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Old 15th February 2019, 05:25 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Hungarian Hussar sabres and Esterhazy

I am interested in finding out more on Hungarian (Austro-Hungarian) hussar sabres of the mid 18th century, and in particular a for which is shown in E. Wagner's "Cut and Thrust Weapons", Prague, 1967, pl. 36) as from Paul Esterhazy's regiment of hussars during the War of Austrian Succession 1741-48).
These sabres have a distinct affectation in the faux pearl decoration along the knuckle guard, which seems to have become a repeated style in some degree later.

Prince Paul Esterhazy of Galantha (1711-62)was of the noble Habsburg line and formed his hussar regiment in support of Maria Theresa. This was of course concurrent with the famed Baron von Trenck 'Pandour' units of the time.


My question is...……..these Hungarian sabres seem to follow the general convention of flat pommel caps as well as the elongated rectangle langets.

It seems a variant type existed which had a domed pommel as well as elliptical langets yet had the noted 'pearled' knuckleguard. The domed pommel and elliptical langets are notably French, as well as the wire wrapped grips......suggesting of course French origin. It is known the French did adopt the pearled them in some degree as well.


Has anyone seen known HUNGARIAN/AUSTRIAN sabres with DOMED POMMEL? ELLIPICAL langets?



I have checked of course Wagner and Konopisky& Moudry (1991) without success.


If anyone out there has the esoteric references on Hungarian swords (Ariel???) please help out.


The attached illustrations are the one from Wagner on the Esterhazy sabre.

The other from Moudry & Konopisky (Edged Weapons of the Habsburg Empire 16th-20th c. ) has one shown as Hungarian hussars 1750s. This was post Esterhazy so it would seem the 'pearled' affectation was still carried on.


Thank you guys!
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Old 16th February 2019, 05:07 AM   #2
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In 1730 The French King began sword production at Klingenthal in response to dependence on foreign production.
In 1750 a regulation describes the first hussar sword designed and produced in France, but officers swords continued to come from abroad and followed Hungarian and Austrian prototypes.

This information from "The French Military Sword in Eighteenth Century"
C. Aries & M. Petard
'Gazette des Armes", #57, Feb. 1978

The hussar sabre regulated by 1752 was characteristically Hungarian.


The compelling similarity of these hussar sabres to Hungarian (and Austrian) types leads us to the notion that suspected variations of the Austro-Hungarian forms with French characteristics may indeed be these French swords noted.

Anyone with C. Aries volumes ? to compare these French types.
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Old 16th February 2019, 07:10 AM   #3
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Here I post fotos of two Esterhazy sabres of the French Esterhazy Husard Regiment. May be you like them. Both belonged to my collection but are sold meanwhile.
Regards
corrado26
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Old 16th February 2019, 07:12 AM   #4
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Second sabre
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Old 16th February 2019, 07:14 AM   #5
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next fotos
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Old 16th February 2019, 12:45 PM   #6
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Jim,

I believe it’s not entirely clear that sabres with pearl string decorations on the knuckle guard are officers’ versions from the Esterhazy Hungarian hussars. The illustration in Wagner was done from Dolloczek (see picture below) and does not claim that the pearl string decoration necessarily is connected specifically with Esterhazy. There are plenty sabres belonging to officers of the Esterhazy hussars without this decoration and there are plenty sabres with the decoration which are not connected with Esterhazy. It can’t be ruled out that this was a fashion which started at the Esterhazy hussars and was copied.

The sabre characteristics you describe do seem French as you suggest. There were many Hungarian emigrés in France who served as hussards. Some were political refugees after the failed War of Independence by Prince Rakoczi 1703-11 and ended up in the service of French king Louis XIV. Ladislas Valentin Esterhazy was born in France and served with the Bercheny hussards before raising his own regiment in 1764. These Hungarian hussards in French service obviously used equipment similar to what they used in their native country. There may have been French hussard sabres with pearl lined guards but I never saw one.

