Monday, June 30, 2014

Ecole de cavalerie (1736) - de la Gueriniere & Parrocel

in 1736 one of the great XVIII century  treatises on horsemanship was published  - ''Ecole de cavalerie . '' Author none other than French ecuyer Robichon de la Gueriniere and this book was illustrated with the drawings by one of the best artists of the era - Charles Parrocel.
I 'corralled'  some images from this great work so devoted to horses, riders & equitation, I hope to all enjoyment, courtesy of great Gallica :) - merci!
 You may note the training for the cavaliers - not only with sword and pistol (fire arms) but also a javelin and a lance... 

and several cavaliers

you can compare these with images taken from the work of Gaspar de Saunier

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Uhlan - Kurhannoversches Scheither-Corps Ulan circa 1760

quite interesting image surfaced on the Web - namely Wikipedia Commons - of an Uhlan (with a lance etc) that is described as a member of the Hanoverian army, a light cavalry unit known as Scheither-Corps (1758). Hanover fought on the side of Prussia and United Kingdom during the Seven Years War. However, the Seven Year War Project known as ''kronoskaf'' has a page devoted to the Scheither-Corps and there is no mention of any Uhlans.

He is dressed in a peculiar set of clothes, but his red 'czapka' with fur trim and feather (?) adornment, his red leather boots, red pants or ''szarawary'' are typical of the period for the Polish and Turkish cavalry, but the red dolman under his kaftan (by the way I think the artist had no concept of a ''kontusz'' or a kaftan with empty sleeves like the ancient Median kantuš) is more akin to the Bosniaken (Bosniaks),

light cavalry  with the Prussia,   armed with pikes/lances, sabre, perhaps pistols or carbine too.

In any event this uhlan reflects the fashion of Polish military of the first half of the XVIII century, although the dolman is a novum, for our Polish uhlans would wear a żupan under their kontusz or kurtka.  The similar uniforms were worn by the Polish Uhlans in Saxon service ( kronoskaf has two units reconstructed here and here), Gallica has an image of one Polish uhlan from 1736 (he appears to be wearing a kurtka), and there the uniform colours and lance pennon are generally the same (more on these early uhlans in the future) , so perhaps this horseman represents some rouge company that served with the Hanoverians, after having been taken prisoner or switched service under more profitable circumstances?

I like the way this artist represented the mount of this light cavalryman - a rather smaller, spirited war horse, and by the way a Luckner Hussar rides a similar horse, while perhaps it worth observing that quite similar mounts would appear in de Warnery's work on cavalry.

I should add that this uhlan is most likely  a towarzysz (following Polish miltiary tradition and enlistment), or a noble trooper thus armed with lance, as opposed to a pocztowy (retainer/trooper) that was armed with a carbine (cavalry musket) etc.

The officers of the 'Saxon'- Polish uhlan regiments wore a bow case hanging from their belts, perhaps a sing of their noble Tatar and equestrian tradition.

Finally, I played with this Uhlan a little bit, sketching with an ink pen (enjoying my manga Kuretake pen nibs & Hero manga fountain pen), and in the left corner included a sketch of the szarawary as they appeared in the period art, showing Polish cavalry etc. I did not give him a lance etc, as more sketches will come, I hope.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Little Bighorn - battle anniversary 1876-2014

yesterday, June 25, it passed another anniversary of the battle of Little Bighorn. I have been renewing my interest in all things American cavalry, and hence I am bringing up the subject of this famous clash on the Great Plains.

For many years I did not care about chief American protagonist of this battle, but lately for some reasons (including the reading of the book on Custer's years during the Civil War) I have been  warming up to the great horseman from Michigan. My Life on the Plains - in audio form - is helping too.
Below a photo of dashing Custer when still a captain during the Civil war (1862).

