- "Aye, I fought the grobi in the High Pass with some of those horsemen with the feathered wings on their backs. Even though they looked as fancy as Elves, they’re good fighters, them boys. Noisy as a Mannish steam engine when they charge, but you ought ta seen the grobi keck their loincloths when they heard them coming"
The Winged Lancers form the heart and core of Kislevite cavalry military. The famous Winged Lancers of Kislev are mostly made up of young sons of Boyars from all across the lands. It is their duty to always be prepared for war, as invasions of Mother Kislev are an all too common occurance to simply ignore. Even though they are themselves of only modest rank, the Lancers enjoy a great deal of respect from the people of Kislev for their role in protecting the nation. Each stanitsa or settlement is expected to provide a force of Winged Lancers for the mutual defense of the nation, which are often the focus of great civic pride.[1b]
Their standards have usually seen many battles and their loyalty is fanatical. The famed feathered wings are the invention of the great historical warrior, Tzar Alexandr Njevski, whose winged back banner emanated an eerie howl that no Chaos worshipper could endure. The winged lancers are a Gospodar tradition, and most Gospodar stanitsas support a rota, or squadron of them, often consisting of nearly all the men of the settlement.[1b]
These mounted warriors are famed for their elaborately decorated armor, most especially the large, feathered “wings” mounted on their back that make an eerie sound when they charge. The rest of the armor is decorated as richly as the stanitsa can manage, as a matter of pride and the warriors only don their impressive armor immediately before battle to avoid damaging it in everyday use. Unsurprisingly, their primary weapon is the lance, but they also use swords for closer fighting, often discarding their lances after an initial charge. While not as maneuverable as the Ungol horse archers, they are still a highly mobile force and the mainstay of Kislevite armies. They are, however, not full-time soldiers and often seem more loyal to their home than to Tzarina Katarin. Nevertheless, they fight bravely against Chaos, and so the Ice Queen is more concerned with other political problems.[1b]
Kislevite Winged Lancers are based on Polish hussars, one of the main types of the cavalry in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between the 16th and 18th centuries. When this cavalry type was first introduced by the Serbian and Hungarian mercenary horsemen at the beginning of the 16th century, they served as light cavalry banners in the Polish army; by the second half of the 16th century and after Stephen Báthory's reforms, hussars had been transformed into heavily armored shock cavalry. Until the reforms of the 1770s, the husaria banners were considered the elite of the Polish cavalry. The Hussars were famous for their huge "wings", a wooden frame carrying eagle, ostrich, swan or goose feathers. In the 16th century, characteristic painted wings or winged claws began to appear on cavalry shields. The most common theory is that the hussars wore the wings because they made a loud, clattering noise which made it seem like the cavalry was much larger than in reality and frightened the enemy's horses. Other possibilities included the wings being made to defend the backs of the men against swords and lassos, or that they were worn to make their own horses deaf to the wooden noise-makers used by the Ottoman and the Crimean Tatars.