Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Syldavian Army in the 18th century.



When Syldavia was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire, the local Ottoman governor, the Gospodar ensured that the army of the kingdom was small and unable to mount serious military actions. For example, artillery was not allowed, except for six small cannon in the Royal castle in Klow. Only five regiments of foot and four squadrons of cavalry were permitted, plus 20 companies of border guards, known as Pandurs. In addition, the Prince-Archbishop of Smyntz*, a city in the north of the country famed for the excellence of its pastry cooks and pies, was allowed a body guard of two companies of foot and one of horse.

After independence, King Muskar V asked the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, for assistance in creating a modern army. The result was the arrival of the Graf von Seltzer and a number of Austrian officers who set about the business of raising the standards of the troops available and increasing numbers.

Their first act was the abolition of pikemen in Syldavian foot regiments and the establishment of six new infantry regiments (each with one company of grenadiers and another of “scouts”, later renamed jägers), six regiments of horse (known as reitars) and three of dragoons. The existing soldiery were dispersed amongst the new establishments, except for the oldest regiment of foot and two of the squadrons of horse who became the core of the new Royal Life Guard, to consist of one regiment of grenadiers and one of cuirassiers. The existing rag-tag Pandur units were reorganised into four regiments of foot and one mounted regiment. These were given the role of border guards and garrison troops along the border with Borduria, and known in the local dialect as limitanyi. Pandurs fought as light infantry.

Uniforms were standardised along Austrian lines, with infantry wearing light grey coats and breeches with red, blue or green facings, Pandurs in green, red or light blue, cavalry in grey and dragoons in pale blue. Later on, once a corps of Artillery had come into existence, this was given a darker blue uniform. In time, two hussars regiments were formed from the existing cavalry, and these chose colourful uniforms. Jäger companies, later full regiments, were given green uniforms and a distinction was made between Royal regiments in yellow coats and line ones in grey. A notable exception to the standard dragoon blue was the pale brown and sky blue of the famous De Bourbon dragoon regiment, which was created in 1740 as a personal regiment for the Queen from one of the existing regiments, and which wore French-style dragoon bonnets instead of the standard tricorne hat.

The troops of the Prince-Archbishop were similarly expanded into full size regiments. The first regiment was allowed to wear red, following the elevation of Archbishop Filip Balonyi (1668-1754) to the rank of cardinal. The second regiment wore buff coats with blue facings and small clothes, the single cavalry regiment wearing grey and red hussar-style uniforms.

The army underwent two expansions. First in the years after the accession of Ottokar IX in 1735, with the creation of two new regiments of infantry and one of Pandurs (pale blue uniforms), the expansion of the existing jäger companies into three separate regiments, a regiment of grenadiers and a single regiment of cuirassiers. The existing Royal Life Guard was also extended to consist of two regiment of grenadiers, one of jägers and two of cuirassiers.

The next expansion was in 1748-51 when three further infantry regiments, two of Pandurs, one grenadier regiment, two dragoon ones, two of heavy cavalry Reitars and one of hussars were added.

At this point, the regiments of the Prince-Archbishop came under the control of the Royal Army, but retained their existing uniforms. The senior infantry regiment was added to the Royal Lifeguards as the Cardinal Fusilier Regiment.

* Smyntz pies are justly famous across the country and as far afield as Venice, Salzburg and Budapest.

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