Austrian Hussars Colours
On October 21 1740, when Maria Theresa inherited the throne of Austria from her father Charles VI, the Austrian Army was in bad condition after the disastrous war against Turkey from 1736 to 1739. Furthermore, the treasury was empty.
Usually, the new ruler would issue new guidons. However, the so called War of the Austrian Succession broke out two months after Maria Theresa's accession and she had no time to issue new guidons. A regiment of hussars had 10 ordinary companies (in 5 squadrons). Therefore, each hussar regiment carried 10 guidons (1 Leibstandarte and 9 Ordinair-'Standarten). These guidons were swallow tailed or had their external edges cut in a wavy line.
The Leibstandarte was white and heavily embroidered:
- one side had a central device depicting the Blessed Virgin;
- the other side had a central device depicting the double eagle with nimbi and the imperial crown
The Ordinair-Standarten could differ from one squadron to another. They were mostly green or red. They were made of damask or patterned silk, heavily embroidered and fringed in the button colour.
- obverse: embroidered with the heraldic devices of the Chef of the regiment or with a motto, or with an allegory or a scene depicting an event from the history of the regiment;
- reverse: central device consisting of an imperial double eagle, usually bearing the Hungarian shield (with the arms of Old and New Hungary) on its breast and the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Hussar guidons were nailed to tournament lances. They were reinforced with iron plates along their length, onto which the guidon bandolier was hooked. The spearheads were engraved or pierced with the double eagle or the imperial cipher, or a patron saint, or the Chef`s crest, or a provincial badge.
Guidons in 1741 and 1742
In January 1741, the Hofkriegsrat ordered that each squadron would now carry only one guidon. The surplus guidons were handed in to the Spielberg arsenal in Brünn. The guidons of the new hussar regiments raised in Hungary in 1741 bore nationalistic themes. The obverse was decorated with allegorical scenes and the reverse heraldry.
The Kalnoky HusR, raised in Siebenburgen in 1742 (now HusR Nr 2), received standards, trumpet and kettle drum banners. These showed the crest of Siebenburgen, with the red-white-red Austrian badge in the heart shield. The standards were also decorated with the motto on scrolls: `MARIA. TH(e)RES(ia). R(egina). H(ungariae). B(ohemiae). A(rchiducissa). PRINC(eps). TRANSIL(vaniae). A standard of one of the Insurrections hussar regiments raised at this time is worthy of comment, due to the extreme patriotism it expresses. It is that raised in the Komitat Vas (Eisenburg), under Graf Batthyany. On the averse is the seated madonna with child, patron saint of Hungary, with the peripheral inscription: S. MARIA PATRONA HVNGARIAE. To either side are crowned cartouches of the crests of Batthyany and Komitat Vas. On the reverse was the crowned Hungarian crest with the peripheral inscription: MARIA THERESIA REGINA HVNGARIAE, and above this, parallel to the top of the standard: PRO HAC VITAM ET SANGVINEM`.
In 1742, new hussar regiments were raised in Hungary and Transylvania to scour the Hungarian insurrection. The commanders of these new units were left free to choose the colour and design of their guidons.
Guidons from 1743
In 1743, the 'Hofkriegsrat abrogated the regulation of January 1741. Now each company was allowed to carry a guidon and stored guidons were sent back to their respective regiments.
During the period between January 24 1742 Karl, when Theodor of Bavaria became Holy Roman Emperor, and September 13 1745, when Francis I succeeded him as emperor, Maria Theresa had to remove imperial insignia (including all black and gold colours) from the guidons of her cavalry. However, as long as guidons were considered as serviceable, they were not replaced. Furthermore, the new rules concerning the designs of colours were widely ignored.
Guidons from 1745
On 13 Sep 1745, her consort, Franz, was elected Kaiser of the HRE and all the imperial insignia could be borne on the colours and guidons again. The regulation of 1743 was rescinded and the old pattern reinstated.
In 1766, Franz Moritz count Lacy introduced a new design for guidons which, instead of being made of appliques and embroidery, were painted in oils. However, these new guidons replaced the old one gradually since they were issued when old colours were worn out.
Distribution of colours within regiments
In 1751, a new regulation stipulated that each hussar regiment would now have only 5 guidons.
Dihm, Dr. Hermann; Oesterreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Klio
Hausmann, Friedrich; Die Feldzeichen der Truppen Maria Theresias; in Schriften des HGM, Vol III; Vienna and Koeln, 1967; pp. 129-174
Seidel, Paul; Nochmals österreichische Standarten und Fahnen zur Zeit des 7 jährigen Krieges, Die Zinnfigur, Clio
Digby Smith for the translation.