomplished to the utmost extend, evidenced by the fact that the commanding general and Polish Crown pretender prince Maximillian was taken prisoner when his surrendered in the aftermath  of this quite bloody engagement. 

Well, let us look at the forces – the general description of the battle is given on wikipedia - first the Imperial pretender's army.

Prince Maximillian had about 6,500 fighting men (according to Marek Plewczynski*), grouped into units based under their country of orgin, and those divided into cavalry, infantry and artillery. The vast majority - 5000 men -  of his army was fresh, since they freshly arrived at Byczyna, but they were undisciplined and never had fought together.  About 1,500 men were quite tired and perhaps demoralized by the constant withdrawal in face of Zamoyski's pressure. Yet Prince decided to give battle, so  between 5 & 6 am on January 24 his army left Byczyna and moved towards a flat terrain with a hill dominating it, numbered on the maps as hill 218, about 2-2,5 km away from the fortified town of Byczyna, where 2 rotas of infantry and 40 harquebusiers were left guarding the 'camp,' so to speak.
The army was to deploy in a form of a half moon on both sides of the King's highway, leading to Uszyce, with the hill 218 as their commanding and most dominating aspect of this battlefield.

Reiters – or pistolers – 7 rotas or units from Silesia (2 banners of 700 – under Oppersdorf- and 200 - under Waldau) and Moravia (5 rotas of a thousand horses– 2 largest under Boguslav Borzita and Fridrich Žerotin): together 1800 men and horses.

Harquebusiers – armoured, heavier cavalry – 4 rotas from Germany (2, but one very small of 30 horses) and Moravia ( 2 rotas of 300 and 100 horse, the smaller one under Jan Hodejowski): together 630 men and horses.

Light horse – 4 rotas, 3 Polish and 1 small one -30 men- of Hungarians, together: 230 men and horses.
Curiosity - the Hungarian unit is called Argienses Ungari milites exercitissimi or really well trained cavalrymen, sort of elite soldiers. Polish side had a similar unit, know as eleary or eligery.

Heavy cavalry - Winged Hussars – 5 rotas ( 4 Polish rotas ones grouped under Stadnicki – future Diabeł /Devil -  with their rotameisters Marszowski, Górka, and 1 large one – 500 horse - Hungarian under Prepostvari) together: 600 men and horses.

Infantry -
1 German rota of Landsknehts under Kurtz of 200 pikemen and 200 musketeers – 400 men.

2 Sillesian rotas of 400(100musketeers &300 pikemen) and 600 (200 musketeers & 400 pikemen) each – together 1000 men

1 Moravian rota under Jan Hetzer of 500 men (300 pikemen and 200 musketeers) 

1 Polish rota of 200 men (no pikemen) – divided into 10 gun-men units, where every tenth man carried a 'darda' or a staff weapon, and alos could have a firearm.
1 Hungarian rota of 1190 men (roughly divided into equal number of pikemen and musketeers)

Prince's artillery prof. Plewczynski* estimates at 4 heavy field guns and more than 10 falkonets.

   As  you saw above the army came to a flat ground 2,5 km from Byczyna and here Prince Maximillian ordered his army to be deployed near the dominant hill  218,  essentially in two lines. The left wing had the Hungarian Argienses in front of German mounted Harquebusiers (devided in 10 lines) and Moravian Harquebusiers. Next to them stood all Polish winged hussar rotas under their commander Stadnicki, 400 horses in 4 lines. The second line of the left wing consisted of 100 German reiter rota and all Polish light horse – 200 horses.
The center of the Maximillian army consisted of Silesian reiter rota – 200 horses in 13 lines, German reiter rota of 100 horse, the small German harquebusier rota and finally 700 Silesian reiter rota under Oppersdorf.

   The right wing was deployed into two lines as well : front line consisted of 500 Hungarian winged hussar rota under Prepostvari (perhaps in 10 lines). Second line of the right wing consisted of infantry deployed at the foot of  the hill 218. Looking from the left first stood a square of the landsknechts of 20 lines, 800 strong Silesian infantry, and huge 1,200 strong Hungarian infantry 'pułk.' Next stood 200 Polish haiduks in 10 lines, and finally Moravian infantry (500 men). Near the neighboring forest stood the Moravian harquebusier rota and 2 Moravian reiter rotas (600 men).

Prince Maximillian was on the hill 218, himself surrounded by Polish (Gorka and Zobrowski) and German nobles along with his personal guard -100 horses German reiter rota. Next to the Imperial commander the prince's artillery was placed.
Army was deployed in a form of half moon 1000 meters wide and 500 meters deep, the convex part of it towards the enemy thought to advance and attack via the highway leading towards Byczyna behind Prince Maximilian's army rear. 

There was a small village of Roszkowice on the King's highway, about 3-3,5 km away from Byczyna, in front of the army of Maximillian, that most likely than not was rather small and had been burned the night before. There was larger forestspreding from the south to the foot of the hill 218, there were other small wooded areas, some on hill 218. and some to the north-east of Roszkowice

Next, I will write about the army of Grand Hetman Zamoyski. 


* Source: article by prof. Marek Plewczynski – 'Bitwa pod Byczyna 24. 01. 1588 r.' In ''Studia I Materialy do Historii Wojskowosci,' volume 17.1 , Warszawa 1970.

ps and here I posted a link to the film about this battle  but it does not work anymore.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Drawing of an uhlan

 just wanted to share with you my old sketch of a Polish uhlan done with a ball pen and worked over with GIMP filters
I hope to your enjoyment.

Bent Branderup - master of Academic Equitation

for some time I have been watching and reading about Bent Branderup, who has been trying to bring back from oblivion  the Academic Equitation, as this art was practiced in Europe before the French Revolution.

