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Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

Article about: Don't know if this is within forum rules so please bear with me. Recently I posted images of a Knight figure found in Potenza Picena and was wondering why a knight was chosen and constructed

  1. #1

    Default Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Don't know if this is within forum rules so please bear with me. Recently I posted images of a Knight figure found in Potenza Picena and was wondering why a knight was chosen and constructed as a symbol during this event at Monte Cassino. As mentioned earlier "it was built and/or supervised by 2nd Lt. (ppor) Mieczyslaw Bialkiewicz". Later the regiment's commander Col. Ignacy Kowalczewski evoked an old tradition where during chivalric meetings stories of battle & victory were told next to a large bonfire after which the names of the fallen were read out. After each name those present would say "Fell on the field of honor".

    Aside from the obvious significance of an "armoured warrior" I have been unable to find and absolute explanation as to why the regiment chose this symbol. The emblem of a knight's armoured arm brandishing a sword was first seen in Poland's armoured formations in the mid 1930's and draws its symbolism from the 13th to17th century. I think it's the symbolism of the figure that is central with its spirit of honor & elite brotherhood with its qualities of camaraderie & equality.

    A few quotes from an introduction to heraldry & nobility by Michael Subritzky- Kusza Ct, PNA, pp. on Polish nobility at http://www.pgsa.org/Heraldry/herldintro.php. gives some perspective to this idea:

    "By the time feudal knighthood reached Poland in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century Poland had long since implemented her own system of both heraldry and nobility.... Poland possessed no "fountain of honour". The nobility was an exclusive class in which all members were considered equal. Membership into this elite group was attained through either "valorous deeds on the field of honour" - or by adoption.... (Herb Polski)."

    "In Polish nobility all knights (szlachta) were equal, all nobles were knights, and all knights were noble.... A coat of arms was exactly what the name implied - the symbol borne on a knight's surcoat and shield in defense of the fatherland."

    "Unlike western knights the Polish knight swore no fealty to an overlord but regarded himself rather as the defender of the Commonwealth, its people, and also Christendom."

    Is my thinking correct or along the right lines? Any information or enlightenment would be appreciated.

    Chris
    Last edited by ChrisW01; 06-19-2011 at 05:34 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Hi Chris,

    No problems whatsoever raising this topic here.

    Perhaps a nod to the original armoured cavalry – the fearsome armoured Winged Hussars in the 16th and 17th centuries? As you know, the Polish WW2 armoured formations accepted the military traditions of the cavalry regiments. This was a continuation of the decisions made during the formation of Col. (later General) Maczek’s 10th Cavalry Brigade in pre-war Poland, aka “The Black Brigade”. The pre-war horse-mounted cavalry regiments in turn drew their traditions from Poland’s glory days as a central European power defended effectively by her horse-mounted armies. Although Bialkiewicz’s creation has more of the classic form of a knight rather than the winged hussar, maybe some concessions were made - ?? Anyway, just a thought for what it’s worth.

    Regards,
    Tony
    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  3. #3
    ?

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Very interesting topic! I love the Medeval era and especially love the original thread this is based upon. The suit of armour and shield are amazing! Too bad the sword is missing though, maybe a gift to the commander? Thanks for posting and sorry I couldnt contribute to the query.
    ~Dean

  4. #4

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Thanks for your comments Tony, my knowledge of that subject was limited but a little research has put your observations into perspective.

    Definitely it's a nod & acknowledgement to the Winged Hussars, particularly when you look at the 2nd Polish Armoured Brigade (later Warsaw Division) emblem of with its winged armoured arm & sword.

    After searching the web I am wondering if the ceremonies' organizers were not somewhat inspired by a Polish book titled Krzyżacy (The Knights of the Cross) written in 1900 by Hentyk Sienkiewicz. From Wikipedia his purpose was to "encourage and strengthen Polish national confidence against the occupying power." see The Knights of the Cross - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I'm guessing this symbolism might have also inspired the construction of this knight.

    An interesting yet plausible speculation & explanation?

    Chris........

  5. #5

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    The 'crusader' cross style on the shield is the same as the British 8th Army patch worn by the Second Polish Corps so IMO the knight is more representitive of an English knight of the crusade rather than Polish knight from the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War.

    I wonder where the 'State Express Cigarettes' boss was plundered from?
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    I collect, therefore I am.

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  6. #6

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Yes, good point re the 8th Army shield! A rather obvious connection that escaped me. Starting to fade as I advance through my forties. Can’t say I wasn’t warned . . .
    All thoughts and opinions expressed are those of my own and should not be mistaken for medical and/or legal advice.

    "Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday." - John Wayne

  7. #7

    Default Re: Knight significance at Monte Cassino & Potenza Picena

    Thanks for that Stefan.
    An excellent observation & something I had not considered, particularly the 8th Army patch. Hard to say whether all the possible elements (either by design or coincidence) noted in this thread served as influence in the knight's creation. The differences between the mannequin and your scans do make it obvious.

    Here is an online example I found of a 'State Express Cigarettes' tin & cover. See:Wunderbare Cigaretten Have included an image for comparison.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by ChrisW01; 06-21-2011 at 08:26 PM.

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