Back in the 14th century, Hungarian politician and military man János Hunyadi created the country’s first mounted units, inspired by the Ottomans. The hussar regiments became prominent under the reign of his son, Matthias Corvinus, who developed them into large-scale formations for the so-called Black Army of Hungary.
Hussars then played a significant role in the bitter Thirty Years’ War fought in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. During the 1700s, Hungarian cavalry officer Michael Kovats de Fabriczy helped training hussar regiments for the American Army, when George Washington served as Commander-in-Chief.
By then, the Hungarian hussars were famed worldwide for their virtuosity with weaponry. These distinctly mounted horsemen were hired by the Habsburg emperors to serve against the Ottomans across European battlefields. Hungarian hussars abandoned shields and armour to become entirely light cavalrymen, epitomising how victory could be achieved against mighty troops through skill and guile.
Hussar regiments were formed in France, Poland, Britain and South America, where their roles are now mainly ceremonial. Their colourful military uniforms are inspired by historic Hungarian design comprising gold braids, an ornate hat and high riding boots.