17th Century Hussars and The Roses of the Moon
Research is so much fun, especially when you are writing a work of fiction based in history and culture, in this case 16-17th century Hungary, and you find out that the characters and images that come to you as you develop the story have a basis in reality.
I began writing my Gothic Fantasy, The Roses of the Moon, in November, 2007. The first draft came in one month that just happened to coincide with NaNoWriMo – an event I knew nothing about at the time! It was 50,000 words long and was meant to be the Grimms fairy tale Rapunzel told from the POV of the witch. Except for the tower and her magical gardens, this premise didn’t work, but the main characters and the haunted, blood-soaked world of Castle Szeppasszony did.
The 16-17th centuries encompassing the centuries of war with the Ottoman Turks, the protagonist and child witch, Marcsa Virag, has a powerful war lord for a father. Count Adorjan Nyek, though called the Black Wolf of Wallachia, insisted on being able to fly and commanding troops of winged Hussars.
That seemed a bit Viking for Hungary, but when a character has such an overpowering personality, you go with it. And what did I know? I grew up during the Cold War when Eastern and Central Europe were behind the Iron Curtain and we not supposed to know about them.
I had so much research to do, but I left it for the second draft so I could just plow the first draft to give the story and characters their heads. The military stuff, being a subplot, was one of my later studies. Imagine my surprise when I googled 17th century Hussars and found the Polish Winged Hussars! They’re not Hungarian, but they are Hussars! With wings!
Here are a few images including one actual piece of armor from the period. Magnificent!
Here’s a nice video showing these armies on the field.
I hate war more then anything in the world, but it is part of history and thus important to atmosphere of my novel, The Roses of the Moon, which has a strong element of Gothic horror. In the times when the rulers fought alongside their soldiers, when heroism was honored, there was a level of magnificence that almost gives the violence an allure.