The Hussars of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Artworks Depicting War Scenes (Mid-Seventeenth to Mid-Eighteenth Centuries)

In: Forschungen zur baltischen Geschichte
Author:
Vidmantas Airini
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Abstract

Artworks produced during the early modern period are important visual sources for military history. The purpose of this article is to explore the visual representation of the hussars of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in artworks from the mid-seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century. Focusing on the functions of hussar units, it analyses the tactics, weapons, clothing and equipment of this cavalry, as depicted in contemporary artwork. Judging from the seventeenth century battle scenes it can be asserted that Lithuanian hussar banners (companies) were a well-armed heavy cavalry of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, performing both combat and representational functions. They formed a shock cavalry that used specific melee weapons in battle, and at the same time carried exotic features when performing representative duties. The image of the hussars as a heavy cavalry also survives in a tapestry portraying Lithuanian troops of the mid-eighteenth century. However, the lack of battle scenes in the latter period suggests that they had purely representative functions.

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