 As the Lakota warrior saw the fighting in his ledger art:

Recent master thesis reconstructing the battle - via - M.J. Burns, Revisiting the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

On this webpage you can view some of  the ledger art drawn by one of the victorious warrior participants, Red Horse (Miniconjou Lakota), while here another victorious warrior Elk Head, Brule Lakota, tells his story of the very battle.
Custer, along with C, E, F, I, and L companies of  his 7th cavalry regiment (plus men from Major Reno and captain Benteen battalions), died fighting bravely on the Greasy Grass River (the other name for the battle). Some agree that  perhaps his victor can be identified as White Bull of the Miniconjous and author of White Bull Manuscript (nota bene the subject of one very entertaining biography written by Stanley Vestal titled ).

Short article on the battle by Charles King, another famous soldier of US Cavalry and fine writer ( this particular article wrongly attributed on .

The battle had many famous native participants -

 Sitting Bull

Crazy Horse- from Amos Bad Heart Bull ledger

Low Dog


Rain in the Face

Crow King

and so on, and others on the government's side, including some associated with its aftermath, like Buffalo Bill Cody.

Richard Hook wrote and painted a very fine book for Osprey Miltiary Publishing titled Warriors at the Little Bighorn 1876, recreating the victorious Lakota and Cheyenne Indian participants

I will hoover, from time to time in the foreseeable future, over the Great Plains and the various horse cultures that developed, coexisted and finally clashed on the wide expanses of these harsh steppes and hillsides.

Photos and art are mostly from Wiki Commons, American master Russell painted the most native participants oriented piece, in watercolor.

I could not omit the famous horse participant and the survivor of the battle, Captain Keogh's mustang Comanche


Boots and Saddles - by Mrs Elizabeth Custer - in audio form

Mustangs and chemical sterelization

some time ago I sketched a head of a wild horse from Sand Wash Basin in Colorado.

What can I say, I like the wild horses aka mustangs, are subscribe to the idea of their strong importance in preserving equine genetic material and also I support their existence in the wilds of the West as the living embodiment of the American West history and legend.

Yesterday I read that the wild horses in sand Wash area will be subjects of chemical sterilization due to alleged range overpopulation.

1990 BLM document , national Academy of Science (US) 2013 report, finding & proposal    By the way I found this article on actual wild horses sterilization from the Danube Delta in Romania, Europe. The Danube River Delta horse as per  Four Paws and Equinest, some photos,   some updates etc

Scientific critique (and here & here here blog articles ) of chemical sterilization in the field .
A sound proposition - 10 year moratorium on roundups in order to scientifically study the herds

I hope the best for the wild horses of American west.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Lancelot du lac - manuscipt miniatures I

French National Library gallica has wonderful collection of manuscripts available on the net in very high resolution - many thanks!
Today I was perusing some of the manuscripts from the XV century and found several images that caused awe and wonderment, and aroused my interest so decided to bring some of them here. This is the manuscript - direct link

The subject matter is the famous knight of the European medieval romance - Lancelot du Lac (sir Lancelot ) , one of the most important personages of the Arthurian Legends, and a Knight of the Round Table (eg a book by Howard Pyle from, with some wonderful American Golden Age of Illustration images). By the way, if you like figurines and/or little soldiers this production is splendid.

Apart from the paintings and interesting information they provide, I immensely enjoy the borders and all the arrangements surrounding the miniature paintings.

Gallica has a presentation on how the illuminated manuscripts were produced, and FitzWilliam Museum has a similar presentation, so your choice :) .  If you still hungry, there is quite a lecture to be watched:  The Making Of Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts by Dr Sally Dormer.




a horse mounted archer in the above image  is seemingly unusual but taking into account the context, XV century, quite typical in the French and English milieu.

Wikipedia Commons has some media category related to sir Lancelot for us to peruse and enjoy. has a book, The legend of Sir Lancelot du Lac; studies upon its origin, development, and position in the Arthurian romantic cycle (1901), by Jessie Weston, author of numerous books on the Arthurian legends
Also, has the British TV series The Adventures of Sir Lancelot - 10 episodes, all in public domain.
I will return to sir Lancelot du Lac and Arthurian Legends, and our medieval chivalry in general in the future.

Recently, I was privileged, thanks to one of the authors Zbyszek Hundert, to read a very nice piece of research on the identity of the Polish winged hussar who attacked the Swedish king Karl Gustav during the battle of Warsaw 1656 AD, so in the near future I will expand on the subject, I hope.