Friday, December 12, 2014

Horses the Polonians ''adorne with rich Furres and skinnes'

back in the saddle again, so to speak, and let me start with a little excerpt from Fynes Moryson, that is from his rather merry recounting of his travels across Europe and Turkey, in this framgnet he is telling us his observations about Polish Kingdom and the inhabitants, i.e., Polonians -
Shakespeare’s Europe. Unpublished chapters of Fynes Moryson’s Itinerary Being a Survey of the Condition of Europe at the end of the 16th Century. edited by Charles Hughes, London 1903. p 83.  

The Polonians are a warlike nation, valiant, and actiue, but 
all their strength consists in their horse, whereof they haue so 
great number, as some affirme they can bring a hundred thou- 
sand horse into the feild, and one Prouince of Lituania, can 
bring 70 thousand, and king Stephen in the last age had 40. 
thousandmin his Army. Of these horsmen, some are called 
Hussari,mwho are armed with long speares, a sheild, a Carbine 
or short gunn, and two short swords, one by the horsmans syde, 
the other fastned vnder the left syde of his sadle. The light 
horsmen called Cosachi are armed with short swords, Jauelin, 
bowes and arrowes, and a Coat of maile and the whole Country 
of Poland being playne, this great body of horsmen must needs 
be a powerfull strength to the kingdome. The horses are of 
small stature, but of no lesse agility, then those of the Turkes 
and singuler in boldnes for any seruice of warr. Yet are they 
all made Gueldens; And the gentlemen are not prouder of any 
thing, then of their horses and horsmanshipp professing to 
weare long garments, as Commodious for horsmen, that they 
may cast their vpper garment vppon their horses when they 
are heated with running. And for this Cause many haue their 
bridles (Which are alwayes snafles by Which the horses are 
easily turned) sett with studds of gold or siluer, sometymes 
having gold Chaynes, and like ornaments at the cares of their 
horses, and Commonly paynting the mayne and taile yea the 
whole body, excepting the back of their horses with light 
Coulors, as Carnation and the like, therein seeming ridiculous, 
that whereas art imitates nature, these Coulors are such as are 
most vnnaturall for horses. They haue guilded stirropps as 
also spurrs which are some handfull long at the heele. Not 
only soldiers but Ambassadors and their gentlemen, haue the 
hinder part of their horse couered with the wings of an Eagle, 
or skinn of a Tyger, or leopard or some like ornament, either 
for beauty, or to seeme more terrible, as in generall all haue 
them couered, some lesse, some more richly. The Polonian 
horsmen restraine the incursions of the feirce Tartars, and 
seeme so bold to the Turkes, as they haue no hart to invade 
Neither can the Moscouites indure their assault, how- 
soeuer for feare of their Tyrant, they must be prodigall of their 
bloud. The Polonians haue no care to fortify Cittyes professing 
nothing more to be disgracefull then to fly from their enemyes, 
and vaunting to defend their Country with their owne brests, 
not with walled Townes which they lesse desyre to fortify lest 
their kings should vsurpe power ouer them by giving the 
keepingnof such places to their deuoted seruants.
 Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary Containing His Ten Yeeres Travell
through the Twelve Dominions of Germany, Bohmerland, Sweitzerland,
Netherland, Denmarke, Poland, Italy, Turky, France, England, Scotland
& Ireland. edited by Charles Hugher. Glasgow 1908.  v.4, p. 68.

       Poland aboundeth with beasts, aswell wild as tame, and yeeldeth excellent horses, not great, but quicke and stirring. Neither doe the Gentlemen more delight in any thing, then in their horses, so as they hang gold chaines and Jewels at their eares, and paint them halfe over with exquisite colours, but in that uncomely, that they are not naturall for horses, as the Carnatian colour, and their hinder parts they adorne with rich Furres  and skinnes of Lions and Leopards and the like, aswell to terrifie their enemies, as to adorne and beautifie their horses.        

 original spelling as in the Moryson's writings

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