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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath


Called a strzelec (plural strzeky), basically meaning a missile-man, this figure is typical of the lesser nobility called wojr and soltys (village elders) who went to make up most of the mounted element of a Polish man-at-arms’ lance. His armour comprises a bascinet, poleyns, and a stuffed and quilted leather corselet over a mail haubergeon. Arms normally comprised sword, axe or mace, and a bow or, more often, a crossbow. The latter was often used from horseback, which makes it highly improbable that they were of the windlass type claimed by some modern Polish authorities since it is hard to imagine how such weapons could possibly have been reloaded in the saddle. More probably they were the usual stirrup crossbows universally employed by mounted crossbowmen, which seems to be confirmed by 14th-15th century pictorial sources. A lance could occasionally be found substituted in its place, and a shield was often carried even with the crossbow, though they were beginning to fall out of favour with such troops by the early-15th century. Note that the axe is still carried in its traditional position forward of the saddle. The throwing axe, or hurlbat, remained in use even in the 15th century in Poland, Lithuania and Bohemia alike, being used to deadly effect in cavalry charges.

Next: 136. POLISH MOUNTED FREEMAN, 14th CENTURY in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath
List of Extracts from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath

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