|17th C. Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth
Military and Civilian Fashions, Weapons
Observations - Military and Men's Dress 1633-1683
Boleslav Orlickis Light Artillery
By Rick Orli with contributions by S. Twardoch & Radek Sikora
(c)2001 richard j. orli Contact
|Some of the material here is re-presented in the
Equipment/Unit standards page, but much is unique, please see both pages.
Keep in mind that, although we are not strict about it, we try to set our dress for 1674. This allows us to accurately portray events in Polish dress from the 1650s to about 1683. However, the western fashions did change quite a bit during this period, short coats before 1660, long coats thereafter. Many event we do are set for earlier times, in which case we make much more use of English Civil War style western clothing for infantry and artillery. The material below is heavily biased for this period of special interest to our group.
Hussar, King Sobieski, Pancerni, Light Cavalry, Dragoon, Infantry, Ensign, Infantry officer
Deli, bannerette, vizir, porte-wuntschuk, spahi, artillery, janissary, peik, captain (aga) of Janissaries, solak
Arquebusier, ensign, general, cuirassier, dragoon, artillery, officer of infantry, musketeer, grenadier.
(Opinion: These pictures by Zygulski are of low quality and do not seem authoritative.)
Our Guys at MTA, March 2002 (our first event in-costume)
I have few good pictures of artillerymen to show from 1650-1690. Their clothing is known to have been of a mix of western and eastern styles. Most years, Crown artillerymen were in western outfits, but that was not always true and as a private unit we are not following that trend anyway.
Each unit was issued cloth of a uniform color, although the color and cut was not consistent. According to Brzezinski, crews were issued zupan-like coats in preparation for the Vienna campaign. Probably, Horse Artillery would have been outfitted similarly to the dragoons.
Left, Artilleryman in 1650s western outfit. The picture (right) of the supposedly Polish artillerymen is the very model of a bad picture... the impossible gun carriage, the bogus concept of slowmatch and lack of understanding of the linstock, the unlikely bombs to be fired, the powerkeg right under the lit match... The
Both dragoons and artillerymen were commoners. The infantry were as well, but officers and most of the cavalry were gentry or szlatchta (the western-style arqubusers and the 'true' Cossacks were the main exceptions to this rule.)
Artillery, 1650s. Left to Right, Officer, mounted; General of
Artillery; General's Orderly (Masztalerz)
Dragoons were commoners, and were organized the same way infantry were. 'Free companies' were often attached to artillery, and in the 1670s a special 'free company' was raised specifically to provide field support to light artillery.
Dragoon, 1683, western style, detail, by Angus McBride from Brzezinski, Polish Armies 1562-1696. (Pikeman in foreground) This and the other 1680-83 picture below are based on copies of German watercolors made in 1680-1683 published by A. Bruchalski and narrated by J. Bendę
(Andrzej Bruchnalski, Nieznane materiały do ikonografii piechoty łanowej z lat 1680—83. „Arsenał , kwartalnik Koła Miło¶ników Dawnej Broni i Barwy przy Muzeum Narodowym w Krakowie, 1959 r., nr 4, s. 101 „)
The dragoon to the right is from the 1690s.
Note the jackboots, collar, and the relatively short coat - Western European features. The coat flaps are buttoned back , revealing the yellow lining. The coat is red. This man is from King Sobieski's guard dragoons. Guard dragoons in the Vienna campaign were under the command of the Queen's brother, Louis, Marquis d'Arquien. It is known that in 1646 they wore red coats with yellow linings, although their color in 1683 is not certain.
Instead of boots, dragoons might have worn shoes or a short boot with leather gaiters.
Right, a 1634 dragoon in quite western gear - like a musketeer. (1634 sketches are from a series by Wilhelm Hondiusa)
Below, more dragoons, 2 from 1660s, rest from 1680s. Troop to far left are dragoons from the movie 'With Fire and Sword'
Right, 1680 Polish Infantry
Polish Janissaries of King Jan III Sobieski, 1683. The first company was made up out of captives who volunteered to switch sides. The second company deserted the Sultan and switched sides voluntarily in the 1670s, officers, men and pay-chest included.
The Ottoman Janissaries were (like all government employees) slaves of the sultan, selected from captured or contributed Christian boys who usually converted to the Muslim faith.
See also Rembrandt's Polish Rider, below to left.
Hussar and Pancerni Cavalry, 1683. The Pancerni - mail armored medium cavalry- was the most numerous in Polish service. Lance, pistol, bow, and saber were the usual weapons.