There were also Esterhazy Hungarian infantry regiments like Nikolaus or Joseph Esterhazy at this time. Infantry sabres did not have flat pommels and did have elliptical shaped langets as you described. I attach a photo of an Austro-Hungarian infantry Prima Plana sabre with pearl line knuckle guard decoration which I saw in the Imperial Armoury in Prague (don’t know if any Esterhazy connection).
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Old 16th February 2019, 02:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corrado26
Here I post fotos of two Esterhazy sabres of the French Esterhazy Husard Regiment. May be you like them. Both belonged to my collection but are sold meanwhile.
Regards
corrado26



Corrado, thank you so much for showing these absolutely fantastic sabres! While it must have been hard letting them go, I am so grateful you have kept such great pictures of them, thus we can still learn from them.

The first one is flamboyantly wonderful, much in the hussar spirit, and what is most intriguing is the rayskin grip and menuki (decoration mid grip) reflecting the Oriental influences popular in Eastern Europe in 18th c. The carry rings are of most unusual form as well.
What is key here is the domed pommel I was seeking for comparison. It is not quite the 'Phrygian helmet' vestige that developed later and became known on many French sabres in the 19th c. but still distinctive.

The second sabre is also amazing and though relatively simple in its rudimentary character reflects the panache of the hussar in its likeness to the well known sabres used by them. It notably has the flat pommel which seemed to prevail in East European cavalry sabres.

Thank you again for showing us these beautiful examples!

Best regards
Jim
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Old 16th February 2019, 03:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Victrix
Jim,

I believe it’s not entirely clear that sabres with pearl string decorations on the knuckle guard are officers’ versions from the Esterhazy Hungarian hussars. The illustration in Wagner was done from Dolloczek (see picture below) and does not claim that the pearl string decoration necessarily is connected specifically with Esterhazy. There are plenty sabres belonging to officers of the Esterhazy hussars without this decoration and there are plenty sabres with the decoration which are not connected with Esterhazy. It can’t be ruled out that this was a fashion which started at the Esterhazy hussars and was copied.

The sabre characteristics you describe do seem French as you suggest. There were many Hungarian emigrés in France who served as hussards. Some were political refugees after the failed War of Independence by Prince Rakoczi 1703-11 and ended up in the service of French king Louis XIV. Ladislas Valentin Esterhazy was born in France and served with the Bercheny hussards before raising his own regiment in 1764. These Hungarian hussards in French service obviously used equipment similar to what they used in their native country. There may have been French hussard sabres with pearl lined guards but I never saw one.

There were also Esterhazy Hungarian infantry regiments like Nikolaus or Joseph Esterhazy at this time. Infantry sabres did not have flat pommels and did have elliptical shaped langets as you described. I attach a photo of an Austro-Hungarian infantry Prima Plana sabre with pearl line knuckle guard decoration which I saw in the Imperial Armoury in Prague (don’t know if any Esterhazy connection).





Victrix, thank you so much for this well presented insight, and I had overlooked the profoundly well informed posts of both you and Corrado on these East European sabres in previous threads.

You are exactly right of course on the Wagner example of the Esterhazy sabre, as while it was taken from the Dolleczek reference and captioned as from the Esterhazy regiment , as you say we cannot presume that the pearl string decoration was specific to the unit. Even though we know that certainly one example (as cited) had the decoration, it seems clear that officers, who typically commissioned and obtained their own swords, would often have varying decorative elements on them.


Another thing you well clarify here is that not only were there considerable numbers of Hungarians in France, as well as of course members of royal stature and high station of these families, but they were often involved in these hussar regiments there. I did not know of the Esterhazy units in France .

I am most grateful for your this historical synopsis which truly gives the perspective in better understanding the cross influences in these sword hilts of Austro-Hungary and France in these hussar regiments.


