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Hussars of the Honvéd Army and the Imperial Austrian Army in the Battle of Tápióbicske (April 4, 1849) in the Hungarian War of Independence

Hussars are a branch of service of the light cavalry . Its origins are mainly in Hungary , Croatia , Romania and Serbia . Characteristic of their appearance are a uniform jacket with laces on the chest ( Dolman or Attila ) and a similar jacket with fur ( Mente ).


The etymology of the word hussar is not clearly established. It is believed that the term comes from the Latin word, cursor , which means "fast messenger". In Southeastern Europe in the 14th century , transformed to gusar, hussar , the word referred to a mounted robber or pirate . Likewise, the term "hussar" could go back to the Italian Corsaro ( corsair , pirate, wanderer).

Another possible explanation would be the Hungarian numeral húsz (20); the name would then refer to the recruiting methods of the old Hungarian cavalry: 20 houses each had to provide an armed rider. Later the entire Hungarian cavalry (huszár) was called this.


Hungarian hussar in the 16th century; Woodcut by Jost Amman

After the defeat in the Battle of Nicopolis , parts of the Bosnian armed forces defeated by the Ottoman army probably entered Hungarian service. Equipped with a lance, shield and saber , they fought as light cavalry.

Around 1454 the Serbian military leader Nikola Skobaljić used a guerrilla tactic on horseback (rapid raids and retreats) near Leskovac , without armor or only lightly armored and with the lance as his main weapon, in order to ultimately offer unsuccessful resistance against the advancing Ottomans. It is unclear whether this tactic was developed “independently” or was adopted by the Ottomans or Tatars, for example the Cumans who were settled in Hungary at the time (e.g. the so-called Cumania was located just north of the Hungarian fiefdom of the Serbian despot Đurađ Branković ). The Ottomans, on the other hand, maintained regular raids into neighboring border areas with light and therefore faster cavalry. In order to be able to react to these rapid attacks in time, countries like Serbia or Wallachia had to set up light cavalry troops. The cavalry of Vlad III. Drăculea consisted mainly of such cavalry troops, armed with lances, swords, daggers and, if possible, chain mail.

Hungarian-Croatian troops

The "hussarones" are mentioned for the first time in writing in 1481 in a letter written in Latin from the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus . Under his reign the hussars had already developed into heavily armored horsemen. They wore helmets in the Turkish style ( Zischäggen ), breast and Armpanzer with sheet iron -studded shields (referred to as "shields"), heavy saber ( Sarrass called), mace and spears . An armor breaker ( hegyestőr , "pike sword") was also carried on the saddle . In the probable event that the lance broke during the first onslaught, this approximately 150 centimeters long (blade length), three or four-edged sword was placed on the thigh and used as a thrust weapon.

At the Thirty Years' War took Croatian rider as part of the imperial army of the Habsburg part, mainly equipped as Hussars. Their large number (between 12,000 and 30,000 riders) attracted so much attention that Polish and Hungarian hussars were also mistakenly referred to as Croatian hussars.

The Hungarian writer Mór Jókai (1825–1904) writes about the social prestige of the hussar in his monarchy book: “The quarter-making corporal gets into a dispute with the judge, who thinks he is the first in the village. «Let me tell you one thing! The first in the world, that's the Lord God. Then comes the king. Then the hussar, then the hussar's horse, then the hussar's horse shoe. Then nothing comes for a long time. And then comes a pair of torn, muddy boots. And only then do you come, judge, in your boots. ""

Polish winged hussars (Husaria)

Polish wing Husar ( Atak husarii Aleksander Orłowski)

Under Hungarian influence, the hussars initially found their way into the Polish-Lithuanian army as light cavalry . The change to heavy cavalry, which replaced the medieval knights' contingent , came to a preliminary conclusion at the end of the 16th century under King Stefan Batory . The armored Polish winged hussars (Hussaria) wore breastplates, bracers and knee-high leather boots. The name goes back to the two large wing rods attached to the saddle, which towered up to a meter above the head. You should make the galloping hussars look particularly terrifying by their noise and appearance. They also protected their backs from saber blows and fended off the fanglases used by the Tatars . Equipped with the lance as their main weapon, the winged hussars carried out their attacks in a closed formation. In addition to this heavy battle cavalry, in Hungary as in Poland, lightly armed hussars remained as reconnaissance troops. Their tactics and equipment have been copied across Europe since the beginning of the 17th century .