Hussar 1634 model, note wings attached to saddle.
Arquebuser: German style cavalry 1650-1690. Because they were armed with carbines, they were much used as skirmishers, along with dragoons. Substitute a 3-bar pot for this helmet, and it could be a picture of one of Cromwell's Ironsides.
A picture of the battle of Vienna in the Vienna Military Museum shows Polish cavalry, unmistakable because of the wings and lances, wearing buffcoats and similar armor and so had a look of this type. I do not know if the picture was based on reality, or the extent to which Poles used buffcoats. A thousand or so Polish Arqbusers were involved in the battle of Vienna.
<Picture 7>This zupan (pron. zoo-pen) is characteristic of the 17th C. It is the main garment of the Polish gentry. The zupan was the garment worn immediately beneath armor, so it might be called an arming coat, especially in its padded military/field version. Since commoners did not wear armor, they did not wear the zupan. Even though their plain old 'coat' looked exactly like a zupan, they would never make the mistake of calling it a zupan. The zupan and other Polish/Hungarian garments are essentially
16th C. Costume. An out-of-fashion hat, otherwise not too many changes. The winter-weight fir-lined kontuz outer coat, (might be called a riding coat) is almost the same length as the zupan or main coat (which might be called an arming coat). Note that the rear of the kontuz is somewhat longer than the front. Also it is split on the sides rather than in the back - this is characteristic throughout the 16th and 17th C.
What looks like a pocket is actually an opening, and sometime one sees the sabre hilt poking through, while on horseback. The kontuz also looks like it has a fir-lined hood. Kontuzi usually have a split from the arm-pit to the elbow, allowing the sleeves to be peeled back in warm weather. A winter-weight kontuz might not have had this feature, for greater warmth.
The buttons are 'standard'. The 'Hungarian' style of buttons on a ribbon were also popular throughout the 17th C. as seen below.
This kontuz seems to be a summer-weight garment, modeled by deceased member of the szlatcha (gentry). Note the cartridge box, the wheellock pistol key hanging from the cartridge box (or waistbelt), the riding whip. From mid 1600's, prob. about 1660.
This is further detailed in the Patterns page.
1640-1650, Marshall Lukasz
Opalinski. Rich guy. He is wearing a "zupan" (closed with buttons) and
"delia" (this coat with fur collar). "Zupan" was normal, daily wear
for EVERY nobleman - rich and poor. Delia was worn rather by very rich guys.
The yellow boots are of such thin leather that they seem almost like stockings - not
exactly practical battle dress. The boots are like gold "Patek" now. :-))
Right, Hetman Czarnicki c. 1680, in a Ferezja
King Sobieski in an XVIII th C. picture. Elements of this may not be accurate. But, the western-looking fellow to the rear is quite plausible. Although Sobieski himself made a point to wear tradition Polish costume, many of his entourage and, for example, foreign military observers and guests, would have worn western fashions.
16th C. Illustrations By Braun & Schneider - c.1861-1880
A Russian, and a Pole Nobleman.
Right, Poles and (far right) Hungarians, early XVII C.
In the field, the kontuz was charactistically worn with the front ends of the garmet pulled up and tucked into the belt (or rarely, attached with buttons or claspes, as in later period Western coats) The sleeves were open in the underseam, and could be thrown back over the shoulder (this was not common until the 1640s)
Zupan or zupan like coat, a uniquely polish variation of the under-kafkan. These are are two types:
-Padded, usually of simpler design and ornamentation, they are practical military field wear. This is what we need for most of our impressions. They might be a bit hotter than un-padded, alas.
-Normal - including plain and dressy varieties such as in most of the pictures above. See also examples of fancy zupan buttons.
Zupan length varied with fashion to above and below the knees from year to year, but were most often below the knees. In the 1660s they became rather short for a while, reaching mid-thigh only (and the kontuz was shortened to just the knee). While civilian Zupans sometimes reached ankle lenght, of course those for military use would have been cut higher for practicality. Zupans for military use were padded and quilted. The 1630s zupan to the right is fur lined (or perhaps padded)
Kontuz started to come into fashion in the 1640s, and Zupan/Kontuz combination stayed around for a long time after. They replaced over-kaftans of a type that do not look a whole lot unlike Kontuzs to my eyes.
Important note: The Polish garments button from the right (right overlaps left), unlike modern western mens' clothes that button from the left! This shows their eastern heritage.
