Sunday, February 28, 2021

De Warnery on cavalry horses and horsemen II

Salvete Omnes,


continuing from the previous post on our good general de Warnery and his remarks on cavalry

(again, second half of the XVIII century):

''A squadron formed in [..] three [ranks] be much more difficult for an enemy to penetrate, even should several of the front rank be fallen or disabled: for as it causes no opening in the line, the horse will not fail to advance even without his rider, feeling himself pressed on each side and behind, as it always happens: for a horse must be very much wounded to make him fall upon the spot. One without his rider, at Strigau, which had one of his hind feet carried away by a cannon ball, joined the left of the squadron, where he ran with the others during all the battle, although we were several times dispersed; at the sound of the call he always fell into the same place, which was, without doubt, the same that he had before belonged to in the squadron.''
 One without his rider, at Strigau, which had one of his hind feet carried away by a cannon ball, joined the left of the squadron, where he ran with the others during all the battle, although we were several times dispersed; at the sound of the call he always fell into the same place, which was, without doubt, the same that he had before belonged to in the squadron.''

''Another time a curiassier's horse fell, in the grand attack at the exercise of Breslau, the cuirassier got him up again, and mounted him; at three hundred paces he fell down dead. The late General Krokou, (Colonel of the regiment), had him opened, and it was found that the sword of the curiassier had penetrated his heart a tenth of an inch. These facts prove that a horse is not easily to be brought suddenly down, unless a ball should break his scull.''

Horses of the cavalry regiments of the day, note that Great Britain is excluded, curiously so... while the Polish, Hungarian etc horses were mentioned  my earlier post on the uhlans.

'' The House of Austria, as well as the other Princes of Germany, France, and Sardinia, procure horses for their curiassiers, and other heavy cavalry, from Lower Saxony, particularly Holstien, and from Friezeland, which are not the most approved: but where are better to be procured  Austria has, in her vast estates of Germany, enough large and strong horses, but they are more proper for draught than the saddle; it would be easy to remedy that by procuring stallions from other countries, after having made experiments which would most improve the race of horses intended to be bred. 

''The Swiss afford art example of this kind, before the last war in Italy their horses were the worst in Europe: but when the Spanish army marched into Savoy, a great many Dragoons and other troopers, who are in general mounted upon stone horses, having deserted to them, the Swiss purchased their horses, and I am assured that they have at this time a breed of horses, very very proper for the service of cavalry, but it is very certain that they will again degenerate unless they continue to supply their studs from the fame, or other foreign countries.''
''Notwithstanding that the states of the King of Prussia furnishes pretty good horses, that Monarch does not make use of any of them in his army, he purchases those for his curiassiers in Holstien, and those for the Hussars and Dragoons, are procured from the Ukraine; within these few years arrangements have been made to breed horses in Silesia, proper for the cuirassiers, but I very much doubt their success.'' [ I guess de Warnery was wrong, hence the Silesian horse finally came out as its onw breed  in  early XIX century]
''The Danes and the Hanoverians have the finest horses of the north, and they are very high priced, but as the troop horses are the property of the captains, their cavalry is not superior to those who are not so well mounted, for the reasons before suggested.''

 ''The Swedes and the Norwegeins, have nothing but nags: ''

''The Russians, by establishing good harras, or studs, have succeeded to breed a sufficient number horses very proper for their cuirassiers, and carbiniers; they are not fine, but are strong and more durable than those of Holstien, from whence they still continue to procure some; in doing which, General Seidlitz was of opinion they were wrong: horses proper for mounting Dragoons, Hussars, and other light cavalry, being abundant in their own meridional provinces. ''
* original spelling 

De Warnery on cavalry horses and horsemen I

Salvete Omnes,

let us take trip to the XVIII century Europe with an expert-  

and so we will return  to  a Prussian cavalry general Charles E. de Warnery, whom I quoted in my  posts in the past,  and these are  some of his observations about military horsemen and horses of his days:

" For a soldier to be really a light horseman, he must be able to turn his horse quick and short, when in full speed, to raise up and catch any thing from the ground;

he will find himself much firmer in his seat, have greater command of his horse, and much more agility in the exercise of his arms, & by being mounted on an eastern saddle, that is to say, upon a Hungarian, Turkish, or Polish one; to those who have been accustomed to other saddles, they appear at first to be inconvenient, but they very soon find themselves perfectly at ease in them, and ever after, prefer them to all others; they are very light, cheap, and durable, and do not so often require repairing as the others do.'

