Today’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmondson: 1.16

Maude: 1.19

First off, I should plead complete ignorance – I’m nearly 30 years old, and I still have not been entirely sure what a “cossack” or a “hussar” is.  If all the rest of you knew – good for you.  But for me, I was never quite sure.  (Except for a vague notion of horses and that funny dancing where you fold your arms, kick your legs out and wear a tall fluffy hat.)

So, I went hunting for a definition – for some reason, the Macquarie Essential Dictionary didn’t think that these words were essential knowledge for Australians, so I had to go digging deeper into the two-volume Shorter Oxford English.

So, here we go:

Cossack: Name of a group of peoples of the southern USSR noted as horsemen from early times, when they had the task of guarding the frontiers of south-east Europe and adjoining parts of Asia.

Hussar: One of a body of light horsemen organised in Hungary in the 15th c.; hence, the name of light cavalry regiments formed elsewhere in Europe in imitation of these.

So, to clarify a bit of the conversation – when Marya Dmitryevna refers to Natasha as a young cossack, she’s basically likening her to a rugged horseman.

And, we read earlier that Nikolay is off to join the hussars – so that means he’s going into the Russian cavalry.

So that should make the conversation in today’s chapter a little bit clearer, as the old German colonel gets worked up about war.

I’m on babysitting duty tonight, so I’ll have to leave it at that for the moment, but if there were any bits you particularly liked from tonight’s chapter, feel free to let me know.

Tomorrow’s Chapter:

Garnett/Edmondson: 1.17

Maude: 1.20

5 thoughts on “One-Year War and Peace 1.16 – Cossacks and Hussars

  1. Similar info from Websters:
    Cossack: one of a people of the southern U.S.S.R. in Europe and adjoining regions of Asia, famous as cavalrymen. The word derives from the Turkish word for “guerilla/freebooter” – doesn’t sound like a compliment, but note Worldbook interpretation below.
    Hussar: originally, a light-armed horse trooper of the Hungarian army; later, a member of any light-armed cavalry regiment in other European armies, usually with brilliant dress uniforms.

    Worldbook adds that Cossacks were originally peasant soldiers who lived in the frontier areas of the Russian empire, particularly Ukraine. Beginning in the 1400s, both Poland and Russia organized the Cossacks into miltary units to help fight Tartar invaders. They must have fought well because they were granted self-government based on democratic principles. Because of this, Worldook implies that Cossack means “free person” in Turkish – not how I interpret “freebooter”. During the 1500 and 1600s both Poland and Russia tried to abolish the Cossack privileges causing the Cossacks to revolt. During the 1800s, some Cossack groups formed special units in the Russian army. In 1917 the Bolshevik revolution led to the establishment of a Communist government in Russia. In the resultant civil war, many Cossacks fought the Communists but were defeated leading to the break-up of the Cossack communities after the Communist victory in 1920. And that, dear friends, is why we don’t hear about Cossaks any more except in historic novels.

    The Hussars derived their name from Hungarian words meaning “20” and “pay” – like a tithe, but only half as much. Every twentieth house in a village had to provide one mounted soldier. First used as light cavalry armed with swords in the 1400s, they later adopted carbines and, in some cases, pistols as armament. They reached their peak of efficiency under Napoleon when they won fame for their bold and reckless fighting. As an element of a modern fighting force, they became obsolete after the First World War for reasons that would correspond almost exactly, I think, to those that saw the demise of the Australian Light Horse. Mechanised armour eclipsed the horse in speed and firepower, to say nothing of resilience in combat. The American equivalent of the Hussars is seen in Civil War generals like JEB Stuart (CSA) and George Custer (USA).

    That’s all, folks.

  2. The colonel . . . was a stout, tall, plethoric German, evidently devoted to the service and patriotically Russian. He resented Shinshin’s remark.

    Don’t know his name yet.

    and where are we to find Suvorovs now? Je vous demande un peu

    Suvorovs . . .

    “I am speaking ze truce,” replied the hussar with a smile.

    the hussar . . .

    I like this Marya Dmitrievna character . . .

    I’m adding 3 to my count, making it 73.

  3. Thanks all, I am reading War and Peace and had a heck of a time figuring these two words out. Not obvious and not easy to find context. So thanks

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