The hussars were divided into flags (Polish Chorągwie ) of 210 riders. The line-up was predominantly tripartite, with the first section being occupied by the nobles ( Towarzysz ) and the second section by their miners ( Pachołek ), who also came from the lower nobility. Each unit was led by a Rittmeister ( Rotmistrz ) with the rank of Colonel and his deputy ( Porucznik ). Each unit also had a Khoragiew flag, two timpani and two trumpeters. Only the king led a horse's tail crowned by a falcon's wing. Noble leaders were allowed to use a horse tail without a falcon's wing as an award.

The hussars of modern times

Painted Friedrich Graf zu Putbus , in the uniform of a colonel of the Royal Swedish Hussar Regiment (around 1750), by Anna Rosina de Gasc
Electorate Hussars around 1825
French hussar from the 8th Regiment, 1804

The hussars, who were initially recruited from Hungarian-Croatian mercenaries , were not recognized as full soldiers for a long time. With poorer salaries and suspicious of the generals, this exotic troop was initially reluctant to emancipate itself. It was not until the middle of the 18th century that captive hussars no longer had to fear being killed by the enemy as irregular fighters. The main task of these riders, equipped with agile little horses, was the reconnaissance and outpost service as well as the disruption of the enemy supply lines in the context of the "Little War" . Before the advent of a military police, they took over in z. B. Prussia whose tasks such as capturing deserters. In contrast, they were initially rarely used in a closed formation in battle. From an administrative point of view, the hussars were only assigned to the cavalry in most states from the late 18th century onwards ; in the course of the 19th century the boundaries between the nominally different cavalry classes became blurred.

The first regular hussar regiments were set up in Western Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries based on the Hungarian model. Bavaria set up a first regiment in 1688, the second followed around 1700. France began to set up several regiments from 1692, first recruiting the hussars from Hungary and Germany , and later also from German-speaking border regions of France. Prussia followed suit in 1721, and Sweden and Denmark also had hussars from 1756 and 1764, respectively. During the coalition wars, several British regiments of light dragoons gradually received elements of the uniform of the hussars, but only accepted the designation as such in 1806/07 (initially only as an addition, the name component (light) Dragoons was not removed until 1861).

The uniform developed from the Hungarian national costume became typical: wing or fur hat ( Kolpak ) or later also shako , tight-fitting trousers and laced jackets (initially the short dolman , from the middle of the 19th century the tabard-like attila ) and fur-trimmed overcoats (mente ), which were carried over the shoulder in summer. Not only the color of the badge on the cuffs and collar, but also the basic color of the uniform itself (including the trousers) was different for each regiment in most countries, although here too the trend towards standardization was ultimately evident. In Great Britain, for example, the dark blue of the light cavalry there was chosen from the start, in Hungary light or dark blue and even in France, which traditionally had the most colorful troop of hussars next to Prussia, the hussars, like most of the cavalry, were given light blue overalls and red trousers . The armament consisted of a saber , one or two pistols and a short-barreled carbine . Hussar units fought in this form until the First World War .

Hussars in Prussia

Prussian hussars from 1759 to 1846

After the Silesian Wars , in which the Hungarian light cavalry in particular (in the service of the Austrian army) had distinguished themselves several times, the hussars became internationally "acceptable". From the second half of the 18th century, hussar formations were set up in almost all European armies. In Prussia , a weak hussar regiment was first established in 1721 , initially with Polish riders. Later efforts were made to win over native Hungarians with their typically agile horses for military service in the Prussian army.

At the time of Frederick the Great's accession to power there were two small regiments of hussars, but they were not very respected. In a daily order from the king after the battle of Mollwitz it says:

"Women, hussars and pack men who are caught plundering should be hanged immediately."

In the following years the Prussian army tried to develop the hussars as an exemplary light cavalry. It actually produced a number of excellent commanders such as Zieten , Belling , Puttkamer , Natzmer , Székely and Kleist . At the end of the reign of Frederick II there were ten hussar regiments with ten squadrons ; each regiment was divided into two battalions .

Following the devastating defeat against Napoleon in 1806, the Prussian army was fundamentally redesigned. The hussars ceased to be a special weapon because every cavalry unit was required to perform equally. In terms of organization, too, the hussars no longer differed from the other cavalry.

German Empire

Sergeant (on horseback) and hussar from the Prussian Hussar Regiment No. 10 (1891)

When the war began in 1914, the German army had 21 hussar regiments; 17 Prussian, one Braunschweig and three Saxon . The Leib Guard Hussar Regiment in Potsdam belonged to the Guard Corps (4th Guard Cavalry Brigade of the Guard Cavalry Division Berlin) and therefore dropped out of the numbering of regiments No. 1-20. The Bavarian Army , like the Württemberg Army, had no hussars. The last regiment was set up in Bautzen in 1910 ( 3rd Royal Saxon Hussar Regiment No. 20 ) and, as a novelty, had a field-gray uniform from the start. While the trousers of the hussar uniforms were usually black and blue, the first two Saxon regiments had trousers in the color of their Attila; a very light potash blue, which stood out clearly from the potash blue of other hussar regiments, e.g. B. the 15ers from (Hamburg) Wandsbek.

