We are the Hussars
Hussars are not only the pride of Hungarian military history, but also its patent. The Museum presents the centuries and extraordinary merits of the armed forces known both in America and Europe through the history of the longest lasting Hussar regiments, the Nádasdy-Hussars, in form of a permanent exhibition.
The Hussar exhibition of the Ferenc Nádasdy Museum presents the history, key figures, uniforms and weaponry of the most Hungarian armed forces. The foundations of the exhibition were laid 1983 when the officers’ corps of the Nádasdy regiment donated the museum the entire equipment and all memorabilia from the former officers’ canteen in Sopron. After the donation other member of the regiment and their successors gave us several documents and objects which helped to establish an exhibition giving a cross-section of the history of the light-cavalry.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the Hussar proved their courage primarily on Hungarian battlefields, they were almost never used for foreign services, but rather as bodyguards and parts of the royal escort. In the fights against the Turkish they could prove their courage and tactical sense. It was their task to disturb the supply lines of the enemy, to spy upon them, to protect the flanks in the battle and gather information about the position of troops. They could easily fulfil these tasks as they could move around easily. The foundation of the Nádasdy regiment fits into the regularisation beginning at the end of the 17th century. Leopold I., the German Emperor gave orders to Ádám Czobor to establish two Hussar regiments. He became the owner of one regiment and János Pálffy, who was succeeded by László Ebergényi in 1700, the owner of the other regiment. Both owners were loyal to the court and talented warlords. Pálffy was the palatine of Hungary during the first decade of the reign of Mary Therese. László Ebergényi was judge martial in the Nádasdy regiment and received awards as captain in the wars against the Turkish forces. At the times of the Rákóczi War of Independence (1703-1711) he was active for the Royal side to achieve piece. General György Csáky became the new owner of the regiment following the death of Ebergényi 1724. The regiment proved their worth in skirmishes on the Balkans against the Turkish. From 1741 to 1783 Duke Ferenc Nádasdy was the owner of the regiment. 1757 they prevented the invading Prussian forces of Friedrich II. at Kolin, near Prague, with András Hadik another great warlord of the era, at the helm. Empress Marie Therese established a medal of honour to commemorate the brave deeds and the merits. Ferenc Nádasdy was the first Hungarian soldier to receive this honour. From 1788 Marshall Ferenc Nádasdy, the hero of the battle of Kolin, became the owner of the regiment for life. When we speak of the Nádasdy regiment today, we speak of a regiment which survived the turmoil of centuries and bestowed honours not only upon its soldiers, but also on its home country.
The permanent exhibition helps to follow the history of Hussar weapons. The spear was the main weapon of the Hussar in the early ages, as it is shown on the frescoes on the ceiling of the Knights’ Hall. However, along with the horses, it is the sabre which is associated with the Hussar. Lajos Sárvári, the weapon collector from the United States bequeathed his collection, containing original sabres and their replica, to the Museum. The exhibits help to study the development of the most typical weapons of the Hussar in the period of the 17th – 20th centuries. While visiting the museum it is worth to observe that the objects with the reclining hilt usually carry the characteristics of Persian and Turkish sabres. In battle, however, when a strike is hard enough the weapon can easily slip out of the hand. Therefore, a string lead through a hole, which cannot be seen on the show weapons, was used to tie the weapon to the wrist. The Hussar sabre replaced the spring by locking the grip by a pommel, thus preventing the weapon from slipping out of the hand.
In the course of World War I. the Hussar regiment fought on the Russian and Italian fronts. The portraits of soldiers who died a hero’s death were made 1931, ordered by the Hussar regiment in Sopron. The battles of World War I. clearly showed that the time of classical Hussar charges was over and replaced by modern warfare with firearms. It was typical for Limanova, Poland, where the Nádasdy Hussars heroically fought back the Russian troops, that they dismounted their horses and strangled their enemies with their bare hands. The commander of the regiment, Ottmár Muhr, died from twelve bullets.
The greatest achievements of Hungarian equitation between the two World Wars were done by members of the Hussar regiment. The greatest achievement is linked to József Platthy, who won the bronze medal at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin with Gyula Gömbös’ horse, Sellő, in show-jumping. No other Hungarian sportsman could surpass this. Another famous figure of equitation was Ottmár Schaurek, who won numerous awards in the second and third decade of the past century.
It is worth to recite a part of the Practical Rules of Equitation which summarises expectations that not only officers, but also common soldiers had to meet:: „A man with the spirit of a rider is a man, who is good-nature, bold and who loves his horse more than himself and takes care of his horse and trusts himself, his weapon and horse and who in the most dire situations makes brave decisions and acts immediately; such a man knows no troubles, he lives for the attack and even in his retreat he is looking for more favourable conditions to attack again.”