Τρίτη, 23 Αυγούστου 2016

5 Legendary Military Units


 Julia Dzhak

Lifting of the Siege of Malta by Charles-Philippe Larivière (1798–1876). Hall of the Crusades, Palace of Versailles.



From the beginning of the 13th till the end of the 18th centuries, we can safely pick these five legendary units. These warrior units participated in numerous battles and proved time and time again they were a force like no other. Some of them even met each other in battle.

Reisläufer – The Swiss pikemen


The Swiss (on the left) assault the Landsknecht mercenaries in the French lines at the Battle of Marignano. Source: Wikipedia
The Swiss (on the left) assault the Landsknecht mercenaries in the French lines at the Battle of Marignano. Source: Wikipedia
In western Europe, between 14th and the 18th centuries, a mercenary army of a few hundred to few thousand existed, known as the Swiss pikemen mercenaries.
By the beginning of the 15th century, the swiss pikemen were already the preferred unit for storming offensives. They were battle-born, ruthless and feared killing machines. Annihilating everything in their path they plundered their enemies without restraint and ravaged the defeated.
This legendary unit was more of a brotherhood, divided in different regiments. Their regiment depended on their home province. This homogenous structure of warriors with distinguished principals stormed the battlefield, wiping out the enemy. Even before their glory reached its peak in the Battle of Pavia, they had already defeated the biggest armies of Western Europe.

Swiss mercenaries crossing the Alps (Luzerner Schilling). Source: Wikipedia
Swiss mercenaries crossing the Alps (Luzerner Schilling). Source: Wikipedia
The swiss pikemen’s most famous encounters were the battles of Morgarten, Laupen, Novara, Marignano, Bicocca and Pavia. We must remark the fact that their flawless victory in the battle of Morgarten allowed the very foundation of modern Switzerland.

Yeniçeri – The Janissaries-


Chamberlain of Sultan Murad IV with janissaries, at Battle of Vienna. Source: Wikipedia
Chamberlain of Sultan Murad IV with janissaries, at Battle of Vienna. Source: Wikipedia
This legendary unit of the Ottoman empire was unique. The recruitment system of the Ottoman imperial army was distinctive. Originally, the Janissaries were young boys taken from their families in the countries conquered by the Ottomans. This was the so-called “blood taxes”.
The forcefully recruited young lads were then taken into the Ottoman barracks and trained into combat, and complete obedience to the Sultan.
This recruitment system not only created an incredibly loyal force for the Ottomans but an exceptional unit with immense fighting power. The Janissaries were the very first professional army in Europe, and with their force, the Ottomans won their greatest victories.
The Janissaries were the ones on the front lines, those who attacked and stormed first. They saved battles , whenever the armies of the enemy managed to overcome the infamous Sipahi units.

Ottoman Miniature of The battle of Mohacs, 1526. Source: Wikipedia
Ottoman Miniature of The Battle of Mohacs, 1526. Source: Wikipedia
From their creation in the 14th century and throughout their entire existence, the Janissaries had achieved victory against any enemy of Ottoman empire. They had victoriously taken some of the strongest fortresses and inspired fear in the eyes of the enemies.

Ejército de Flandes – The Army of Flanders-


The Army of Flanders taking Maastricht in 1579 during the Dutch Revolt. Source: Wikipedia
The Army of Flanders taking Maastricht in 1579 during the Dutch Revolt. Source: Wikipedia
The Army of Flanders existed from the middle of the 16th century until the middle of the 17th. During those 100 years, they knew no rest and were constantly at war. They counted possibly as many as 88,000 soldiers.
These Spanish warriors participated in four big wars – The Eighty Years War, The French Religious wars, The Thirty Years war, and The Spanish-French War.
They are on this list not only because they were so much different from the regular Spanish army. They were veterans like no others. Most of them signed in the army at the young age of 13 and by the time they reach adulthood, the Flanders army already had countless battles behind them. Considered an elite army, they were unrivaled in their battle techniques, they were brave, valiant and hardy.

Battle of Rocroi.
Battle of Rocroi. Wikipedia
For that period of about a century, the army took part in dozens of battles and more than a hundred sieges. The battles of Antwerp, White Mountains, Bredes, Nördlingen, Rocroi, and Battle of the Dunes, are a historical evidence for their exceptional power, although not all of them were victories.

Towarzysz husarsk – The Winged Hussars-


Husaria's Attack, by Orłowski. Source: Wikipedia
Husaria’s Attack, by Orłowski. Source: Wikipedia
This legendary unit of Polish Hussars, deserve its place in our list for several reasons. Their existence from the 16th to the 18th-century is a proof  of their unmatched might. This heavy cavalry unit was the most dangerous European mounted army. They were extremely mobile and masters of fighting on horseback.
The Winged Hussars were an offensive army, which used distinctive tactics on the battlefield. For over a century they dominated with their powerful attacks in the battles of Eastern Europe. This fierce European cavalry inspired fear in the enemy with their unique look and fighting style.

Polish hussars during entry into Kraków, detail of so-called Stockholm Roll, 1605. Source: Wkipiedia
Polish hussars during entry into Kraków, detail of so-called Stockholm Roll, 1605. Source: Wikipedia
This spectacular cavalry of the Kingdom of Poland was recruited mostly from the nobility. They wore heavy metal armor and long lances, hammers, and battle axes. They also had firearms with them, which made the Hussars one of the most heavily armed units. Their notable armor with a colorful arc of feathers gave them the name of “Winged” Hussars.

Fraternitas Hospitalaria – The Knights Hospitallers-


Reenactment of Medieval Events, civilians dressed as the Knights Hospitallers of Malta. Source: Pixabay
Reenactment of Knights Hospitallers in Malta. Source: Pixabay
The Knights of St. John deserve their place in the list of Legendary units of history. From the birth of the Order in 1309 all the way to 1798, the knights fought in all conflicts of the Christian countries against the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean.
The exceptional and decisive role in blocking the Ottoman expansion names the Knights Hospitallers one of the most important Christian Orders in the history.
The legendary unit has withstood a series of unfavorable sieges, where they were outnumbered by the enemy. One such siege is the well-known siege of Malta from 1566.

Ottoman Janissaries and the defending Knights of St. John, Siege of Rhodes, 1522. Source: Wikipedia.
Ottoman Janissaries and the defending Knights of St. John, Siege of Rhodes, 1522. Source: Wikipedia.
Right up until the late 18th century, the Knights Hospitallers fought in their very own Reconquista against the Barbary pirates. With their honorable acts, they secured the most important trade routes between the Orient and Western Europe.

Δεν υπάρχουν σχόλια:

Δημοσίευση σχολίου