Lance - ('Kopia')

By Radek Sikora         

translated by Rick Orli

Polish Version

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If there is one characteristic element of a hussar’s outfit, it would not be the wings, contrary to general view, but the hussar’s lance (kopia). Wings were a decorative element, not compulsory and not always used; the lance was unique in its basic construction and was an essential component of the hussar’s weaponry.crhus010.jpg (10752 bytes)


The Hungarian lance is the prototype of the Polish hussar’s lance. The Hungarian lance was over 3 meters in length, light and slender. The lance was most often carved from fir-wood, as was the big wooden ball that served as the handle guard. The hussar's lance was from 4.5 to 5.5. M in length.  It enabled the hussar to overreach western infantry pikes ( which were always under  5 meters). This extraordinary length was achieved by boring out the core of the lance from the point to the ball.ckula.jpg (10693 bytes)

 

 


The boring was executed by cutting the lance in half, hollowing out each side, and gluing the halves together later. This joint was often reinforced with a string webbing, overwhich tar was poured. Aspen was used for the fore part of the lance, which is light, ‘crumbly’ (I have heard this term to describe good violin wood)
and easy to carve and bore; it was superbly suitable for this purpose.


The lace point is steel - most often with a silk banner just below. The point was supported with additional metal reinforcing straps running down the shaft, which also helped protect the wood below the point from a sabre cut.

Pennants for the lances were usually uniform for the whole troop - called 'banner', e.g. white -red, blue -green, black -white etc.  They might have one point or two.
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Length of the pennants totaled ( 2.5-3.5m), so that they reached  the ears of the horses. Besides being beautiful decoration, these has several functions. They served as a distinctive sign (setting each banner apart ).   They could also panic their opponents' horses, if they were not used to the dramatic sight and sounds.  For long marches, the lances were transported in wagons, but during parades or in combat formation, the base of the lance was place in the ‘tuleja’ a metal cup attached by leather straps to the saddle. This way, the hussar was freed from the weight of the lance, which was born by the horse.ctuleja.jpg (9773 bytes)

When holding the lance during an attack in a horizontal position under the armpit, the hussar most often first extracted the lance from the tuleja. But some sources indicate that even in this position it could be kept in the tuleja. This would give a range of benefits especially, transmitting the momentum of the horse via the saddle into the lance, so the force of the blow would not be limited by the hussar’s strength.

The Lance - as alluded to above - was a basic weapon of the hussar. However, it was a one-use weapon that broke in the attack.  For this reason, and because it was a very expensive weapon, it was the only weapon furnished by the military authorities. (Each lancer was supplied with three lances.  Normally, only the 'companion' (file leader in the first rank) used the lance, and if the retainer in the second rank carried a lance it was for the companion, to replace a lance broken in a previous charge.)

Lances were sometimes created for special purposes, in addition to the ordinary hussar’s lance. They might be called fancy dress lances. They served at special openings, parades, reviews etc. They were very richly furnished e.g. with an eagle feather motive.
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Bibliography:
"Husaria" Jerzy Cichowski i Andrzej Szulczynski
"Husaria polska" Zdzislaw Zygulski Jun.
"Proporce husarskie" Stanislaw Gepner; artykul zamieszczony w "Broni i
Barwie" nr8
"Zlote pióra na kopiach husarskich" Zbigniew Bochenski; artykul zamieszczony
w "Broni i Barwie" nr 5-6 maj-czerwiec1939

The Primary Swords: Koncerz and Palasz

The Personal Sword: Saber

How they fought

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