Here there is his new video, along with other training videos, on horse breeding and art of riding - I find it quite on point, thus I am sharing it with you on this blog.

This is Bent's website. Perhaps I will take some time to participate in one of his clinics in the coming year or so.
Here a painting by Jozef Brant showing Stefan Czarniecki on his spotted horse..

By the way I have had this thought that Danish spotted horses originated with the visit of Polish allied forces in 1657 when the Stefan Czarniecki's division came to Denmark then under the assault by the Swedish armies. Jan Chrysostom Pasek, companion cavalryman in Czarniecki's Division, described with great detail his Denmark experience in his Memories
By the way, famous  Marechal Raimondo Montecuccoli, commander of Imperial forces in the northern theater of war, was also there, as he campaigned with Polish forces in Poland and later in Denmark, and he learned a bit about Polish lancers, especially the winged hussars,as there were 3 winged hussar banner there. After bulk of the division left about a 1000 cavalrymen (10 plus banners) stayed in Denmark under the command of rotmistrz Kazimierz Piaseczyński, who  died bravely leading the victorious cavalry charge at the battle of Nyborg.

There must have been at least 15,000 to 30,000 Polish horses that came to Denmark in the Lord's year of 1659. Our ancestors favored spotted horses as well as  unusual colors in horses, plus they had large percentage of Turkish, Tatar and Hungarian horses. Since Polish soldiers rode mostly stallions and geldings (but baggage train had also mares and colts and fillies), thus these Polish horses must have bred with Danish mares on large scale and quite freely, especially since. Foaling seasons of 1660 and 1661 must have brought many interesting horses in the Danish horse herds.

  Here there is a famous painting be Jozef Brandt describing the swim of Polish horses across the sea (some 500 meters) onto the island of Als in December of  1658.  And below Juliusz Kossak's vision of that freezing swim


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wacław Pawliszak - painter of horses - II

continuing from several days ago, I have found more images by our turn of XX century equine artist Wacław Pawliszak in the ancient magazine (ceased publishing in 1939) ''Tygodnik Illustrowany'' (Weekly Illustrated) along with an article devoted to the artist and his art, written several years before his death.

here the article in Polish

.. these are paintings or drawings of paintings by the artist where horses were part of the subject depicted, mostly Orientalist in character. Unfortunately they are not in color, so we are deprived of his wonderful palette.

XVII century cavalry (Western) charge
Tatars' prisoner

Arabian Nights-like story illustrations

the image below is a drawing of his painting showing Maria Aurora von Königsmarck, mistress to king of Poland Augustus the Strong and mother of Maurice de Saxe, meeting king of Sweden Charles XII in his camp during his invasion of Poland. Note the Janissary porters, a Polish Royal guard unit that had been started by king Jan Sobieski out of his Turkish Janissary prisoners, the Turkish soldiers were eventually replaced by the Polish ones dressed like Janissaries.

..  and here king Augustus the Strong, who was our great Saxon great hope that turned into national calamity.

.. A bridge toll, of sorts  :)

above, the very first image is of the Vienna victor - king Jan Sobieski - entering liberated imperial Vienna

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wacław Pawliszak - painter of horses - I

 in the past I brought to your attention the paintings of Wacław Pawliszak, a genre painter whose life was prematurely terminated by Xavery Dunikowski.

Well, I found some more images by this talented artist and would like to share them with you all.
Winged hussar in rather more that full panoply but with a short lance and without pistols and koncerz standing guard, perhaps in the royal city of Lwow.
Three paintings showing Tatars
Review of Husaria banners before the king  and hetman , with our fortress Kamieniec Podolski in the background
Ottoman Turkish cavalry charge

                                                                  Return with a bride
Polish-Lithuanian king Zygmunt III Vasa
Polish-Lithuanian king Wladyslaw IV Vasa
Polish Lithuanian king Michal Korybut Wiśniowiecki, son of the famous kniaz (prince) Jarema Wisniowiecki
Polish-Lithuanian king Jan Kazimierz Vasa
Turkish cavalryman 

War Trumpets - Polish horsemen XVI-XVII century
.. Husaria

sketches after Dolla Bella famous drawings of Polish ambassador Lubomirski entry into Rome from 1630s


his last drawing of Warsaw firemen squad for ''Tygodnik Iliustrowany'' (the Weekly Illustrated'' published between 1859-1939) - from Warsaw, 1905

And a sort of eulogy written after his funeral, in Polish, with his photo in the center, published by Tygodnik Ilustrowany nr 28 on January 15, 1905.

  enjoy :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quick sketch of a horsearcher

 a quick sketch of an Eurasian steppe horse archer, done on this nice cold winter day

Provenance - well, definitely the Parthian and Sassanian iconography, with some Sarmatian influence

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year Salve,

 Salve friends,
 having emerged from the gluttony of Holidays feasting into the quite warm January of this brand New Year 2013 I can state this blog will continue, although I was slow with writing the entries last year and most likely this trend will persist this year as well.

My fellow blogger Kadrinazi decided to dedicate himself to his new pursuits, i.e.,  book writing, thus quitting blogging for now, and   his readers  have lamented his decision to stop blogging writing their comments to his last post -   Kadrinazi . Well, as the Lakotas learned in 1876 - nothing lasts forever, but since this is all digital so  there is nothing that cannot be undone as long as Internet exists.

    I must add that I always find it irksome the idea that the each New Year starts during the winter gloomy months (for us, in the Northern Hemisphere). I much rather prefer the older tradition of starting the New Year in March, during the Spring Equinox, when the winter is finally over. Perhaps one day we, the Earthlings, will go back to the older tradition.

Until then I wish you all a healthy and productive 2013.