17th C. Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth Military and Civilian Fashions, Weapons

Observations - Military and Men's Dress 1633-1683

Boleslav Orlicki’s Light Artillery

By Rick Orli with contributions by S. Twardoch &  Radek Sikora

(c)2001 richard j. orli Contact


Woman's Dress

Article: Polish Costume in the 17 C.

Military Uniform Article

Polish Costume 17th C. (Polski Ubior) M.B.


Unit Uniform Guidelines


Pants and Hats

Boots and Shoes


Roots of western Fashion

Other Pages:

Polish/Ukrainian/Cossack Dress

Polish Janissaries

Muscovite Dress

Hungarian  Dress

Stockholm Roll, 1605  

Matejko Costume Plates  

Patterns (Details on Design and Construction)  

 Delias and Ferezjas

Horse Tack

Costume details and Domestic items Page, e.g. buttons, belts, mugs, chairs

Turkish  Dress

SaberKoncerz,  Lance   &  Firearms\

Some equipments details from the Hamza



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.

Z1683Poles.jpg (90683 bytes) From Vienna 1683, Uniforms, March-April 1984 (French) by Zygulski; Polish

Hussar, King Sobieski, Pancerni, Light Cavalry, Dragoon, Infantry, Ensign, Infantry officer


Z1683Turk.jpg (85559 bytes)Turkish - 1683

Deli, bannerette, vizir, porte-wuntschuk, spahi, artillery, janissary, peik, captain (aga) of Janissaries, solak


Z1683Imperial.jpg (90922 bytes)Austrian/ Imperial -1683

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.)

mtaguys.jpg (97219 bytes)

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.

kartman.jpg (6579 bytes)Left, Artilleryman in 1650s western outfit.  The picture (right) of the supposedly Polish artillerymen BadCannon.jpg (24136 bytes)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.)PolCannonFire.jpg (12510 bytes)



artyleria1.jpg (105962 bytes)At left an officer over the gun, and at right artillerymen. From
frontpiece of 'Artis magnae artilleriae pars prima" (1650) by Jan Casmir Siemienowicz.
artyleria2.jpg (107957 bytes)

Right, artillerists from a bas-relief on the tomb of Jan Casmir Siemienowicz in a church in Paris (the bas-relief presents a battle in 1651 - Beresteczk).

artillery1650_01.jpg (113560 bytes)Artillery, 1650s.  Left to Right, Officer, mounted; General of Artillery; General's Orderly (Masztalerz)artillery1650_02.jpg (116934 bytes)

To the right, Left to Right: Artilleryman, with red shash; Fusiliers (fizylier) in    red or grey coat (kolet) and pants.

OiMCannon.jpg (136718 bytes) Left, Artillery from OiM.

dragoon1683.gif (242191 bytes)Dragoon, 1683, eastern style.  Notice the necktie, slightly loose pants, Polishdragoni.jpg (257174 bytes) boots, long coat.  Weapons include a pair of pistols, short musket, and saber. 

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.

McBridePolDragoon.jpg (127427 bytes)Dragoon, 1683, western style, detail, by Angus McBride from Brzezinski, Polish Armies 1562-1696. dragon koniecXVII.jpg (216473 bytes) (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.dragon1634.jpg (220082 bytes)Dragoon1660s.jpg (105165 bytes)

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'

Dragooncornet.jpg (147210 bytes)Dragoon16602.jpg (135037 bytes)dragoon16803.jpg (134408 bytes)


Dragoon1680.jpg (152785 bytes)Dragoon16802.jpg (129507 bytes)    OiMDragoons.jpg (147477 bytes)





Foote1683.gif (267561 bytes)Polish Style Infantry 1683.  Axes were almost universal among the infantry.  In 1683 the quality and uniformity of clothing was very poor, such that it embarrassed the King.

Right, 1680 Polish Infantry  

mmFoote34.jpg (53689 bytes)  Polish Style 1634 Infantry

wybraniec_(3).jpeg (84145 bytes)                                                           Right, Polish 'Select' (Wybranie) infantry

mmNiem34.jpg (39762 bytes) Polish 'German' or western style infantry.

SobieskiesJanisaries1683.gif (129106 bytes)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. lekka jazda (1).jpg (107965 bytes)

Light1683.gif (228003 bytes)Light Cavalry.  In 1683 much of the light cavalry was Cossack or Tatar; this looks to be of the Polish variety.  


See also Rembrandt's Polish Rider, below to left.

PolishRider.gif (110156 bytes)




HusnPnzr1683.gif (120137 bytes)Hussar and Pancerni Cavalry, 1683.  The Pancerni - mail armored medium cavalry- was the most numeroushussar2.jpg (45793 bytes) in Polish service.  Lance, pistol, bow, and saber were the usual weapons.


mmhussar34jpg.jpg (79026 bytes)

 Hussar 1634 model, note wings attached to saddle.


kriter.jpg (8144 bytes) Reiter 1683.  A very few western style reiters were in Polish service, although they were common in Swedish and Austrian service.

mmRiter34.jpg (26040 bytes) Reiter 1634

karkbuz.jpg (10994 bytes) Arquebuser: German style cavalry 1650-1690.   Arqubuser.jpg (302307 bytes)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. 

WEngineer_astrolabe.jpg (13194 bytes)  Engineer: with trigonometry tool               WEngineerTools.jpg (14431 bytes)


<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

07 - kopia.jpg (56673 bytes)Kristof Abaraska, 1622.  White/gold zupan.  This is before the era of the Kontuz. The patterned garment is a kontuz predecessor, a Delia 





kostpo16thC.jpg (211395 bytes)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. 