When the field gray uniform was generally introduced in 1910 for the case of war, the typical cut of the hussar uniform was retained. The hussars were therefore still recognizable as such from a distance due to the lacing of the Attila and the fur hat, which was not necessarily seen as an advantage by the theorists of the camouflage uniform. Since the cavalry's shooting training lagged behind that of the infantry, due to the proportion of riding training and the completely anachronistic combat drill with saber and lance, it was easy to spot the out-of-date hussars in infantry battles.

During World War II, most hussar regiments were due to the very limited use for tabs in the trench warfare eskadronsweise as Division Cavalry distributed and how the dragoons often (as in Romania) used as military police or Military Invasion. They also served as reinforcement z. B. the gendarmerie within the Reich itself; so z. B. a train of the 13 Hussars from Diedenhofen, which was deployed around 1917 in the office of Cloppenburg in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg to prevent surreptitious trafficking ("hamsters"). Some squadrons also served as divisional reconnaissance and observation units.

Like the Dragoons , they were equipped with the M89 cavalry sword with a straight scarfish blade (introduced in 1890) and the 98a carbine .

Regiments 1914 Attila Kolpak Location
Life Guard Hussar Regiment red red Potsdam
1st Leib-Hussar Regiment No. 1 black red Danzig
2. Leib-Hussar Regiment "Queen Victoria of Prussia" No. 2 black White Danzig
Hussar regiment "von Zieten" (Brandenburg) No. 3 red red Rathenow
Hussar regiment "von Schill" (1st Silesian) No. 4 brown yellow Ohlau
Hussar regiment "Prince Blücher von Wahlstatt" (Pomeranian) No. 5 madder madder Stumble
Hussar regiment "Graf Goetzen" (2nd Silesian) No. 6 dark green red Leobschütz
Hussar regiment "King Wilhelm I." (1st Rheinisches) No. 7 russian blue red Bonn
Hussar regiment "Emperor Nicholas II of Russia" (1st Westphalian) No. 8 dark blue Light Blue Paderborn
2nd Rhenish Hussar Regiment No. 9 potash blue potash blue Strasbourg
Magdeburg Hussar Regiment No. 10 dark green pompadour red Stendal
2nd Westphalian Hussar Regiment No. 11 dark green red Krefeld
Thuringian Hussar Regiment No. 12 potash blue White Torgau
Hussar regiment "King Humbert of Italy" (1st Kurhessisches) No. 13 potash blue red Diedenhofen
Hussar regiment "Landgrave Friedrich II. Von Hessen-Homburg" (2nd Kurhessisches) No. 14 dark blue red kassel
Hussar regiment "Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands" (Hannoversches) No. 15 potash blue yellow Wandsbek
Hussar regiment "Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, King of Hungary" (Schleswig-Holstein) No. 16 dark blue yellow Schleswig
Brunswick Hussar Regiment No. 17 black red Braunschweig
1. Royal Saxon Hussar Regiment "King Albert" No. 18 potash blue red Grossenhain
2nd Royal Saxon Hussar Regiment No. 19 potash blue dark red Grimma
3rd Royal Saxon Hussar Regiment No. 20 field gray Light Blue Bautzen

After the end of the First World War, the Reichswehr only had a unit cavalry of 18 regiments. As a rule, each squadron had the tradition of a regiment of the old army, and in the event that the armaments restrictions of the Versailles Treaty were overcome , their re-establishment was planned.

When the Wehrmacht was built up, the army, as a reflection of federal diversity or as a bearer of concrete traditions, did not fit into the diffusely historicizing Nazi ideology of the merging of everyone into an amorphous national community : the last country team names were therefore abolished, and the massive formation of new units was dispensed with the assignment of traditions of the Old Army.

Due to the breaks in German military history , the Bundeswehr's traditional decree prohibited the assignment of specific association traditions . Your tank scouts look after the memory of the entire German cavalry.

Police hussars

One of the first German police troops was the Landgrave Hessian Hussar Corps, which existed from 1763 to 1804 and was the forerunner of the Grand Ducal Hessian Gendarmerie Corps . It was organized militarily, but was subordinate to the landgrave government and not the military college. The uniform was light green until 1769, then light blue. From 1795 the dolman and cap were white.

