It's a battle of the front-line cavalry, shock troops who inspired awe and terror against their infantry foes! The Polish Winged Hussar, mobile slayers who terrified enemies with the bone-chilling hiss of their wings and the stream of their banners, against the Byzantine Cataphract, the tried-and-true heavy cavalry that would plow through any defensive formation and kept Byzantium alive for over one thousand years! When it came to the ancient world's blitzkriegs, cavalry was the armored tank of its day and these two horsemen will clash to decide who is the deadliest warrior!
The origins for the Kataphraktoi can be traced back to Median and Persian times, where the native inhabitants of Central Asia were famous for their superior horsemanship. Later on, Byzantium took the concept of the Cataphract and upgraded them to make them proficient in every arena; Toxton bows and slings to compete with horse archers, lances to fulfill their role as shock calvary, swords and daggers to allow them to be capable at melee combat along with other more specialized weapons. Often these forces were led directly by the Emperor, and their devastating charges were skill feared in both Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East. They were the most feared heavy cavalry of their time, superbly armored from the top of their head with an iron or steel helmet to their feet with chainmail leggings. They were thrown right into the weakest sectors of enemy infantry, often resulting in early routs and complete, annihilating victories. Unfortunately as the Byzantine Empire declined so did the fortunes of the Cataphract, as these heavily armored units became too costly to afford.
|Mid||Kontaria Heavy Spear|
|Armor||Layered chain mail with steel plates and leather reinforcement, horse also had light iron armor|
The Winged Hussar was the main type of cavalry used in the Polish army. The Hussars were adopted in the 16th Century and acted as light cavalry who carried the war-banners. The riders later took on the role of heavy infantry men who sported specialized armor and lances. Their main primary tactic was to lead the charge and crush standard foot soldiers. They continued to crash into the enemy formation until it broke. The exact reason why the Winged Hussars attached wings to their backs was because while riding they would make a horrible rattling noise that unnerved the enemy. The Winged Hussar was considered the elite and primary heavy cavalry used by the Polish until the 1770s. Although the Hussars made prominent use of early black-powder weapons, their primary function in battle was close combat and as such they favored bladed weapons over firearms.
|Short||Nadziak War Hammer|
|Mid||Hussar's Kopia Lance|
|Long||Polish Crossbow (w/ Bayonet)|
|Armor||Steel kettle helmet, curiass, leg greaves and arm greaves|
A Polish Winged Hussar rides his horse down the shore of a lake in a grassy meadow surrounded by a thick forest. It is mid-day but the light armor of the Hussar and a gentle breeze keeps him from overheating. His "wings" strapped on the back of his armor and the streamers hanging off of his lance give off an ominous humming noise. The Hussar's horse is used to this and trots along peacefully.
A Byzantine Cataphract approaches the Hussar, confused by the noise. The Cataphract's armored horse is hot and tired, and scared by the noise. It slows down and stops completely as the Cataphract urges his mount onward. The Hussar watches with mild amusement and brings his horse to a stop, ceasing the buzzing noise. The Cataphract raises the visor on his helmet and looks at the Hussar before he lowers his spear, closes the visor, and digs his heels into his horse, urging the beast forward. The Hussar is taken by surprise and takes the spear to his chest, but his steel cuirass deflects the blow and he is only pushed off of his horse. The Cataphract keeps riding off before he turns for a second pass. The Hussar quickly gets back on his horse and urges it forward, the lighter mount quickly taking off down the lake and away from the Cataphract. The buzzing noise again starts and the Cataphract’s horse slows to a nervous trot. The Hussar turns his horse back to face his opponent, lowers his lance, and leans forward, urging his horse forward. The Cataphract’s nervous horse backs up and the rider is unable to control the beast. The Hussar's lance shatters against the armor of the Cataphract but the Byzantine cavalryman is knocked off his horse. The Hussar is left without a rider's weapon and dismounts, aiming with his crossbow. The Cataphract struggles to his feet and takes a crossbow bolt in the breastplate. While it doesn't hit his organs, it knocks him back down on the ground.
The Hussar approaches the downed soldier with his war hammer, and he raises the weapon high for a powerful strike. The Cataphract raises an arm with his Spathi sword tightly gripped, and knocks the War Hammer aside. He rises to a knee and thrusts the short sword into a small unprotected section of the Hussar's thigh. While his Polish opponent doubles over in pain, the Cataphract slashes down at his exposed back but the cuirass stops the damage. The Hussar slams his war hammer into the Cataphract's knee, shattering the bone. The Cataphract yells in pain and makes another wild slash with his sword, deflecting an incoming attack from the hammer. Backing up, the Cataphract stumbles toward his horse for his other weapons while the Hussar loads another bolt into his crossbow. He fires right as the Cataphract takes his Toxoton bow off of a pouch on the saddle, and the bolt wedges into the horse's armor between the plates. The Cataphract's horse, already terrified by the Hussar's wing-noise and tired and hot, makes a feeble attempt to gallop away but stops after a few yards and collapses. The Cataphract is arrowless and throws the bow aside, limping in pain for one final attack.
The Hussar sidesteps the Cataphract's first stab and pulls his arm out of the way before he makes a crushing blow on the Byzantine's back. Falling onto his bad knee and racked in pain, the Cataphract looks up at the only slightly wounded Pole and makes one final effort, hacking at the Hussar's ankle. The lightly armored limb is severed from the leg and a blood fountain meets the flinching face of the Cataphract. The Hussar falls in agony, dropping his weapon and instinctively grabbing at the stump of a limb. The Cataphract takes an enormous breath and lunges himself on top of his disabled opponent, stabbing his Spathi sword straight into the Polish cavalryman's face, through the nose and into the base of his brain. The Hussar goes limp and the Cataphract can only roll over under the sun, breathing heavily, and shut his eyes as the pain rolls back into his body. Looking up at the Hussar's horse, he decides to search the saddle pouch for any medical supplies that could be there. As he tries to move his leg, the pain causes him to black out.
WINNER: BYZANTINE CATAPHRACT
It was close, so very close. The Hussar was quick and the horrifying noise made by the streamers on his lance and the wings on his back really shook the Cataphract's mounted game, and while the Cataphract's armored horse did allow the Cataphract to stay mounted longer, it also meant fatigue and heat exhaustion would kick in much sooner. The Polish crossbow was a poor choice for mounted combat, and the war hammer was much slower than the Spathi in close-quarters combat. If this is an example of anything, it's that when it comes to two very closely matched warriors, armor matters, and when it comes to mounted warriors, mobility matters. The Cataphract had armor and mobility, and had them in a way that really allowed him to wear the Hussar down. Simply put, the Cataphract's armor protected him and the Hussar's armor didn't.