 ''The service of light horse requiring them to be as it were always in presence of the enemy, and ready to mount on horseback in an instant; they ought not to have either breast-belts or cruppers to their saddles, which will enable them to saddle much quicker than they can do otherwise: besides, as the saddles above described have double girths, they are sufficiently firm without them.''

''In every species of cavalry the man ought to be proportioned to the size of his horse, and the arms with which he is to serve, adapted and proportioned to them both, and the nature of service to be performed;

''...consequently the cuirassier should be larger, and his arms heavier than the dragoon, and those more so than the Light Horse or Hussars; a small man has great difficulty to mount a large horse, particularly with a cuirasse, they should all however be muscular and robust, but not heavy; the Prussian Dragoons are too heavy for their horses, and it is ridiculous to see a large man upon a small horse: which by being strained with too much weight, is very soon ruined, and the trooper dismounted; a man who is more than 5 feet 8 inches, ought not to be received into the cavalry, but will find his proper place in the infantry.''

When a recruit is enlisted he is taught to hold himself upright, to march with an easy air, and to shake off the lounge of the peasant; he is taught the exercise of the broad-sword, with small basket-hiked sticks; nothing contributes more towards rendering him active and dexterous; he is exercised on foot, until he is sufficiently prepared to begin it in the squadron. Whatever may be said, I hold it very essential, that cavalry soldiers, and particularly dragoons, should be acquainted with the exercise on foot, almost as well as the infantry; but always in two ranks, as the cuirassiers; they may also preserve their bayonets, provided they are not too weighty: the English and Hanoverians have taken them from their cavalry. It is however very advantageous that cavalry should be enabled to defend themselves at all times, and even on foot, if necessity required it,''

''It will be found very useful to practice on foot, at least once, any manœuvres which you would perform with the squadron, before you try them on horseback, this not only saves the horses, but very much assists the ready and correct conception and execution of it, particularly should it be an intricate or complex manœuvre.
When the recruit is sufficiently instructed on foot, he is mounted upon a wooden horse, much like those made use of in riding-schools for vaulting, but it must have a neck and head, to fix a bridle to; there should be two of those horses per troop, the recruits must be instructed by them how to place the saddle on their horses, to mount and dismount on both sides, with or without stirrups, how to fold his cloak, to put on his baggage, and a truss of forrage, to vault into the saddle without aid by the croup, that he might be enabled to do it on his horse, without having occasion for a knot instead of a stirrup; he must be exercised to bend forward and take his hat from the ground; to dismount, to stand and hold the bridle properly; in a word, every thing but vaulting; to place himself in every position of the exercise, to draw, handle, and return his sword; to load and fire his carbine and pistols; and to exercise and make use of his arms with spirit and address: this is the manner in which recruits are formed in the service, and is very nearly the fame that is recommended by Vegecius.  These two wooden horses should be placed as in a rencounter, on the right hand of each other, and those that are upon them mould thrust and cut with the point and with the edge, with  basketbasket-hiked sticks, and they should be taught all the guards, to ward off, and to parry the fame. ''
 ''A soldier should not be taught to ride as it is practised by professed riding-masters, because the greatest part of the aids given by them must be with the bridle, which for that purpose must be held short, but without stiffness, the left shoulder a little forward, extending his hand in an easy manner to the mane of the horse; a trooper in the ranks can give false aids only with his legs. When he has been properly exercised in this manner, his horse is given to him, and he is quartered with a non-commissioned officer, or some old steady trooper, who is to mew him how to take care of his horse, how to saddle and to bridle it, to comb his mane without tearing out the hair, and never to touch the tail but with his hand, to wash it once a week, and after the new moon to cut the points of the hair; experience has proved this to be the true means of preserving that fine ornament of a horse. Every thing should now be taught the recruit which might be requisite on actual service, very near the exercise of the carousel, except the exercise of the javelin, which would be useless to him. He ought to be able to turn his horse suddenly upon his haunches, to run at the the ring with his sword instead of a lance, which very much suples the horse, and forms the trooper to dexterity and firmness in his feat, without however attending to all the minutia required in the riding academies."
''A squadron ought to be often exercised without saddles, and manœuvre every day at least half an hour: this is absolutely necessary, to keep the horses in wind, and to harden them; it is with them as with racers, if they are not kept in continual training, they are very soon incapable of performing the service required of them.''
''There are few horses but which might be made to run; when we had bought those which our Hussars had taken from the enemy, the greatest number of them were given in the re-mount; at first those troopers who receieved them where disatisfied with their want of activity, but after having felt the Prussian spur for a few weeks, they were as fleet as the others.''  
"As soon as the squadron is mounted the troopers are practised to leap ditches, enclosures, poles put across for that purpose, etc. At other times two troopers run together full speed, trying to get before and carry off each other's hats: they are practised to swim their horses across rivers, to manoeuvre in broken and intersected ground, etc.[...] and they must be made to trot a good deal, by which they will acquire a firm seat on horseback, and not to fall upon the saddle at each motion of the horse; they ought to ride with shorter stirrups than in the riding-schools, because they must be able to raise themselves four inches above the saddle.''

