This distinctive helm, with its adjustable nasal bar and articulated ”lobster tail” neck section is Polish in origin. It is the helmet worn by the Winged Hussars of the Polish-Lithuanian armies. The ancestor of the Zischagge is the Turkish ”Chichak” helmets – Zischagge is a Germanisation of the word. The design spread and similiar helms would be seen as far away as England as the ”Capeline” helmet of the Thirty Years War and the English Civil War.
Most famously worn by the Winged Hussars, this distinctive heavy cavalry elite often bested great odds in the late 16th and 17th centuries. As armies began to discard heavy armor in the wake of guns, the Winged Hussar’s piled it on. Each man was an armory and equipped with a long lance, pistols, an arquebus or carbine-like firearm and two swords, a stabbing sword and a slashing saber sword. Their name though derives from their ”wings” – a wooden arch at the back of the saddle that rose above the head of the Hussar that was bedecked with an array of feathers. The sight of a pounding charge of hussars, wings flapping in the wind must have awed their foes, for the Winged Hussars are credited with snatching victory from looming defeats – In 1648 a small Polish army of only 1500 men fought off a force of 11,000 men. Only 200 Hussar’s made the difference, as their lance-shattering charges could split enemy regiments asunder.
This Zischagge Helmet is made from riveted steel and features two riveted wings. It is based on a 1630 original held in the Anglesey Abbey Collection in Britain. The unlined interior has been blackened. The cheek pieces have an attached leather strap.