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


This figure, from a ms. of 1467, is typical of 15th century Polish cavalry other than men-at-arms. He wears a padded doublet over a mail haubergeon, which is completely covered, plus a mail hood, sallet, gauntlets and leg-harness. Shields are no longer carried, but a crossbow or lance remains the standard armament. In place of a sword this particular man carries a sabre (szabla), which frequently substituted for it by the second half of the century. The sabre was introduced from the East via Hungary, but was at first largely regarded by the Poles as an inferior weapon and was thus relegated to the infantry and non-noble cavalrymen. By the mid-15th century, however, Poland’s upper classes had also adopted it, particularly in the Eastern provinces. It is interesting to note, incidentally, that most of the run-of-the-mill sabres that appeared in Poland, Hungary and other Eastern European countries actually originated in Italy of all places, where they were mass-produced as a profitable export line for the Venetians and Genoese in their dealings with the Ottoman Turks (via whose Balkan conquests they trickled back into Europe). Such mass-produced sabres were, fairly inevitably, of low quality steel and clumsy in design.

Next: 138. POLISH TOWN MILITIAMAN, 14th-15th CENTURIES 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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