There are targets to be fired at by the troopers, with their pistols* walking, trotting, and full gallop, and even in leaping over a bar.

''A head of felt, stuffed with wool or straw, is fixed to a branch or post, which the soldier is to touch with the thrust or the cut, both in passing and repassing, in full gallop. It would very much stimulate the soldiers to emulation, by attaching some gratification to those who acquit themselves with the greatest address.''
''They should frequently be made to move briskly forward, and then suddenly halted upon the spot; at the word halt, the trooper presses upon his stirrups, keeping his body a little backward, retaining the bridle by bending his wrist a little, but without moving his arm; by these means he puts his horse upon his haunches.''

''A squadron should be accustomed to move off its ground at once, and all the troopers to be in motion at the fame instant, at the word of command, either at a walk, trot, or gallop; they should even be made to traverse in line. It will sometimes happen that when they are not perfect in this exercise, some horses will receive atteintes, or blows with their fore feet, from the odiers, but the performance of this manœuvre on service, is too important to prevent their acquiring it under any apprehensions of this inconvenience. It is absolutely necessary that good cavalry should be able to traverse, and that they should move the whole line at the same instant, and not successively, as I have seen it practised by some which has rather the appearance of counter than traverse marching; nothing can contribute more towards supleing of horses than the traverse movement. It is pityful to see a squadron be obliged to break off by divisions to gain ground obliquely to the right or the left, when by traversing this is performed in an instant, and gracefully.''
''A squadron ought often to be exercised in a single rank, and to advance obliquely to the right and left, upon a variety of alignements and points of view, and appui, in a rank entire; the faults are more easily discovered, and the trooper learns to march in line with more exactness: for which purpose more attention and accuracy is required, an extensive line in single rank being much more subject to waving than in two or three; sometimes even the whole regiment should manœuvre in this manner.''

''Since the lance has been rejected, the sword is, without contradiction, the queen of arms for the cavalry; and it is upon that alone, that they should depend in action, until the enemy is dispersed: it is only then that they might be allowed to make use of their pistols. Opinions are very much divided with regard to the advantage or superiority of the edge or the point of the sword for cavalry in action; each have their advocates equally zealous, who produce such instances as are in favour of that they prefer: but after much reflection on this important subject, frequent observations of the advantages and disadvantages of each, and some experience, during many years actual service in the cavalry, I hope I shall be permitted to mention my reasons for giving a decided preference to the latter.
''The point of the sword is more advantagous than the edge, because with it you can reach your enemy at a greater distance than with the other, the smallest wound with it renders the wounded incapable of serving during the remainder of the action at least; it does not require so much force to give a dangerous wound with a thrust as with a cut, and the effect of the latter. is much more uncertain, unless it happens to be particularly well placed, which it is hardly possible to do, unless you have your enemy as it were under your hand...''

''A squadron formed in two ranks is very subject to waving, and much easier broken than one of three, which also must naturally have a greater weight in the shock, and be much more difficult for an enemy to penetrate, even should several of the front rank be fallen or disabled: for as it causes no opening in the line, the horse will not fail to advance even without his rider, feeling himself pressed on each side and behind, as it always happens: for a horse must be very much wounded to make him fall upon the spot.

* original spelling


Friday, February 26, 2021

Husaria - variae

 Salvete Omnes,

[in Polish]


w ostatnich 6 miesiacach w Youtub'ie obrodzilo wywiadami i prezentacjami na temat husarii - staropolskiej jazdy slawnej od 'morza do morza', ktora dzieki licznym badaczom, w tym publikacjom Radka Sikory stala sie znow przedmiotem wielkiego zainteresowania badaczy i entuzjastow (choc nie filmowcow czy pisarzy IIIRP).

