By 1700 Hungary's hussars had already established a reputation for daring, and were amongst the finest light cavalry of their day. Many served in the Habsburg armies, and in this capacity some found themselves in Spain supporting the claim to the Spanish throne of their commander, the Archduke Charles. When Charles became Holy Roman Emperor in 1711 his allies, not wishing to see a union of the Imperial and Spanish crowns, withdrew their support for him, and in 1713 he withdrew his troops from Catalonia. This left his loyal Catalan supporters isolated, and many Imperial troops chose to stay behind to help them fight the Bourbons. This number included something over one hundred Hungarian hussars, divided into two companies, who served during the defence of Barcelona as couriers and reconnaissance as well as raiding the Bourbon lines.
Cavalry are of limited value during a siege, and when the final assault came the hussars naturally fought on foot. However the hussars in this set are all mounted, which seems entirely appropriate for such men. GerMan point out that all eight figures are in different poses, but the differences are so very slight in some cases that we have grouped them for our picture. All the poses are of men wielding their sabres, which is pretty much what you might expect. Having poses using their carbines or pistols would have been nice but perhaps is not so much of a loss, although if eight very different poses had been made then one with a firearm would have been a good idea.
The four horse poses are, well, very familiar to anyone that has studied the pages of our site over the years. The poses are mostly adequate but we wondered at the animal that has somehow managed to get a barrel under its legs. Perhaps this has been added to add strength to the model, but it still looks rather silly and will take some effort to remove.
In 1714 hussars wore no uniform except whatever their colonel might require, but they certainly wore a traditional costume which made them very distinctive in any army. These figures correctly have the fur trimmed cap with bag falling to the rear, a short dolman jacket, breeches and long boots. They are also correct in that they all carry a carbine from a crossbelt, and have that most hussar of characteristics, a prominent moustache. However there are some accuracy problems too. The dolman shows no sign of the cords across the chest, which were the means of fastening it, and none of the men have a sabretache, which is particularly remarkable since it was such men that introduced this item to the cavalry of the world. The men should have the equally distinctive barrel sash around the waist, but these figures seem to have no more than a wide belt. Also their sabres, which are often less curved than we would like, are expected to fit into particularly short scabbards that are also not curved enough.
The problems continue with the horses. Their saddle and equipment does not resemble the typical equipment of the hussars, and this is most clearly shown in the lack of the large pointed shabraque that is always illustrated with such men. In fact these horses look to be of a later date, and really not suitable for the subject at hand.
Some of our accuracy observations may in fact be more due to the quality of the sculptor than any research deficiencies. The standard of these figures is not great, and as we have already said there is much missing detail. The proportions are quite good and there is no noticeable flash, but the plastic used is the same fragile compound used for other GerMan sets, which makes items such as swords particularly vulnerable to breakage. While they can be glued back this is no easy task and really shouldn't be necessary. As you force the men on the horses (which is sometimes too tight a fit), you can't help worrying about accidentally breaking something in the process.
It will not have escaped your notice that so far we have not mentioned the pieces in the last two rows. These are a gun and three crewmen, plus some accessories, and are the somewhat unrelated second part of this set. They are here to increase the number of artillery pieces available from this manufacturer, which is not a method of delivery that we particularly like. More to the point they are the same as pieces found in the GerMan set of Catalan Artillery & Barricade, so we refer the reader to that review to avoid repeating our comments here.
While the numbers of Hungarian hussars at the siege of Barcelona were small others naturally made up part of the Imperial armies of the day, so the uses for this set are wider then simply the war in Spain. However the detailed and specific uniform of these men require a better level of sculpting than is on show here, and the rather generic horses are not adequate in our view. As this was such a crucial moment in the development of light cavalry in Europe there are plenty of images of these men (see our bibliography below), so there really is no excuse for the failings here.