The look into the infantry versions of these sabres is also most interesting as it seems sabres are typically regarded as a cavalry weapon, and we often forget that these officers also carried them. Great example you show of the Prima-Plana sabre withe the pearl string line!


Thank you again very much

Best regards
Jim
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Old 16th February 2019, 04:37 PM   #9
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Jim,

I wanted to post another picture of a somewhat later Hungarian hussar sabre from around 1780 on which blade it’s engraved ”Vivat Fúrst Eszerházy.” Although breathtakingly beautiful, this sabre is not decorated with a pearl line along the knuckleguard.

On the other hand, this pearl line decoration does appear on the Hungaro/Serbo/Croat sabre from around 1750 which blade is engraved with letters of Old Slavonic. Its blade is no less than 5.8cm wide (!).

Finally, on Hungarian emigrés serving abroad, they played a part in forming most countries’ new hussar forces. They even crossed the Atlantic to the U.S. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mic...ats_de_Fabriczy.

All the best,

Victrix
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Old 17th February 2019, 03:12 PM   #10
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Victrix thank you again for these great examples and insight!
That Serb-Croatian example is pretty awesome............what a blade!

Good notes on the Hungarians being the driving force in the hussar phenomenon which set the pace for flamboyance in light cavalry throughout Europe. I think studying the pageantry of these units is some of the most colorful and intriguing in military history, and the elements of these sabres are key in much of it.

I know that Wagner made occasional reference to the hilt fashioning in many cases being done by Gypsy artisans, and I tried to find information on some of the symbolic or baroque motifs and styling. It seems that there was more to find on blade markings in these aspects than in the artistry of hilt motifs. It may be that perhaps there were indeed more aesthetic considerations in choices in hilt decoration.

The pearl string effect reminds me in some degree of the so called five ball hilt on English spadroons of the 1780s to early 1800s. These had it seems invariably a group of five balls on a raised line on the counterguard and often incorporated into the knuckleguard. I wanted to discover more on what the possible significance of these beads/balls could be.
While I thought perhaps they represented the number 5, in some cases there were up to 7.
In the same manner, I wondered on the string of pearl theme, but after most review only subjective theorizing could present ideas, and the aesthetic explanation the most reasonable conclusion.

Even aesthetically, it is fascinating to see the pearled or beaded motif theme as its influence traveled through the hussar units and even into others.
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Old 17th February 2019, 10:46 PM   #11
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))))))))))))
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Old 18th February 2019, 01:50 AM   #12
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Excellent example Glen!!! I know a picture is worth a thousand words.... but I always look forward to the detailed info you often post with the images you post.
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Old 18th February 2019, 06:29 AM   #13
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.........and here two sabres of my former collection
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Old 18th February 2019, 04:40 PM   #14
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Absolutely breathtaking Corrado!!!!
Do you have identifications or any info on these?
Obviously they are hussar sabres but any material would be very helpful.

The second sabre has the most interesting 'clipped tip point' which Seifert (1962) often termed a 'pandour point', of course lending to the fascinating character of these Eastern European sabres. The FRINGIA conundrum has often been discussed as to what this strange marking might mean, but as far as I know, never been satisfactorily resolved.

I really do appreciate you and Victrix sharing these great examples and helping put together what I hope will be a thread useful in the study of these sabres.
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Old 18th February 2019, 06:02 PM   #15
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Jim,

You show another interesting example above from Konopisky and Moudry. This is the typical Hungarian ”Madonna” sabre which tended to be decorated with a string of pearls (”Perlenreihe”) along the knuckle guard. The battle flags of the hussars often had a picture of Virgin Mary and it’s not impossible that the pearl line on the sabre guard could represent the beads on a rosary. See another picture below from Ungarischer Säbel und Husaren-Pallasch (2010). I have a cruder version of this sabre without the pearl decoration. This makes me wonder if these more decorated sabres are not for parade use (”prunksäbel”). The Serbo-Croat specimen is almost comically impractical for fencing, and the sword posted by Hotspur falls in the same category. I was thinking that the knobbly guard might be useful as a knuckleduster in a melé but Hotspur’s sabre has the knobbly bits on the inside of the guard (imagine what that would do to your knuckles!).