W ramach promocji ksiazki 'W boju i paradzie. Husaria Rzeczpospolitej' - wywiad z jednym z autorow tejze ksiazki, Zbigniewem Hundertem, historykiem, zwlaszcza  badaczem epoki Jana III  - link.

Historyk  Konrad Bobiatynski, autor bardzo ciekawej pracy o wojnie Rzplitej z Moskwa 1654-55 - Husaria- prawda i mity -  link.

Kuba Pokojski, prawnik i badacz historii polskiej sztuki szermeirczej, autor mongrafii o Trzew 1627 - Dzieje husarii w Polsce - link.

Finalowo, Radoslaw Sikora, 'dottore husarii', o husarii - link.

Milego sluchania czy ogladania



imago husarza z chorgwia alias moja ilustracja niedokonczona (np nie ma szabli)  tylko dla zwrocenia uwagi

Assyrian chariot - reconstruction in progress

 Salvete Omnes,


as you may already have known I am a big proponent of reconstruction and historic reenactment.

A friend of mine from Poland, Kuba Mikolajczuk who is a historian, history enthusiast and journalist, provided me with the link to this Youtube content creator from Australia.   Ancient Assyrian Props & Costumes of - thanks Kuba!

This gentleman - Donald Barkho - from Australia is working on a reconstruction of an Assyrian (Neo-Assyrian Empire) chariot  - Assurnasirpal II-style, as he calls it. And  here is a video link to the progress in his reconstruction - very interesting study in actual construction and potential issues while using.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Jean-Victor Adam - equestrian life in his art

 Salvate Omnes,


I would like to bring to your attention the art of Jean Victor Adam (1801-66AD) who was bron and active during the tumultuous years of French history - from Empire to kingdom, to republic to Empire in one lifetime - and all his time this was the time of horses (naturally, the steam age was coming fast - with trains and steamships and machines operating in full by  his middleage maturity).

Jean-Victor was a very skilled, versatile artist, and very knowledgeable as to the equine anatomy, types, races and works or adventures with horses, and also skilled in telling stories, anecdotes or historical events.

Anyway, you can peruse his gallery as corralled at Wiki Commons - and out of many of his prints  this one comes to my attention, aptly  titled 'The pleasures of horseback riding.'
oj, haven't you experienced some of them in your riding epic ? - :)

and these illustrations from various books are enjoyable - monsieur could have drawn comic books had he lived in the XX century

and the end of the road for the horse of Jean-Victor days - abattoir and local butcher shop, since famous French cuisine always  included and still includes horse meat.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Budziszyn 1029 - sketches

 Salvete Omnes,
I would like to share with you some of my artwork regarding the creative process and development of the cover for the Budziszyn 1029 book from Inforteditions,
Below, I am attaching  three  sketches (as one ) that show some progress, from inception to solid development,  in my concept and learning about the period ,i.e., warriors, equipment and horses and their tack.

I consulted the last sketch(from left to right) with Igor Gorewicz from 'Druzyna grodu Tryglawa' in Szczecin, who is a well-known and avid reenactor of the early medieval Slavic warriors, researcher and author of numerous books, including two books on the Slavic warrior and Slavic arms and armor.-  from his publishing house Triglav. Obviously I consulted these fine books and well as several sites and web galleries devoted to the medieval Slavic reenactment.
While famous photographer from Szczecin Marek Kalisinski allowe me a closer look of many of his reenators' portraits and photos of reconstructed equipment  etc.

All the mistakes henceforth are still mine and mine only.



this is a wholly digital work - I  drew directly on Wacom Cintiq using Krita, Gimp and Mypaint via Ubuntu Linux operating system.


Budziszyn 1029 - cover from the publisher

 Salvete Omnes,

Inforteditions, the publisher of the Budziszyn 1029 book by Mariusz Samp, has  allowed a large  image of the cover of this book on their bookstore site, so I am linking it here as well as copying it directly to my blog



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mike Loades on weapons in medieval games and a response from Shadiversity

 Salvete Omnes,

a little late XV century illumination by a French maestro Robinet Testard*


we live in the world of films and images, and also consumed historic weapons reconstructors and reenactors.

