Polish Cultural Institute & Museum News
Board President Tim Breza and Steve Boyd-Smith of the 106 Group install the body armor of a Winged Hussar in the museum’s main gallery. The public are invited to stop by and take a selfie with a winged horseman.
The Winged Horsemen or Hussars were the leading, or even elite, branch of cavalry in the Polish army from the 1570s until 1776. They wore heavy metal-plated body armor. They were famous for their huge "wings", a wooden frame carrying eagle, ostrich, swan or goose feathers. In the 16th century, characteristic painted wings or winged claws began to appear on cavalry shields. The theory is that the hussars wore the wings because they made a loud, clattering noise making it seem like the cavalry was much larger and the sound also frightened the enemy's horses. The hussar's lances usually ranged from 15 to 20 ft in length and their primary battle tactic was the “charge” - at and through the enemy. They also fought with a koncerz (stabbing sword), a szabla (sabre), set of two to six pistols, often a carbine or arquebus (known in Polish as a bandolet) and sometimes a war hammer or light axe. The decisive blow at the 1683 Battle of Vienna was struck by Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, with only his winged hussars.