Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Word of the day: Hussar

I just noticed these words are rather top-heavy in the area of sciences so far, so I'm veering in the direction of another of my other interests, history.

A hussar is a specific type of cavalryman - light cavalry, in fact, originating in the 1400s.  That means we have a military horseman, the light simply meaning not armoured.  Which makes sense, really.  The golden hordes (the Mongol invaders into Europe and Asia in the 1300s and 1400s) had effectively taught the Europeans the benefits of cavalry attack (speed) over defence.

Early 20th Century Prussian hussar
The hussar form apparently rose to prominence in Hungary in the late 1400s, where they proved quite sucessful, thence were hired elsewhere in Europe as mercenaries.  Various forms then spread throughout Europe over the next 400 years.  I've seen pictures of hussars of a number of different nationalities, mainly from France through to northern and eastern Europe.  Variants of the ceremonial dress - particularly the hat - seems to be the nearest I can get to a unifying feature throughout the period and continent.

Where did I encounter this word?  It was uncomfortably close to another upcoming word, and I wanted to clarify each of them.

1 comment:

bazza said...

Hi Stephen. I subscribe to a Word-of-the-Day' email from Dictionary.com and I really enjoy the randomness of it. Naturally I find your output fascinating too! Did you know that there is a famous restaurant in London called The Gay Hussar? I am sure it was named when 'gay' had an entirely other meaning.
Only three months until Oz!
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’