Sunday, October 30, 2022

Michal Lancz aka Lantz from Kitzingen & Krakow 'Rac' Hussars



the story of the early hussars is closely intertwined with the stradioti aka stradiots.
Costume, weapons - lance, shield, and a sword - and agile horses.
In our  Polish Crown realms the  name 'stradioti' was not adopted nor used in general, but instead the Polish kings and noble masters of those horsemen-for-hire used names like the 'Rac'[1] when hiring a horseman who was armed with a lance and the so called Balkan shield (rectangular shield with the upper left right er elongated upwards. He was to have an agile horse, a curved sword and perhaps a horseman's axe.  In sum, a rather light cavalry type of a horseman.

In the surviving Polish archives (thanks to the Germans who were busy torching them in 1939-45) there are some references to the early 'Rac' hussars prior to the 1500Ad, but the written evidence keeps on growing after 1500AD and proves that Rac hussars or horsemen armed and fighting in the 'Rac' manner were popular type of cavalry in the Crown army and private armies too, however the growth is rather weakly reflected in the period iconography.


One of those rare iconographic sources could have been a small painting by Michal (Michael) Lancz vel Lantz(1470-1523Ad) painted circa 1522AD from Krakow.  It was titled Conversion of Saint Paul (see this wiki article) and was the central part of a small altar retabulum located at the Saint Mary's Basilica in Krakow (Cracow). The painting was looted  by the Germans in 1940AD. Since 1940AD the painting has been missing and is listed as a part of the Polish artworks taken by the Nazi Germany etc during the World War II.
Thanks to the photographs by Ignacy Krieger (taken in the last quarter of the XIX century) and by Stanislaw Kolowca in 1940, and Adolf Guzik also in 1940 we know how the painting looked and was placed in the retabulum and the chapel. Based on these photos the painting was reconstructed by Zofia Kaszowska from the Fine Art Academy in Krakow in 2003AD.

Here is more of the painting details - 

a typical Rac hussar wearing a soft kaftan, curved sword and tall hat. Horse with a typical horse tack.

a Rac hussar with a featherless tall felt hat and lance, another lance armed hussar behind him

early Rac hussars with lances and shields, tall hats with feathers
early Rac hussars in soft kaftans and tall hat



Rac comes from from the Old Polish name for Serbians in general or from the name for the town of Ras, in Serbia, whose citizen were called Rascines already in the XII century AD,  while in Hungary the Serbian lands were called Racorszag, the land of Racs in the 1400s. See Grabarczyk .

Thursday, October 27, 2022

King Stefan I saddle from Vienna

Salvete Omnes,


let us canter to the XVI century  Europe for a moment,and least we forget - Let peace return to the poor people of Ukraine - they are facing a grim, cold and terribly miserable winter due to the escalation in warfare and the most sorrowful lack of any meaningful peace process.

alas, here is  another interesting 'find' within the wiki Commons treasures and lesser 'junk' - :) is the saddle or saddles belonging to our king, of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth,   Stefan I Bathory, who also was the ruler of Transylvania. 

The saddle is part of the collection in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (Austria).

there are at least two other saddles that could be from our king Stefan I Bathory collection from 1570s-1580s. even if the saddles are themselves of sort of Russian make and tradition from the Muscovy workshops (be it Moscow or down south in Kazan etc ).

there are also two arrow quivers (  the sets - their belts, bows and bow cases are absent ) as part of the Stefan I Bathoey  memorabilia collections at the museum.




This old Hungarian castle known as Palanok in present day Ukraine (Zakarpatia area taken from Hungary after the Trianon Treaty in 1919 and returned in 1939, and then again taken in 1945 by Stalin's iron fist) used to have a monument to Turul or  the Hungarian eagle - the Zakarpatia  province has had a large Hungarian minority and more than a thousand years of Hungarian history and rule until 1945. Allegedly Turul has been removed and Ukrainian Trident was put in place..


Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Battle of Agincourt 25th of October 1415

 Salvete Omnes,


 today is the anniversary of the great French chivalry defeat from the hands of the English at Agincourt, France. Many thousands of knights and men-at-arms rode and then walked their destriers (dextrarius or war horse) across the freshly plowed and muddy field between two densely wooded forests into the volley after volley of the heavy Welsh/English bows archery, i.e, bodkins. And they died and still marched on and died some more... pride before dishonor one could say. But couldn't they chose more wisely the place and time to fight, instead of falling into the English trap? Master Sun Tsu could have said a word or two about this one, had he lived around the time..

I have read many books on the subject,, bah, I have watched various  feature films about this battle (two based on Shakespeare, and one from Netflix) - and when the date comes around I think about that 1415 October day when French chivalry died in such great numbers from the great bow's war arrows and the merciless knives and swords of the English. The execution of the French men at arms and knight being held prisoner in the back of the English army, in several thousands at least, should be a day of enteral infamy and same for Henry V, king of England. 

Countless British & Anglo-American writers wrote copious pages on how to excuse this crime against the chivalric values and Christian norms and ethics.. C'est la vie. 

The battles of Crecy, Poitiers and this battle, spanning almost a century of conflict,  were the most famous and quite unusual English victories during the Hundred Years War between two realms. 

I must add I have always preferred the French side in this conflict, but I still read many historical research, desertions  and fiction books written from the English side, including some great historical fiction written in America.

But in the end the French prevailed in this struggle  - gaining some great victories  that when fought in more reasonable for cavalry conditions brought them success, but I must add the French also adopted the Welsh/English bow  and these archer companies became a feature of the French XV century armies (along with the heavy armored horse lancers or gendarmes).


Perhaps one day we will look at the hobelars in this war, and other cavalry types and their horse equipment..

and the reenactors today

nota bene, one fine British artist Graham Turner has painted many works representing the battle, its participants and the period military subjects  etc - IMHO his art contains some of the finest representations of the period, the historical  period and the very struggle that ensued in the muddy fields of Azincourt. 




Saturday, October 22, 2022

Indians at the Winnipeg Stampede 1913

Salvete Omnes,


keeping on the rodeo 'stampede' spirit - this post has corralled some photos from the other famous Stampede, at Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada)  organized and held there in 1913.(all photos from Archive. org world library)