To the left are two fancy 18th C. kontuz over zupans. Wrong details include: Big waist sash... use belts for 17th C. Length too long.. this is either a later fashion or is a courtly fashion, inappropriate for field wear; trailing zupan sleeves... not 17C. fashion, also impractical for field wear. The way the kontuz has a slit in the arm, allowing the sleeves to be thrown back, is however correct for our period. to the right are 17th C. and far right, an 18th C. kontuz/Zupan.
Delia, lined in fur, over zupan. The delia preceded the kontuz, which largely replaced it in the 1640s. The zupan was occasionally worn alone early in the century, but in the time of the Kontuz it gradually became an undergarment rater like a westcot, worn only with a kontuz covering it in polite society.
Pants tended to the tight in the early 17th C., then loosened out to almost Turkish fullness, and then tightened again at the end of the century. There will be no 'uniform' pants... acceptable varieties are detailed in the patterns page.
The chapka or red square-shaped lancer's hat was not in use in the 17th C., except in the Crakow region where it seems to have been a local traditional style, in soft form (see left). In several varieties, the colpak (pron. 'cowpak') a fur-lined hat, fur-base exposed, with the center-part optionally not fur-lined, seems to have been almost universal.
If you know how modern western cowboy boots and English riding boots look, you know there is a substantial difference, even though it is hard to put a finger on exactly what. You would, for example, immediately know if President George Bush showed up at a news conference wearing English riding boots, because it would be front page news around the world; in contrast, cowboy boots would not be remarked upon.
According to noted shoe historian, June Swann, the American cowboy boot is the direct descendent of the Hungarian/Polish boot both in construction and in heritage.
Shoes and boots are among the hardest items to get right for a reenactor in any period, and 17 C. Poland is no exception. Note the below the knee length, knee cap, and characteristic yellowish/buff color. Boots may also be short, or may fold down to the ankle. Sometimes, they seem to have opened on the outside seam. Some of them do seem to be like cowboy boots, with a slightly different top, and no fancy scrollwork. The leather on the shoes of some of the rich guys is so thin and soft you can see the outline of the toes - it fits like a sock.
Unlike western shoes of the period, which were straight lasted, they were right and left lasted. Shoes, however, seemed rather similar to their western counterparts.
While boots were cut to just below the knee during most of this period, according to Pasek boot legs did briefly pop up to mid-thigh (like Western jackboots), and were buckled, during the 1660s. To the right, a unusually fancy pair of 17th C. boots, not typical, but reminds one of some excessive modern cowboy boots.
Better boots were often made of Saffian (safian) - delicate skin of goat, ram or veal ( but from goat most often ) using an immersion sumac tanning method and dyed different colors (most often reddish or golden). The process traditionally involves rubbing on the mordant (dye fixative).
Have you noticed that you have not worn a doublet and hose to work lately? This may sound braggadocio since this is a Polish-themed web site, but in all seriousness, the root of all western fashion for the last three hundred years was Hungarian/Polish/eastern fashion. It all started when the hussars rode into Paris in 1645, with their spectacular getups. The Paris ladies immediately - literally within a day- incorporated Polish elements in their cloths, making feminine versions of hussar outfits. The men's fashion world was a bit slower, but by the 1660's the doublet was history and the long-coat was it, from then until the latest business suit from Ralph Lauren nee Lipshitz. What I mean is, that there is a fundamental construction difference between the doublet and what you know as the business suit coat, and the same basic construction has been used on all coats in the west since 1660 or so, and in Polish coats for hundreds of years prior to that. Other pieces crept in waves over the next hundred years. The next one was the eastern-style cravat in imitation of Hungarian hussar styles, then the eastern-style tight long pants, again in imitation of Hungarian hussar style.
The English court's changeover was recorded: "Oct 18, 1666.... It being the first time his Majesty put hemself solemnly into the Eastern fashion of vest, changeing doublet, stiff collar, bands and cloake, into a comley vest, after the Persian mode, with a girdle or straps, and shoe strings and garters into buckles." - John Evelyn, Diary
Artillery - Org.
Artillery was few in numbers and of uneven quality, however, until, Vladislav Vasa instituted a new Quarter tax in 1632. The new tax was used entirely to modernize the Artillery and Sappers.
At right, a quite typical panzer medium cavalry mail suit. Panzer cavalry was the most numerous type in Polish service throughout the XVII century. Note the basket-like figwood 'kalkan', or target.
Non-military Noble Male Costume
Identical to the military costume
Peasant 'Chlop' (pron. 'hwop') Costume
Peasant and a friend.
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