Monday, December 29, 2008

The Sarkozy Hussars

click on image to enlarge.

the words of
M. le Marquis...

"As the French army licked its grievous wounds after the Battle of Dettingen at the newly-constructed camp at Thionville, our time was often taken up with the routine work of training and outfitting the army so that it would once again be fit to stand in the line of battle.

One warm August morning, I found myself returning from my daily hunt along with my staff, and in the midst of a lively discussion on where one could best obtain the finest truffles, when suddenly we ventured upon a remarkable sight. Riding up the road ahead of us was a rather villainous-looking band of ragged ruffians, led by one of the most fierce, feral-looking individuals upon which I have ever cast my eyes.

Yet I was struck by a pride and spirit that was evident in their hardened countenances and which impressed me, a pride which had been so dearly lacking in our men since that dreadful day by the River Main.

Count Horthy Emil Sarkozy, in the uniform of his former regiment
(when in the employ of Her Highness the Empress

This band of apparent brigands was led by none other than
Count Horthy Emil Sarkozy, a noblemen descended from an ancient House with lands in the eastern reaches of The Empress of Austria's domains. A disciple of the great Baron Trenck, his reputation for cunning, cruelty, and the pursuit of riches was known by all, but there was no greater nor more energetic leader of troops for conducting le petite guerre west of the mountains of Bohemia. He and his men were legendary for being most provident and enterprising masters of their terrible trade.

It transpired that when in service with the Pragmatic Army in the campaigns in Bavaria, he and Baron Trenck had found themselves embroiled in a bitter altercation over the apportioning of some considerable booty, and nearly came to blows; indeed, Sarkozy in his fury fired a shot at the Baron. The bullet, whilst missing its intended target, went on to hit and to wound mortally the nearby young Margrave of Groelchenburg, a close cousin and a favourite of Her Majesty.

Naturally, this act endeared the Count neither
with Marshal Konigsegg nor with the House of Habsburg generally. Within days, Sarkozy found himself being strongly urged, by those of his associates who had close connections with the court in Vienna, that it would be in his best interests to flee the service of the Empress Queen.

One moonless night soon afterwards he rode out with his men to the Rhine frontier, crossing over to the west bank somewhere just north of Mainz after having successfully avoided the piquets on either side.

He later revealed that he had heard much about my exploits at the Bridge of Seligenstadt- and that I was well-known for keeping a lavish table well-provisioned with fine wines from the family estates at St. Vignobles- and that he had ridden to Thionville in order that he may offer me his services, along with those of his men.

I was touched both by his sincerity and by his martial demeanour, and duly petitioned the War Ministry. His offer was graciously accepted, and I was thus entreated and commissioned to outfit the men for the King's service.

I had a new uniform made for them in the Hungarian fashion, using the same bolts of grey and mulberry cloth that I had purchased to clothe the Regt. de Buillon-Cantinat. I also issued them with a standard- the ancient and faded guidon of the Bouillon-Cantinat Regiment of Gentlemen Volunteers, who had seen service in 1688 with the Great Louis and Turenne in their Wars in the Palatine.

Touched in turn by the sincerity and magnanimity of my gesture, Count Sarkozy swore tearfully that he and his men would honour the standard and would defend it to the last man. He then declared that all the time that he, Count Horthy Emil Sarkozy, had breath to draw in his body, he would champion the cause of France and the furtherance of the House of Bouillon-Cantinat."

Uniform plate based again on (the
indispensable) templates provided by David at "Not by Appointment". Thanks, David.


abdul666 said...

Very pleasant story and uniform!

abdul666 said...

A very rare honor indeed for Hussars to receive a true 'Horse' standard instead of their usual swallowtail guidon: given that the distinction comes from the early Middle-Ages, when a senior knight (allowed to command other knights), the 'chevalier banneret', was granted to display a (square or rectangular) 'banner' on his lance, while ordinary knights ('bacheliers' = bas-chevaliers) were allowed only a (triangular or divided like the H&M lance 'flame') 'pennon'.

Sarkozy is a bigmouth: will he and his followers be up the challenge?

Robert said...

Yes, I know that considerable liberties are being taken here! There is a precedent in that a Prussian hussar regiment- the 5th "Black" Hussars, I believe (von Rausch's), sported square standards that they had captured from the French.

And honestly, I really didn't want to mess around with making French swallow-tailed guidons, and I already had one of the Vaubanner Design's flags which I wanted to use (actually meant for the Rougrave cuirassiers!)

In my fictional world, it is supposed to originally have been a flag of "volunteers" in the service of the Sun King, not a line regiment after all.

But I'm thinking that this apparent "impertinence" on the part of the Marquis may lead to some juicy tensions between him and some of the more conservative members of the senior horse regiments of l'armee de l"Oise.

All fodder for future tales of the Marquis!

Bluebear Jeff said...

A good-looking hussar uniform . . . definitely an interesting change from their usual bright colors.

-- Jeff

Robert said...

Thanks for the comment, Jeff.

The uniform is based on an illustration found in the L&F Funcken book of the Rougrave Hussars uniform, an actual French hussar unit from the 1740's.

Their uniform was grey with dark red facings. I simply changed the facing colour to wine red, otherwise the uniform is pretty much the same.

As I mentioned, the flag is actually that of the Rougrave Cuirassiers, which I thought would make a good connection with the original chef of the regiment on which I have based Sarkozy's.

It seems that hussar uniforms at this time were based on Hungarian national costume, and while there were contrasting colours, they were not necessarily all that bright- lots of greys, browns and greens. Natural tones, basically.

It was later in the century when the rainbow of colours that we now associate with hussar regiments appeared.



Robert said...

As a postscript, I was looking through David's site, and found that indeed he DOES have a template for a French hussar guidon!

Downloaded, coloured, and added to the plate.

The maintenance of social order and respect for tradition that is the hallmark of the Marquis and of his l'armee de l'Oise remains intact!

Stokes Schwartz said...

Hello Robert,

Yes, a neat background and very pretty uniform and guidon. Have you given thought to what figures you might clothe in your hussar uniform?

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz

Robert said...

Good question! The most likely candidates are Front Rank (their SYW Austrian hussars in kolpacks fit the bill nicely), or The Foundry.

Normally I'm not a big Foundry fan for a great number of reasons that I haven't the bandwidth to get into here, but their hussars really DO look the part- a really villainous, rapacious horde of miscreants.

The problem is their grossly inflated postage rates to Japan, and the fact that they do not appear to deduct VAT. This makes them REALLY pricey for what I would be getting.

If I can get some from man alternate source, they may well be the Sarkozy Hussars of choice.

David said...

Ah - excellent to see the hussar template in use (and the guidon too)! Looks very good (though I probably shouldn't say so myself... :-)).



Robert said...

Thank YOU, David! Your hard work has really helped to enhance many a blog out there!