Kind regards,

LEGIO VI VICTRIX
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Old 18th February 2019, 06:14 PM   #16
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[QUOTE=Victrix]Jim,

You show another interesting example above from Konopisky and Moudry. This is the typical Hungarian ”Madonna” sabre which tended to be decorated with a string of pearls (”Perlenreihe”) along the knuckle guard. The battle flags of the hussars often had a picture of Virgin Mary and it’s not impossible that the pearl line on the sabre guard could represent the beads on a rosary. See another picture below from Ungarischer Säbel und Husaren-Pallasch (2010). I have a cruder version of this sabre without the pearl decoration. This makes me wonder if these more decorated sabres are not for parade use (”prunksäbel”). The Serbo-Croat specimen is almost comically impractical for fencing, and the sword posted by Hotspur falls in the same category. I was thinking that the knobbly guard might be useful as a knuckleduster in a melé but Hotspur’s sabre has the knobbly bits on the inside of the guard (imagine what that would do to your knuckles!).

Kind regards,



Now theres some GREAT thinking!!! and your are right...........Austro-Hungary WAS the Holy Roman Empire.......and well noted on the Catholic religious icons on the blades..........A ROSARY!!! Why not?


For many years blades carried formations of dots impressed which were believed to represent 'Paternosters' in the same fashion. I had not thought of that, and it is a compelling suggestion that 'pearls' may represent these beads.


Good observation on the knuckleduster idea as well, and while these fist bolstering features are known on daggers, not so much swords....but still an intriguing notion. Right.......inside the hilt.....bad.
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Old 23rd February 2019, 08:30 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Excellent example Glen!!! I know a picture is worth a thousand words.... but I always look forward to the detailed info you often post with the images you post.


I'm afraid I don't have much information to share, aside that similar stringed pearl like hilts appear as late as the 1820s-1830s. I still disagree wholly regarding the intent and meaning of five or seven ball hilts aside from one upmanship and style. The two I posted to the thread just a nod to balls in general but the string of pearls term now added to the pencil box along with pie crusted

As we all still learn, what I have seen in this thread confirms my thoughts on a sabre posted elsewhere. Hungarian vs French market but done in a French style.

I am reminded of longevity of styles with the Italian swords of the mid 19th century.

Cheers

GC erstwhile forumite
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Old 24th February 2019, 05:26 AM   #18
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Thanks very much Glen for this additional insight, and notes on the five and seven ball hilts. I suspect you are right in that there were cross influences between Hungarian and French hussar sabres as we have found there were branches of the Esterhazy 'house' in France.
As always the 'plot' thickens!
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Old 24th February 2019, 11:08 AM   #19
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I’m not sure the decorations on the swords posted by Glen are intended to be the same variety as on Austro-Hungarian sabres from the 18thC. The balls (are they said to be ”pearls” in this context?) are combined with what appears to be some sort of foliage. This foliage may well represent a laurel of bay leaves which in Greek mythology is a sign of victory (Apollo), and in Roman days a sign of position. Napoleon wore a laurel wreath crown of gold when he was crowned ”Empereur”. In ancient Rome great scholars were also awarded laurel wreaths and the words ”baccalaureate” and ”bachelor” are apparently derived from the word baccalaureus, or laurel berry. Are the balls decorating Gen’s swords in fact laurel berries or olives, and are these also decorating Austro-Hungarian sabres from the 18thC?

The area of Hungary West of River Danube was a Roman province called Pannonia. Even today one can trace Roman symbolism in Hungarian culture. Some of this was sometimes clearly expressed during the period of neo-classisism in Hungarian arms in the 19thC. But given the different time periods and lack of foliage I think the decorations may show different objects.
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