One of the world premier  personages in the world of televised reconstruction and reeactment is Mike Loades who is, among others, a horse and chariot archer - check out the films on the Egyptian or ancient Chinese chariots where Mike was the chariot archer.

This video is dedicated to the critique of  weapon, armor and military concepts as presented in a number of popular medieval-themed video games, including Witcher 3,  and it is master Mike's review done at a nothing slower than a gallop. 

Now, this being the XXI century and the world of instant checks on statements made, we have this opportunity to enjoy equally galloping review and commentary on Mr Loades' review.
It was produced and presented by a youtuber known as Shadiversity who himself is a reenactor and a practitioner of HEMA, user of bow and arrows, and obviously a sword etc - so his commentary  is informative and engaging.

Gallica French National Library digitized  some of the XV century manuscripts with illuminations by Robinet Testard - I will bring here some of his illuminations in the near future. 

Just look at these beauties - I daresay it would be lots of work and fun to copy this illumination, be it  in watercolor, gauche or acrylic paint, or even oil or digital brushes


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Dura Europos and recent research - podcast

 Salvete Omnes,


just a link to a podcast on the ancient military history and archaeology in context of the famous archaeological site of the Roman  fortress of Dura known as Dura-Europos, in present day Syria

I came across this podcast - The Ancients.
and one of their interviews includes a conversation/interview with Simon James, professor from the university of Leicester, author of the The Roman military base at Dura-Europos, Syria: an archaeological visualisation. (2019) - the review on .


The conversation is quite interesting, and easy to follow, even for many a person with rather little or no knowledge on the ancient world of this area and period.
Prof. James makes references to the present state of affairs, i.e., tremendous looting of the ancient sites during the current Syrian wars.
I am going to read the book, meantime you can read prof. James' article on the combat, stratagems, and chemical warfare aspects of the siege of Dura (from Academia).


and if you like to read some good story telling - Harry Sidebottom's novel - 'Fire in the East' centered on the fictional siege of a Roman fortress on Euphrates, based on Dura and Amida sieges, is a very engaging historical novel - including lots of horse riding, fighting, old fashioned martial fidelity and passion, and last but not the least hunting lions on horseback in the desert. 


Thursday, February 4, 2021

Pontic Steppe rider

 Salvete Omnes,

I was checking my old files and found unfinished sketch of a medieval steppe rider.
This is a raw sketch and much yet to be done.

eventually it will be a XII-XIII century AD rider of the Western Eurasian steppe, as I am researching Cumans of the Hungarian Plane during the Arpad Dynasty.


Sigismundus Augustus, rex Poloniae and his horse armor

Sigismundus' horse armor of Nuremberg make circa 1560[1]
new month and let us start with something very metalic - the XVI century suite of armor - for the horse and rider.
the armor used to belong to His Royal Majesty Sigismundus Augustus (Sigismund August) - the Jagiellonian king known in Polish as Zygmunt II August - and his sumptuous armor .
In few words he was the least warrior-like from the Polish XVI  century rulers, but his armor suits were most likely the most elaborate and absolutely the most beautiful.
But he was also blessed with a number of very good field commanders, including the famous starost of Bar Bernard Pretficz, who used to raid the Ottoman and Tatar possessions on the northern shores of the Black See. Perhaps one day I will write and illustrate a post or two on Pretwicz ( written -  Bernard Pretficz, Bernard Pretwic, Bernardus Pretwitz, Prethwicz, lub Prettwicz), who was a Silesian gentry of the Wczele coat of arms.

Sigismund's reign saw the growth of the lancer cavalry aka winged hussars within the Polish and Lithuanian horse banners, and these armored lancers played the most vital role in many wars and battles of our good king's rule. We have some muster rolls from the period where horses are lsited by their type - lancer, parade or bowman - and their color.
The military history of this period is least known outside Poland, Russia, Belarus, Lithanian, Latvia and Ukrain, Hungary and Romania...

[1] Zdzislaw Zygulski jr., Bron w dawnej Polskce, fig. 71.


last night I started watching the move 'The Dig' about the discovery of the famous British Sutton Hoo kurgans and their Anglo-Saxon deposits - nice film, commendable  on the drama part. Imediately I started to think what if the Chinese made a feature film about the First Emperor Tomb, or Russians about the the Pazyryk kurgans, or Polish filmmakers about the Biskupin discovery. So many good stories out there.