The police hussars in Mecklenburg-Strelitz were a specialty in the German Reich . The District Hussars had been founded as a military force in 1798, but only provided the service of a mounted gendarmerie . Their uniform, based on the Zieten Hussars , was only replaced in 1905 by a uniform based on the model of the Royal Prussian Gendarmerie .

The hussar regiment in the Duchy of Braunschweig (later No. 17, see above) was dissolved after Waterloo, only 17 police hussars remained. In 1816 this was increased to two squadrons of 100 men each. Only when they were reestablished as a regiment in 1825 did they lose their character as a police force. The uniform was black.

In the Grand Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach , the orderly hussars also performed gendarmerie duties. The uniforms were modeled on that of the Prussian Ziethen hussars

Hussars in modern armed forces

Danish Guard Hussar in action as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Helmand , Afghanistan
Hussars of Junín, Peru

In the armed forces of some states there are still units with the tradition of historical hussar regiments. Even if they are often used in the colorful uniforms from the 19th century for ceremonial occasions, their actual mission as a fighting force is usually that of (lightly) armored (reconnaissance) units. In France, the 1st Hussar Regiment, equipped with ERC-90 Sagaie wheeled armored vehicles and belonging to the airborne force, still has the recruiting oath: "You, our praised hero, who was born on Hungarian soil ...".

Here is a selection of today's hussar regiments:


The Regimiento de Húsares del Rey was set up in 1806 to defend Buenos Aires against the British attacks of 1806-1807. After the revolution of 1810 it became the Regimiento Húsares de Pueyrredón after the founder and first commander Juan Martín de Pueyrredón. Today it continues as an armored unit RCT No 10 Húsares de Pueyrredón and uses the uniform from the revolutionary times for parades.


During the War of Independence there was an elite patriotic unit called Húsares de la Muerte (Hussars of Death) under the command of Manuel Rodríguez . The Regimiento de Caballería Blindada N ° 3 "Húsares" follows this tradition .




  • 1st Hussars, (reserve)
  • 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's), (Reserve)
  • The Royal Canadian Hussars (Montreal), (active)
  • Sherbrooke Hussars, (reserve)



  • Regimiento de Caballería "Glorioso Húsares de Junín" Nº 1 - Libertador del Perú.


  • Livregementets hussarer. Gegr. 1667.

United Kingdom

  • The Queen's Royal Hussars (The Queen's Own and Royal Irish)
  • The King's Royal Hussars
  • 60 (Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars) Signal Squadron

Hussars in the film


  • Charge of Hungarian Hussars ( attack of Hungarian hussars ), United States 1897
  • Emperor William as a Hussar ( Kaiser Wilhelm als Husar ), USA 1902
  • Entry and parade of the number 11 hussar regiment in Krefeld (D 1906)

Feature films

In Fanfan, der Husar (France 1952, director: Christian-Jaque , remake Fanfan der Husar (2003) ) the title hero is not Husar, but the German distributor chose this title because the German audience in a translation of the original title Fanfan la Tulipe (Title of a popular French soldier's song from 1819, the hero of which is nicknamed "Tulip") would have had a hard time recognizing a coat and sword film .

See also


  • Hans Bleckwenn : The Frederician uniforms: 1753–1786; Dortmund: Harenberg 1984 (= The bibliophile pocket books No. 444); License d. Biblio publ. Osnabrück as: The Old Prussian Army; Part 3, Vol. 3, 4 and 5; ISBN 3-88379-444-9 . Volume III: Cavalry.
  • Claus von Bredow: The Hussar Book. History of the Prussian hussars from their creation to the present day . Publishing house Püttmann, Cologne 1894.
  • Jerzy Cichowski, Andrzej Szulczyński: Husaria . Dom Wyd. Bellona, ​​Warsaw 2004, ISBN 83-11-09954-5 .
  • György Nagyrévy von Neppel: Hussars in World History ("Huszárok"). Vollmer publishing house, Wiesbaden 1975.
  • Günther Voigt (Ed.): Germany's army until 1918: origin and development of the individual formations. Part 7: Leib-Guard-Hussars, Leib-Hussar Regiments, Hussar Regiments 1–20, 1. – 3. Garde-Ulanen-Regiments, Ulanen-Regiments 1–21, Jäger-Regiments on Horses 1–13 and Reitendes Feldjäger-Korps , Osnabrück 1986.

Web links

Commons : Hussars  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Husar  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. For Prussia see Bleckwenn 1984, Volume III p. 139.