Heavily-armored shock cavalry, the winged hussars are considered the elite of the Polish mounted troops.
Unlike the cavalry in other countries, the Polish hussars gradually became a heavy cavalry. Their equipment included a lance over four meters long, a bow, a cuirass to protect the front of their body, and any other weapon deemed necessary (war hammer, saber, etc.). It was only in the 17th century that wheel-lock pistols came to replace the bow and armor began covering the back, a change accompanied by the addition of two wings decorated with feathers. Whether the wings were elements of pageantry, protection, or simply intended to frighten the enemy remains uncertain. However, the extremely high cost of such equipment meant that members of the winged hussar corps were exclusively of noble origin. These seasoned fighters had a reputation as being some of the best cavalry troops in Europe and were feared for their military prowess.