ArtilleryKontuz.jpg (39874 bytes) 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. 





opalinski (3).jpg (130605 bytes)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. :-))
This staff he is holding is a symbol of a Marshall. Note that his belt is thin. Sometimes one sees very wide belts made from silk, which were worn in the end of XVIII cent and in XIX cent, not in the XVII cent.

teczynski (3).jpg (131689 bytes)Stanislaw Tenczynski, 1634
Very nicely dressed young gentleman. He is wearing a white "zupan" (pronounce: "joopen"), but you can only see it's sleeves and two buttons near his neck. Over the zupan he is wearing an unusual white over-garment, perhaps a
Ferezja or early type of kontuz. His hat is a "kolpak" (cowpak")


zamoys.jpg (76357 bytes)11 - kopia.jpg (64115 bytes)
A powerful Polish nobleman, Zamoyski, who was chancellor in the years 1580-1605.
He is wearing a colorful "zupan" and a red "delia" in early 17th C. fashion.

Right, Hetman Czarnicki c. 1680, in a Ferezja

hussars (3).jpg (215676 bytes)hussars.jpg
1604. Hussars from the painting called "Rolka Sztokholmska," a very good
historical source. You can see the sabre and Turkish broadsword (Palasz) and, maybe, they have a koncerz which you can't see since the koncerz was worn under the right knee. Some have short and some have knee -length boots. Each row may represent a different banner in the parade, since the robes vary by row: leopard, red silk turkish, midnight blue. Since they are all carrying the lance, they are probabally all 'comrades' not retainers. Or, they may be coordinated just for this parade. However, the horse-tack and helmet styles vary quite a bit, as well, so the artist seems to be trying to be true to what he saw.

hussar (3).jpg (188779 bytes)hussar.jpg
Early hussar, about 1580. He is wearing the older type of helmet, called "hussar capalin". The "koncerz" under the knee is of a western style.


pancerny (3).jpg (126075 bytes)
Pancerni, about 1610-30. He is wearing a chainmail over the zupan. Note the sabre, eastern recurve bow and arrows. Yellow shoes, again. This pancerny is not really a pancerny - why?   Because he at this time he would go by the old term for Pancers, e.g. 'Cossack'. (you know, one of those out-of-control wildmen from the east ;)


wybraniec (3).jpg (84145 bytes)wybraniec
Polish infantry. He is wearing what appears to be a kontuz/zupan coat combination, but, as noted above, clothes worn by commoners were not called "zupan". If you were a peasant and put on a zupan, presto! -  it no longer was a zupan, but a simple, normal coat, in this case perhaps called a Gerimak. The outer coat front is tucked into the belt. Note the collection of pipes in the hat, the gourd powder flask, thin haversack/blanket roll, lit match, and axe.

commander (3).jpg (88462 bytes)commander.jpg
In the rank of "porucznik" or "rotmistrz" in the cavalry. He is wearing short reddish brocade zupan, the stereotypical yellow boots, a short Hungarian-style jacket, and a "ferezja" .


soboieski.jpg (36571 bytes)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.

A warning about pictures as historical sources. These are a great source but are often inaccurate, especially if not contemporary. There are a lot of very nice 19th C. paintings by Jan Matejko and Wojciech Kossak, for example. But be cautious - sometimes they really painted total BS, of course very artistic and beautiful BS, but without any historical sense. All pictures posted come from the XVI and XVII C., unless otherwise identified, so you can put some trust in them.
PolishCos.jpg (45944 bytes)


pol16thc.jpg (20779 bytes)

16th C. Illustrations By Braun & Schneider - c.1861-1880

ubioryXVIIw.jpg (118773 bytes) 17th C. Costume - illustration done 19th C. or later

rusk1-pole2.jpg (69251 bytes)

PoleMagyar.jpg (9216 bytes)

A Russian, and a Pole Nobleman.

     Right, Poles and (far right) Hungarians, early XVII C.

gustave.jpg (23953 bytes)Kontuz-like Polish Coat, modeled by King Gustav Adolf of Sweden





Kontuz hem length was always below the knees, and often down to the ankle.  This was a rather loose and full garmet, usually of a soft wool.   Winter wiegth can be fur-lined.  KmensCostume.jpg (38841 bytes)

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 theerlyzupn.jpg (49509 bytes) 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.

 18thCkontusze.jpg (30306 bytes)

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. TheKmensCostume2.jpg (37911 bytes) 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.

barka.jpg (8498 bytes) A barka, an outer-mantle

deliafur.jpg (108964 bytes) 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., rogatypes01.JPG (97555 bytes)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.


Boots and Shoes

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 (likeKfanctBoots.jpg (41543 bytes) 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).

The root of Western  fashion.

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.


Equipment Weapons and Accessories are in the Unit Equipment Standards Page


rskrzy10.jpg (12550 bytes)The plate armor of the hussars tended to be made up in segments, and used a lot of brass fitting and trimmings.pancernyClr.jpg (15997 bytes)


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.

The famous wings were also used by Tatars and some light cavalry,  who usually attached the wings to the saddles (see picture below, under Horse Tack). pancerny na koniu.jpg (27268 bytes)



Horse Tack and Horses 

Non-military Noble Male Costume

Identical to the military costume

Peasant 'Chlop' (pron. 'hwop') Costume

farmer.jpg (25932 bytes)wclop2.jpg (10851 bytes)

it63Chlopa.jpg (22963 bytes) Peasant and a friend.

City Guys

MnsCostume.GIF (98188 bytes) Well, the guys in black.

wpe1.jpg (8089 bytes) Jews

Go to Patterns